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Volunteers build house for woman

July 02, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

ROUZERVILLE, Pa. -- After a week of smiling at the dozens of volunteers building her a new house in Beartown, Donna Rook said her face is growing sore. Her heart, however, will never tire of saying thank you, she said.

Volunteers from local churches and the Chambersburg Project began "The Donna Project" in early June. If everything continues to go smoothly, Rook should be moved in by mid-July, President Ken Haines said.

The Donna Project was the first time the Chambersburg Project built an entire house, he said.

Since 1998, the organization has provided free minor repairs to area homeowners by recruiting teenagers and professional tradesmen for a week of intensive, hands-on community service.

Rook said she applied to the program in 2008 seeking repairs to her sagging roof.

One look at Rook's house and Haines said it was clear her home was beyond repair.

"I knew if we were going to help her we'd have to start from scratch," he said.

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"He said there was nothing he could do," Rook said. "Then he said they were going to build me a new house. I was so glad I was sitting down at the time."

The small red cottage eroding away at the intersection of Beartown and Mentzer Gap roads struck a chord in the community, said Pastor Dirk Small, pastor of service, outreach and global ministries at Otterbein Church in Waynesboro, Pa.

Otterbein partnered with The Chambersburg Project to help build the house after Darrel Knepper, a member of the Otterbein congregation, approached Small with the idea of involving the church, he said.

"Otterbein is a giving church and I think the Donna Project is a real expression of what is going on in the hearts and minds of our people," Small said.

Almost 100 volunteers from the church have contributed to the project, providing everything from construction expertise to moving services and food. The church has raised about $12,000 for the project, Small said.

The $25,000 project has come about because of the generosity of the area, Haines said, adding that when he chose to go forward with the project he only had about half of the resources he would need.

Since then, a list of names and businesses too long to read have made the project a reality, he said.

Many businesses, like Dry Walizer Inc. of Waynesboro, have given of their spare time to work on Rook's house.

"This is my first time working with the Chambersburg Project," said owner Adam Walizer, taking a break from hanging drywall Thursday. "Its nice to help out someone close to home and put a smile on their face."

Even with her home nearing completion, Rook said she is still in awe of the generosity of her community.

"I was so depressed living in that house, so depressed I would never leave," she said. "I prayed and prayed someone would come help me, and God sent me angels."

Rook said those angels will finish her home and help her move in as early as July 15.

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