This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It took him nine months of hard work and research, but a teenage Eagle Scout candidate in Ogden finished his project just in time for Veterans Day on Tuesday.
His efforts not only provided badly needed furniture at Ogden's Homeless Veterans Fellowship Center but also will offer homeless veterans an opportunity to learn new skills, gain self-confidence, fight depression, cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and become self-sufficient.
When Benjamin Arthur McCraw was pondering a project for his Eagle, he told his father he wanted to do something for veterans. Through his own research, he knew something about the struggles many veterans face.
For example, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the National Center on Family Homelessness, veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless. They represent 11 percent of the adult civilian population, but 26 percent of the homeless ranks. An estimated 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide each day. And 529,000 to 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year.
So Benjamin and his dad collaborated with his Scout leader and ecclesiastical adviser, Deacon Herschel Hester, of St. James the Just Catholic Church in Ogden.
Hester contacted Jeff Kane, director of the Homeless Veterans Fellowship, who noted that dressers at the Ogden center were made out of particle board and were so cheap and flimsy, they fell apart after being moved just a couple of times. He suggested Benjamin school himself on how to construct sturdy dresser drawers, build one, provide the precise wood cuts and instructions for the vets themselves to assemble a second set and put together a manual for the construction of future dressers.
When Benjamin launched his project, he so inspired the adults he contacted that they happily helped.
Benjamin went online and found a set of plans from Ron's Woodshop, whose proprietor is a disabled veteran and provides free plans to former military members.
Benjamin won permission to modify the instructions so someone not technologically inclined could understand and follow them.
As he began building the dresser, Hester said, the boy received tremendous help from Wheelwright Lumber n Ogden. The company provided the wood at a deep discount, along with instructions on how to do the cuttings.
Benjamin learned how to do all the cuts and how to operate all the specialty saws and tools necessary for such a project.
This past weekend, he delivered the finished dresser as well as the kit and cuttings for a second one along with a 76-page instruction manual that Benjamin put together with the help of two adult engineers on the Scout troop committee.
Robert Bell, owner of River Printing in Riverdale, donated the publication of six copies.
So, on behalf of Benjamin Arthur McCraw: Happy Veterans Day.