Teen juggles school, sports, Eagle Scout requirements to helps kids at Providence House
The past few months have been a juggling act for Travis Miller of Corydon, as he’s tried to find a balance between school work, sports and completing a service project as part of his Eagle Scout requirements.
Despite less than ideal weather on Saturday, March 12, 11 other Scouts and seven adults helped Miller complete the labor part of his service project that included building four picnic tables and a swing set for Providence House for Children in Georgetown. With the funds he raised, Miller, 15, was also able to purchase a gas grill and 31 bicycles for the children at the home.
Miller is a freshman at Floyd Central High School. He plays football, basketball and baseball, and is a member of the Rocket Club and Jazz Band. He became familiar with Providence House when he did a service project for his eighth grade history class.
‘While visiting the Providence House for Children, it was recognized that there were no picnic tables, a need for another swing set, and a definite need for more bicycles,’ he said. ‘Many people today are still not aware that the Providence House for Children, located in Georgetown, serves several counties in Indiana,’ including Harrison, Crawford, Floyd, Clark, Jackson, Jefferson, Orange, Perry and Scott.
A member of Boy Scout Troop 525 in Lanesville, Miller said he knows some of the children served by Providence House, a program of Providence Self Sufficiency Minis-tries that provides group homes for foster children age 6 through 21. It provides an independent living program for teens aging out of foster care, and shelter and case management for families reuniting with children in foster care, and families in danger of separation because they are homeless or live in substandard, hazardous housing.
Once Miller decided on a project, he began raising funds. His goal was $2,400. He applied to the Youth Philanthropy Council and got $1,000. Other funding came from ‘a very generous local businessman’ who wished to remain anonymous, Sam’s Club, First Harrison Bank’s Palmyra branch, Miller’s parents, Mark and Trina, and David and Valerie Wellner. Stock Building Supply in Sellersburg donated the lumber for the picnic tables, and the New Albany Wal-Mart discounted the grill and bicycles.
Because Miller’s fund-raising efforts generated more than $2,400, he was able to build the third and fourth picnic table and purchase the grill.
‘As we know, many older children are not adopted or provided with family foster care,’ Miller said. ‘They need our love and support. I have the good fortune to enjoy all of these things at home and would like for the children at the Providence House to be able to enjoy some of the things taken for granted by most.’
On the day set aside for the labor, Mother Nature delivered more than a dusting of snow and chilly temperatures.
‘Bad weather is nothing new for us,’ Miller said, adding that the troop often encounters snow on camping trips.
Most of it melted throughout the day as they poured concrete, set swing set posts, and assembled the last three picnic tables. (The first was put together the day before to time the process.) Children living at Providence House eagerly accepted their bicycles.
‘My friends were real happy they got a bike,’ said Miller, who’s been in Scouts since the third grade and has moved up the ranks to senior patrol leader.
Some children were moved to tears, Miller said. ‘They were real excited.’
‘We truly appreciate Travis’ generosity and compassion,’ said Sister Barbara Ann Zeller, president of Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries. ‘It is heartwarming and inspiring to know that teens in our community are concerned about the children living at Providence House.’
He says it’s taken a lot of work on his part to get to where he is, but he’s had fun, too.
‘One thing I really like about Scouts is the leadership positions,’ Miller said. ‘We make choices on our own. It teaches responsibility.’
Only about four percent of all Scouts ever achieve Eagle. A Scout must meet certain requirements before he can even apply to earn Eagle. They include:
‘ Attaining the rank of Life Scout and remaining active at least six months;
‘ Demonstrating that he lives by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law by submitting at least five references who are willing to provide a recommendation on the Scout’s behalf;
‘ Earning at least 21 merit badges, 12 of which are mandatory;
‘ Serving a minimum of six months in a leadership position in his troop;
‘ Planning, developing and providing leadership in a service project which must be approved by the Scoutmaster, troop committee and the council or district;
‘ Provide a statement of his ambitions and life purpose, plus a list of positions held in his religious institution, school, camp, community or other organizations, and including any honors and awards he’s received.
All of this must be done before the Scout turns 18.
Once a Scout has applied to become an Eagle, he gets an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook. It becomes their ‘bible’ until they have completed their project.
Miller said he will have an interview with a board of review, and, if all goes well, there will be a Court of Honor ceremony for him.
Early on while working on his service project, Miller had a few setbacks: He suffered a concussion during football season, and the swing set company he was going to purchase equipment from went out of business.
Troop Scoutmaster Douglas Wagoner encourages his troop members to stay in Scouts and work hard.
Miller’s brother, Justin, a fourth grader, knows how hard the work can be. He’s seen first-hand what his brother has had to do, and he’s also helped in the work.
Miller said he’s felt the pressure to get everything done while still completing homework and juggling sports schedules. He said he appreciates his parents’ help and all the other adults who have given their time and resources to help.