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Pa. woman thankful for her new home

July 16, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

ROUZERVILLE, PA. -- Hugs, applause and tears of joy were plentiful when Donna Rook walked into her new house Thursday with the key in hand.

Volunteers with the Chambersburg Project tore down Rook's mold-filled, partially collapsed house June 15. Two hundred people donated time and materials to build a new 864-square-foot wood-frame construction home in its place.

"God put it together," construction leader Ken Haines said.

The Chambersburg Project, in its 11th year, typically sends teenagers to Franklin County, Pa., homes one week every summer for repairs such as porch stabilization and gutter replacement. Board members evaluated Rook's application for roof repairs, consulted contractors and realized the only logical conclusion was to rebuild.

Teenagers descended on the intersection of Mentzer Gap and Beartown roads and took care of the finishing touches this week.

"Your generation gets beat up on too much, but this is what you are really about," Pastor Dirk Small told the youths after praying for Rook and her future in the home.

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Rook wiped her eyes and clutched a picture of her late mother, Beulah Rook, after being handed the house key. She placed the photo on the kitchen counter and again thanked her mother's spirit for talking to God and sending "angels" to improve her life.

Rook felt the old house, which didn't have insulation, contributed to some of her health problems.

"She said she's feeling better and breathing better," said Greg Glunt, who joined Haines in overseeing the construction.

Glunt and Haines praised God for providing fair weather, dedicated volunteers and financial contributions.

"There wasn't a difficult part about it," Glunt said.

Rook hugged friends and teenagers in the kitchen, which features custom cabinets from Terry Newman of St. Thomas, Pa. She expressed disbelief she was standing in the new home and said she planned to sleep there for the first time Thursday.

"I got the keys. They can't keep me out," she said with a laugh.

Rook grew up in the 90-year-old wooden house and moved back in 2000 to care for her mother. Her desire to keep the new house pristine prompted Rook to say she won't even put nails in the wall to hang pictures.

Michelle Phillipson, 17, helped with the insulation, deck, patio and décor. She had participated in the Chambersburg Project once before.

"This year, we took away the point that a lot of people don't get to see God ... so we might be the only way they get to see God, and we have to make it a good way," Phillipson said.

Ben Jackson, 17, is in his fourth year with the Chambersburg Project. He painted trim at Rook's house and put stairs on the deck.

"This year, our group bonded pretty well," he said.

Justin Baer, 18, hugged Rook and said the teenagers who worked on her house formed a tight relationship with her.

"I learned that you can always trust in God, that he's always going to provide for you," he said.

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