Eagle project turns former library into reading room

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Detroit — Evan Crawford wanted his Eagle Scout project to be something that would affect lives for years to come.

The idea for the project, required to attain the highest rank in Boy Scouting, came to him in August as he was helping to renovate lockers at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy in Detroit.

He decided to take a barren room at the academy, a wasteland of broken desks and outdated books, and turn it into a vibrant reading room for students.

“Before my mom and I left, we walked past a dark room that used to be a library,” said Evan, 17, senior at University of Detroit Jesuit High School who is a member of Troop 409 in Highland Park. “Immediately I said I wanted to make that my project.”

To receive the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, scouts are required to earn 21 merit badges, serve at least six months in a troop leadership position and plan, organize and head up a service project for a school, religious organization or community.

To complete the project, Crawford had help from his 22 troop members, volunteers in the community, friends, family members and donations from Lowe’s, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. The room was unveiled to students on Monday.

The renovated room is now equipped with more than 500 new books, gray carpet, new hanging light fixtures, a couch, six wooden tables and chairs and walls plastered with encouraging posters about reading.

“It took us 120 hours to get everything ready,” said Evan, the son of Ron Crawford and Paula G. Humphries. “We started in August and redid the carpet, lights, put in new books and furniture. I wanted the children to have somewhere they could go to read.”

Hunter Anderson, a second-grader at the Academy, was in awe of the reading room.

“I want to come here every day,” Hunter said. “It’s really nice and I like it a lot.”

Humphries said she is proud of her son for dedicating time and effort into this project.

“Reading is so important and it can open up an entire world,” Humphries said. “Some kids are so caught up in computers and games that they forget about books and reading.”

Evan, who will be attending the College of Architecture at the University of Michigan in the fall, hopes the room will encourage the fundamentals of reading.

“I want more children to enjoy reading as much I did at a young age and I hope this room will be a great place for them to discover that,” he said.