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Community Fair offers play for kids, information for parents

Hagerstown Housing Authority event offered games, hot dogs, ice cream and free advice

August 10, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Kymberley Schwartz, left, 8, of Hagerstown has a balloon octopus made for her by balloon artist Bobby Dymond Wednesday afternoon during the annual Community Fair at Elgin Station in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Jugglers, a giant slide and informational stations covered the grounds of Gateway Crossing Wednesday during the Hagerstown Housing Authority's annual Community Fair.

Diane Rudisill, director of resident services for the housing authority, said the fair offers children a chance to play and their parents an opportunity to discover programs that are designed to help them become more self-sufficient.

Rudisill said housing authority residents comprise low- to middle-income individuals and families. The amount of their rent is based on income.

"We're bringing in people from all over the development communities," said Rudisill, noting that the Boys & Girls Club shuttled residents to the event from Noland Village and other housing authority communities. "It's primarily for residents of the Hagerstown Housing Authority, but anyone can come."

Gateway Crossing is a 352-unit housing authority development that was built about seven years ago on the West End of Hagerstown. The Elgin Station community center was added to the project to give residents a place to learn about computers and gain other skills.

The community center also provides Headstart programs for the children of the Gateway Crossing community, and the Boys & Girls Club of America has a branch there to offer after-school programs.

Children enjoyed games, hot dogs and ice cream outside of the Elgin Station building while parents were invited inside to talk to more than 35 vendors who gave free advice on topics that ranged from nutrition to higher education opportunities.

Paula Ernst, community health educator for the Washington County Health Department, said she set up a table inside Elgin Station to tout the Tobacco Free for Life Program.

"We just want people to know we deal with all kinds of tobacco, not just smokers," she said. "We want our youth to understand the dangers of tobacco use, and we're reaching out to the parents to let them know about our programs."

Many of the children who attended the Community Fair received free school supplies from the Washington County Department of Social Services.

Noland Village resident Kathy Reedy said the school supplies were a big help.

"Even though I only have one (child), it takes away some of the financial burden," she said.

Billie Jo Tracey, who has five children, agreed.

"We come almost every year for the kids," she said. "It's a big help."

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