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Human Services Council's board to discuss relocation plans

Director: Agency has outgrown current location, adding that the building's condition also is a growing concern

September 21, 2010|By DANA BROWN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Waynesboro Area Human Services Council has been hoping to move to a larger building for more than a year and a half to meet the growing needs of its clients.

Jane Birt, director of the council, said the agency has outgrown its current location at 24 E. Main St., adding that the building's condition also is a growing concern.

"This building has been in disarray for some time," Birt said.

The building has limited storage space, a roof that leaks and a furnace that no longer is in working condition, she said.

The agency also rents the building, which is in receivership with a bank, and Birt said she is unsure about plans for the building if it comes under new ownership.

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"We want to expand if the repairs are made that we'd like to have repaired," she said.

The Waynesboro Area Human Services Council's board of directors will discuss relocation plans at its meeting Thursday, she said.

The board goes back to the drawing board after a proposal last month to the Waynesboro Borough Council to build a 3,600- to 4,000-square-foot building on the Rotary parking lot was rejected. The lot is on land donated to the borough by the Rotary Club of Waynesboro.

In a letter to the borough council, the Rotary indicated that the club was not in favor of allowing the building to be constructed on the parking lot because it would conflict with the original intent of the donation. The council voted unanimously not to compromise the intent of the donation, and moved to prevent construction of permanent structures of any kind on that lot.

Birt said she was not surprised by the council's decision.

The agency's board of directors will continue to look at options, including constructing a new building or finding another building to rent or buy, she said.

Fred Eisenhart, president of the Waynesboro Human Services Council's board of directors, said the board has looked at about 15 locations.

"We've looked extensively," he said. "The right thing just hasn't come up yet. It's a matter of space. It's a matter of funds."

Eisenhart said the availability of an adjoining building might provide the additional space the agency needs, but added that the issues with the current building would need to be resolved first.

"Hopefully, those things can be attended to," he said.

Waynesboro Area Human Services Council is a nonprofit organization that operates with the help of the United Way and Waynesboro Fellowship of Churches, and from grant programs, fundraisers and community support.

The agency provides emergency financial assistance for low-income residents in the Waynesboro and Greencastle-Antrim school districts, Birt said. Financial assistance includes help with rent, utilities, heating and prescriptions, she said.

So far this year, the agency has dispersed nearly $70,000 in assistance, she said.

"With their unemployment being exhausted, now it is even harder for our clients," Birt said.

In 2009, the agency provided financial assistance to 443 clients, with a total of 1,281 people in those households, said Jack Scott, treasurer for the Waynesboro Area Human Services Council. Another 600 clients, representing a total of 1,600 people in their households, used the food bank, he said.

The agency houses a food pantry, diaper bank and bread pantry, and provides free clothing, Birt said. Moving into a larger building would allow the agency to take in more donations, including furniture and appliances, which they do not have space for in the current location. Moving to a larger space also would to expand its services, Birt said.

Eisenhart expressed optimism that a suitable location can be found.

"We feel confident that it will," he said.

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