By VASHTI HARRIS
SPOTSWOOD – A young man spent hundreds of hours leading dozens of volunteers in refurbishing a cemetery gate in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout —and to keep up his family tradition.
Boy Scout Troop 35 of Spotswood presented Matthew J. Chludzinski with the highest award in scouting —Eagle Scout—at a ceremony that was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Spotswood on April 25.
Matthew is the ninth Eagle Scout from his family since 1950. He joins other Boy Scouts in his family, including Eagle Scout and uncle Douglas J. Chludzinski, Life Scout and older brother John C. Chludzinski, Eagle Scout and older brother William J. Chludzinski, Eagle Scout and father John M. Chludzinski and Eagle Scout and uncle Gregory J. Chludzinski.
“I became a part of the scouting program because most of my family members were scouts. My dad, both of my uncles, and my middle brother were Eagle Scouts. My oldest brother was also a scout, earning his Life Scout rank. It is through my family’s help that I became interested in scouting and stayed with the program,” Matthew said.
For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Matthew lead a team of more than 20 volunteers in refurbishing the Lich Gate to the cemetery of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Spotswood, which had fallen into disrepair, according to information provided by the troop.
“[T]he Lich Gate is a significant marker in the community. The Lich Gate is located near one of the busiest intersections in Spotswood, and is a common sight to community members. Over the years, the iconic Lich Gate began to look weathered and beaten down, so I decided that it would be a perfect way to help the community by fixing the gate,” Matthew said in an interview.
Volunteers replaced the cedar roof, repaired rotted wood, repainted the historic structure and replaced the roof over the entrance to the church hall. Intricate carved architectural details were replaced or refurbished as part of the project, according to the statement.
At the ceremony when he received his honor, Matthew was presented with an award by officials from the Monmouth Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and with a proclamation by State Senator Linda R. Greenstein. Letters of commendation were received from Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
“I’m very grateful and excited to earn my award for my Eagle Scout project because of how much work I have put into my scouting career. I have been in the scouting program since I was in first grade, and now I am a junior in high school. I have put a lot of effort and determination in making this achievement possible, and I am relieved that my efforts have been rewarded. I’m also grateful to all those who helped me along this difficult journey,” Matthew said.
Contact Vashti Harris at email@example.com.