14-year-old Boy Scout to create bereavement garden for hospital in Murrieta

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The future site for Rancho Springs Medical Center’s Bereavement Garden will be built through Mark Nelson’s Eagle Scout projects. Valley News/Lexington Howe photos

For brothers Mark and James Nelson, becoming an Eagle Scout requires tackling a project that benefits the communities around them and is personally important to themselves.

Fourteen-year-old Mark Nelson, who has been in the Boy Scouts of America program since he was 8 years old, was approached by Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta to create a bereavement garden for grieving mothers who have lost their babies. James Nelson, 16, who recently became an Eagle Scout, went with his brother to Balboa Park to speak to some specialists regarding flowers and gardens there onsite to get a better idea of the project they’d be undertaking.

“It’s a great cause because they deliver around 200 babies every month,” James Nelson said of Rancho Springs Medical Center. “Not every baby makes it and the parents don’t always have a place to go.”

Mark helped his brother with his Eagle Scout project, which entailed building 8-foot facades of buildings in order for the Murrieta Fire Department’s Community Emergency Response Team, C.E.R.T., to size up damage in preparation for catastrophic events.

“I made him my art director for my project because he’s really good at painting stuff,” James Nelson said. “I originally aimed for it to cost $1,500, but it ended up costing $1,700.”

James Nelson held two garage sales to fund the project, the first for the initial funding and the second to cover the extra expenses.

“I spilled an entire gallon of paint,” Mark Nelson said during his brother’s project.

“There’s a picture somewhere of him just dripping in white paint,” James Nelson said, laughing.

Mark Nelson held a garage sale as well for the beginning of funds needed for the bereavement garden and made $836, even selling his top bunk in his room to pay for the project.

“I still need $700 more,” he said, adding that he had contacted Lowe’s and The Home Depot on donations but have yet to hear back.

Mark Nelson’s project started Oct. 21, and he’s built a small-scale model of what he’d like the finished product to look like, including placement.

“We’re going to be using a variety of flowers, and we’re going to need a planter for that. So probably mulch, and we’re also going to be using flagstone,” Mark Nelson said. “In the model, there’s a path which is flagstone, and the hospital wants that engraved.”

For Mark Nelson, the flagstone has sentimental value.

“My grandpa made a flagstone path in his backyard, and it looks nice,” he said, adding that his grandpa is an avid gardener and architect.

Mark Nelson said he is hoping to have the project finished within two to three months.

“I’ll get a group, maybe about 10 people,” he said.

The day of the project he said he hopes to finish within five hours.

Ryan Holmstrom, 15, has been an Eagle Scout for one and a half years and helped James Nelson on his project and is planning on helping Mark Nelson with his project as well.

“I was asked to help assemble the facades for James’ project, I also helped draw and paint on them,” he said.

For Holstrom’s own project, he helped install a workout bench at a park and repainted all of the equipment. While the actual day of executing the project took two hours, the entire process took four months.

“I think the main thing for me isn’t obtaining my Eagle but it’s helping other people obtain theirs,” Holmstrom said. “Then it really comes full circle and you realize what it means to be an Eagle Scout and it’s not about yourself, it’s about others.”

For Holmstrom, you can’t be pushed in obtaining it.

“You have to want it, it’s all about the meaning,” he said.

The majority of Eagle Scouts get it right before their 18th birthday, which is the cutoff limit of how long you can wait to try and obtain it.

“The statistic is something like 2% to 4% of Boy Scouts who become Eagle Scouts,” Holmstrom said.

Mark Nelson is now at the point of waiting to hear back on what the hospital wants, combined with the list of flowers he researched with the butterfly specialist at Balboa Park and the flowers that the hospital is requesting.

The wish list of items that can be donated can be found by going to www.gofundme.com and searching ‘Eagle Project for Hospital Bereavement Garden.’

“We need help raising the money needed to get this project off the ground. It’s all about the fundraising right now in order to be able to give the hospital the beautiful garden that they need,” he said.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.