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REACH launches fund drive

February 15, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown - REACH board members, legislators, public officials and advocates for the homeless huddled together to stay warm Saturday morning at the future permanent site of the REACH Center, getting a brief taste of what many displaced people experience every winter without shelter.

Terri Baker, executive director of REACH, said the agency's offices and cold weather shelter will be moving into the entire third floor of the old Cannon Shoe Factory, next to Christ's Reformed Church on Franklin Street in Hagerstown. Renovations to the 7,800-square-foot center already are under way.

"We are hoping to have the day shelter here, too, if the funds are available," Baker said.

The capital campaign to raise $750,000 was launched in grand style with the unveiling of a large sign along Franklin Street showing that nearly $200,000 already has been raised.

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"Have a Heart for the Homeless" is the theme of the fund drive.

"How appropriate that we have this unveiling on Valentine's Day," REACH board president Carrol Lourie said.

A ripple of excitement quickly spread through the crowd with news that an additional $55,000 had just been pledged by First Christian Church, a longtime supporter of the REACH cold weather shelter.

The architectural drawings of the new center were on view following the unveiling of the sign, which was created by Steve Frame and students at the Washington County Technical High School.

REACH is an acronym for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless. Its offices currently are at Hebron Mennonite Church in Paramount while the cold weather shelter moves from church to church during the winter season.

Other major donors include the Washington County Hospital Community Benefits Fund, $40,000; Washington County Gaming Commission, $35,000; Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, $20,000; Jean and Ken Peifer/Burkholder's Flooring, $20,000; and the REACH board of directors and staff, $50,000.

Christ's Reformed Church also was recognized for absorbing $202,300 in building costs as well as its donation of rent-free space for the cold weather shelter several weeks each year.

Other individuals, businesses, churches and groups that have contributed to the fund also were recognized.

Among those attending Saturday's kickoff were Hagerstown City Council members Carol Moller and Kristin Aleshire; state Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington; Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington; Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington; Washington County Administrator Rodney Shoop; Julianna Albowicz, from the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; and Tim Magrath, from the office of U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the capital campaign may call REACH at 301-733-2371 for more information.

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