Scout Poway receives the President’s Volunteer Service Award for a temple project

Anand Nair, a Life Scout in Troop 682 and a junior at Poway to Palomar Middle College, was inspired by fellow scouts whose Eagle project had a positive impact on their community.

When he started thinking about his Eagle project, he decided he wanted to do the same for the community he was a part of—the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Poway.

Ashok Tipirneni, director of the board at the Hindu temple, said Nair came and presented his project idea in early 2022.

When the leaders told Nair that the temple needed some new shoe racks, he built five shoe racks. When they mentioned that some benches for meditation would be nice, Nair built two using the highest quality materials.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Anand Nair built two meditation benches for the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Poway.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Anand Nair built two meditation benches for the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Poway. He won the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his work.

(Noah Harrel)

“When it started I noticed there were a few things they put in there initially and they tried to build more on top of that. That’s when I felt like I could be a part of and really bring some ideas to the table,” said Nair.

It was this work ethic and service attitude that prompted the board of directors at the temple to nominate Nair for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Tipirneni said.

Nair and his family were asked by the temple council to stop by on February 12 so they could thank him and honor him.

“At first they said it was a tribute from the president so we thought it was the president of the temple or something,” said Manju Nair, Anand Nair’s mother. “Then we saw President Biden’s signature.”

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is given to those who are committed to strengthening their community through volunteer service. As a recipient of the award, Nair was presented with a medal, certificate of achievement and a congratulatory letter signed by President Biden.

Craig Dickson, Scoutmaster of Troop 682, said it was the first time in 10 years as a Scoutmaster he had seen a Scout achieve this feat through the Eagle project. Life Scout, the second highest rank after Eagle Scout, undertook the Eagle project to earn the rank.

“You have to show leadership in doing some sort of service project, there’s no hour requirement or anything. The real goal is to build service, demonstrate leadership, work with others and use available resources,” said Dickson.

Nair’s year-long project at the temple required approximately 100 hours of planning, fundraising, gathering materials, and building repairs. When the need for a temple arose, Nair adapted it and made it an addition to his project, Tipirneni said.

“He started very small but because he saw the need for everything that was going on there he went on and did everything himself,” says Tipirneni. “What an initiation from her to see more than ‘Oh, I have to do a project,’ it’s more than ‘Hey, how can I help, I know the temple and the community.’”

After meeting with the monastery to see what needs they had, Nair started fundraising to tackle a top priority — an outdoor bench for meditation. He started a GoFundMe so community members could support the project, and within a day Nair had raised more than double the amount needed — over $1,000 in donations.

“Getting all the funding really helped us make sure quality was a top priority,” he said.

Nair decided to use Trex, a wood alternative made from recycled materials, for the bench surface. He said the idea came from watching his parents use the material in their home and noticing how well it blended into the house and its surroundings.

Because Trex isn’t made of real wood, it provides a very smooth surface so those wearing traditional dresses like a sari or dhoti don’t have to worry about the smooth materials getting snagged and damaged by splinters from the wood surface, he said.

Nair enlisted the help of a contractor to cut the material into planks. After two benches were built, Nair gathered his friends to help with the painting.

“It was a pleasure to work with them and it felt like the time flew by,” said Nair, who moved from Rancho Bernardo High School to Poway to Palomar Middle College earlier in the school year. “It’s great to see them again.

“When I changed schools, I wasn’t sure if I would ever see them again, but this project gave me that opportunity,” says Nair.

The second element of Eagle Nair’s project was made possible with the remaining funds, which allowed him to purchase the materials needed to build five new shoe racks outside the temple entrance. Her mother explained that it is customary in Indian culture not to wear shoes inside the house or temple.

Scout Anand Nair built five shoe racks for the Shiva Vishnu Temple.  He received the President's Volunteer Service award.

Poway Scout Anand Nair built five shoe racks for the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Poway as part of his Eagle Project. He received the Presidential Volunteer Service award for the project.

(Noah Harrel)

Nair built a sturdy two-level shelf so that elderly visitors to the temple could sit on the top shelf to take off and put on their shoes while storing them on the bottom shelf.

Looking back on his Eagle project and from fellow scouts, Nair says he most values ​​being part of a group that makes a positive impact on society. Nair’s father, Praveen Nair, said he believed he had done the same by being the first scout to do this kind of work for the temple.

“He really wanted to contribute. For us it is a spiritual home for our community so for years to come it will remain,” said his father.

Nair is steadily working towards his Eagle Scout rank and once the paperwork for his project is complete, he will have little to gain from achieving this goal. He hopes his project can serve as an inspiration for others to invest in their local communities.

“You don’t have to wait. Just go outside, look around you and look at everything and see where you can fit in,” he said.

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