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Duty Calls: Matt Grapstul, '10

Matt Grapstul, '10, seen here on the job as a member of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps, has proven a hero to Hudson County's humans and animals alike.

If you noticed a bird-sized building boom in Bayonne during 2009, then chances are you noticed the efforts of Matt Grapstul. This Prep senior, a participant in scouting for more than a decade, devoted his Eagle Scout project to providing a suitable roost for some of Bayonne’s feathered citizens, displaced by that “other” building boom for humansin recent years.

It was the culmination of several years’ planning and patience, waiting for the right time and taking the time to get the job done right. The idea to build the large birdhouses he describes as “bird condos” dawned on him at age ten during a family trip to Point Pleasant, Matt told the Bayonne Community News, but the scale of the task would require a more mature hand to guide it. The real work, then, began in 2006, as he set about the task of assembling the resources and volunteers necessary to turn his vision into reality.

It would ultimately take 31 volunteers, plus Matt himself, over 700 hours of work (he estimates about 112 hours on his own!) to build and install the birdhouses. And before the first nail was driven, there were donations to collect and permits to secure—the birdhouses were, after all, destined for public property. But this Prep man of action, determined to work for the Magis, saw the job through to completion, earning him the rank of Eagle Scout, and providing the birds of Bayonne with new homes.

Housing the avian homeless of Bayonne was a heroic effort in itself, no doubt, but the story doesn’t end there. In addition to his Eagle Scout uniform, Matt also proudly wears the uniform of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps as a volunteer EMT. In January, he and a colleague sprung into action in the wee hours of a frigid morning, and were instrumental in saving a man from drowning in the Hudson River. They tossed the victim a life preserver, and talked him through the ordeal as he battled the minus-10-degree waters, until rescue divers from the Hoboken Fire Department could arrive and pull him out.

To encounter Matt’s easygoing smile around the halls of Prep, one might never suspect the dramatic maritime rescue or the tireless efforts to house Bayonne’s birds. But when duty calls, those in need—animal or human—will find this personable Prepster to be a friend indeed.