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Doucette got a little help from his friends

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Andrew Doucette has had his fair share of difficulties in life, but thanks to those who supported him, he never let them hold him back.

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Doucette, a 2013 graduate of Brainerd High School, was raised in a big family with big family problems. He grew up with three brothers and one sister.

“We went through a lot. We had an old house on Gull Dam Road and the parents fell behind on the mortgage and we kind of got kicked out of that house, so we had to find a place to rent right away,” Doucette said.

The family fell on hard times, but they weren’t alone.

Community members banded together to help the family. At first, some neighbors gave them a place to stay during the cold winter. Without delay, they found a home to rent in Nisswa. Though it was smaller, they managed.

It was Doucette’s ninth-grade year. He remembers that the stresses of his personal life had a way of affecting him at school, though even there he found support.

“Teachers were letting me do some assignments a little late and still get credit,” Doucette said.

In spite of the stress, he didn’t give up on his schoolwork, and he worked hard to never give up on the things that mattered to him.

Doucette had been a Scout since first grade. He had worked his way from being a Cub Scout to being a Boy Scout, and he wasn’t going to let his family’s relocation interrupt him.

“I had a lot of people that were behind me. I stuck to it and made it to Eagle,” Doucette said.

Doucette was a shoe-in for the Scouts. His grandfather had introduced him and his siblings to the outdoors at an early age, and the Scouts were just another way to connect with his favorite hobbies of camping, hunting and fishing.

Doucette’s favorite merit badges in the Scouts were for archery, forestry and small rifles. There were many more where those came from.

Even in the Scouts, Doucette faced challenges. He said his most difficult badge was the “citizenship and community” badge. To make things worse, as he was nearing completion of the badge, the leader he was working with passed away and did not leave behind any records.

“I had to restart from scratch,” Doucette said. “I was struggling with that last merit badge, just stretching it out.”

Doucette got the push he needed to finish his final badges and reach Eagle Scout status when leader Loren Meinke took him under his wing.

“He’s the one I gave the mentor pin to. He actually pushed me through the last merit badges to get me to make Eagle Scout. He was my mentor,” Doucette said.

Doucette’s final project, the Eagle Scout Project, was to paint the Wohl House at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds. His Eagle Scout certificate was awarded April 8, 2013, and he attended a ceremony in July. He hopes to continue involvement with the Scouts.

“I’m signed up to be a leader but I haven’t taken the safety course yet to be part of the troop right now,” Doucette said.

Doucette is among those being honored at the 2013 Elks Eagle Scout District Volunteer Recognition banquet Saturday, April 12. He’s excited for the recognition and community involvement.

Doucette isn’t certain where he would like to go next. Since ninth grade he has wanted to go to culinary school and become a chef, though he has also considering becoming a GM certified mechanic.

“Grandpa said, ‘Never own a Ford,’” Doucette said.

For the time being he works at Schaefer’s Foods in Nisswa.

“It’s a family-owned business, and everybody treats me right,” Doucette said.

Though he isn’t certain what is next, one thing is for sure. No matter what comes his way, so long as he is surrounded by people willing to give a hand, he will always be prepared.

Travis Grimler can be reached at travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him at facebook.com/PEJTravis and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.

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