New stairs and ramp at American Legion building part of Eagle Scout project
The American Legion Post 128 building got a bit of an upgrade courtesy of Liam Jeffers and his Eagle Scout project.
Jeffers, 17, is part of Troop 174 that is chartered by the Legion and spent the better part of the fall working with numerous people to design and build new steps and a ramp into the building in Stanardsville.
“I wanted to choose something that I felt would impact the people that I’m surrounded by and I used this building a lot for my Boy Scout Troop,” said Jeffers, who joined Cub Scouts at 5 years old. “The troop and the Legion are so connected with each other and I wanted to give back to the veterans.”
Legion member Patrick Sherwood helped oversee the project.
“I think for the community it means a lot for the people who use the building,” Sherwood said. “I represented the Legion on the project and I kind of came up with the concept idea and drawings for Liam to work from in the beginning and he took it from there. It was a lot of work—maybe more than he thought it was going to be—but I’m grateful he took it on and he kept at it. He’s a good young man and so is his family.”
Sam Jeffers, Liam’s father, grew up in a scouting family in Florida and reached the rank of Eagle Scout himself.
Maureen Jeffers, Liam’s mom, said she’s grateful for all scouting has offered her family.
“Scouting was my husband’s whole life and now Liam has gone all the way through it and reached Eagle Scout rank just his like dad; it’s been a huge part of our life,” she said. “They were able to do a lot of things together.”
Liam Jeffers said he told himself if he didn’t get Eagle Scout he was going to be upset with himself.
“Boy Scouts is something I put a lot of time and effort in growing up,” he said.
Jeffers said he was most surprised by the amount of paperwork required for such a project and how much the building permit cost: $400.
For the Greene County native, community service is important to him and he’s had the chance to do a lot with the Legion.
“I’ve taken part in the 21-gun salute on Veterans Day and helped with the Legion’s Memorial Day event,” he said. “The feeling of helping the community is definitely something that is important to me.”
Post 128 Commander Peter DeForth said he’s been amazed at the number of young men who’ve earned the Eagle Scout rank in the past few years from Troop 174.
“Eagle Scout is such a singular achievement; it’s unbelievable,” DeForth said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I grew up in Montana and I think there were two Eagle Scouts in the whole state when I was growing up. I made it to Star Scout, myself.”
It was through scouting that DeForth met someone who became a lifelong mentor for him, introducing him to amateur radio operation, and more.
“Boy Scouts also offers years of education on American values of respect to the community and community involvement and how to work with community organizations to get things done,” DeForth said. “It’s all done with the spirit of wanting to have the kids have fun and have a safe place to be. When you put all those things together it’s a pretty tall order that relies on the volunteerism of the parents.”
Two fathers of other scouts in the troop—Tom Flynn and Jason Shifflett—were especially helpful, Jeffers said.
Shifflett works with Dyke Builders and helped with the building.
“I definitely had never built something like this. This is massive,” Jeffers said. “He helped me a lot with the process. He was really good at showing me what to do while also letting me do it.”
Flynn is a scoutmaster with the troop and has two sons who earned the rank, as well.
“He really gave me, I would say a shove but, in the right direction since I needed to have it done before I turn 18 in June,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers said he’s glad he did the project.
“First things first, it turned out great and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out honestly,” he said. “And I also think that I learned a lot of good lessons from it. And I’m happy to earn Eagle Scout. It seemed like a faraway thing for pretty much the entirety of my career—until it was happening. Even when I was doing all that paperwork, I thought it would never be finished.”
The old concrete steps up to the front of the building were steep and shallow, making it a hazard for many to utilize, especially in the rain. The new stairs were built over the old stairs and are made of wood and composite materials.
“It makes it approachable for anybody to get in and out of the building,” Sherwood said. “If the scouts hadn’t picked it up it probably would not have been done yet. Everybody, I think, recognizes it now but in the beginning it was a tough sell.”
Jeffers graduates from William Monroe High School this year and heads to Christopher Newport University in Newport News in the fall to study political science. He hopes to be a political journalist or political analyst, he said. He also was accepted into the President’s Leadership Program and the Bonners Scholars.
He said he recommends scouting to any youngster coming up.
“I’d definitely look into your local troop and start contacting the scoutmasters,” he said. “It definitely helps build character and makes friendships that are going to last a while. Yeah, I’m still friends with a lot of those guys. And I plan on being friends with them and meeting up with them when we come home from college and stuff like that.”
Jeffers said he always wants to thank his parents for their help not only with the Eagle Scout project, but all through scouting.
For more information on Boy Scout Troop 174, contact Scoutmaster John Ensor at (703) 615-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.