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New Eagle Scouts congratulated by prominent figures

From former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Pope Francis, four local Eagle Scouts were celebrated by numerous prominent figures both close to home and far away.

Massimo Accardo, Éamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran from Boy Scouts Troop 45 of Woodside recently completed all the requirements, including their final projects, to become Eagle Scouts.

Their combined Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held at St. Mary’s of Winfield in Woodside on June 17.

The Eagle Scouts watched as Fred Coltrinari initiated the traditional Lighting the Eagle Trail Ceremony

All natives of Maspeth and Middle Village, the four young men dedicated their projects to serve local communities. Accardo and Dobey focused on the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park, Aidan Haran restored the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service in Manhattan, and Oisin Haran made renovations and repairs to the schoolyard of St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing.

“This is an occasion for pride and joy, as well as a time for serious reflection,” Fred Coltrinari, chartered organization representative of Troop 45, said.

“Eagle Scout is the highest recognition that scouting offers to scouts is earned. Only a small percentage of boys who begin scouting receive this honor,” he continued. “The wearer of the Eagle award is the epitome of scouting’s best efforts and beliefs.”

Throughout the ceremony and the various speeches given, the unique bond between the scouts, families, and troop leaders was apparent.

“All the faces that I recognize from throughout the years, you guys have really made this experience worthwhile. From Cub Scouts at six-years-old, these are the families and faces that I’ve seen since day one, and they’ve always been like brothers and sisters,” Accardo said.

“Other parents have been like parents to me, driving me to and from camp, taking care of me, and just looking out for me like I was one of their own,” he continued. “I really appreciate that; it goes a long way.”

From left to right: Éamonn Dobey, Oisin Haran, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Fred Coltrinari, Aidan Haran, Massimo Accardo, and State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The four scouts expressed their gratitude to the troop leaders through the distribution of mentor pins and other sentimental items.

“I have known these boys for a long time, and I am so proud of their projects,” Marie Casalaspro, den leader, said.

“We had the quarantine during the pandemic, but that didn’t stop them,” she continued. “It was amazing to see.”

Donna Manetta, committee chairperson for Troop 45, made arrangements so the ceremony was extra special, including putting together a slideshow of troop photos from over the years, making poster board presentations for the four projects, and reaching out to noteworthy local, national, and even international figures.

The four Eagle Scouts received commendations from a long list of names, including the New York Jets, the Mets, NASA, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former president George Bush, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

Other local elected officials including State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Councilman Robert Holden showed up in-person to celebrate the scouts’ achievements.

“I love Eagle Scout ceremonies because this teaches leadership, and we need good leaders not only in this country, but certainly in the city,” Holden said. “These were great projects, and I want to try to promote more Eagle Scout projects like this. Most of them are community service-based, which teaches the importance of teamwork and volunteering.”

Meng presented the scouts with American flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol on behalf of them specifically. She said that these flags are reserved for only the highest achievements of constituents in the district.

Addabbo thanked the scouts for their community service, and presented each of them with a citation from the New York State Senate.

“The founder of Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, once spoke about boys and changing their attitude to go from what they can get to what they can give. As an elected official, that’s what we are so appreciative of,” Addabbo said.

“During these troubled two years with the COVID pandemic, so many people were in need. Scouts throughout our area were giving out food, helping those in need,” he continued. “Scouts are on a great path. Many are successful in life, and they’re good citizens. These citations not only acknowledge their achievement, going from ordinary to extraordinary and being there when the community needs them.”

Four local scouts earn Eagle rank

Four young men from Troop 45 of Woodside have recently joined the four percent of Boy Scouts in the U.S. to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Massimo Accardo, Eamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran — all natives of Maspeth and Middle Village — have climbed the necessary ranks throughout their scouting careers to achieve this ranking.

Prior to planning their Eagle Scout projects, all of which serve local communities, they earned six rank advancements and a minimum of 21 merit badges.

The scouts were also responsible for finding, planning, and coordinating the entirety of their projects, as well as raising funds and purchasing all supplies needed.

Accardo and the troop worked to revamp some dilapidated conditions in Forest Park, Queens.

 

Accardo and Dobey devoted their projects to the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park.

Accardo, who’s been involved with the Boy Scouts for 12 years, got the idea for his project by reaching out to NYC Councilman Robert Holden, who referred him to Joseph Block, who is responsible for managing and overseeing the operations, inspections, and maintenance of Forest Park.

During a tour of the park, Accardo decided to work on an overpass on Myrtle Avenue which cuts through the park that hadn’t had any work done on it for nearly 10 years.

“If you look at my before pictures, there was foundation exposed, a lot of mold and rusting, and concrete that was crumbling. There was also a lot of dirt on the sides of the manmade trails that were not safe and very steep,” he said. “So our plan was to resurface the surface itself.”

 

Accardo and other members of the troop took ample time to scrape off old paint and mold, test for lead, and repaint the surface of the overpass.

They also added cribbing to the neighboring man made walking trail, which involves wooden planks embedded in the ground to use as steps for safer navigation.

Accardo said that this was the troop’s first project during the pandemic, which caused a lot of challenges, including mask mandates and social distancing. However, he is proud of the end result.

“We decided to resurface the entire wall itself, so both sides of the overpass had contrasting colors,” he explained.

“It made it not just look like a project, but like a detailed job, which is what I’m really proud of because it looked professional.”

Dobey took inspiration for his project in a similar fashion, and decided to restore a dilapidated trail in Forest Park.

He said that the path was hazardous for park goers, and was full of potholes, cracks, raised concrete, overgrown thorn bushes, and litter.

He added that the steps that lead to the trail were completely unsafe, with missing parts and slabs that had come off the foundation.

“We repaved all the slabs and filled in the cracks by recementing the whole thing,” he said. “For the trail, we cut back the overgrown bush, shoveled out the soil and added wood chips and mulch, and picked up the garbage that made it unusable.”

Dobey takes pride in the finished product, and said that the project aligns with the overall mission of the Boy Scouts because it focused on cleaning up the community and making it a pleasant place for people to enjoy.

Haran dedicated his project to making repairs to St. Mel’s in Flushing.

Oisin Haran also kept his project local by helping St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing prepare for the school year.

“The project was to repaint the outside fence into the playground, paint the vents on the lockers inside the classrooms, build a new wooden fence to surround the garbage area, and modify the iron railing leading down to the basement to make it safer for children,” he said.

He explained that the outside gate was rusted and needed to be repainted, as well as the bike racks that were damaged by being hit by a car at one point.

He feared that the schoolchildren could get injured as a result of these conditions, which is what inspired him to take on the project.

Haran feels immense gratitude for his fellow scouts and troop leaders including Scoutmaster TJ Kerins, COR Fred Coltrinari, and Anthony Chorzepa, who is a retired carpenter.

His twin brother, Aidan Haran, ventured out into Bonitas Youth Service in the East Village for his project, which he completed in November 2021.

Bonitas Youth Services is a student hostel that houses young people from around the world, and Haran discovered that its backyard needed intense restoration.

“The yard was all old bluestone set in dirt, which was uneven. There was also a lot of garbage that needed to be cleaned up,” he said.

“The project included digging up the old backyard, putting in poppies and a drywall for drainage, making raised flower beds, and leveling the backyard to place new patio blocks that made it safe to walk on and suitable to hold events,” he continued.

In fact, the new patio blocks that were put into the yard came via a job in the city, from Martha Stewart’s roof.

Haran made extensive renovations to the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service, which houses young people from all over the world.

To honor the heritage of Father Patrick Moloney, an Irish priest who resides there, Haran arranged for the patio blocks to be engraved with symbols like St. Brigid’s Cross and the ichthys symbol.

To honor their hard work, the four scouts will be recognized during their Eagle Court of Honor on June 17.

Accardo is excited to finally partake in his ceremony, and says that they are “long overdue” as a result of delays from the pandemic.

“An Eagle is made through their actions in their leadership, depending on what they can do to a group and with a group. As for accomplishing it itself, a big part of it is attributed to the leaders,” he said.

“They put in a lot of time, effort, and volunteer hours, and they’ve been like parents to us. They’ve had to deal with a lot of crap from kids who are just stubborn a lot of time, and it takes a lot of patience,” he continued. “So a big part of it is to respect those who have done so much for us.”

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