WATERVILLE — Albert Joseph Languet IV can think of no better way to become an Eagle Scout than by planning a playground for homeless children.
What started as a quest to earn his Eagle Scout rank — the highest attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program — turned into a real passion for Languet, 17, when he met homeless children at Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Ticonic Street.
“I didn’t know there were that many homeless people in Waterville, Maine — especially children,” he said. “I didn’t really think they were in this area. You don’t see them every day.”
A Messalonskee High School junior and member of Waterville Boy Scout Troop 436, Languet several months ago started going to the shelter regularly after deciding to develop a playground outside the new homeless shelter on Colby Street as his Eagle Scout program.
He designed and planned the fenced-in playground, which will be installed on a triangular plot of land to the north of the shelter and will include slides and climbing equipment. He hopes to raise $15,000 for the project, which already has garnered $4,000.
“It’s giving back to the community,” Languet said Wednesday of the project, while sitting in the new shelter’s living area with his father, Bert, who is guiding him in the project. “Kids are going through a hard time in their life and a playground will help them through — I think that’s the biggest thing. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have those kinds of things.”
Languet is active in golf, hockey and lacrosse at Messalonskee and hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon some day.
“I like science and I like helping people,” he said.
He was inspired to become a doctor after having surgery himself, including for a broken arm he suffered in a skateboard accident.
“I have two metal plates in my arm,” he said. “I’ve had two foot surgeries.”
The shelter’s executive director, Betty Palmer, said Languet is determined to make sure children have a place to play while they are living there.
“I just love him,” she said. “He’s not our first Eagle Scout and I hope he’s not our last. He certainly has been ambitious and a joy to work with.”
Working under Scoutmasters Bruce Rueger and Ralph Merrow, Languet chose the playground project after exploring a variety of ideas. After meeting with Palmer and discussing the project, he was hooked.
He and his father went online to research playgrounds, and found equipment appropriate primarily for toddlers and children through age 12. Bert Languet unloaded the equipment at the new shelter on Wednesday.
He said he, his wife, Sara, and their other two children are proud of Albert.
“He’s very involved in the community,” he said. “He does scouting and sports; he’s on the student council and in key club.”
Amy Calder — 861-9247