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Improving the quality of life

Work completed for Eagle Scout project

St. John’s Lutheran Community received a donation of raised gardens as part of an Albert Lea High School senior’s Eagle Scout project.

Brayden Boettcher built five raised gardens of lumber, aluminum and siding — three vegetable gardens 6 feet long and 3 feet wide and two flower gardens 2 feet long and 1 foot wide.

The gardens, which have all been filled with flowers this year because of the month in which they were donated, were built and donated for the courtyards within the new St. John’s on Fountain Lake facility.

“It is not easy to be an Eagle Scout; they have to go through so many things,” said Diane Wichmann, director of public relations and fund development. “What he took on, you’re going to walk in and say — ‘wow.’”

The structure of the raised garden bed is becoming increasingly popular in senior communities because seniors are able to garden without bending or kneeling over. St. John’s is in its 11th year of raised gardening.

“It is great gardening because these residents can be standing up, they can be in a wheelchair, they can be in a walker and they can participate,” Wichmann said.

Wichmann said when she was out in the courtyard filling the beds with flowers, a senior resident of St. John’s started helping her. Wichmann offered the elderly woman gloves for her hands and the woman said — “I haven’t worn gloves a day in my life.”

Wichmann said the woman — who lives in memory care at St. John’s — was elated to be able to garden once again, something she had obviously done all her life.

Brandy Boettcher, Brayden Boettcher’s mother, said the woman in the courtyard with them while they were working was in seventh heaven.

“The smile on her face was worth it,” she said.

“I have always been around St. John’s, and it has always been there, so it is always nice to give back,” Brayden Boettcher said. Brandy Boettcher is a financial assistant at St. John’s Lutheran Community in Albert Lea.

The residents grow vegetables and flowers in the beds and eventually take their work to be entered into the Freeborn County Fair.

“One of the main things for the residents that (St. John’s) has are these gardens, and it just gets the residents out and lets them get their hands dirty,” Brayden Boettcher said.

At the St. John’s campus off of Minnesota Highway 13, the residents have similar gardens — however, they are made of cedar and are older, Brayden Boettcher said.

“With the new campus coming out, and after seeing this wonderful courtyard, I figured, why not build some garden planters and get some residents out here,” he said. “Even yesterday, I was just filling these gardens up with dirt and we had one lady just playing in the dirt. Her smile was just ear-to-ear.”

Becoming an Eagle Scout is a lengthy process that requires dedication and patience.

“Usually school and sports and fear of doing something of this magnitude does scare a lot of boys,” Brandy Boettcher said.

“Once you have work and a car and sports, a lot of the ideals of Eagle Scout and the ideals of a young Scout just kind of fall behind once you have other goals.”

Brayden Boettcher started Boy Scouts in first grade. He is a member of the Troop 7 Boys Scouts.

“(Boy Scouts) really helps you determine what your life is going to to be. It really gives you some good roles to get into and it really gives you good leadership qualities,” Brayden Boettcher said. He said he realized he wanted to pursue the title of Eagle Scout after helping so many of his friends complete their own projects.

“I really thought, this is the time I need to step up and do my part for the community,” Brayden Boettcher said.

This project is not the only community involvement that Brayden Boettcher has been part of over the years. He has volunteered with St. John’s throughout his childhood growing up in Albert Lea. At Albert Lea High School, he is a member of the soccer team, National Honor Society, the musical and plays each season, the mock trial team and link crew. He is heavily involved with the music program and is an honor student.

Brayden Boettcher did not complete the project without the help of the community. The river rock and black dirt were donated by Southern Minnesota Landscaping. The tin inlays were donated by Johnson Heating and Plumbing, and the lumber was donated by Freeborn Lumber Co. Thrivent Financial in Albert Lea also made a monetary donation to the project.

Even with the help of friends and relatives and other Boy Scouts, the raised garden project took Brayden Boettcher a few months to complete.

About Evelyn Seffinga

Evelyn Seffinga covers education and arts and culture for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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