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Church teams up with fire company to benefit cold-weather shelt

October 05, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Funkstown teamed up with Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. for a barbecue fund-raiser to benefit the new Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless (REACH) Cold Weather Shelter under construction at 140 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown.

According to the Rev. Darrell Layman of St. Paul's, a team from the church congregation volunteers each winter to assist with shelter operations for one week, providing meals and on-site staffing. This year, in the midst of a $250,000 shortfall in REACH's $750,000 capital campaign for the new building, the church wanted to do even more.

At a church council meeting, council member David Johnston, 43, who also is a member of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., suggested a fund-raiser modeled after the fire company's monthly pit barbecues.

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Among others, Johnston enlisted the services of his friends and fellow fire company members Eric Schminkey, Curtis Hull and Jimmy Kershner.

"I was already familiar with the barbecue format so I suggested it to some friends and they kind of ran with it," Johnston said.

Schminkey and Hull said they arrived at the fire hall at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. Hull, 34, of Funkstown, said he showed up early to get to work on his customary duty - making baked beans.

Schminkey, of Falling Waters, W.Va., began carving the beef and firing up the outdoor pits. The first customers began to arrive at about 9:30 a.m., with sales continuing throughout the afternoon.

For Jimmy Kershner, 34, of Funkstown, a member of both St. Paul's Lutheran Church and the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., the event was a family affair. Jimmy's father, Jim Kershner, helped out at the pit, and his mother, Linda, and wife, Michele, assembled meals in the kitchen. His 9-month-old son, James, provided moral support from a bouncy seat.

Jimmy Kershner works for the Hagerstown Fire Department and said that he is all too familiar with the homeless problem in town. He said he recognizes the challenges faced both by people who are homeless and by REACH workers who provide assistance.

"REACH really does a commendable job," Kershner said. "Cooking chicken here today is easy compared to what they do."

Saturday's barbecue brought in $819, all of which will be donated to REACH.

Mike Sokol, 50, and his wife, Linda, 45, of Hagerstown, said while they go to all of the barbecues at the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. for the good food, they were pleased to know Saturday's proceeds would benefit the shelter. Linda Sokol said their children had even been to the shelter before to help make lunches.

REACH is scheduled to open the doors of its current cold- weather shelter at First Christian Church on Nov. 14. If it is successful in raising an additional $250,000, the group will move to its new location in February, consolidating all its programs, including crisis intervention and interfaith volunteer care giving, under one roof.

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