Boy Scout Justin Solomon eyed the bubble level as fellow Scouts held the 4-by-4’s creating the frame of the bamboo wind chime. This was Justin's Eagle Scout project and an addition to the Northern Virginia Training Center's (NVTC) Victorian Garden, a sanctuary for residents at the facility.
"We're making a structure to hold bamboo wind chimes," Justin said.
The garden was full of Scouts from Troop 152 from Vienna, as well as parents helping out on Saturday, July 19. Justin lives in Oakton. Building the frame and hanging the pre-cut bamboo pieces were the final steps in a project that Justin started months before. He even remembered cutting some of the bamboo in the snow. The structure is fashioned after a similar bamboo wind chime he saw at Greenspring Park in Alexandria. He was already familiar with the Fairfax training center, even though he lives in Vienna.
"I volunteer here every Sunday. I come and play the cello," he said.
Maureen Gregg, NVTC's director of volunteer services, knew Justin from his cello playing. He plays for the residents in the dining areas.
"I met him back in September, he plays in four different buildings. [The residents] love music," she said.
The wind chimes are a perfect addition to the serenity of the garden.
"They just come out here and sit and enjoy it," Gregg added.
Sean Mcelligott, 13, will be a seventh-grader at Thoreau Middle School this coming fall. He was earning required Scout participation hours helping out with the project. Digging up the grass for the post holes was the toughest part in this job. He's helped out other Scouts earning their Eagle Badge as well.
"I've worked at churches planting plants," Sean said.
Justin's father Rod Solomon knew about the Center from driving Justin back and forth on Sundays.
"It seemed like a great cause. It's been a labor-intensive project," he said.
Scoutmaster Jose Abiles was on hand as well. His son Peter, 15, was helping out also. Other Eagle Scout projects Abiles has been involved with have included stream restoration in Vienna and a Northern Relief tree-planting project at I-66 and Route 7. Project management skills and community involvement are among the things the Scouts learn from these projects, Abiles said. He's noticed it in his son.
"One of the key things he's learned is citizenship, what is his place in the community," Abiles said.
THE NORTHERN Virginia Training Center has been a state-funded operation since 1973. It depends on volunteers and donations to help its 190 residents. All 85 acres of the site off Braddock Road are utilized to teach and improve life for the residents who have multiple disabilities, including mental retardation. Groups that participate in NVTC activities include the Fairfax Civitans, National Recognizance Offices, Knights of Columbus, the Tysons and Springfield Optimists and the Fairfax Kiwanis Club.
"We depend a lot on donations from the community," Gregg said.