Twelve years ago, Priscilla Ray fell victim to domestic violence while her son, Travis Patterson, was 18 months old son.
Haven House, Sandoval County’s only domestic violence shelter, gave Ray the duo Christmas presents. This summer, Patterson gave back to Haven House as a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
Patterson, now 14, became a Tiger Cub after seeing his friends perform flag ceremonies as scouts. Eight years and 43 merit badges later, Patterson just completed his capstone project in which he restored a playground at Haven House.
The project will earn him the rank of Eagle Scout, likely by the time he enters his freshman year at Cleveland High School in August.
Around 30 volunteers, scouts and parents worked six hours a day June 22-24 at the shelter. The group, which included scouts from troops 714, 17 and 3, restored a climbing wall, replaced two swings, rebuilt three benches, planted an ash tree donated by Osuna Nursery and sanded an entire playground structure, according to Shelter Program Manager Jewel Kessler-Fike.
Patterson said he became assistant senior patrol leader of Boy Scout Troop 714 in March, so he assumed a leadership role in the project.
“The fact that Travis came out and redid our playground and made it so much nicer makes being away from home a little bit better for (all the survivors) at the Haven House,” said Kessler-Fike.
Haven House is an immediate-danger domestic violence shelter that can house up to 32 survivors of domestic violence at any given time.
The vision was conceived in the late ‘90s, according to Kessler-Fike. Now the facility serves 200 clients every year.
“I enjoyed the project because I got to help the community out and bond with some of my friends,” said Patterson. “It was hard work, but we got through it.”
Kessler-Fike believes the hard work paid off and noted that the playground is already back in use.
“I’m impressed how much work they all put into something that they’re never going to benefit from, hopefully,” she said.
In describing his experience as a Boy Scout, Patterson indicated perseverance is key to developing solid leadership skills. He said his original den chief, Andrew Aldridge, taught him to stick with scouting even when it gets rough. Aldridge has since joined the U.S. Navy.
“He’s like an older brother to me,” said Patterson.
According to Ray, the Boy Scouts transforms shy young scouts into great leaders who develop strong friendships.
“Travis showed a lot of leadership qualities and we’re very proud of him,” she said.