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Habitat house an early Christmas gift for history buff

December 12, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE | Staff Correspondent
  • The house at 528 S. Main St. in Chambersburg, Pa., is being remodeled by Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County, Pa.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — For Lewis “Sonny” Hummer, 2010 might be the merriest Christmas of all. Hummer was given the keys to his new two-story home at 528 S. Main St. Sunday afternoon during a dedication and blessing ceremony hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County.

“It will be my Christmas gift,” said Hummer, 55, of Chambersburg.

Once final preparations are completed, like installing the house’s flooring and some fixtures, Hummer will be able to move in on Dec. 22, just in time for the holidays.

Hummer, a history fanatic who works at Falling Springs Nursing Home just outside Chambersburg, said he was house hunting earlier this year and came across the Habitat for Humanity sign in front of the downtown home.

“It didn’t matter if it was a new house,” he said. “I like the history.”

The home, which originally dates back to the mid-1800s, was donated by Vivian Thompson of Falls Church, Va. A first for Habitat, it was one of two home rehabilitation projects finished this year, Director Mark Story said.

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“Our mission is to provide homeownership solutions, and we do that by pairing and sharing charitable gifts with volunteer labor,” Story said. “Rehabbing is a perfect mission tie-in.”

Standing inside the home Sunday, Thompson recounted the tumultuous history of her former family home, which was the target of a contractor who trashed the home and ran off with Thompson’s money. Overrun by rodents and flooded with three feet of water in the basement, the home was essentially a landfill in downtown Chambersburg before it was turned over to Habitat, Thompson said.

“The place was wrecked, totally,” she said.

Thanks to large-scale donations from generous companies, organizations and individuals, the original log cabin structure has come a long way since the project started in March. Story said they had no idea who would live in the home until Hummer settled on the property on Wednesday.

“That saves Habitat, as an organization, thousands of dollars, and those savings get passed on to our partner families,” Story said of the donations.

Habitat officials welcomed Hummer’s friends and family, members of the community and local dignitaries to Sunday’s dedication, which had a “Move that Dumpster” theme similar to the “Move that Bus” cry on ABC’s popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Story said they got some “good-hearted ribbing” from local truck drivers and bus drivers about moving the large green Dumpster in front of the property that was provided free of charge by Waste Management during the duration of the project.

“We at Waste Management are very, very thrilled to participate … and donate our services to such a worthwhile organization,” said Pat Heraty, district manager for Waste Management.

Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane spoke during the event, as did Franklin County Commissioners Bob Thomas and David Keller, state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, and Jack Jones of the Elm Street Council. Keller said the county’s housing redevelopment authority supports Habitat’s renovation efforts.

“We would like to continue this type of project,” he said.

Kauffman, who has known Hummer since Kauffman was a child, said he was proud to be part of a community that “pulls together and makes a project like this happen.”

Volunteers from all over the nation helped with the project, Story said.

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