Life Scout Hazael M. of Troop 1444 noticed a sudden drop in attendance at his church following the shift from physical meetings to virtual during the pandemic; concerned, he resolved to find out why. Hazael emailed a survey to all regular attendees; what he found was that many members of his church, especially the seniors to which it typically catered, felt uncomfortable with the new technology and didn’t know how to use programs like Zoom to access the sermons. Hazael decided to use his Eagle Project to address this problem and rallied both his church and volunteers to help seniors develop technological literacy.
Hazael recognized that many older parishioners lacked the necessary digital devices and sought help from his community, successfully obtaining two computers to donate to seniors in need. Hazael then organized educational events in conjunction with his church; these were held on Zoom to encourage people in their first steps with the program. This training also allowed people to call into the Zoom Room via phone if they still felt uncomfortable with the application. Hazael created online presentations demonstrating to seniors the do’s and don’ts of Zoom, online communication, and several other key digital programs, and set up breakout rooms where helpers could walk seniors through the technology.
When Hazael learned one particular active and outgoing member of his church couldn’t attend the sessions due to extreme visual impairments that prevented him from using Zoom rooms or even seeing his computer screen, the Scout took a more hands-on approach. Hazael brought one of the donated computers to the parishioner’s house and worked with him personally to activate the accessibility features on his computer and walk him through the digital processes.
Hazael’s project was well-received by the church members; as he recalls, “The best part was, after the training, when they left the breakout room they’d come to me. They’d say “Thank you Hazael” or “This was really helpful.” They said I should share it with other churches and do it in other places where I could. It felt really great to be appreciated.”
Wanting to further maximize his project’s impact, Hazael used his project to promote the community’s ongoing vaccination efforts: as seniors were walked through the process of online communications, volunteers would also assist them in registering to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, finding locations with open availability and guiding them through the process of signing up.
To all Scouts thinking about their path to Eagle Scout, Hazael offers this advice: “Make sure you’re really determined and upfront in what you want to do and how you want to do it. If you’re not the most confident in what you want to do, or interested in, you won’t really have the motivation to carry through. You don’t want to stop halfway through and change your ideas.”