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Chambersburg area church group focuses on community's needs

January 11, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A group of about 40 people from area churches and charitable agencies gathered Thursday night at St. Paul United Methodist Church to discuss the needs of the community and what services are available to address those needs.

"The things we perceive as the needs of the community we weren't sure were the actual needs," Associate Pastor Lenore Hosier said. The church held the forum to identify the needs and the resources, she said.

Housing and rental assistance were mentioned several times during the meeting.

"We need more low-income housing," said Pat Hughes of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army does give rental assistance, with recipients required to show proof of income and expenditures.

"We need landlords to give more second chances," said Hughes. The Army is willing to work with landlords to help tenants who have fallen behind in rent, she said.

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Habitat for Humanity is raising $200,000 this year and also needs property to build houses on, as well as volunteers to do the construction, Executive Director Michelle Bowen said. Don Howard of Habitat for Humanity said the organization has been getting more calls recently from people seeking help with their rent.

"It looks to me like it's a growing problem," Howard said.

"One of the problems I see is finding housing and furniture," said Sherry McLatchy-Scarlett, the regional administrator for Rural Opportunities Inc. Her organization has programs for first-time home buyers and farm workers trying to transition to year-round employment, she said.

Operation Concern provides people with furniture, said Natalie Newcomer of Maranatha. Since its storage space was flooded in 2006, Operation Concern has been working with World Harvest Outreach in Chambersburg to provide the service, she said.

Maranatha also has Candleheart in Fayetteville, Pa., part of its transitional housing program, where people have a place to live and get training in the skills they need to make it on their own, she said.

Heating oil vouchers of $100 are also available, she said, but oil companies will not deliver orders that small and people have to get the fuel themselves.

"Thank God we've had warm weather," she said.

Dr. Thomas Orndorf of Keystone Women's Health suggested a Web site would be useful to provide information on the services available from the groups.

One thing all the groups could use is volunteers. One suggestion arising from the meeting was to have a forum to match potential volunteers with programs that best suit their skills and schedules.

"If there's a particular outreach you need some manpower or some prayer for, consider the churches," Hosier said.

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