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Service to Community 

This Veteran's Day, one local family shows what it means to serve, through the Eagle Scouts, the U.S. military and more

From left, father and son, Danny and Jesse Fishkin, with grandfather Chuck Ballard.
  • From left, father and son, Danny and Jesse Fishkin, with grandfather Chuck Ballard.
F

or this family, the practice of service to community runs strong. Three generations of volunteering and giving back came together in Bend this past weekend.

The occasion was the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Jesse Fishkin, 17, a member of local Boy Scout Troop 25 and a senior at Summit High School. Jessie joined the two percent of Boy Scouts to achieve the esteemed rank of Eagle Scout, earning a total of 31 merit badges—10 more than required.

Jesse's Eagle Scout project brought attention to the crime of human trafficking. He worked with Soroptimist International of Bend to produce the project, "Shadows of Hope," featuring wooden cutouts of human figures, painted black. The silhouettes of six adults and two children were placed at various locations around Bend. Once he got into the hard reality of the subject matter, Jessie says the project became less about becoming an Eagle Scout and more about the tragedy of human trafficking and the need to bring it out of the shadows.

During the Eagle Scout ceremony this past Saturday afternoon at the First Presbyterian Church in Bend, Jessie was presented his honor by a special guest: his 91-year-old grandfather, Chuck Ballard, who lives in Southern California. Chuck earned his own Eagle Scout rank in 1944.

"W

e told Chuck several months ago that he should clear his busy social calendar," says Danny Fishkin, Jesse's father and Chuck's son-in-law. Chuck has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for his five decades of volunteer service with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team. Danny says his wife, Laurel, was at times a "search and rescue orphan," as Chuck was often called out on rescues.

After retiring from a banking career at the age of 68, Chuck completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. He's also a World War II veteran, having served in the Pacific Theater, and was in the Navy Reserves for 20 years. He also achieved the rank of captain as a first aid instructor for the Red Cross. And one more thing, Chuck also is an honorary member of the Deschutes County Search and Rescue Team.

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As the family patriarch, Chuck has set the example of "service to the community," Danny says, adding that he's proud that son Jesse is continuing the tradition.

Jessie says he gratefully accepted advice from grandfather Chuck. "He was definitely one of my inspirations to finish Eagle." When asked what that advice was, Chuck smiles slightly and replies, "Get it done."

"It means a lot to me, especially since grandpa is 91 years old and he doesn't travel a lot anymore." During his Eagle Court interview, Jesse told scout leaders that he wanted to achieve Eagle because his grandfather was an Eagle Scout who would be in attendance to present Jesse the award.

The merit badges Jesse says he especially appreciated were for lifesaving, communication, rifle shooting, aviation, and environmental science—that last one requiring "a lot of essays."

T

hroughout the five years of his work toward Eagle Scout, Jesse says he also enjoyed the "high adventure trips," including rafting down the Columbia River and camping out about 100 nights.

Growing up in New York City, father Danny says he did not have the scouting opportunity. "I was a cement jungle kid." He spent most of his career working as a business lawyer in Southern California before he and wife, Laurel, moved to Bend when Jesse was seven years old.

"I really wanted to be a part of this community and I wanted to be a role model for Jesse to work to make where you live a better place to live." Danny is now semi-retired, with a long list of volunteer experiences ranging from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue, to the Bend Police Department Citizens Academy, to serving as chairman of the Bend Park and Recreation District Board of Directors, to the Tower Theater Foundation Board of Directors. 

"I'm a late bloomer and I'm trying to make up for lost time," Danny says.

Upon graduation from high school, Jesse plans on college, joining the Navy Medical Corps and eventually becoming a doctor. He says he wants to follow in Chuck's military footsteps. "Grandpa definitely inspired me." As a child, Jessie says he would wake up in the morning and instead of watching cartoons, he'd watch documentaries on the Battle of Iwo Jima. Eagle Scouts who join the military are automatically raised one rank and pay grade, according to Jesse. 

In the Court of Honor printed program, the Fishkin family gave special thanks to past and present Scoutmasters Gary Moss, Marc Gedde and Chris Henningsen.

And just to prove that he practically never stands still, following the events, Jesse had just enough time to high-tail it up to Summit High School to act in that evening's performance of "Macbeth."

Want to give back to veterans this Veterans Day?

The local American Red Cross is accepting donations of toiletry items for homeless vets and veterans' hospitals. Bring toiletries such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, gloves, hats, etc. to the Red Cross office in Bend or at Mid Oregon Credit Unions in Central Oregon through Nov. 6. To help assemble kits or otherwise help out, visit RedCrossVetsDay.org.


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