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North Hills Monthly

Eagle Scout Landscaping Project to Provide Cancer Patients with Beautiful View

May 31, 2016 12:31PM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

Jaime Martinez Jr. with Elizabeth “Libby” Shumaker, MSN, RN, director of clinical operations at UPMC CancerCenter Passavant.

According to the National Eagle Scout Association, one of a boy’s last steps to earning his Eagle rank badge is to plan, develop and serve as a leader to others in a service project helpful to his religious institution, school or community. Most boys accomplish this around the end of their high school career, as they’ve grown and matured enough to accept the responsibility for planning, directing, and following through on a project’s successful completion.

For one McCandless teenager, this ultimate achievement in Boy Scouting will be earned before he even begins high school at North Allegheny this fall. Jaime Martinez Jr., 13, a Boy Scout with Troop 171, is not a typical teenager just focused on school, a social life and extracurricular activities. This well-spoken young man is steadfast in his plans for his future, which includes focusing his energy on helping others. “I want to be involved in the medical community when I grow up, specifically as a neurosurgeon, because I enjoy helping people and aiding sick people through their trials and tribulations,” he explained.

Jaime’s Eagle Scout project will build on Tibby’s Healing Garden, which was planted in 2012 at UPMC Passavant. The original garden was made possible by a gift from generous donors who wanted to honor the life of a friend. Passavant Hospital Foundation President Fay Morgan pitched the idea of the landscape beautification project to the Boy Scouts’ Seneca District. 

“The project drew positive interest from a handful of Scouts,” said Anthony R. Savannah, director of community engagement for the foundation. “Each Scout was given the opportunity to share his thoughts on why he wanted to be involved and, after interviewing the candidates, we chose Jaime because of his passion and commitment to ‘paying it forward’ to the community. We could tell that he cares about making other people’s lives better—people that he may not have even met!” 

When Jaime first learned of the project, he wanted it to be his. “Right now, the hill is so bare and it looks rather depressing. I knew that by fixing it up, it would truly help the patients’ spirits,” he said. 

The project will brighten the view for patients seeking care in UPMC CancerCenter’s treatment rooms that overlook the space. “This is no small undertaking as it involves renovating a steep, grassy slope of more than 8,000 square feet,” said Will Kmetz, Fox Chapel branch manager, JML Landscape Management. “There will be eight ‘memorial’ trees, 100 shrubs, 800 square feet of perennials and ground cover, and approximately 1,500 square feet of lawn.” 

As a former Eagle Scout himself, Kmetz was excited to help mentor Jaime for this task. “The Eagle Scout project is the culmination of everything the Scout has learned,” he said. “And while JML is donating the labor, Jaime is really learning to put his leadership skills to use in order to produce something that will cause good things to happen. He has been working very hard in raising awareness and donations for this.”

Groundbreaking will be held sometime this summer, and Savannah is excited for the outcome of the project. “This project is one that will benefit not only the patients, their families and hospital staff, but the community as well,” he said. “And it’s an enduring project that will be enjoyed for years to come.” 

“This is not just about helping one person get his rank—this is about helping hundreds of people receiving long, stressful treatments find a little happiness in their day,” agreed Jaime. “The sooner we can meet our financial goal, the sooner we can reach the emotional goal of helping patients feel better, faster!”

Between online donations, local fundraising events (including a hot dog grill fundraiser held over Memorial Day weekend at local project sponsor Levin Furniture), and word-of-mouth, Jaime is hoping to raise $35,000 toward the project’s completion. Approximately $10,000 has been pledged so far.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO HELP, search for ‘UPMC Landscape Scout’ at, or send a check (with Scout Cancer Landscape in the memo line) to the Passavant Hospital Foundation at 9100 Babcock Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15237.