Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 11:33 AM
By Diane Lore
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – GREAT KILLS – When members of the Father Drumgoole Council, Knights of Columbus, needed new shelves for storage in their council hall in Richmond Town, they reached out to Boy Scout Andrew Meketa and volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 5, Huguenot, where Andrew is a special-needs Scout.
Meketa, who is autistic, coordinated the tools and funding and led his fellow Scouts and adult volunteers over a recent weekend to build and install shelving in the council hall, fulfilling his community-service project requirements for promotion to Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting.
It was the pounding of hammer on nails that enabled the 21-year-old Great Kills resident to achieve his personal goal: Claiming his place among the 2 percent of all Boy Scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
“It’s a distinction that never recedes,” said Jerry Gross, publicity chair for the Staten Island Council of Boy Scouts. “Andrew will always be known as an Eagle Scout.”
His proud parents, Madeline and Russell Meketa, assistant Scoutmasters of Troop 5, attended an Eagle “Court of Honor” ceremony and reception for their son at the South Shore Jewish Community Center in Greenridge, along with Scoutmaster Robert Ciraola, who has shepherded Meketa through his Scouting career.
Meketa has been a Scout since he was 10 1/2-years-old. He started as a Junior Webelo Cub Scout and “crossed over” to Boy Scouts with Troop 5, which is sponsored by Our Lady Star of the Sea parish on Amboy Road.
The young man will be graduating in June from the Hungerford School in Clifton, and plans to attend Lifestyles for the Disabled, the Willowbrook-based agency, to learn vocational skills. As a teen-ager, Meketa attended the Hungerford School inclusion program at Tottenville High School and Barnes Intermediate School, Great Kills.
Meketa is tall, shy and quiet. He doesn’t smile much and doesn’t speak often. But, when asked how it feels to be a Boy Scout and be known as an Eagle Scout, he said in a loud voice: “It made me feel proud.”
Boy Scout Andrew Meketa of Great Kills, third row center, who is autistic, with members of Troop 5 from Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Huguenot. Andrew recently completed his Eagle Scout project, earning him the highest rank in Scouting. (Photo Courtesy of Madeline Meketa)