By Anika Shah
For his Eagle Scout project, Ezequiel ‘Zeke’ Serrano built garden beds and an irrigation system at the Grace Community United Methodist Church on Lithia Pinecrest Rd.
It all started when Serrano, who has been in the Scout program since first grade, noticed that the church’s volunteer-based garden was becoming dilapidated and unkempt as less people physically attended the church over the COVID-19 pandemic. The garden was not only a place to flex one’s green thumb, but also a place that contributed vegetables to the weekly community dinners for people in need from 5-6 p.m. Having volunteered at the church for some time and wanting to be a part of the garden’s rehabilitation effort, Serrano talked to his youth pastor and troop leader to make it happen.
Serrano and his troop did most of the construction work in one day. They used metal to build the raised beds and a trench digger to construct a PVC pipe system that connects the beds to the church’s well water. The raised beds will make it easier to weed and take care of the plants and the irrigation system will ensure that they are receiving water during long periods without rain.
Serrano explained how he would like his project to impact the community: “I would like more people to show up to the weekly community dinners, … I think it’s a great thing. … before COVID, we were actually able to sit down and talk to people, … they would share about their lives and what was going on, … we were able to be a friend for them.” Serrano hopes that the dinners can become bigger and attract a more diverse set of people.
Serrano’s advice for other Boy Scouts looking to become Eagle Scouts is to “stick with it, because the hard work will pay off,” and also to “look to go above and beyond to serve your community, … be consistent in one organization … and form relationships with those people, … they may be able to talk about what they do and help you get into some new things.”
In addition to help of his troop (#665), some of Serrano’s biggest mentors on this project have been his youth pastor, Greg Rusch, and troop leader, Tom Bristow.
For more information on how to get involved in volunteering or to attend the community dinners, Grace Community United Methodist Church is located on 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Lithia and can be found online at mygraceumc.com.