High school students from Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI) gave of their time and skill to provide Army Staff Sergeant Vince Reynolds a new patio.
This is the second year the students from CPI’s Horticulture and Landscaping program have partnered with EP Henry Corp. to honor a veteran with a patio.
The group designed and built a patio for the Centre County Home and Garden Show using materials donated by . The display was called “Centre Park” and won Best in Show.
During the week of the show, the public nominated veterans for “Patio for a Patriot.” As part of EP Henry’s HeroScaping program, a panel of judges and the students looked through the 82 entries and selected Reynolds.
After Reynolds was selected, the students broke down the display and began working on permanently installing the patio in his backyard.
Reynolds served two tours in Afghanistan and lost the lower half of his left leg to an improvised explosive device, or IED.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Reynolds said. “It could have been worse.”
He is now enrolled at Pennsylvania State University and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science and economics. He isn’t able to play some of his favorite sports now so he developed a passion for golf.
When the CPI students learned of this, they added a putting green to his new 880-square-foot patio. It also features a retaining wall that doubles as seating, as well as a fire pit.
“I meant to put in a stone patio myself one day, but I didn’t know when I’d be able to,” Reynolds said. “This is exactly what I wanted to eventually do out there. It’s more than I could have anticipated.”
Not only do the students get the opportunity to honor a hero, but they are also able to put their hardscaping knowledge to the test.
“In the lab, it’s a perfectly controlled, flat environment,” said CPI instructor Joe Luther. “It’s a whole different story when you have to first level a space to prepare for install.”
He is proud of his students when they win awards at the home show, but he is far more proud of their work when they are giving back to the community.
“These are freshmen and sophomores in high school doing professional work,” he said. “This has real meaning for them. It’s not just another patio.”
Seventeen students worked together to finish the project, and while Reynolds says he doesn’t feel he deserves the honor, he is excited to use the new space.
He plans to have “a big old steak grill out.”