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Borough councilman makes most of 'lucky break'

February 13, 2001|By STACEY DANZUSO, Chambersburg

Borough councilman makes most of 'lucky break'



Editor's note: This is the fourth in a week-long series of stories profiling members of the black community who are making a contribution in the Tri-State area.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Scott Thomas wants to give young minorities the same chances in life he got.

He said his lucky break came more than 15 years ago when Harold Brake, of Charles E. Brake Co. in Chambersburg, took a chance and offered the young construction worker a job.

"I was very fortunate that a man with his stature took me under his watchful care and gave me a chance so many minority young men don't get," said Thomas, 38.

Now a blasting supervisor at the company, Thomas is trying to make a difference in Franklin County.

"There is so much time and effort spent building jails," Thomas said. "We should communicate, educate and rehabilitate."

Thomas is sending out this message through his involvement in county groups. He is a coach in youth sports leagues, a member of the Elks and the Masonic Order and is the borough councilman representing the Third Ward.

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"If you don't learn one thing every day, what do you have to show for it?" Thomas asked.

He said society should not turn its back on youths who don't go to college or who end up in prison.

"We should be looking for a way we can get to the youth and communicate they can succeed, too," he said.

He takes his philosophies into the board room at borough council meetings.

"We are in such a diverse population in the Third Ward. We're fighting right off the bat to change the stigma," he said. "The first thing people think of is crime, but some of the most dedicated people live in the Third Ward."

He said he would like to see a revitalization effort at Southgate Shopping Center with a grocery store added to provide residents who don't have cars an easier option for shopping. For kids, he would like to see Mike Waters Park improved with picnic tables and pavilions.

Through the Elks, Thomas said he is seeing a changing focus of what can be done for children in the community.

Thomas said all of his involvements have been a learning experience and he sees new struggles on the horizon.

"People are being laid off now. How we deal with that as a community will make or break us," he said.

He also is looking for organizations to fund scholarships to help youths go to college.

"I didn't go to college, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have the opportunity," he said. "I was very lucky. I found not only an occupation but a mentor and a friend.

"We have to reinvest and teach kids to reinvest."

Thomas and his wife, Robin, have a daughter, Chanel, 13. They have lived in Chambersburg for 14 years.

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