Soon, parents Thomas and Andrea Mercatante will have three eagles inside their Howard Beach nest.
Thomas Mercatante Jr., 18, along with his 16-year-old twin brothers, Anthony and Andrew, of Troop 139 will all become Eagle Scouts at the same ceremony on May 1 — a rarity that three siblings make it at once.
“It’s a great feeling to have that,” said proud pop, Thomas Sr., who’s also an assistant scout master.
“To see them work so hard to get to where they are, I take great pride in that. It’s an accomplishment that they’re going to look back on and say, ‘Wow, I really did this.’ It’s a good thing to have, a good thing to do.”
To reach scouting’s top rank, a young man must earn a certain number of merit badges and organize a community service effort, known as an eagle project.
For Thomas, this was a cleanup at Floyd Bennet Field; for Andrew, a similar project at Frank Charles Memorial Park; and Anthony, a sneaker drive in which he collected around 600 pair of shoes for Nike — the rubber from which will be used for gym mats and running tracks.
“It feels like we did it as a family,” said Thomas Jr., whose work, like Andrew’s, was washed away by Sandy. Anthony, who compiled his donated sneakers in the family’s basement, was able to get them out about a week before the storm flooded the home.
The youngest Mercatantes are two years ahead of schedule in making eagle — something they attribute to good leadership in their troop and capitalizing on merit badge opportunities on camping trips.
Although both Andrew and Anthony have capped out their work with the troops before they had to, both plan to come back and help whenever they can.
“It’s kind of surreal,” said Andrea Mercatante, who said her sons might not even yet realize the weight of their accomplishment. “It is an important accomplishment outside of scouting. [People] look at it and they say, ‘They’re responsible, and they’re trustworthy,’ and everything that the scouting oath is they embody. They really do.”
When Sandy started, all three boys sprang into action and ensured any survival necessities were in place, the proud mom recounted. The trio gathered candles, sleeping bags and flashflights in preperation for a storm surge. But most of all, they put their mother at ease.
“They all got together. ‘This is what we’ve got to do Ma, don’t worry.’ They were ready,” said Andrea Mercatante. “And they were calm and they were confident and me seeing that makes me know that they’re ready for anything that comes their way. You could throw a curve ball and they’re going to catch it.”
- Howard Beach seniors have reason to smile again
- Insurance help for Howard Beach homeowners
- Volunteers out in force for Irish Day of Action