INDIAN TRAIL – Jeremy Oldja joined Cub Scouts to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, but the 17-year-old Porter Ridge High School senior is now carving his own path – one that will leave a mark on a local organization for years to come.
Jeremy was recognized in an Eagle Scout court of honor on Dec. 15 for successfully achieving the rank of Eagle – something he earned through a project with the Monroe HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center earlier in the year. Jeremy organized an effort to renovate the center’s prayer garden – a project that required weeks of preparation and planning, soliciting donations and leading a group of volunteers during a five-and-a-half-hour workday on site.
Jeremy has enjoyed being involved in Boy Scouts throughout the years – especially participating in adventures like canoeing, camping and hiking. His love for Scouts combined with encouragement from his parents drove Jeremy to pursue earning his Eagle Scout rank.
“From the very beginning, we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I got Eagle?’” Jeremy said.
When he began thinking about his Eagle project, Jeremy knew he wanted to finish the project before he turned 17 on Aug. 14. He juggled several ideas before deciding to reach out to the Monroe HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center.
“Our family supports the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Monroe, so I called them and asked, ‘Is there anything I could do for you?’” he said.
The center informed Jeremy of a need concerning its prayer garden, which resembled a “jungle,” he said. He agreed to help the center spruce up the garden and quickly got to work, soliciting donations from local businesses including Blue Max Materials in Indian Trail, King’s Greenhouse in Stallings and M&M Awards in Mint Hill.
On the workday, held in May, Jeremy led a group of 17 volunteers – primarily fellow Scouts and their parents – as they worked on the garden, trimmed hedges, cleared a “ton of debris,” cleaned established pavers and added edging stones, soil and flowers.
The toughest part of the project, Jeremy said, was recruiting the volunteers and motivating people to help.
“It was my project, so obviously I was going to be out there as the go-getter, the CEO,” he said. “I had to talk people into it because I couldn’t do it all myself. I wound up having a great turnout.”
The best part, Jeremy said, was when the project was finally done and he and his fellow volunteers could sit back and see all they accomplished.
“Seeing it done was just kind of nice,” he said. “I’d been in Scouting for 11 years at that point … it was a humbling moment, thinking back on the people that helped (me). I couldn’t have done it without them, and I thank God for those people.”
Jeremy added the center was “really excited” about the newly spruced-up garden. He said there haven’t been any official plans set in place regarding the garden’s upkeep, but he hopes to donate money to ensure maintenance of the area.
When reflecting on the recent Eagle court of honor ceremony, Jeremy calls the celebration a “bittersweet experience,” as his Scouting days have come to an end. He plans to return to attend special Scouting events, but his primary focus is looking ahead to college – he plans to attend Liberty University to double major in music and cinematic arts – as well as rehearsing for Porter Ridge’s upcoming musical, “Godspell.” Jeremy will play guitar in the pit ensemble.
Jeremy and his older brother also recently released an EP of original music, under the name Rock Solid & Oldja, and he plans to continue promoting the album within the community.
“We’re presently building, trying to gain exposure, having people hear it and having fun with it,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to praise God with it.”
If you are the parent of a local Scout who is about to earn his Eagle rank or her Gold Award, let us know. Send an email with informaiton about your Scout and their accomplishments to firstname.lastname@example.org.