After the first day of her Eagle Scout project, Apara Sai Jella received an ovation.
She led a team of volunteers in setting up an outdoor meditation area at Project Pride, a women’s residential rehabilitation center in Oakland, Calif. The residents were impressed by the Scout’s leadership and work.
“They came outside and clapped for us; they loved it,” Apara says. “But they hadn’t seen the other side of the project yet, because it wasn’t all done.”
She still had to build a children’s play area.
Altogether, her project provided residents with a place to both find peace during their rehab and spend time with their children. This consisted of transforming a backyard space by adding a meditation area, playground, mural, a garden and places to sit.
“The women in rehab needed a space to relax, be in peace and spend time with their children,” Apara says. “This project’s goal was to do exactly that.”
For her exceptional efforts to help the women and children, Apara Sai Jella, a member of girls Troop 36 of Danville, Calif., received the 2022 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. She’s the first female Eagle Scout to be bestowed with the national award.
The 2022 Adams awards, which include 16 territorial winners and a national winner selected from one of those territorial winners, recognize outstanding Eagle projects completed by young people who earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2021. The national winner receives a $3,500 scholarship, which they can use for their future education or to attend a national or international Scouting event.
TIP: Click/tap and drag the slider below each image to see the change.
Planning, planning, planning
The most challenging aspect of Apara’s project was planning. It took a couple months for Apara to find a project before she reached out to Project Pride, a place where her parents had volunteered several years prior. The center assists pregnant women and mothers, including single mothers with their children, with substance abuse treatment resources and a place to stay while they recover.
Apara drew up a blueprint for the outdoor area. She and the center’s directors exchanged emails, adjusting the design at least four times to ensure all of the project’s elements would work best for the women and their children.
She set up a GoFundMe page, and fundraising went more smoothly than anticipated, thanks to Apara’s supportive family, friends and community.
“We raised $3,000, about three-quarters of the budget, within the first 36 hours of the page going live,” she says. “This project wouldn’t have happened without the incredible community support.”
Apara shopped around for materials, finding what she needed at hardware stores, a local landscaping supply store and Amazon.
“It took a lot of work to see which materials would be cost-effective, yet quality,” she says. “It was essential to research that everything was the best it could be within the budget.”
A project in two parts
The project was split into two parts: the first workday focused on the meditation area, the second on the play area. For the first day, which ended up lasting 10 hours, Apara led a group of 25 volunteers — family, friends and Scouts — in installing sod, a gravel circle and a garden.
Like many projects, Apara encountered some challenges. When they were putting in grass, they uncovered a layer of concrete that’d make it difficult for the grass to survive.
“I made sure to communicate with other Scouts and adults to see if they had any input,” she says. “As a leader, communication is the biggest thing to make a project happen.”
They discovered it was only a thin layer of concrete and easy to remove.
The following Saturday, Apara and her volunteers were back to work on the other side of the outdoor area. They built a playground, painted a mural, constructed benches and painted a hopscotch and racetrack games. Inspired by their work, the women at the center wanted to help, so Apara delegated and they helped paint the hopscotch and racetrack on the concrete.
Making an impact
A month after completing her Eagle Scout project, she returned to the center. The grass she and her team installed was growing and green; the women were reading and relaxing in the meditation area, and their children were enjoying the new playground.
“It’s so amazing; it’s incredible that this project could help so many people,” Apara says.
Apara received handwritten letters from the women at the center thanking her for the updated outdoor space.
She, too, is grateful for everyone who helped her complete it.
“My family and friends supported me throughout this whole journey,” she says. “More than ‘my Eagle project,’ this is ‘our Eagle project.’”
2022 Eagle Scout Projects of the Year
This post is part of our series spotlighting Eagle Scouts who received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award in 2022. Stay tuned for roundups of all the National Service Territory winners. They are:
Nijrell Jackson, Far East Council
Ravindu Vithanachchi, Catalina Council
Apara Sai Jella, Golden Gate Area Council
Johnathan O’Brien, Northeast Iowa Council
Brendan Zahner, Heart of America Council
Zain Dhatwani, Three Fires Council
Cole Kosch, Capitol Area Council
Nicholas Sasseen, Last Frontier Council
Adam Weaver, Dan Beard Council
Jake Christel, Theodore Roosevelt Council
Eric Hense, Mayflower Council
Logan Decker, Mountaineer Area Council
James Stickel, Northern New Jersey Council
Taylor Bell, Middle Tennessee Council
Christian Norris, Indian Waters Council
Jacob Friedman, Central Florida Council
How to nominate an Eagle Scout for the Adams Award
If you know an Eagle Scout whose project is worthy of consideration for the Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year award, please nominate them.
Find a nomination form, judging criteria and more information at this link.
Any Eagle Scout, their parents or any registered BSA volunteer (with the Eagle Scout’s permission) may submit an Eagle Scout service project for consideration. Each council will then nominate one outstanding project to the National Eagle Scout Association.