Almost $40,000 raised so far for 'The House that Faith Built'

November 24, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Richard and Dixie Sirbaugh may be in their new house by Christmas, thanks to an outpouring of help from volunteers and some generous donations from local companies.

The Sirbaughs will live in one side of a duplex being built on an alley off St. Paul Street in Boonsboro by Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

Their side, to be known as "The House that Faith Built," is being constructed with help from the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County.

The coalition was formed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to promote tolerance and understanding between those of different religious faiths.


The other side is being built by "Banking on Our Communities," a group of local people working in the financial-services industry.

Both sides of the duplex got a big boost this month when two local companies made substantial donations.

Dan Ryan Builders gave $15,000, which will go to the interfaith side of the duplex.

Citicorp Credit Services gave $5,000, which will be split between the two duplex homes.

Those donations bring the total raised for the interfaith side of the duplex to $39,373.50, according to Sherry Brown-Cooper, executive director of Habitat's local chapter.

That puts the interfaith group with $16,000 of its $55,000 goal for the project. A number of fund-raisers are being discussed and area houses of worship were asked to make a special appeal on Sunday, Nov. 21.

Brown-Cooper said some pastors said they had already planned Thanksgiving appeals, but might do them in the future.

The letter sent to pastors by Kelly Collins, Habitat's volunteer coordinator, makes a good point about why this project is important.

"... It allows people of all faiths to come together in the spirit of unity and service. This simple act of putting love into action transcends all religious boundaries," Collins wrote.

I've spent a few days on the site and can honestly say that although I have no talent for such work, I was treated as if I were a master craftsmen by the more experienced people there.

If you can help Habitat gather the last $16,000 needed for this project, I guarantee it will be money well-spent. It will give a family a chance to buy a home they otherwise couldn't afford and demonstrate that people of many different beliefs know that helping others is something we all can agree on.

Please send donations to: Habitat for Humanity, 20 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown, Md., 21740.

One surprise in the current debate over local physicians' malpractice insurance costs has been that most of the feedback has come from doctors and not those they treat. Of more than a dozen letters we've received on the topic, only a few have come from patients.

Perhaps it is like so many issues in that it will take the public a while to realize what is going on and what is at risk.

But what if it's something else?

I asked myself that question after I spoke to Mike Schindel. The Williamsport resident is 31, single and works for a local building-supply company. He told me he pays $42 a week for his health insurance, up from $32 last year.

"Of course there's deductibles and there's co-pays for everything," he said.

"I don't go to see a doctor unless it's absolutely necessary," he said.

Schindel said he's also taking a prescription drug which costs him $60 per month.

"I had an accident and my chest was hurting a little bit. It cost me $1,100 to ride in an ambulance and sit around the hospital to find out I had bruised ribs," he said.

"I think this insurance has gotten too high. It's something that needs to be dealt with," he said.

In October the Dayton, Ohio, Business Journal quoted experts who said that although health-care cost increases have averaged 10 to 15 percent for the past three years, they will go up by "only" 5 percent next year.

Will the average worker's salary go up by 5 percent? I doubt it.

So what do Schindel's health-care costs have to do with the malpractice issue? Schindel is saying that the part of the system that serves him also needs to be fixed.

"I think all doctors are basically good people. Basically, they are," he said.

But he added, unlike the doctors, "I can't afford to stop working because my health care's too high."

This is a complicated issue, and perhaps if doctors didn't have to practice so much "defensive medicine," health-care costs wouldn't be so high.

What Schindel wants - and what I suspect many doctors' patients want - is some acknowledgement that they're also in need.

If the doctors want the help and support of people like Schindel, perhaps they should direct some of the energy they're using to lobby legislators into connecting with the people who are also having trouble paying their bills.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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