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Ligonier Valley Endowment funds community projects

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By Jewels Phraner
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

For the first time, jumpers for the HT High Flyers will look like a team when they approach Town Hall's stage at a February community demonstration.

A grant from the Ligonier Valley Endowment has dressed the team in matching warm-up suits and has provided funding for uniforms, equipment and skills DVDs that are given away at demonstrations for the national championship team.

Endowment grants gave a boost to three other community projects last quarter.

“We are very grateful for the funding as we really needed new uniforms and warm-ups since our others were quite old,” said Laurie Whitsel, who coaches the jump roping team. “We did not have a team look on the medal stands at our national competitions since not every one of our new jumpers had warm-ups. Now our jumpers are wearing them proudly at all our demonstrations, competitions and other events.”

Endowment President Carolyn Shafer said the team is “exceptional.”

“A lot of these kids have become national champions,” she said. “Any way you can benefit a child's life is a good way to spend money.”

The team will debut the new uniforms at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at a community demonstration at Town Hall.

The endowment awards grants for community projects every quarter to organizations based within the Ligonier Valley School District.

Since 1978, it has awarded more than $2.6 million.

“When (organizations) come to us, we look at ways their project is going to benefit the community,” Shafer said. “Basically it's what that money is there for — to make the community a better place.”

Another grant paid for publicizing local events honoring the National Day of Prayer.

For the third year, the Ligonier Valley Association of Churches will offer a community breakfast, prayer walk and hymn sing at Ligonier Gardens.

“Our attendance last year at the breakfast doubled from the year before,” said Cheryl Tennant, chairwoman of the association's Day of Prayer committee.

“I think that's attributed to us being able to get the word out. This money will help us get the word out to the area churches and other people in the community,” she said.

This is the second year the endowment has contributed to the Day of Prayer.

“Awarding this grant was certainly a no-brainer,” Shafer said. “Anyone who goes to church benefits from this day.”

Waterford Christian Church used its grant to purchase an automatic external defibrillator, or AED machine, used to apply electrical therapy to restore normal heart rhythm when a person suffers cardiac distress. “Some of the church elders thought it would be a good idea, just in case something happens” said the Rev. Michael Mitchell. Mitchell said most of his congregation of about 75 people is age 65 and older.

He said a local fire department will come in to train church members on how to use the machine, which will be mounted on a wall.

“I think it was a smart move,” Mitchell said. “I think (the congregation) will feel safer. It's a real blessing to be able to receive this gift.”

Another grant for the last quarter of 2012 went to the Ligonier Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1 for environmentally friendly upgrades to the fire station.

“Anytime any of the emergency services come to us, we always try to help,” Shafer said. “They're our first responders. And with the economy the way it is, it's harder for these kinds of organizations to get funding.”The money will go toward upgrading 21 light fixtures and for a circulation fan and other energy-efficient equipment to work toward creating a “green” fire station.

Fire department officials purchased the parts for the fixtures and installed the lighting themselves to save money, according to Bill Stablein, board president for the Ligonier Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1.

Stablein said fire officials were told the new lighting will make the station at least 15 percent to 20 percent more efficient.

“It's certainly an improvement for the fire station,” fire Chief Paul Church said. “But I think, more importantly, we're able to have a substantial reduction in energy costs that ultimately benefits the entire community, because we run on donated dollars. We're being good stewards of these donated dollars.”

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or

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