Indianola Scout Riley Morris, Troop 123, who organized construction of a gazebo at Heal House for his Eagle Scout project.

Riley Morris, 17, a member of Scout Troop #123, has spent the last week building a picnic shelter on the grounds of Heal House of Iowa, 906 S. Jefferson Way, to complete his Eagle Scout certification.

His goal — give board members and occupants a place to enjoy meals, games and fellowship in the great outdoors.

He chatted with Heal House’s Board President Laurie Abernathy, who said she’d love to see a “gazebo-type” structure built there.

Heal House, which is the former Woods Motel, contains 12 rooms and always varies in occupancy, based on the need. People who stay at the shelter are dealing with homelessness.

This new outdoor shelter could help those folks feel a little more like being at home, or at least, among friends.

“As a board, we go in at night and sit there with the people that are our guests and just talk to them and eat with them,” Abernathy said. “We get to know them and learn what we can do to help them, and they spend time together eating supper and playing cards.”

She noted that residents have meals brought to them on weekdays while board members grill out for them over the weekends.

“I hope people will be able to put it to good use and really enjoy the shelter, while being able to stay outdoors,” he said.

Riley said he got the ball rolling on the project’s paperwork last July. The fundraising aspect was relativity simple, he added.

“Between the Heal House donation and what I raised just by asking family and friends wound up being more than enough,” he said.

The structure measures 12 feet by 12 feet and is eight-feet tall. It is constructed from wood and steel. Friends and family have braved the frigid weather to help him complete the project. His father Tom Morris, who is a contractor, also assisted.

Once the shelter is completed, he still has to meet with Scout leaders and finish paperwork. It would then either be officially accepted or rejected as an Eagle Scout project. A ceremony would come later.

According to the Boy Scouts of America, in 2019, only 8 percent percent of all Scouts BSA earned the Eagle Scout rank.

Riley said he enjoys working in construction and could see a future career in welding. He would also like to remain active with Boy Scouts as an adult.

“I think he’s a great young man. It’s a wonderful project. We’re excited to start using it when it warms up a bit more. I know the residents are really going to enjoy it and use it a lot,” Abernathy said.

To earn the Eagle Scout rank, you must fulfill requirements in the areas of: leadership, service and outdoor skills. The ranks are as follows: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.

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