How would your child feel about having the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Captain America and all of the Avengers or Superman and the whole Justice League? Pretty ecstatic, most likely. Kids admire superheroes and what they stand for – bravery, justice, leadership, and strong character.

With that idea in mind, Joe Nicholson wanted to launch an Eagle Scout project that would brighten the lives of children who might not get the chance to smile everyday. He knew that Harbor House served children and families that had been affected by domestic abuse, and he wanted to provide the youth with role models they could trust, while also letting kids just be kids. That’s why Nicholson launched Harbor Heroes in 2016 with the help of some friends.

Though it began as his Eagle project, the Harbor Heroes program is still going strong two years later. As part of the program, the “superheroes” (aka Nicholson and other volunteers) each don a shirt featuring a different superhero, and they interact with children one Sunday each month. The volunteers and kids play board games, do arts and crafts, have puppet shows, play kickball and participate in other indoor and outdoor activities.

“Kids love superheroes, and a lot of adults do, too,” Carri Cappaert, house manager of Harbor House, shared with Post Crescent. “Some kids arrive here in the middle of the night, so that doesn’t speak a lot to stability for them. So having adults that they trust— and to these kids, Joe and his group, they are adults … that really means a lot to the kids ….”

Nicholson says the program makes a positive difference in the lives of the volunteers, too. He says volunteers learn more about themselves as they interact with the youth and build friendships amongst each other.

“Harbor Heroes has changed my life dramatically,” the Eagle Scout said.

With college on the near horizon, Nicholson will retire his cape at Harbor House, but he expects the program to continue making a positive, lasting difference to children for years to come.

“The children of Harbor House need as many good experiences as they can get,” he said. 

Read more about the lasting impact of this Eagle Scout project by reading the full story on Post Crescent. Photo credit: Danny Damiani/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

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