ROSEVILLE — For a 16-year-old Boy Scout, choosing a community project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout was easy business — he just had to look around him and combine his future aspirations with a longtime passion.
Matthew Finley, of Sterling Heights, has been a Boy Scout, and before that a Cub Scout, for as long as he can remember, so when the time came for him to begin work toward becoming an Eagle Scout earlier this year, he already knew exactly what he wanted to do: build a shed.
It was a project his family knew would be difficult.
“My first reaction was that it was a big project for him to do and (that it) would require a lot of work and fundraisers,” said Germaine Finley, Matthew’s mom. “He wanted to build it not only because of the architectural aspect — he wants to go to school to become an architectural engineer — but because he loves gardening. Always has.”
It wasn’t all about a love for the type of work though. Matthew had a service-oriented and practical reason for wanting to build a garden shed in the community outreach garden at Trinity United Methodist Church in Roseville.
“The tools were previously kept on the other side of the church, and it was kind of a long walk,” Matthew explained. “A lot of people at my church are older and were having a hard time with it. I thought if there were a garden shed located inside the garden, it would be easier for them. They could come and garden and go home and not have to worry about carrying tools back and forth around the church.”
Throughout the summer, Matthew spent hours each Sunday working on the shed, finding out every step of the way, from preplanning to the execution, just how right his mother was — it was a big undertaking.
“He did a bottle drive, a bowling fundraiser and a presentation in front of the church board to get a request for donations in the church bulletin,” Germaine Finley said. “That was just the beginning, though. He had to research to see what the requirements were to build there and go with a gentleman from the church to pull the permits at City Hall.”
“Teenagers have a lot of big ideas, but they don’t always understand the organization behind them, but one problem after another, he kept at it,” she added. “The project showed him all the difficulties and unplanned things that can come up when building, and there were a lot of them, but in the end, it gave him a great insight into contingency planning. If he wants to build something in the future, he will be able to do it. I have no doubt.”
The first problem was determining where the church’s underground sprinkler system was located. Finding the right location was easy compared to what happened next.
“We were all set to build, and we had all of our supplies out, and we started to dig for the support beams, and we hit cement,” Matthew said. “Working past that was probably the most difficult part of the project. I had to keep 14 boys from my troop on task and working while we determined what tool we’d have to rent and if we had to change our plans.”
Once the cement was out, most of the difficulties left with the cement, and Matthew said he was finally able to really enjoy the rest of the project. His favorite part of it all: “smelling the cedar.” The 8-foot-by-4-foot shed was built with cedar studs and T1-11 siding and topped with hickory shingles, all stained to match the church.
“I love just looking at the tool shed,” Germaine said. “It looks amazing. I’m so proud of him. It’s beautiful.”
She’s not the only one to think so. The shed is proving to be a popular new addition to the free community garden and playscape at the church.
Bill Dillender, head of the Trinity men’s club, was so taken by Matthew’s generosity that he plans to submit photos of the new shed to the United Methodist Men’s National Organization for publication at their spring conference.
“It enhances our whole church, but especially our community garden, and I hope people will see it and want to take part in the garden next year.”
There is no charge for the 8-foot-by-12-foot plots located on the church property, but interested gardeners must fill out an application each year. For more information, call the church office at (586) 776-8828.
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