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Habitat works to provide housing

January 08, 2001

Habitat works to provide housing



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Carpentry began as a simple hobby for Donald Danner more than 50 years ago. But since his days at a carpentry school, the Chambersburg resident has fashioned desks for his children, constructed churches throughout the state and in the last three years he has left his handiwork on six Habitat for Humanity houses in Franklin County.

Danner, 71, is one of three men appointed to the Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County's executive board to begin three-year terms this month.

Duane E. Bock, of Chambersburg, and Bolivar H. Leon, of Fayetteville, Pa., join Danner.

The trio was appointed last month as Harlan Bayer, a Waynesboro contractor and land developer, replaced outgoing president Bud Marshall.

Danner said he is thrilled to play an active role in the chapter, which formed in the early 1990s.

He said plans for this year include the construction of one home in Chambersburg and one in Mercersburg, Pa., for two area families.

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Generally, the homes are ranch style with three bedrooms and one 1/2 bathrooms.

The future residents have to earn their homes with "sweat equity," which means laboring on their own house as well as other Habitat homes, said Danner, who spent about 43 years in federal government service at Letterkenny Army Depot.

The houses take four or five months to build, depending on the volunteer base and the time of year.

"They are sturdy, well-built houses," Danner said.

He said the organization is lucky because it receives a lot of support from local businesses, but he would like to encourage more groups of college students to participate in the building process.

"I think we are pretty well organized. The only thing Habitat can do this year is get a few more people involved," Danner said.

As part of the international Habitat organization, the Franklin County chapter must tithe 10 percent of its donations to help build houses in foreign countries.

So far, those funds have built 28 houses, Danner said.

"That says a lot about our people," he said.

Danner has also volunteered at United Methodist Church work camps building Methodist churches across the state, the Cumberland Valley Visitors Center and the American Red Cross.

Leon, who is new to the organization, said he expects to spend more time working with people than on the houses.

"I'm new to the board and will be the chairman of the Family Support Committee. Basically, after people come into the program I will see if there is a need for support services, financial counseling or referrals," said Leon, 47.

A Philadelphia native, he has a psychology degree from Shippensburg University. He has worked for 19 years at Letterkenny Army Depot where he is now a computer specialist.

Bock, who is also new to the organization, has a construction background, working for a contractor for two years and three years in building material sales.

A graduate of Chambersburg Area Senior High School and Shippensburg University, Bock is now a loan officer for First National Bank of Greencastle. Pa., and will help out on the finance committee.

"Right now we are in hte planning stages so when spring gets here we can move ahead," he said.

Other officers include Donald. G. Howard of Chambersburg, board secretary, and A. Bradley Etchberger, of Chambersburg, treasurer.

Established in 1993, Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County is engaged in building lives as well as houses by entering into partnership with low-income families to construct decent, affordable homes, said member Charley Burch.

To date, these efforts have resulted in 11 new homes throughout Franklin County, with more new projects on the drawing boards.

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