Richard Long, fellow Travelers volunteer service to community

February 23, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

For nearly 50 years, Richard M. Long has been active with an agency many people don't even know exists. Even those who have heard of the Travelers Protective Association of America may not know what it does.

Long, now 81, said the organization's scope continues to amaze him. School safety patrols, fire safety training, child safety seats, bicycle helmets and scholarships for the deaf and hearing-impaired are among the projects it champions.

"We have about 20 projects currently that are helping this community," Long said.

His father was a member and that's how Long got involved. When Long joined in the 1950s, there were about 25 members, but that has dwindled to about 10 or 12 locally.


Long said the group is seeking to recruit younger men and women. Many of the current members are active but aging.

Chapter President Ted Harley, a retiree from Potomac Edison (now Allegheny Power), is 87 years old. Another member, Frank Hoover, has been a member of the local chapter for 55 years.

The group started with the Maryland School for the Deaf and now is working with Harold Bible, executive director of Deafnet, Harley said of the chapter's aid to people with hearing problems.

Organized in 1890, the Travelers Protective Association of America was the first fraternal organization to lead the way for center lines dividing highways in America, Long said. Since those early days, the group has adapted to the changing times, but concentrated on two main areas - child safety and assistance to the deaf and hearing-impaired.

To illustrate that involvement, Long said that in January, the local chapter presented scholarships to a couple and two young people who are hearing-impaired.

After receiving a $200 check each, Wayne and Ellen Albert wrote to thank the local chapter. They said they will use the money to improve the computer used to send and receive e-mail from other disabled people involved in Deafnet or the Headway support group.

Ellen Albert said the couple will join the Travelers Protective Association in March because they believe in the work the group is doing.

Long said the young people who received scholarships are Kelly and Christopher Phillips.

Long said the money comes from donations and members' dues of $15 to $25 a year.

"The group doesn't have fund-raisers anymore, so we are always looking for gifts and contributions so we can do more," he said.

For about 38 years, Long owned and operated Long's Business Equipment at Franklin and Prospect streets in Hagerstown. He and his wife have five children and 20 grandchildren.

Long is active at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren and is a member of the Hagerstown Exchange Club. He was a judge of the Orphans Court of Washington County for eight years.

Long, a Hagerstown native, is on the boards of Fahrney-Keedy Home near Boonsboro and Children's Village of Washington County.

Long said the missions of both Travelers Protective Association and Children's Village include the protection of children, so the connection is a natural, he said.

The local chapter meets the second Monday of each month at the Morris Frock American Legion on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 7:30, Long said.

Anyone interested in knowing more about the organization may call 301-733-6346.

The Herald-Mail Articles