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Teens take on The Chambersburg Project

July 12, 1999

The Chambersburg ProjectBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - While five teenagers slapped a fresh coat of paint on her porch, Bertha Small said it had been a long time since any work was done on her Nelson Street home.

"I'm a widow, and my husband's been dead over 20 years. He kept it painted and fixed up," she said about her late husband, William. Since then the paint has cracked and railings, porch floors and supports have rotted.

Small, 83, said she's too old to climb ladders and her income is too limited for her to hire a contractor.

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By the end of this week her home will have a facelift courtesy of the Chambersburg Project - 55 teenagers from 11 churches who have mobilized to rehabilitate 17 homes in Franklin County and one in Fulton County.

"I like doing this type of stuffm and you get to help people," said Dan Monn, not pausing from painting the porch. Monn, 15, attends the Chambersburg First Church of God, which is sponsoring the weeklong Chambersburg Project.

"It's a good way to help people. It's a growing experience," said Mark Allen, 16, a member of the Shippensburg First Church of God.

Chambersburg Project Site Coordinator Craig Schellhase said the kids contribute more than their time. "They all had to pay $100 to be part of the project, which helps cover the cost of materials," he said. It also helps pay the cost of their meals.

"My mom thought it was a really good idea, so she was definitely willing to pay," said Josh King, 15, of St. Thomas, Pa.

"We have less projects than last year, but we have some bigger ones," according to Schellhase. "This will probably take all week," he said about Small's home.

A few blocks away on Wayne Avenue, Chambersburg First Church of God Associate Pastor Trevor Rosenberry and his group of teenagers were breaking for lunch at another woman's home. He said the contributions from the teens and their parents do not cover the entire cost.

The churches also contributed money, as did businesses and individuals. Lumber yards offered discounts on materials, Rosenberry said.

The churches and teenagers had to raise more than $9,000 total to cover the cost of materials.

Rosenberry said about 30 applications were received for the Chambersburg Project this year. The income and needs of the applicants were considered in the final selection. Each crew is led by one or two adults. At Small's house, Lynn Byers and Ray Anderson were in charge.

"My brother-in-law and I are landlords, so we're kind of like handymen, but we're by no means contractors," Byers said.

As with any home improvement project, Byers said they encountered the unexpected.

The back porch ceiling was infested by pigeons and their inevitable byproduct.

"We thought it was going to be easy, but it wasn't," Sonja Payne, 16, of Waynesboro, Pa., said about removing the kitchen floor at the Wayne Avenue home. That job includes replacing three porch roofs and a bathroom ceiling.

Now in its second year, the Chambersburg Project originated four years ago when members of the Chambersburg First Church of God participated in a project in Tennessee. Rosenberry said that experience inspired them to help area residents.

During the week, the teenagers, including some from York, Pa., and Martinsburg, W.Va., camp out at Chambersburg Area Middle School.

While they work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., there's more to the week than work, according to Jennifer Jones, 14, of Shippensburg. After the teens wash up and have dinner, they hear guest speakers, watch skits and worship each night at the school.

Meleah Brumbaugh, 15, of Mercersburg, Pa., said she will "share the Gospel" while repairing homes this week.

Rosenberry said they'll work half a day Wednesday, spending the afternoon at Chambersburg Municipal Park for a picnic, swimming and a worship service at the bandshell.

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