Bronxville teen Steven Ircha Jr. has spent many summers at a family vacation home that neighbors a Catholic religious retreat in Beach Lake, Pa.
This summer, Steven became a neighbor in deed as the 15-year-old Boy Scout decided to help fix up several of the cabins in the community that had fallen into disrepair.
Steven, a Scout since first grade, took on the project to fulfill the service portion of his Eagle Scout project.
The community, part of the Order of St. Basil the Great, in Glen Cove, N.Y., has long been a summer retreat for immigrants from the Ukraine, including his grandfather, Steven said.
Steven said his grandfather bought a home near the retreat to cement a connection with the community that continues to this day.
When he was pondering projects to become an Eagle Scout, Steven said he picked the retreat because he knew his contribution would be meaningful. There is just one brother from the religious order at the retreat to keep up with maintenance on the 50 cabins, Steven said.
“People there don’t have much money. They rent bungalows cheap. They don’t have the money to paint, and some are older and can’t paint it themselves,” Steven said.
Steven planned a project to fix up five cabins and then recruited, trained and led a group of volunteers who scraped, caulked, primed and painted the cabins.
The crew included six friends from Bronxville: Savino Brusco, Brian Crystal, Anthony Diminno, Jack Boyd, Harry Pyle and Bailie Jones.
Steven also received help from his parents, Jane and Steve Ircha Sr., as well as his sisters Sasha, Kirsten and Caroline and Jane.
They traveled the 110 miles to the retreat center, where they camped in tents outside the Ircha home. After work, the Scouts from Troop 5 served barbecue to the volunteers.
The paint, supplies, food and drinks were donated by Troop 5 parents and local businesses, including D&A Auto Center of Bronxville.
The order held a Catholic mass at the retreat this past Sunday to honor the troop.
“I felt like I actually did something,” Steven said. “We were helping out a community that needed it.”
Steven, who will be a sophomore at Bronxville High School in September, has already fulfilled the other parts of his Eagle Scout requirements, including having 30 merit badges and serving as assistant senior patrol leader for his troop last year. He is now troop guide, a role that involves helping younger Scouts.
He hopes to achieve the Eagle Scout rank within the next year after presenting his project to a board of review.
Steven Ircha Jr., center, and his volunteer crew outside one of the cabins at the retreat after it was fixed up and painted. Photo courtesy Jane Ircha.