Clarksburg Mission remodeling kitchen for late Scout

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – The Clarksburg Mission is working on pursuing the remodeling of its kitchen to honor the life of rising Eagle Scout, Levi Bender.

Bender’s mother first brought him around the mission when he was only 16 years old. He loved to bike as well as serve the Mission by helping in the dining room and making connections with the residents, according to Clarksburg Mission Executive Director, Lou Ortenzio.

Levi Bender

As a life Scout, Bender aspired to be an Eagle Scout. To become an Eagle Scout, Bender needed to complete a project, so his mother came to Ortenzio and discussed what kind of project they could do together that would leave a big impact. They talked about remodeling the small kitchen to make it a bit bigger and nicer. But about a week later, Bender was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Aug. 1, 2021.

Eagle Scouts are supposed to have their projects done by their eighteenth birthday, but not only have they made an exception, but they are using this opportunity to commemorate Bender’s life and legacy.

Ortenzio and Bender’s parents want to make good out of his passing to help encourage other Scouts, family and friends in their healing. “Making something as memorial to him, as part of his legacy, is a really cool thing, and we’re just really pleased and honored that the Bender family would pick us as an organization to bear witness to his life,” Ortenzio said.

The small kitchen and equipment are older, but the group sees the potential in a bigger full-service, properly laid out, modernized equipment kitchen. The mission not only serves the many residents who live there but also serves food in other ways in the community. They have great culinary help in the kitchen and want to be able to provide them with the tools they need to help more efficiently.

As of Sept. 26, the raising of funds began about two weeks ago. They have already raised $35,000 of the $100,000 it will take to fully remodel the kitchen. Ortenzio is grateful for all of the generous people who live in the community who want to help bring Bender’s project to fruition. The remodeling project and planning will begin once the money is raised. If interested in donating to help make Levi Bender’s memorial project come alive, you can donate online, or through Post Office Box 4203, Clarksburg, WV, 26302.

Plans are still being formulated for the entire kitchen remodel process, so if you are wanting to donate kitchen appliances, the Mission would love to talk to those, but are not entirely sure what all they will have room for or can take. Lou Ortenzio would love for people of the community to help, he said, “you know, we are a very generous community. We really all connect to each other and that’s the wonderful thing about West Virginia, about Harrison County, about Clarksburg, is that often, everybody knows everybody and looks out for everybody and it is really the connection that we all have with each other that makes this community to special.”

The importance of this project serves for both Bender’s remembrance, as well as the community that the mission serves, “We wanna honor our residents here, and our staff who try really hard to change their lives, and follow God’s will and plan for their life. Certainly for Levi Bender, to leave something after him, rather than just a gravestone and memories in people’s minds. I mean, a physical presence of what his heart was all about.”

Those who come in and cook food for the Mission are also being honored. He mentioned that he does not want them to have to do God’s work in a “nasty old kitchen,” and that they want to also honor God by providing a nice kitchen.

If interested in staying updated on the progress in all of Levi Bender’s Memorial Eagle projects, you can find more information here.

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