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Quest for Eagle Scout project leads Lynden grad to Whatcom Hospice

Bellingham | June 30, 2020
Eagle Scout sitting on a bench outside
Elijah Johnson’s mom inspired his community project and the community came together to celebrate his service achievement.
Elijah Johnson knew he wanted to do something meaningful as part of his Eagle Scout Community Service Project. He was able to find just the right one, with inspiration from his mom, Kelsey Johnson, MSN, RN, ACM-RN, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center’s Manager of Care Management.
After all, helping others and making an impact is part of every caregiver’s calling. And quite often, that passion is taken up by their kids too.
As a recent 2020 graduate of Lynden High School in Lynden, Washington, and serving as an essential worker himself at the local Safeway, Elijah’s path to helping his community dates back to first becoming a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout in 2011 before eventually earning all required merit badges needed to embark on his Eagle Scout project in summer 2019.
The path to earning Eagle Scout rank is not an easy one, with only four percent of Scouts completing the journey. It requires a multi-year commitment, demonstration of troop leadership and spirit, among several other criteria, all culminating in the Community Service Project. 

Looking for a way to help others in need

After mulling over a few project options, Elijah decided to reach out to Whatcom Hospice Leadership and the Hospice Foundation to see if there was a need for picnic tables and benches on the grounds of the Hospice House in Bellingham.leaders of Whatcom Hospice sit with Elijah at picnic table
“In some way, Elijah knew he wanted to find a way to assist patients and their families in their greatest time of need,” Kelsey said.
As it turned out, even though the facility was new, options for families and caregivers to sit and reflect with some quiet time were limited. Elijah thought the items could benefit not only patients and families but could also provide a relaxing place for PeaceHealth caregivers to rest.
“It’s a place of significance where people go to spend their last days. I felt it was important and wanted to put my best foot forward,” he commented.
picnic tables with red umbrellasElijah was able to meet with several Foundation members to tour the grounds and after discussing the idea further, they gave him full support to move ahead. Leading the efforts with the help of Troop 4028, he built two garden benches and two ADA-compliant picnic tables — delivering them to the Hospice House in July 2019.

Navigating a pandemic

In November 2019, Elijah attended his Eagle Scout Board of Review and the Board unanimously approved him to be an Eagle Scout. Because of the pending holidays, his Court of Honor with Troop 4028 was postponed to early 2020. 
And then, of course, COVID-19 happened.  
Due to social gathering restrictions, a formal ceremony to award Elijah with his Eagle badge was not possible. But in late May, four of Elijah’s Scout leaders and his Eagle mentor came to the Johnson’s yard for a private Eagle Scout ceremony, where he was officially bestowed with his Eagle Scout merit.Scout leaders gather with Elijah under a tent
For Kelsey, it was just one more example of how the local community has pulled together in a time of great need. 
“What we have experienced in our community, with all the signage that people have brought to the hospital and seeing all the appreciation from kids and adults alike, it really validates our calling. That level of appreciation really means a lot — we get so much out of what we do, but it’s very special to know others feel the same.”
And, as the plaque he created for his handiwork clearly demonstrates, that’s something that Elijah understands too. 
Plaque dedicating Elijah Johnson's Eagle Scout project
Photos courtesy of the Johnson family:
Top photo: Elijah Johnson sits on a bench from his project.
Second photo:  Elijah sits with leaders from the Whatcom Hospice (pre-COVID).
Third photo:  Picnic tables with umbrellas from Elijah's project.
Fourth photo: Leaders from Elijah's scout troop pull together an appreciation ceremony to honor his achievement.
Bottom photo:  Plaque dedicating Elijah's project.

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