Talk about your urban adventure. Some local Boy Scouts recently took a trip that started normally enough, with them piling into an SUV like they always do.
But instead of heading for the trails, they traveled just a few blocks away, into the heart of the city. Then they climbed out, equipment in hand, to do something very few kids, and not too many adults, have ever done before: They shined shoes.
The boys were members of Troop 835, shining shoes for residents of Atria Assisted Living Facility on
. Scout mom Heather Dickey started the program by looking for ways to help boys earn service points as well as build relationships with older adults.
“One of the things Boy Scouts of America tries to promote is diversity, among race, culture, age, anything you can think of,” she says. “That’s not always real easy to accomplish. I thought this would give them a chance to be around people who are different ages than them, or even their parents.”
Dickey took Boy Scout Trevor Smith to Atria, to learn how they might help residents there. When activities director Tonya Nesmith suggested shoe shining, Smith latched on to the idea.
“I figured they (the residents) would like it, and it would be a fun thing for us, too,” he says. “When you watch people do it, it just looks cool.”
When Smith told his fellow Scouts about the project, they also were enthusiastic. Then came the tricky part: learning how to do it.
“People don’t shine their shoes anymore,” says Dickey. “Most of them had never done it and hadn’t even seen their fathers do it. But the kids were intrigued.”
Ever prepared, the boys took a crash course in shoe shining at one of their weekly meetings before going out for the real thing.
If all goes as planned, shoe shining will be the first of many activities the boys have with Atria residents. Future plans include preparing flowerbeds, organizing storage closets and even taking fishing trips with the residents.
Both parents, residents and Scouts seem happy with the idea.
“I’d like to see this get to the point where they kind of adopt each other on a long-term kind of basis,” Dickey says.
“We want to be a blessing to the boys, and at the same time receive a blessing from them for our residents,” Nesmith says.
“That’d be cool,” Smith says.
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