For something so small, tiny houses are tough to ignore. There are more than a dozen tiny-house TV shows on cable and streaming, and entire tiny-house communities are popping up in California, Texas, Florida and beyond. It’s kind of a big deal.
Two years ago, Tim Maron heard a story on NPR about tiny-house communities in the South. Around that same time, the then-Life Scout from Pennsylvania happened to be brainstorming ideas for his Eagle Scout service project.
“The thought occurred to me that I could create a tiny house in my area for someone in need, just as they had in the South,” he says.
But he didn’t want to build a house for just anyone. Tim, who has grandfathers, uncles, and cousins who served in the military, wanted to build a tiny house for a veteran.
“Veterans served our country and were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, only to return home to homelessness or poverty,” he says. “I felt the house should be created to give back to the veteran community.”
After raising $55,000 and working tirelessly to lead a team of fellow Scouts, adult volunteers and professional contractors, the house was completed in 2019. Rich Kisner, executive director of project beneficiary Community Strategies Group, told WNEP-TV that he had worked on housing projects before but had never experienced anything like this.
“He did all the work,” Kisner says of Tim, who was 17 when the project was completed. “It was really rewarding to be a part of — to see a young Scout like this take the initiative.”
For building a home from scratch for a Pennsylvania veteran, the Eagle Scout from Troop 300 of Hobbie, Pa. (Columbia-Montour Council), received the 2020 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for the Northeast Region.
The 2020 Adams awards, detailed at the end of this post, recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned Eagle in 2019.
How he paid for a house
After brainstorming potential Eagle Scout projects, Tim narrowed his list to two ideas: revitalize the public-address system at his high school stadium or build a tiny house for a veteran.
As Eagle projects go, that second option wasn’t going to be easy. Tim had to find a location, secure a zoning change, hire an architect and a contractor, figure out a budget and recruit volunteers.
And then there was the small matter of money. Tim needed to raise more than $55,000 to build the 550-square-foot home.
“The response from the community was very positive,” he says. “Many companies and organizations donated to the project — some of them found me instead of me going to them first. The project really brought out the best in the surrounding community.”
Donations came pouring in — $10, $50, $100 or more at a time. But still, Tim wasn’t near the $55,000 he needed. He started a GoFundMe page, applied for grants (“most of which were denied,” he says) and presented at local veterans organizations to ask for money.
“I was struggling,” he says. “The breakthrough came when I received a notification that I had received a grant from Wells Fargo.”
The Wells Fargo Foundation’s VeteranWINS program, which provides grants to address veteran homelessness, agreed to donate $45,000 to Tim’s effort.
How he built a house
Building a house takes a lot of paperwork — permits, applications, something called a “letter of nonconformity.” And this was while Tim was still in high school, where a mix of studying, writing papers and participating in extracurriculars kept him plenty busy.
“I was surprised at how long it actually took,” he says. “The process may have been slowed down due to me being in school and afterschool activities, but it was still very lengthy.”
But things really picked up once all the I’s were dotted and T’s crossed. The house began taking shape, all under Tim’s direction. Like any good leader, he assembled a great team and let the experts do their jobs.
“Being the leader of the project was a challenge,” Tim says, “but it was made easier through the delegation of work to others, as well as the advice from adult peers that had been through the process before.”
Tim’s team included Scouts, Scout leaders, volunteers from the community, volunteers from Wells Fargo, contractors and sub-contractors. That’s a lot of moving parts, but under Tim’s leadership, all of these different groups worked together smoothly. Once the process began, momentum carried it forward quickly.
“The amount of time it took to construct the house compared to getting ready for the construction surprised me,” he says. “I learned a great amount about constructing a house and what the process is like, from laying the block, creating the base, framing the house, installing drywall, doing the electrical, painting and all the finishing touches.”
What he’d tell younger Scouts
Building a house seems like a herculean effort, and it is. But Tim encourages younger Scouts considering Eagle project ideas to dream big.
“No matter how large of a project they may be attempting to complete, if they set their mind to it and dedicate themselves to completing the project, they will be able to achieve their goal,” he says. “As long as they do not give up and keep working, they can achieve their goal.”
But whatever the project’s scope, it should have some sort of personal significance, Tim says. Then all that work feels a little less like work.
“Pick a project for a not-for-profit that means something to you,” he says. “This will make doing your project more enjoyable and raise the anticipation to see the project completed.”
2020 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year
This post is one of a quartet of articles recognizing four outstanding Eagle projects by Class of 2019 Eagle Scouts.
Each project covered in these posts received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.
The award process begins at the council level, where each council can nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association. From there, one project from each BSA region — Central, Northeast, Western and Southern — is selected to receive the Adams award.
Regional recipients get $500 each for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility. Their councils also get $500 apiece.
Next, a special selection committee of the National Eagle Scout Association selects a national winner from among those four recipients. The national recipient gets $2,500 for future educational purposes or to attend a national or international Scouting event or facility. Their council gets $2,500, too.
2020 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award recipients
- National winner (representing the Central Region): Alex Arehart of the Tecumseh Council
- Designed, engineered and 3D-modeled an outdoor seating structure at local STEM school
- Southern Region winner: Mason Wettengel of the Middle Tennessee Council
- Renovated five apartments for veterans
- Northeast Region winner: Timothy Maron of the Columbia-Montour Council
- Built a “tiny house” for a previously homeless veteran
- Western Region winner: Tanner Hyde of the Longs Peak Council
- Improved wheelchair accessibility at a local park
Meet the Adams award recipients live on Facebook
Aaron Derr and Gina Circelli from Boys’ Life magazine will interview each of these recipients live on Facebook. Check out the schedule below. Can’t watch live? The interviews will live forever on the Boys’ Life Facebook page so you can see what you missed.
- Alex Arehart, national winner: 2 p.m. CDT on June 19
- Mason Wettengel, Southern Region winner: 2 p.m. CDT on June 22
- Timothy Maron, Northeast Region winner: 2 p.m. CDT on June 29
- Tanner Hyde, Western Region winner: 2 p.m. CDT on July 6