Andrew Contrino is a Xaverian graduating senior and an Eagle Scout hopeful who decided he would fulfill his special project requirement by giving back to those who served and bringing awareness to honoring those who have fought and died for our country.
Part of the process that allows a Boy Scout to be promoted to an Eagle Scout involves completing a unique project that demonstrates the person’s ability to plan, budget and organize an event or activity that benefits the community at large.
Contrino’s idea was to beautify Barkaloo Cemetery, Brooklyn’s smallest cemetery. Inside the small, grassy property located at 34 Mackay Place in Bay Ridge are two headstones that mark where Revolutionary War soldiers were buried over 250 years ago.
The headstones, up until Contrino and his Boy Scout troop arrived, were choked by weeds and dying bushes. Because of the work that Contrino did, the area has now been restored to its original beauty as it was back in 1776 when the site was first utilized as a cemetery.
“The last major renovation and beautification of the cemetery was in 1962. I found that simply absurd,” Contrino said. “The fact that a military cemetery was neglected for more than 50 years was shocking. I wanted to do this because military veterans and active military members today aren’t getting the appreciation and respect that they deserve.”
Contrino also saw his project as an opportunity to bring awareness to honoring those who served and died fighting for freedom.
“I want the community and every American to see what our military veterans and all active military members deserve,” Contrino said emphatically. “That is dignity and respect from the moment they put on the uniform and forever, even after they pass away.”
Contrino hopes that the work that he and his fellow Boy Scouts did on the cemetery will have a lasting impact. More than anything, the former congressional intern wishes that community members would take the time to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“By restoring this cemetery to its rightful state, I hope the community won’t forget who fought to make this country free and maybe, just maybe, the community will lend a helping hand to those who continue to fight for freedom,” Contrino said.
With his project complete, Contrino said he hopes to intern at the office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Contrino sees an internship with Adams’ office as a way to gain valuable experience helping others.
“It’s a great way to learn about the issues that are affecting our community and seeing how solutions to these problems are brought about,” he explained.
In the fall, Contrino is planning on attending the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., where he will major in political science. He hopes that in the future he can serve his community as an elected official, but for now, he hopes that others will follow in his footsteps.
“As I’ve progressed with the Scouts, I’ve gotten real satisfaction from teaching the younger Scouts some of the skills and the disciplines of Scouting,” Contrino told this paper. “Serving my community has not only been a privilege but a great honor for me.”