Ofa Aholelei, far left, works on a rock wall bench around a tree at the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Kona Friday afternoon. (West Hawaii Today/Erin Miller)
Ofa Aholelei works on a rock wall bench around a tree at the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Kona Friday afternoon. (West Hawaii Today/Erin Miller)
Salesi Apina, at the far right, puts the finishing touches on a rock wall bench around a tree at the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Kona Friday afternoon. (West Hawaii Today/Erin Miller)
Blake Aholelei, 16, stands in front of a gazebo he and other volunteers planned to refurbish Saturday at the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Kona. Aholelei did several projects at the shelter to earn his Eagle Scout designation. (West Hawaii Today/Erin Miller)
It took Blake Aholelei a few tries to find the right project to tackle as he pursued an Eagle Scout designation.
But when the Kealakehe junior approached the Hawaii Island Humane Society, he found a project that turned out to be a good fit.
“I came here with my family one day,” the 16-year-old said. “I saw a few things I could do as a project.”
Those few things included refurbishing the bark park gazebo, pouring gravel in the Kona shelter’s recently expanded parking area and getting family members with masonry experience to build rock wall seating areas around several trees. On Friday, about half a dozen of Aholelei’s friends and family put in a full day’s work, assembling the rock walls and securing them with concrete.
Nearly 50 volunteers pitched in on Saturday, contributing 288 man hours of volunteer labor.
Aholelei worked his way up through the Boy Scouts with Troop 131.
The Eagle Scout designation “is the highest rank you can attain with the Boy Scouts,” he said. “It’s your final test of everything you’ve done through the years.”
Work for the honor includes selecting a project, by approaching an organization, government agency or other group to suggest a project, signing up volunteers, completing the project, documenting the project and submitting a report about the work to a national committee for evaluation.
Aholelei has a few Boy Scout friends who recently wrapped up their Eagle Scout projects and he was excited Friday to get started on his.
According to the National Eagle Scout Association, to be eligible for the ranking, a scout must earn at least 21 of the available 120 Boy Scout merit badges, with 12 required badges: first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communications, environmental science, personal fitness, personal management, camping and family life.
Scoutmaster Oke Aholelei said the goal of the Eagle Scout projects, in part, is to get the boys to select a project that doesn’t benefit themselves and then see what kind of work it takes to get community involvement.
“It’s a good project for the boys to actually learn service and leadership skills,” he said.
Aholelei isn’t the only Boy Scout completing an Eagle Scout project that benefits the Humane Society, the society’s Humane Educator and Volunteer Coordinator Bebe Ackerman said. Another student is making a custom-built chicken coop for the chickens that frequent the society’s Kona property.