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Worth Scout designs benches in honor of deceased friends

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

worth eagle scout photo 5-26

Submitted photo

Granit Xhemajil, 18, kneels before one of two park benches he designed and built in memory of two late friends.

 

Granit Xhemajil decided that he would do something special to become an Eagle Scout. The 18-year-old Worth resident decided to honor the memories of two close friends.

Xhemajil designed and built two memorial benches in honor of Robert Burns and Anthony Sosnowski, who both lived in Worth. For his efforts, Xhemajil and his mother, Arlene, were honored at a May 18 Worth Village Board meeting. Xhemajli was recognized for his “outstanding contributions to the Worth Park District.”

In order to complete requirements for his Eagle Scout program, Xhemajil who is part of Worth Boy Scout Troop 668, was required to come up with a plan for a worthy project to benefit the community; to then design the project, find a sponsoring organization, raise funds for the material needed and finally to build the project.

Kevin Higgins, superintendent of Maintenance for the Worth Park District, said Xhemajil came to the district about three months ago and met with him and Robert O’Shaughnessy, executive director of Parks and Recreation, to discuss his project and to see if the district would be interested in it.

“We both were very impressed with this young man and his plans and we agreed to work with him. Any time we are able to help a young person with goals such as this, it is a pleasure for the district to do whatever they can,” said Higgins. “His goal to build these benches to honor these two people was very worthwhile. “

Higgins worked with Xhemajil through the month it took to complete the project. “Our communications included establishing timelines and determining the most appropriate location for each of the benches.”

Xhemajil’s choice to honor Burns and Sosnowski was based on what they both meant to him and the impact they each had on his life.

“They both were good people,” he said. His reasons for selecting them were heartwarming and touching and in the case of Sosnowski, it was especially heartbreaking.

“Anthony was my best friend and he passed away in December, 2015. He was only 21 years old. He and I spent a lot of time skateboarding at Peake’s Park, and I wanted to place a bench there with his name on it, where we had shared so many wonderful times. I hope people will sit there, enjoy themselves, and remember my friend.”

Xhemajil also lost his longtime mentor and friend in Burns in November, 2015, just a month before his friend Anthony died.

“I had been in Scouts with Mr. Burns since I was 6 years old, a total of 12 years. He was always there for me and was a great help to me. He was a World War II veteran and I thought it would be appropriate to honor him with a memorial bench at the Veteran’s Memorial in Worth.”

He added that Burns was a longtime Boy Scout volunteer, with more than 50 years of service to the scouts.

In taking on this final project to earn his Eagle Scout rank, Xhemajil, who has earned 32 merit badges during his scout career, said he felt like he was taking a huge step into the world of life as an adult.”

He offered a huge thank you to all the adults who have helped him get where he is today, but one very special person received a special recognition, his mother.

“If it wasn’t for my mother, I would not have been successful in becoming an Eagle Scout,” said Xhemajil. “When I was discouraged, she pushed me through it because she knew I could do it. I am glad and grateful she helped me out with everything.”

He also thanked Scout leaders, Rick Landry and Debra Skopec, who in addition to Burns, had been a great help to him through the years.

“I wouldn’t be where I am if it hadn’t been for the Scouts,” he said. “I have a lot of knowledge under my belt I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I feel I have matured as a person and gained good communication skills, which have been a huge step for me. Learning how to talk to people I didn’t know was very difficult for me.”

Xhemajil graduated this month from Alan B. Shepard High School and plans on attending Moraine Community College to earn an associate’s degree in mechanical design technology. From there, he plans to attend Illinois State University and complete his studies for an M.A. in engineering tech.