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Project restores Franklin Co. homes

July 16, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

The House of Grace is showing its age, but a group of young people from around the area has been working there this week to restore some of the luster to the Victorian-era house.

Other teenage volunteers have been replacing roofs, rebuilding porches, painting, clearing brush and doing other projects and odd jobs at homes around Franklin County as part of the ninth annual Chambersburg Project.

This week, approximately 115 teenagers from area churches have taken time off from their vacations and summer jobs and, with the assistance of about 75 adult volunteers, tackled dozens of projects around the county, helping older and disabled homeowners and organizations such as The House of Grace, Chambersburg Project Director Barb Moran said.

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"The kids have done just a wonderful job. They're very dedicated and hardworking," said Paula Darby of The House of Grace, a Christian ministry that helps women develop life skills such as cooking, sewing, housekeeping, parenting and using computers.

"They were here last year and did a project for us, and it's been hugely significant," said Ruth Kirkpatrick, a House of Grace board member. Without the volunteer labor and donated materials, the needed improvements otherwise might not get done, she said.

A new concrete walkway and the removal of crumbling chimneys was on the list for The House of Grace this past week. Darrel Knepper, a Mont Alto, Pa., contractor and adult leader of the crew, said the work the teenagers were doing would have cost The House of Grace about $5,000.

"I've been here the whole week doing this," said Lindsay Conrad, 16, of Waynesboro, Pa. "Last year, I roofed a house. It's been a very good learning experience."

"I really like coming over here every year. You meet new people, and you have fun," said Brian Thrush, 16, of Greencastle, Pa.

Although Thrush has participated in two past work camps, this one has the added bonus of fulfilling his community service requirement for graduation from Greencastle-Antrim High School.

"I would have come anyway," Thrush said.

"I just come out to serve other people." said Carl Johnson, 18, of Hagerstown. "I like helping people out."

Johnson and the other volunteers not only are working for free, they have to come up with $150 for the privilege of taking part to help cover expenses. At night, they eat dinner, take part in worship services and sleep at Chambersburg Area Middle School, Moran said.

"There's just so much need here in Franklin County ... People just don't realize," Knepper said.

A couple of years ago, Knepper helped replace the roof on a woman's house that was in such disrepair, "she had pots and pans all through the house to catch the water."

Other jobs around the county included painting the New Hope Shelter in Waynesboro, replacing a roof in that town, and renovations to a couple of homes in Mont Alto, said Barb Shorb, another adult volunteer.

The Chambersburg Project received 65 applications this year, and by the end of the week, completed 47, President Tim Moran said.

Over the past few years, the Chambersburg Project also has run the Chambersburg Project Home Improvement Outlet at 101 Brim Blvd. Tim Moran said the board of directors decided to close the outlet in June when it lost its lease, and an auction of the mostly donated building supplies will be Saturday at 8 a.m.

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