After 20 years of service, Chambersburg couple steps down from Habitat for Humanity board

August 17, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Don and Shirley Howard served Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County (Pa.) for 20 years.
By Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — In 20 years, Don and Shirley Howard helped to put roofs over the heads of 30 families.

The Chambersburg couple served as charter board members of Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County. After two decades of service, the Howards stepped down earlier this year from the board of directors.

“We liked the people and what we were doing, and we liked getting people into homes they otherwise couldn’t,” Don Howard said.

Habitat for Humanity sells homes to partner families at cost and offers a home loan with zero percent interest. The families put in “sweat equity” as the homes are built, mostly by volunteers.

The Howards were semi-retired and looking for volunteer opportunities when friends mentioned an effort to bring Habitat for Humanity to Franklin County. The group met in a small church’s basement to send an application to the national Habitat for Humanity organization.

The first home — built in summer 1994 for minister Keith Bowers and his wife, Michelle — turned out to be one of the easier ones, Don Howard said.

“We thought we had enough people who knew the construction process, and we did,” he said.

The Howards reminisced about working on that house on the Fourth of July. They said clouds started to roll in and rain fall as the nails were pounded into the roof.

The second house was a “blitz build” done over the course of a weekend, Don Howard said.

Most houses were ranchers with three bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms. A few involved renovations to existing structures.

Shirley Howard, who worked as an administrative assistant, said she liked knowing that she was helping others. She joked about the three things the organization needs to operate — families, money and land.

“We never had all three at the same time,” she said with a laugh.

Don Howard, a former plant engineer, said he will miss being involved with Habitat for Humanity, but he feels the county’s organization is in better shape than ever.

“I’m glad we were able to help someone,” he said.

“I think we’ve done something for families that would otherwise not have a home or decent place to live. ... Mostly, they were so overjoyed to have something,” Shirley Howard said.

“Don and Shirley have been synonymous with Habitat, and together, they have been the most visible face for our organization. Since their departure in March, several notes and gifts have been delivered to the office hailing the Howards as local ‘volunteer heroes,’” said Mark Story, Habitat’s director in the county.

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