QUINCY -- When Maurice Silas got ready to tackle an Eagle Scout service project, it just seemed natural to find a way to serve his church family.
"First Baptist Church is my home church. I was raised in the church and pretty much have always been there," Silas said.
The 18-year-old from Quincy put together a "communication station" that lets church members leave messages or items for each other. Silas said the wooden creation is 75 inches tall, 40 inches wide and 12 inches deep. It has 100 slots -- arranged with church member names listed alphabetically -- and a pair of cabinets at the bottom for use by those who minister at the church.
"A lot of people were using it for a Christmas card exchange at the church (in December). It let everyone send a card without buying postage stamps, and they didn't have to find everyone's address," Silas said. "It just made it easier for people to reach each other."
The Rev. Orville B. Jones Jr. expects the communication station will remain useful long after Christmas. With many people shifting to cellphones, local phone books don't offer as much help in reaching people these days. Within the church, members will find it easy to leave messages for each other.
Silas graduated from Quincy High School in 2018 and is now attending Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. He's majoring in graphic design with a minor in music. He sings and plays the trumpet.
"My big dream is to become an ‘Imagineer.' That's what they call the masterminds behind some of the projects at Disney parks," Silas said.
Silas has been involved in Scouting since he was in first grade. He belongs to Scout Troop 2 at St. James. When he came up with his Eagle Scout project, he got help from mentors with woodworking skills. He started the project in March and finished in August.
In addition to cutting the pieces of wood, Silas used nails, screws and wood glue on different parts of the fixture. He sanded the slots so people wouldn't get splinters then applied wood stain and polyurethane to make it more attractive.
Jones describes Silas as "one of the finest young men" he's known. Jones notes that he is Silas' pastor and godfather but backs up his high praise by listing the teen's activities and attendance at the church, as well as his school activities that included choir and instrumental music, theater and drum major.
Janet Silas said it was important to her that Maurice direct his service project to something that would help the community where he grew up.
"It's important for our African-American community that they see him going on to be an Eagle Scout," Janet Silas said.
She believes that in addition to his church involvement, the Boy Scouts offered Maurice valuable skills.
SDLqI'm a single mom and knew I wanted him to have experiences I wouldn't be able to give him," Janet Silas said.
Maurice Silas said Scouting has been good for him.
"The Scout theme is ‘Be prepared,' and I think this project is something else that's showing we should be prepared for whatever comes our way, whatever situation arises" and the importance of service to others, he said.