For many seasons, Gabriel (Gabe) Hatch has faithfully supported his younger sister’s theatrical accomplishments at the Vermont Children’s Theater. It was while attending a performance that he noticed a need and decided to do something about it.
The Vermont Children's Theater is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization that provides free summer theater programs for students aged seven to just-graduated seniors. Through their policy of all-inclusiveness, they use theater as a vehicle to equip area youth with valuable skills that will benefit them both now and in the future: communication, creativity, teamwork, literacy, empathy, and leadership.
Before performances at the Vermont Children’s Theater, audience members enjoy the scenic views on Darling Hill. While waiting for a performance to begin, Gabe Hatch noticed that the theater grounds lacked a place for people—particularly those who tire easily—to sit outside while they waited. Again at intermission, he noted that having someplace to sit to enjoy theater concessions such as snow cones, popcorn or hots dogs would be helpful.
“Honestly, some of the best improvement ideas for our program or venue have come from the families of our participants or from audience members," said Sarah Ham, president of the volunteer board of the Vermont Children’s Theater. "We are very open to input and ideas. Gabe took his suggestion to a whole new level—rather than just tell us about his observation, he offered to do something about it for us.” Gabe decided to make picnic tables for the theater grounds as his Eagle Scout service project. He made a presentation to the board at one of their last in-person meetings before Covid-19 shut everything down.
“He was well organized, well spoken, and he had copies of his plans and ideas ready to hand out,” said Ham. The board voted unanimously to support his efforts toward an Eagle Scout project of designing, acquiring materials for, seeking financial support for, looking for workmanship help for, and building picnic tables to fulfill the need for outside seating.
“When Gabe came to report his ideas to the board, I was very impressed with his observation that some people could really benefit from access to tables; but, particularly, I was impressed by the empathy he expressed for those who really just need a place to sit,” added Ham.
Despite a worldwide pandemic, Gabe continued to press on toward his goal of making picnic tables for the Vermont Children’s Theater with no cost to them. He reached out as necessary with the appropriate board members and continued to work on the project even with the new hurdles in his path.
Ham noted that, because of Covid restrictions, the board has been unable to meet with Gabe in-person or take a group picture, but he did deliver on his project.
"In fact, he actually made three tables and they are absolutely beautiful," she said. "We cannot wait until we can once again host people at the theater barn, and they can try out his handiwork.”
For his efforts, Gabe will be eligible to receive his Eagle Scout ranking. An Eagle Scout is one who has made a commitment to scouting and his troop; demonstrated leadership within that troop; completed 21 merit badges, including some that are specifically detailed, such as First Aid and CPR; and proposed, had approved, and completed a service project for the community.