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Housing Authority fair teaches residents about resources

August 11, 2010|By HEATHER LOWERY

Inflatable bounces, juggling and face painting were among the activities available Wednesday to those who attended the Hagerstown Housing Authority's Community Fair at Elgin Station Community Center in Hagerstown.

All activities, including food and drink, were free of charge.

"We've been doing community fairs for years, but for the past few years we've been doing it at Elgin Station Community Center," said Ted Shankle, executive director of the housing authority.

Elgin Station Community Center, at 40 Elgin Blvd., was completed in 2003 and houses a wing of the Boys & Girls Club and Head Start of Washington County.

Jugglers, a woman on stilts, inflatable bounces, balloon stations, food and drink stands, inflatable slides and more were outside Elgin Station.

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Dianne Rudisill, the housing authority's director of resident services, said that throughout the day, there also would be indoor activities.

"It's to help all the participants come inside and out of the heat for a little while. We have shows at 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.," Rudisill said.

Also inside of Elgin Station, the housing authority and 33 vendors set up tables, Rudisill said.

"We offer this to show the residents what resources are available to them," Rudisill said. "They can walk through inside and then come outside and enjoy the other activities."

"Within Resident Services, residents tell us their needs and we try to aid them," Rudisill said.

Some vendors, such as Women of Valor Ministries Inc., open their services to anyone who wants to come. "We help with the improvement of life," said Phyllis Shoemaker, a Women of Valor member.

Shoemaker said Women of Valor was organized three years ago and this was their first year at the community fair.

"We are here to get the word out that we are here to help people in need," she said.

The Washington County Community Action Council also had a table set up, offering information and energy assistance applications.

"The energy assistance is a program offered through the state of Maryland that helps residents with their electric and gas bills. They still need to pay their bills, but this helps with a portion of that cost," said Kimberly Buchanan, director of development for the Community Action Council.

Jaina Steuzl, 5, of Hagerstown, said she was enjoying the fair.

"Yeah, but that's the best," she said, pointing to the inflatable slide called Accelerator.

Jaina's mother, Jean Tucker, said this was the first year she and Jaina attended.

"We saw it as we were driving by," Tucker said.

Sean Kegarise, 12, of Hagerstown, was watching other youngsters blow up balloons until they popped. He said Boom Blaster, the balloon popping station, was his favorite thing at the fair.

Sean said he has attended the community fair every year, but his cousin, Alan Monroe, 12, of Hagerstown, said this was his first fair.

"I like everything," Alan said as he headed off to get some popcorn.

The housing authority staff and members from other agencies volunteered their time to run the community fair.

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