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Girls say gym's dandy

Grants and gifts help build Girls Inc. project

Grants and gifts help build Girls Inc. project

December 17, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Fifteen months ago, Girls Inc. Executive Director Maureen Grove stood in the middle of a grassy field trying to visualize what the new gymnasium would look like. On Thursday morning, she had no trouble - the new building was all around her.

The 108-foot-by-82-foot gymnasium is connected to the west side of the existing building at 626 Washington Ave., nearly filling that empty lot. Excel Construction Co. of Hagerstown was the main contractor on the $1 million-plus building, with Dick Gruber serving as volunteer project manager.

"This was the easiest job I have ever had in 30 years," Gruber said Thursday. "That's because it was a people project."

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Gruber thanked a lot of individuals and local businesses who continued to give until the project was complete. He particularly cited Girls Inc. volunteer Sharon Schrock, whom he described as his "right arm" throughout the project.

In addition to the gymnasium, the new construction created a bonus 3,500-square-foot, second-floor area for classroom/office space.

Renovations to the roofline and interior of the existing building are being financed with money from U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Community Block grants through the City of Hagerstown, Grove said.

Grove thanked all the volunteers who made the dream a reality. At the top of that list was Anna L. Hershey, for whom the gymnasium was named.

"I got teary-eyed," Hershey said of the dedication of the gymnasium in her name.

A volunteer at Girls Inc. for more than 20 years, Hershey said her daughter Nancy first suggested she get involved.

"It has given me an opportunity to give back to the community where I was born," she said.

Hershey has tutored girls, organized ski trips and golf tournaments, and contributed financially to Girls Inc.

"We serve about 800 girls a year on a $700,000 budget now," Grove said. "With this, we can raise those numbers."

The goal for the project was $1.5 million, with a portion of those funds set aside for an endowment for future needs, Grove said. Money still is being collected for the endowment.

The drive generated state grants of $250,000 in 1998, an additional $200,000 in 2003, and individual and corporate gifts.

"This will be a cornerstone in the lives of young women in this community," Gruber said.

Girls Inc., a United Way agency, is open from September to June for local girls ages 5 to 18. There also is a summer program.

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