Part of Me is In West Philly

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

A few times a week, I make the hour-long trek from my home in the suburbs to my fencing school in West Philadelphia. As I drive to practice, suburban towns slowly fade into red and brown brick row homes, until all around me are boarded up windows, barred doors, and cars that have been in one too many accidents. Dilapidated homes with trash strewn across their sidewalks sit across from schools, churches, and businesses that all seem to fade together into blocks of continuous buildings.

In my town, only 0.6 percent of children live below the poverty line, but in some parts of West Philadelphia the number is over 40 percent. Many of these children receive inadequate educations and struggle to read at grade level. As someone who has always loved reading, I decided to use my Eagle Scout project to help these students improve their reading skills. Working with an organization called West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), I built four wooden bookshelves and organized book drives at local libraries to collect over five hundred leveled readers for four public elementary schools in West Philadelphia.

My project challenged me like nothing I had ever attempted. I had already served in multiple leadership positions within my scout...

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