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Spreading a little love
By: KAREN SHUEY Review Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
A dozen congregations in Ephrata are busy this month providing a helping hand to their fellow man.
The service projects are part of the third annual Ephrata Project initiative, a coalition of churches reaching out to their neighbors who lack the resources to repair and maintain their homes.
Volunteers from various churches do projects ranging from small jobs like light housework and weeding to larger tasks such as rebuilding a porch or installing flooring. Often the projects involve numerous volunteers pitching in.
The Ephrata Project grew out of a partnership with Love INC of Lancaster County, a network of churches and volunteers who seek to identify and address areas of need in local communities.
In 2009, Love INC started the Ephrata Project after recognizing the need to focus on serving low-income individuals within the greater Ephrata area. The goal was to offer help for low-income homeowners who needed a little assistance in completing more than 40 different types of home repair tasks.
The congregation of Reformed Presbyterian Church was the first to throw its support behind the mission and has seen it grow over the years, said Ephrata Project coordinator Morris Lapi.
"It’s really been a success. The first year we helped 10 homeowners, the next year more than 40 and this year more than 100," he said.
Lapi said referral for clients needing home repairs come from Love INC and most of those helped are elderly, with special attention paid to widows. Some are on fixed incomes and are unable to fix a leaky roof or do basic yard work.
As the demand for help has increased, so has the number of volunteers.
"The first year it was just us, but then it caught on and now we have 12 churches involved," Lapi explained.
Nick Crowther is one of the volunteers that make up the small army of good Samaritans.
The main mission of the project, he said, is to be the "hands of Jesus Christ" and follow his teachings to help others.
"It’s a way to put our faith to practice in a physical, tangible way," he said. "We’re told to love our neighbors and this is a great way to help those who may be struggling right now."
Crowther added that he hopes to provide more than just handy-work.
"We’re here to do more than chores, we want to give families the emotional support they may need as they face tough times," he said.
Angie, a resident of West Franklin Street, is a recipient of that support. The single mother of two, who declined to give her last name, applied for assistance through the Ephrata Project to alleviate some of the pressure she’s been feeling while she juggles work, college courses and day-to-day chores.
This week volunteers tackled a variety of projects at her home, which have been overlooked or left undone while Angie completed term papers for the master’s degree she’s working toward. Doors have been filed down, wallpaper has been removed, a broken window has been replaced, an air conditioner was installed and the backyard has been weeded.
"I’m just so grateful that something like this exists," she said.
Volunteers will continue to lend a hand to those in need throughout the month. And if Lapi has his way, next year the project will include even more support.
"I hope this thing keeps growing, so we can help everyone who needs it," he said. More LOVE INC., page A6