Chambersburg Project kids leave places better than they found them

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
A towering maple, planted in 1952, was taken down at the home of Gail Hartman. The tree was leaning into a shed, and also had some damaged parts. Participants in the Chambersburg Project cleaned up the mess after a professional did the cutting. Pictured at the stump are, from left: Hannah Lougheed, 19, Keri Gearhart, 13, Taryn Cosey, 12, and Katie Moats, 14.

The kids were at it again. Approximately 120 teenagers paid $200 to work hard, eat packed lunches and sleep on the floor. They participated in the Chambersburg Project, active in Franklin County July 13-18.

Gail Hartman, 85, was a beneficiary of the annual youth missions program. A crew showed up at her Browns Mill Road home to take down two trees, seal the chimney, wash the windows inside and out, weed the gardens, trim the shrubs, and stain and pressure wash the deck and porch.

“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” Hartman said. “It gives you a lift, to get done things you can’t do or afford to have done.”

Approximately 120 teens from 20 churches, supervised by 80 adults, performed manual labor at 60  homes of elderly citizens who did not have financial or physical means to conduct the repairs themselves. They ate two meals at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, and a bagged lunch at the worksites.

Second year CP president Steve Perrin took the week off from his job at Texas Eastern Transmission to help out.

“Overseas missions may be glamorous,” he said, “but this one is one-hundred percent to Franklin County. I like giving back to the community.”

He recalled a past disabled recipient who said the two-foot hole in her ceiling was only an issue when it rained. Fixing such problems was very rewarding to him.

Some teenagers returned year after year. Hannah Lougheed, 19, serving for the eighth time, had advanced to co-leader, and with another person was in charge of younger servants.

“I love it every year,” she said. “It has made me more interested in pursuing a career that helps people in a tangible way.”

Adults are welcomed and needed to serve as crew leaders, kitchen staff, drivers, project inspectors, nurses, chaperones, security and set up and tear down at the school.

Perrin acknowledged that it was difficult for people to always take a full week off, and independent contractors gave up income when they did volunteer, but they could also help as many days as they were able. People were also utilized year round for registration, building team coordination, fundraising, establishing the evening programs for the week, finances and food.

Everything has fallen into place for the CP since its start in 1999.

“It takes a lot of dedication from a lot of people,” Perrin said.

Hartman appreciated the nine youth who spent portions of two days at her home.

“These kids make short work of stuff. They’re workers.”