Life Scout looks for donations to Hempstead prayer garden


Quincy Velez, a Life Scout with Franklin Square Boy Scout Troop 485, wants to provide his community a place to pray for military veterans and people who died of Covid-19 illnesses.

Places of worship provide a safe haven to mourn the deaths of loved ones, but Velez wanted to create an outdoor space that people could pray in the Town of Hempstead.

“When church hours are closed and you need to pray for a loved one,” he said. “You need somewhere to sit and pray to God. So, I felt like that would be a best idea for the community.”

The space chosen for the prayer garden and sanctuary is located outside of Destiny Cathedral Church in Hempstead. It will include several plaques, for veterans and for people who died of a Covid-19 illness. The plaque renderings include the names of Ruth A. Hunley, Doris King, Theodis King, and Natalia Calderon.

People will be able to sit on a bench underneath a set of trees, walk a rock path from the bench to a flower garden, and view the two dedicated plaques.

“The veteran memorial is an honor for those who sacrifice and have given much of themselves for our great nation,” Velez said when speaking before veterans.

The veterans of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post District 10 expressed support for the prayer and similar projects when Velez spoke before them.

The Eagle Scout project will take place on Oct. 7 and Velez will need a bit of help to put all of the pieces together. People can mail checks to Debra Troop 485, purchase items from the project Amazon wish list, purchase gift cards at Garden World in Franklin Square, or even donate to a GoFundMe for the project.

“A lot of people have contributed to the project, and I just want to say thank you to each and every one of them,” Velez said.

Some items needed for the garden include figurines, solar lights, a bench, donations towards the plaques, various kinds of flowers and more.

More contributions to the project could go a long way before the prayer garden is set up. Residents can also offer to volunteer their time for the day of service, said Lynette Battle, Velez’s mother.

Peers, fellow boy scouts and family members have offered to help Velez so far with the endeavor.

The idea for the prayer garden came to Velez months ago with his mother. He thought of the idea back in January for his Eagle Scout service project and presented before the board in June. Destiny Cathedral Church is where the two worship, and Velez’s aunt is an assistant pastor at the house of worship.

Velez, now a 17-year-old senior at Elmont Memorial High School, has involved with the boy scouts since he became a cub scout nine years ago.

“I’ve been doing this for a while,” Velez said. “And the thing about boy scouts, is it’s a community. Once you’re a boy scout, it’s like everybody has your back. It’s a family in a type of way.”

Through the organization, he has learned leadership, responsibility, and maintaining the reputation of being a boy scout. This project is another step to achieve the Eagle Scout honor for Velez.

In a letter sent out to some of the community regarding the project, Battle said the project is a labor of love. Velez hopes the garden will serve as a beacon of hope and place of remembrance for “those we honor and hold dear in our hearts.”