Congregation marks 9/11 anniversary with service project
September 21, 2010
By Kirsten Johnson
On the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, members of a local church were hard at work in the community to help give the somber day a new image.
More than 80 volunteers from the Issaquah congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ventured up to Tradition Plateau on a sunny morning to take part in the Tradition Lake Reclamation Project.
Andrew Larsen, a local teen working toward his Eagle Scout award, created the event for his Eagle Scout service project. As a member of the Issaquah LDS congregation, Larsen received many willing hands from his Scout Troop 697 and church.
The project asked for help to remove scotch broom, a plant growing invasively on the plateau. The weeds could then decompose and allow for new, natural plants to grow in, essentially restoring areas of the plateau.
By 10 a.m., volunteers of all ages had arrived ready to help. Krispy Kreme doughnuts were stacked nearby as a snack break for the hard workers.
The LDS church designated Sept. 11 as the Northwest Day of Service — 11,000 volunteers in Western Washington alone took part in 157 service projects similar to Larsen’s.
As bishop of the Issaquah congregation, Steve Balkman explained that the church wanted to selflessly give back to the community on the tragic day in history. Along with Larsen’s Eagle Scout project, the church offered three other local opportunities for members to help, including a care package project for military personnel, a back-to-school drive for underprivileged kids and a House of Hope Amphitheater repainting project.
“We wanted to find projects that could impact the community,” Balkman said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for young people.”
Larsen is a 16-year-old sophomore at Issaquah High School. As a requirement for earning his Eagle Scout, he organized the project entirely himself to demonstrate his leadership skills and commitment to service. For any teen attempting to earn an Eagle Scout, all requirements must be completed before his 18th birthday.
“This is an Eagle Scout requirement, but the service is a lot of fun,” Larsen said.
One of Larsen’s Scout leaders, Matthew Balkman, explained how rare it is for a Scout to earn the Eagle Scout rank. He said that less than 2 percent of Scouts ever do.
“A big part of Boy Scouts is service,” he said. “But it’s not just about what you do. It’s about organizing and using leadership skills. Andrew is running the show.”
Boyd Karren, a member of the Issaquah congregation, arrived at the plateau with his entire family — himself, his wife, two sons and 6-year-old daughter Emma.
“Andrew is a great kid and we want to help him out,” Karren said. “Plus, it’s nice to do something good on a day that was so bad.”
Kirsten Johnson: 392-6434 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.