By Mike Billoni
John Sosnowski, a lifelong resident of Grand Island and a senior at Canisius High School, has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 630 since the sixth grade at St. Stephen School. In position for the highest rank as a Boy Scout - an Eagle Scout - he chose as his final project something that would benefit his church.
"John wanted a project that allowed him to give back to his community and the church that has helped him become a responsible citizen in our community," explained his Scoutmaster, Scott Swagler. "He chose to update the old church basement at St. Stephen's by coordinating the effort to replace the flooring, which consisted of a sub floor of pre-World War II tiles and carpeting dating back 30 years."
The Rev. Sam Venne of St. Stephens, who is the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 630, as well as assistant chaplain and merit badge counselor, said the old church basement "was a bit of a mess" and "John wanted an Eagle project no one else would do. He does not do anything halfway and with his tremendous personal abilities as a leader, he recruited parents and Scouts to assist with this project."
One of the requirements of an Eagle Scout is the complete coordination of a significant project benefitting the community. This includes fundraising, obtaining the necessary approvals and project planning. Sosnowski raised more than $2,500 to purchase the carpet, glue and tools necessary to complete the job, working with Mooradian Carpeting of Niagara Falls on surface preparation and installation.
Prior to the installation of the carpet, Sosnowski coordinated the work efforts over three days, with more than 20 Scouts and parents removing the old carpet and preparing the floor. The overall project amassed more than 200 man-hours.
"Boy Scouts isn't just about the development of leadership in the boys, but establishing a certain character within them that yearns to help others and learn more about the world," Sosnowski said. "One could see this during my Eagle project when Scouts of different ranks and ages came out to help.
"This project would not have been completed without the work of 27 Scouts and leaders from Troop 630, my family and a few parishioners. I would also like to thank Mooradian Carpeting for assisting us. The company owner and upper management volunteered their time to teach Scouts how to install the carpet."
Sosnowski's mother, Kathleen Leonard, said, "Scouting has become a part of our family life.
"Troop 630 benefits not only from a dedicated and involved group of parents, but leaders who are committed to the organization for the long-term," she added.
Nationally, approximately 7 percent of all Boy Scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout. This year, six of the 42 boys in Troop 630 have attained the rank or are in the final stages of becoming an Eagle Scout.
"To see the amount of money and time this project entailed and how John managed it speaks of a young man with knowledge and great supervision ability," Venne said.
John Sosnowski, Eagle Scout, Troop 630