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From one Eagle to another

Mabel Kay center benches restored thanks to Eagle Scout project

Photos by Emily Liu/The Sun
Nicholas Enkeev and his sister at the Mabel Kay Senior Center. The Boy Scout restored the 34-year-old benches there by replacing wood and cleaning rust.

Two benches at the Mabel Kay Senior Center have been brought back to life by Boy Scout Nicholas Enkeev, who made their restoration his Eagle rank project.

The 30-year-old benches were also part of another Scout’s Eagle project while the building’s namesake was still alive. Kay was a Haddonfield resident who lived on Lake Street and bequeathed her home to the borough so it could be a haven for borough seniors, though it became too small for that purpose after a few years. 

Enkeev heard about the benches last fall and spent two months restoring them – along with a team of volunteers – by replacing wood and cleaning rust.

“This project really involves you to be like a leader,” Enkeev explained. “The entire premise of this project is to learn leadership, so you have to plan when volunteers should come, plan the project before hand, like what do you need for this proposal, what kind of wood do you need, tools, supplies.

“And you have to teach the Scouts (and volunteers) around you … the necessary skills to help you finish the project.”

Enkeev and his volunteers started the bench work in March along with friends and other adults. The benches had been “dilapidated, worn out and rotten,” according to Sheri Siegel, program manager for the Mabel Kay Senior Center. One of the benches was missing its wood after it was broken six months ago during a move from the back to the front of the center.

“Since a lot of the (people involved) skills were not experienced with tools, we had to teach them how to drill, how to cut wood, how to put in the nuts and bolts,” Enkeev recalled.

The benches were unveiled on May 20.

The benches were assembled with elaborate metal work while Kay was still alive in 1990 and pre-date the center. She had always intended her home to be a place for seniors.

“She was in need of the creation of flower beds and benches to be placed there,” remembered Marie DiMatties, a Haddonfield resident and Haddon Fortnightly member whose son David DiMattie took on that task for his own Eagle project.

Once seniors outgrew the Kay home in 1994, the borough sold it and purchased the center’s current building on Walnut Street, again dedicating it to Kay.

“Before she passed away, (Mabel Kay) was very pleased with the Eagle Scout project, creating the flower beds and placing benches there,” DiMatties noted.

The benches remain at the center today.

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