Four young men from Valley Stream Troop 116 have attained the highest rank in scouting this year, becoming Eagle Scouts. And each planned and completed a project to help fill a need, and is being recognized for his years of service to the community.
Alexander Butts, a recent graduate of Valley Stream Central High School, has continued a family scouting tradition. The 18-year-old first joined as a Tiger Cub at age 6, and has been dedicated to service ever since.
Butts’ Eagle Scout project involved beautify the community by giving each railing and bench on the Village Green a new coat of paint. He also planted a tree in honor of the many generations of scouts in Valley Stream.
“It’s important to give back to the community, because your community has impacted your life,” Butts said, “and you would want to do something to contribute to it as well.”
Butts sold chocolates and had a GoFundMe campaign for his project, and raised $1,375. He coordinated with troop leaders and the village Parks Department, and led a team of 20 volunteers over the course of four days. The project ultimately took more than 245 hours of work to complete — but the annual village Scout Camporee in June took place amid the fresh, beautiful park scene it deserved.
Aaron Curry, 19, of Far Rockaway, has been a Scout since 2014, and has spent the past nine years learning leadership, survival skills and how to be a good community member. A student at SUNY Albany, Curry said that being an Eagle Scout means embodying the Scout Law and being the best version of himself every day.
“It means to be hardworking and disciplined,” Curry said. “It means giving back to my community, instilling the core values that I was brought up on to the youth — whether that be in scouting, or in school, or anywhere in public.”
For his Eagle project, Curry restored agricultural and architectural tools used in the 1800s and create display plaques for them at the Pagan-Fletcher House, the only surviving 19th-century structure in Valley Stream. Curry was driven to preserve community artifacts because, he said, community shapes character — and by leaving a positive impact on the community, he can positively impact the people in it.
“Obtaining the Eagle Scout rank means that I have a duty to uphold with myself, my community, and God to always be the best I can be,” Curry said.
When Cedrik Jean-Baptiste visited the United Veterans Beacons House, he knew he had found his Eagle Scout project. The house supports veterans struggling with poverty. Jean-Baptiste, a graduate of Valley Stream North High, organized a project to collect and repair used bicycles so the veterans and their families could use them.
He raised money by selling water bottles and snacks during fundraisers held at the Valley Stream Bandshell, and bought the tools and supplies he needed to repair the bikes. Jean-Baptiste and his team of volunteers repaired 10 bikes for veterans. He delivered the newly repaired two-wheelers to the Beacons House, which will match them with veterans who will benefit from using them.
“The chance I received to give back to less-than-fortunate veterans for my Eagle Scout project has been a blessing,” John-Baptiste said. “My time in scouting has presented me with multiple opportunities to serve my community, and I plan on continuing to be of service to those around me.
“I believe the purpose of my life is to contribute to society and aid those in need.”
Daniel Salas’ interest in technology, along with his commitment to preserving historical heritage, led to his Eagle Scout project. Salas, 19, a sophomore at Northeastern University worked at the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration site to create a display detailing the evolution of electrical wiring through the years. It was a way for him to share his fascination with the world’s technological progress and its impact on our lives today.
Salas said that giving back to the community is essential to practice selflessness and compassion, and is also integral to his personal growth. Volunteering has taught him the value of making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
His Eagle project taught him about more than electricity — he learned the importance of communication, adaptability and leadership, and how important teamwork is to accomplishing complex goals.
“Being an Eagle Scout means I have the skills, and knowledge, to lead and make a positive impact in my community and beyond,” Salas said. “It’s a lifelong commitment to service and a reminder of the responsibilities I have to help others and leave the world a better place.”
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