July 19, 2018
By Christian Polk, Volunteer

Platoon Leader Patti Gerhauser and Boy Scout Christian Polk

Ever since I joined Boy Scouts, my ultimate goal was to reach the rank of Eagle Scout — the highest rank in Boy Scouts. One of the many requirements for this rank is to complete a service project.

This year, at the age of 16, I was able to become an Eagle Scout by leading a service project in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood in collaboration with The Mission Continues’ Hazelwood Service Platoon.

I was motivated to do it there because of my strong family roots in the community. My grandmother grew up in Hazelwood throughout her childhood and attended Burgwin Elementary School. My father also spent a portion of his childhood in Hazelwood. This community means a lot to me and my family.

Aside from family connections, I wanted to complete a project somewhere that could really use the help; I wanted this project to have a long-lasting impact on Hazelwood.

My project’s main purpose was to help Hazelwood’s food insecurity. We built three boxes to provide food for anyone that needs it — helping combat the problem of food insecurity. We also built two boxes to be used as libraries, and will contain books for all ages, encouraging people to read. I knew food insecurity and childhood literacy were important to the community, as they were two of the issues identified by Hazelwood stakeholders in December of 2017 during a human-centered design session with The Mission Continues.

I first heard about The Mission Continues from Mrs. Patti Gerhauser, the project beneficiary for my Eagle Scout Project. As the platoon leader for the Hazelwood Platoon, she agreed to help with the project. She guided me through the entire preparation process and this project would not have been a success without her help.

Sustainability of these boxes will be monitored and managed by a local community food resource group, Fishes and Loaves Cooperative, the Hazelwood Initiative, Propel Schools – Hazelwood, and the staff of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Additional partners in this project were: Reading Is Fundamental, which donated 100 new books to stock the free little libraries; Girl Scout Troop #52908, who led the decorating/painting of the boxes; and the United Hazelwood Design Team, who provided painting supplies and assisted in painting the boxes.

This service project not only fulfilled the requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout, but it also revealed to me the effect a group of hard-working people can have on a community. On the day of the project, 81 people (50 adults and 31 kids) volunteered. I am very grateful to have met and worked with a group of such nice and hard-working people.

This day showed me that when everyone comes together and everyone gives a little bit of time and work something truly great can happen. My experience with The Mission Continues has shown how much of an impact we can have on a community.

Platoon Leader Patti Gerhauser and Boy Scout Christian Polk

“It was such a pleasure to work with Christian on this project. He took the lead on the design, prep and fundraising for this project, while I led the discussion and details around the sustainability and organizational partnerships for site installation, event partnerships and management of the boxes in the future. The partnership that Christian and I were able to create was truly amazing!” – Patti Gerhauser, Hazelwood Platoon Leader