Pa. youths help Suffolk neighborhoods

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

A group of Pennsylvania church kids teamed up with local volunteers to clean up the Orlando and Boston neighborhoods from July 14-18.

This marks the third year that youths from Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Level, Pa., came to Suffolk to donate their time and energy to Habitat for Humanity, said Fran Alwood, project director in Suffolk.

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Although the kids were too young to work on construction, the junior high-aged youth had plenty to do in up areas where Habitat has built several homes, she said.

Two City Council members and civic volunteer Donny Perry also helped out with the projects.

Perry said it amazes her that people would come from Pennsylvania to work here. Even the city’s public works crews went above and beyond the call of duty, she said.

&uot;We asked for a dumpster and they sent us a trash truck,&uot; said Perry. &uot;They provided everything we needed, like the ‘litter-getters.’ It’s just amazing how people can work so well together when there is a community need.&uot;

First Baptist Church on Main Street gave the youngsters a place to sleep, shower and eat breakfast. As other youth groups have in years past, the group stayed in the church’s Family Life Center.

The Christ United Church of Christ from Harleysville, Pa., will be working with Habitat during the coming week, Alwood said.

City Councilman Bobby Ralph has dedicated several days to working in the Boston neighborhood.

&uot;We are fortunate to have people in Suffolk like Fran and Donna who coordinate these activities,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;To me, one of the best ways for an individual to take control of his own life is to learn that the more he helps others, the more he will be helped.

&uot;I think it’s extremely fortunate that these young people are learning this.&uot;

Councilman Curtis Milteer, who has also pitched in with the neighborhood cleanups, also commended the young volunteers.

&uot;I think it’s wonderful to have help come in but we must also each become involved in the process of volunteerism,&uot; Milteer said.

The Greater First Baptist Church of Orlando youth usually turn out to help with neighborhood cleanup projects, Alwood said. But they couldn’t make it this year.

&uot;On the same week we had people coming from Pennsylvania to help our community, Greater First Baptist was sending their youth to Florida to help out with a similar project,&uot; she said. &uot;I think it’s wonderful the way our youth are pitching in to help others. It’s a great opportunity for the youth.&uot;

Habitat is planning to begin its newest home project in September. Although the land and a family have been secured, donations of building materials or money are still needed.

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority donated the land and the United Church of Christ has already pledged half the expenses, Alwood said.

Call 539-5780 for details.