Hagan blankets the needy, earns Eagle Scout rank

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Dozens of family and friends looked on proudly as West Orange’s Jack Hagan was presented with the Eagle Scout badge, the highest rank in the of Boy Scouts of America, in a Court of Honor Ceremony held by Troop 6 at the Beatrice Kruglinski Parish Center of St. Joseph’s Church at 44 Benvenue Ave. on July 16.

Hagan, a 2016 graduate of Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, recently completed his freshman year at Lehigh University, where he is studying finance and marketing.

The ceremony marked the pinnacle of Hagan’s time with the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with which he has been involved for more than 12 years. Only 4 percent of Boy Scouts obtain the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, by completing a community service project and earning 21 badges, 11 of which are required.

The joyful occasion was also attended by Msgr. Robert Harahan, headmaster of Seton Hall Prep, as well as West Orange Township Council members Jerry Guarino and President Joe Krakoviak, who served as the master of ceremonies.

Harahan gave the invocation for the event, thanking Hagan and his family for the honor of being invited, and also congratulating the Scout on his achievement.

“A few of our students attain this rank every year and it’s always an honor. May we look to Jack’s example and open our eyes to find ways of stewardship with our time and resources,” Harahan said at the event.

Krakoviak was full of warm praise for Hagan and his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout, and also charged him to continue honing his leadership skills.

“The higher the Scout climbs, the fewer people he sees on the trail. Only with the greatest persistence can a Scout reach the top of Eagle Mountain to look back down,” Krakoviak said during the ceremony. “Live with honor, which is the foundation of Boy Scouts. Be loyal to yourself and others. Be courageous. Finally, be service oriented — lend a helping hand to others along the scouting trail that you have just completed. And remember, real leadership is founded upon real service.”

A significant part of the process of becoming an Eagle Scout is executing a community service project; for his project, Hagan collected more than 150 blankets to then donate to St. Lucy’s Shelter in Jersey City.

Local groups, including St. Joseph’s Church, the Seton Hall Prep community, the local Elks Lodge, Padre Pio Lodge, Paulie’s lunch crew, other members of Troop 6, as well as a host of family and friends, donated the blankets to Hagan for his project.

Hagan said he was inspired to undertake this project when, while still a student at SHP, he heard a speaker discuss homelessness.

“At my high school sophomore year, we had a speaker come in who lived on the streets of New York City for a few months during the winter. He said that a blanket he received from a shelter helped him stay alive during the winter in New York and it saved his life and it was one of the most important things that he had,” Hagan said in a recent phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle. “That speech stayed with me, and a couple of years later, when I was trying to figure out what to do for my project, I decided that collecting blankets would be a good way to give back, so I reached out to local shelters to see who would be in need of blanket donations.”

The ceremony also provided Hagan with the opportunity to publicly thank those who have helped him in his Scouting career by providing assistance and mentorship. His parents and grandparents were presented with pins, and he also thanked Nancy and Ira Garelick for being his mentors.

Ira Garelick serves as the unit commissioner for the Suburban North District of Northern New Jersey Council of Boy Scouts, while his wife Nancy serves as both the district vice-chairwoman of membership and the Cub Scout Roundtable commissioner.

Scoutmaster Enda Donagher began his remarks with a story about the origins of Boy Scouts of America, and how the organization has grown over the years, but remains rooted in the same values on which it was founded.

“Good things never go out of style, remember that. If you sum the volunteer hours of all the Eagle Scout projects completed over the years, it is the single greatest youth-led project in our country’s history,” he said during the ceremony.

Guarino shared a few words on Hagan’s achievement, and also read a letter from fellow council member Susan McCartney, who was unable to attend the event. In her letter, McCartney praised Hagan for his accomplishment and identified an esteemed list of politicians and celebrities who have also attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

He was also presented with Good Citizenship Citations from the American Legion of Essex County and the American Legion Department of New Jersey, as well as congratulatory letters from U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Robert Parisi and Gov. Chris Christie.

And as the audience looked on, Hagan replaced his orange neckerchief with the red, white and blue one identifying him as an Eagle Scout.

Photos by Shanee Frazier