Scout spiffs up ministry’s mission homes, flagstaffWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The efforts of a local Boy Scout and an Army staff sergeant recently converged for a project at The Open Door Ministry, a transitional housing program for men.
Springfield High School senior Robert Lagger needed to complete his service project to become an Eagle Scout when he contacted Open Door in May. The 28-year-old mission houses about 50 men at its properties on Cherry Street and Sixth Street.
“I just really like what they’re doing for these guys because a lot of these guys have been kicked out of their homes; they’ve slept on the streets and these people give them a place to live. They rehabilitate them; they help them get back their normal lives,” said Lagger of Boy Scout Troop 210 in Holland.
After conferring with the mission’s staff on its needs, Lagger painted the Cherry Street locations’ porches, but he still wanted to do something for the Sixth Street property.
“We asked the guys (at Sixth Street) to come up with an idea and they said how about lighting the flag pole so we fly our flag night,” said Dan Gaynor, executive director of Open Door. With the help of staff and a local electrician, Lagger landscaped the area around the flagpole, put down bricks and installed lighting. He and his fellow scouts also had a carwash to raise funds for the project.
Robert Benjamin, a resident, told his son Patrick Benjamin, who is currently serving in Iraq, that the house needed a new flag.
“I called my son and said well, we needed a new flag and he said he had one,” Robert said. “It just kind of built.”
Patrick, who does field artillery, had a special flag for the house.
On Aug. 9, the last day of his temporary leave, Patrick presented Lagger and Open Door with a flag that had flown at a base in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2011.
“I was just glad to help honestly. Open Door has helped my father overcome his addiction to alcohol and all these guys around here are doing good. Anything I can do to help, I’m bound to do it,” Patrick said.
Lagger raised the flag at a special ceremony and said he was thankful to be part of the project.
Gaynor said about a fifth of Open Door residents are veterans.
“They certainly have a special place in their hearts for something like this,” he said.
Projects to improve Open Door’s houses are important to residents, Gaynor also said.
“These guys keep this property up. We don’t have any outside service or anything like that. The men that live here are responsible for the outside/inside upkeep of the property,” Gaynor said.
“It’s nice, too, for the men who are turning their lives around to live in a place that’s nice and looks nice rather than for it just being a dumpy place for them to flop,” said Jim Sasse, an Open Door board member.
The project was also important to residents in other ways.
Denny Murphy, program director of Open Door, said, “Other people caring about them, that really makes a difference and this particular case with the soldier, he was talking to me in the office and saying how proud he was of his dad so that’s a big deal.”
To learn more, visit www.opendoortoledo.org.