EAST ORANGE, NJ — Officials at the VA hospital in East Orange unveiled a landscape beautification project the first week of November that was created as part of an Eagle Scout project, with the help of scouts from Troop 5 in Maplewood.
Boy Scout Josh Heacock of Troop 5 recently organized and completed the work, improving the grounds by planting rose bushes, weeding and mulching flower beds, planting perennials in the rain garden, re-painting the main entrance sign and planting flowers, grass and plants in between the entrance and the emergency room.
Heacock organized a crew of volunteer scouts from Troop 5 for the project and also raised $2,600 toward it. After spending $1,500 on plants and materials, he donated the rest to the VA, presenting a check for $1,100 to Glen Giaquinto, associate director of VA New Jersey Health Care System, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the hospital.
“I have always wanted to give back to veterans and, as happy as I am with the results of my team’s work at the VA hospital, it’s not enough to repay them for what they have done for us,” Heacock said.
A Life Scout with Troop 5 and a sophomore at Columbia High School, Heacock also enlisted the help of The Millstone in Maplewood, which provided free consultation and landscaping design work.
“This would not have been possible without many volunteer workers, generous donations from friends and family, support from the VA — in particular, the gardening crew and Tyrone Steed, the voluntary service program manager,” Heacock said.
Kenneth Mizrach, director of VA New Jersey Health Care System, lauded the project and Heacock’s efforts in a thank you letter to the scout.
“Completion of this project has brightened the day for the patients and visitors by making the building and surrounding grounds more appealing,” wrote Mizrach, who added that Heacock “created a rewarding opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our patients.”