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Helping youths help others through greenhouse project

Sun., Nov. 7, 2010

Armed with little more than some blueprints and tools from home, a local Boy Scout on a quest to become an Eagle Scout is helping build a better community.

Sean Lyonnais and some fellow Scouts from Troop 258 teamed up with the Hutton Settlement children’s home on Saturday to build a greenhouse on the Hutton campus in Spokane Valley.

Lyonnais, 14, is leading the team. He took up the greenhouse as his Eagle Scout project after hearing from his aunt, who works at the home, that they wanted to grow food for the needy.

“I like to be able to help people out in different ways,” Lyonnais said. “So this is kind of a big deal for me.”

He knew it was the perfect project to earn Eagle Scout ranking, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. He could become an Eagle, help Hutton and help the community.

“It’s kind of a win-win partnership,” he said.

For each of the past couple years, youths from the Hutton Settlement have grown 500 pounds of produce to donate to local charities and shelters.

To them, it was not enough. They knew there were a lot more hungry mouths to feed in the Spokane area and decided to build a greenhouse.

The greenhouse will allow them to increase their harvest – and their donation – threefold, to about 1,500 pounds per year.

“We want to give back to the community,” said 15-year-old Ericka Clement, a Hutton resident. “So we decided a greenhouse would be a good thing to do. A greenhouse would allow us to help year-round.”

They will donate what they grow – including carrots, peas, lettuce, tomatoes and even flowers – to the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and others.

As anyone who has tested their own green thumb knows, tending a garden is no easy task. But these youngsters are no strangers to hard work.

“There are some days you just don’t want to do it,” Clement said. “Then we think about how we’re so fortunate to have a meal every night and we know there are other people who can’t have that.”

They will also try to sell produce at the Millwood Farmers’ Market next year. Selling the goods will teach them about business and allow them to make money to put back into the program, said Russell Hyslop, Hutton’s director of youth development.

The cost of the project will be about $12,000. Most of the funding came from the Hutton Tree Farm – they were able to give $10,000 with last year’s Christmas tree sales. The Boy Scouts and Hutton are working to raise the remaining funds.

The Hutton Settlement children’s home houses 32 boys and girls who are in need of a safe and healthy home.

“All the kids feel so strongly and so passionately about giving back to the community,” Clement said. “Some people just aren’t as lucky as we are.”

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