Scout completes Eagle project for Calder Woods residents, grandfather

John Dal Santo with his grandson Jacob Davis (left) and Boy Scout Troop 601

Jacob Davis’ Eagle Scout project was more than just a chore for the 16-year-old Beaumont teen. He completed the wheelchair accessible planter’s box not only for Calder Woods residents to enjoy, but also in hopes of stimulating his grandfather’s memories of working in his garden when he lived at home.

Calder Woods resident John Dal Santo suffers from either Alzheimer’s or dementia — the family isn’t sure which at this point — and has a hard time remembering his past.

“My grandfather — whenever he lived in his own house — he was very caring about the outdoors,” Jacob said. “He had birdfeeders all over his back yard, and he had plants. I figured the planter’s box would be the best thing for me to do to not only benefit everybody but to specifically benefit him. I’m sure he might not remember doing it, but in the time that he spends (admiring the flowers), I am sure he really enjoys it.”

Sheila Faulk, healthcare activity director at Calder Woods, said residents have enjoyed the planter’s box, which Boy Scout Troop 601 delivered to the retirement community July 15.

“It’s wonderful because they are so used to when they are at home being able to work in their yard,” Faulk said. “It’s kind of like going home.”

“It keeps them stimulated,” added Antoinette Lombard, activity director at Calder Woods. “It also brings back memories because they have more long-term than short-term. If they were back home and grew (plants) when they were kids, it brings back memories of their childhood.”

Jacob and his fellow Troop 601 scouts built the planter’s box using treated pine. They assembled and caulked and sanded it. The project took 10 days, Jacob said.

“I’d seen people build them before, so I kind of knew what I was doing,” he said. “I still had to look up designs. We had to measure the heights of wheel chairs. Certain tables around (Calder Woods) are also wheelchair accessible, so we just took that height, and that’s how we made it from the ground to the base of the box … which we figured will be just enough for them to reach over it.”

Jacob said when he started the project, it was intended for Alzheimer’s patients only, but Calder Woods executive director Ben Mazzara suggested that the planter’s box be utilized by all units.

“It didn’t really affect the project or how long it would take, but just made it more beneficial, which was great,” Jacob said. “I know the people here will enjoy it, and that makes me feel good.”

Jacob raised around $4,300 to buy materials and construct the project and donated around $3,500 to Calder Woods for upkeep. He also donated around 100 pounds of soil for residents to utilize, part of which is being stored by the family until it is needed.

As far as becoming an Eagle Scout, Jacob said that by setting a goal and completing his project, he has proved to himself that he can accomplish great things.

“It’s been ingrained in my mind that it’s this great honor, and it really is,” said Jacob, who in the fall will be taking part in the Lamar University TALH honors program for gifted and talented high school-aged students; he hopes to become a doctor one day. “Eagle Scouts get preference in job interviews, and it looks good on your résumé. I’ve just worked so much for so long, it feels good to finally be on the home stretch of this long, 10-year journey.”

Jacob said he expects to receive the rank of Eagle Scout in November.