BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – What might once have felt like an institution now feels like a home, thanks to the work of Eagle Scout candidate Luke Hughes.
When searching for a meaningful Eagle project, Hughes read of the new Valor House in Salt Lake City, a place for homeless veterans.
Because many in his family had served in the military, he wanted to do something to help and approached Jeanette Hurst, senior property manager, with his ideas.
Her first choice for a project was his first choice as well: photographs for the halls.
Due to higher-than expected construction costs, there had only been enough money for art on the first floor of the building. The second and third floors had nothing.
“It was a perfect fit,” said Amy Hughes, Luke’s mother. “It’s something he’s passionate about and enjoys and something that was a distinct need for them.”
Scenes from Luke’s travels were enlarged and frames were made by hand with the help of John Bouwhuis, a neighbor and veteran who is also passionate about photography.
“They were really better than the ones we were purchasing prior to him volunteering,” said Hurst. “I couldn’t be happier. I think that adding that has helped make it a space where people enjoy to go. It makes the space cozy and more inviting. Sometimes it can start conversations.”
Sets of three photographs around a theme, weather nature of New York City, now accent the halls.
Besides the photographs, Hughes coordinated a collection of 750 books and 73 DVDs to add to the new library in the center.
“It’s great because you don’t have the feeling like you’re going to run out or that a person can’t take one because there are so few,” said Hurst.
Three of Luke’s four great grandfathers served in World War II, and an uncle is currently serving in the military.
“This isn’t really about me,” said Luke. “I’m just glad I could do something that would uplift these veterans’ lives a little bit.”
In a way, it’s a chance to say thank you to them.
“I am grateful that I have grandparents, other relatives and neighbors that served our country,” he said. “They helped me learn to appreciate just how lucky I am to live in America. and that I have a responsibility to help my community and country.”