Eagle Scout makes difference in community


Tessa Voytovich, Reporter

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout as a Boy Scout is a great honor. The rank emphasizes leadership and citizenship, which is displayed through a service project conducted by the prospective Eagle Scout, according to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the summer of 2018, Joe Pryzbylowski ‘20 directed his own project to make a difference for children and adults with disabilities through the Helping Hand Center.

“I reached out to Helping Hand because I have two neighbors who both regularly use the organization,” Pryzbylowski said.

The Helping Hand center is a nonprofit organization in suburban Cook County that provides people with disabilities opportunities in education and employment. They also offer living space and much more. Additionally, the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission helps fund the cause.

“Once I decided that I wanted to work with Helping Hand, I had to figure out who to talk to and what to actually do to make a difference,” Pryzbylowski said.

Pryzbylowski noticed that gardening seemed to be a common activity at the center’s houses he visited. Many of the residents have limited mobility, so making gardening more accessible to those residents would enhance their abilities to participate in those activities, he said.

“The three homes that we selected for the planters were houses that had individuals that wanted to garden, but had a physical barrier preventing them from doing so,” Helping Hand center Quality Control Director Megan Gonzales said. “The idea of the raised planters was that they would be able to do something they enjoy despite the physical limitations.”

Pryzbylowski wanted to make a long lasting impact, he said.

“I suggested the planters because I wanted to create an activity for them to do and I thought gardening would be cool because they could grow flowers and things that they could eat,” Pryzbylowski said.

He worked on all the planning and organization of building the planters. Pryzbylowski drew up blueprints, raised money to buy materials and wrote safety demonstrations for those who would do the actual building. The goal of the Eagle Project is the planning, so he led younger scouts, his family and friends in constructing the planters.

Once the planters were finished off-site, they were delivered to three of the homes that the Helping Hand center owns.

“I was really happy to hear that the people at the houses were excited about the planters,” Pryzbylowski said. “Especially at the houses where they were already gardening because I knew was it something that they liked to do.”

The residents at the homes where the planters were installed were overjoyed, Gonzales said.

“To be able to nurture and grow plants really gives them a sense of pride,” Gonzales said. “Being able to do something like making their home beautiful or growing vegetables to eat at dinner is a really powerful thing.”