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Mt. Pleasant area nonprofits receive funding for community projects

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Equipped with original wiring, a full kitchen and bedroom furniture from the Great Depression Era, there is a house in Norvelt that Doug Hauser said presents the perfect illustration of what the village was at its genesis.

“It's an untouched, Norvelt house,” said Hauser, chairman of board of directors of the Mt. Pleasant Area Endowment Trust Initiative. “It has not been cut up, added on to or updated in any way.”

That's why the Westmoreland Homesteads/Norvelt Historical Society has undertaken a $75,000 project to purchase the house currently owned by Larry Crumb.

The goal is to turn it into a museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of the village founded in 1934 by then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to help provide a better quality of life for coal miners and their families during some of the nation's darkest economic days.

“We don't believe there is another Norvelt property in its original condition that will be as desirable and suitable for use as an historical museum,” wrote Carol A. Davis, the society's treasurer, in a letter to Hauser and the rest of the initiative's board of directors requesting funding for the endeavor.

In return, Hauser and the board recently presented Davis and the Rev. David Greer, the society's president, with $600 toward that end.

“We wanted to provide them with some seed money to get this started. They've about $4,000 saved up so far for a down payment,” Hauser said.

The donation was just one of seven made recently by the initiative, each to an certified, nonprofit organization which works to better local communities in myriad ways.

It's the first time since 2009 that the initiative, which doled out a total of $4,200 to the groups, has made the donations.

That year, the lagging economy caused the amount in the trust from which such money is derived to sink to its nadir — $37,000.

That prompted the trust's board of directors cease donations for several years in accordance with the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, said Hauser, who was joined in the decision by fellow board members Dale Walker, Joseph “Coke” Yancosky, Al Maida, Don Good, George Wood and Jim Schmidt.

“Normally, $50,000 is maintained in the trust, and we're allowed to give away 5 percent of the corpus of the trust, or $2,000,” Hauser said.

As the stock market continues its recovery, the trust has been replenished to roughly its original amount, Hauser said. Gains in interest earnings on the trust in recent years compelled the trust's board of directors to make the additional amount available, he said.

“We felt it was important, since we have not given out a grant in a number of years, to give out as many as we could this year, that is why we increased our amount,” Hauser said.

Other recipients include:

• The Cat Committee — $500 — to aid in the organization's efforts to finance its trap/neuter/return campaign for stray and feral cats locally.

“We are very grateful for this money, but we're also happy to see that the work of the Cat Committee is doing is being acknowledged,” said Cynthia Stevenson, the committee's president.

• Chestnut Ridge Historical Society — $600 — to aid in the purchase of a public address system for its monthly speaker series, a laser printer and a hand-held scanner.

“We were just delighted to receive this amount of money; there are so many things we need, and this will definitely be going for a good use,” said Peggy Shepler, the society's chairwoman, who credited Chris Kantorik for submitting the grant application.

• Friends of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library — $500 — to help fund a scholarship to be matched by the “Friends” group to be awarded in the spring to a Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School student who aspires to work as a library media specialist at the facility at 100 S. Church St.

“We're very happy to have been considered and picked. The library is very near and dear to our hearts, we would love to see somebody take on this position to promote literacy,” said Nancy J. Sebek, the group's president.

• Jacobs Creek Area Faith in Action — $800 — in support of the “Senior Home Safety Check” program run by the community-based program operated by the United Way of Westmoreland County.

Currently, 157 senior citizens registered to receive volunteer services from the group, which counts 66 volunteers. Of those seniors registered, 62 reside within the Mt. Pleasant area.

“We're very grateful to receive it, and it's going to do a lot of good for the seniors we serve,” said Melaney Hegyes, the program's director.

• Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society — $600 — to aid in the group's efforts to preserve and promote the area's history and heritage from the 18th through the 20th centuries — including vintage photographs, postcards, maps, surveys and documents — in a more transportable, digital format.

“We're very thankful for the Mt. Pleasant Area Endowment Trust Initiative for their consideration, and we are really appreciative for this donation,” said Rick Meason, the society's president.

• Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum — $600 — to aid in the financing of recently installed interior signs recognizing the area's three former glass houses — Bryce Brothers, L.E. Smith and Lenox Crystal — at the museum's new home at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center in Mt. Pleasant Township.

“We are very grateful for that money. It is the first local grant that we've received, so it means a lot to us,” said Cassandra Vivian, president of the museum's board of directors.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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