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Mentor group coming to Franklin County

February 26, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After five years of planning, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Franklin County will officially be established in Chambersburg on July 1.

The organization's headquarters will be located in the county's Human Services Building on Franklin Farm Lane.

"Our main purpose is to provide one-on-one relationships to children who are typically from a single-parent household," said David Pankiw, who has pursued the idea to have a Franklin County agency since 1992.

The organization will begin accepting children into the program in the fall.

Startup costs are estimated at $50,000.

The organization will be funded in part by $20,000 in federal Community Development Block Grants from Franklin County. The grants are given to communities for special projects.

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The county will supply the organization with the building for at least three years, along with telephone and other "in-kind services," said Franklin County Commissioner Robert Thomas.

Organizers plan to ask Chambersburg officials for some of the borough's block grant money, Pankiw said.

The local Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization will operate as a branch office of the capitol region in Harrisburg, Pa., and therefore will be entitled to resources from there, Pankiw said.

Several local events to raise money also are being planned.

Although the agency will be based in Chambersburg, Pankiw said the organization is looking for board members and core groups from surrounding towns.

An advisory group has already been established in Mercersburg, Pa., and organizers are working with Youth Are Our Concern group members in Waynesboro, Pa., Pankiw said.

The idea to start a local agency came from members of the Rotary Club in Chambersburg. Pankiw, a former big brother in Wilmington, Del., along with other members, began preliminary contacts with the national organization to find out what could be done in Franklin County.

The effort slowed considerably a few years later when organizers couldn't come up with enough money, Pankiw said.

"We just kept running into problems" until the county joined the effort, he said.

About that time, the Franklin County Commissioners were considering plans to introduce the organization into the county, unaware of the local effort, Thomas said.

With the growing cost and increased county share for funding juvenile delinquent programs, the commissioners were looking for intervention-type programs, Thomas said.

"We're focusing on solutions," said Thomas.

In Franklin County, $4.6 million is budgeted annually for juvenile delinquents, Thomas said.

The program works by matching a child with an adult volunteer who is required to meet with the child at least once a week for a minimum of one year, Pankiw said.

Case workers employed by Big Brothers/Big Sisters will work with parents, children and volunteers.

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