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2008 alumna brings together church and community with service learning project

Lorraine Adams '08Like many Waynesburg students, Lorraine Adams ‘08 needed to complete a Service Learning project before graduation. Little did she know that the project she began as a student, inspired by her grandfather, would bring together her church and community when she was an alumna.

“Looking back, everything just seemed perfectly orchestrated to fall into place as it did,” Adams said.

Service Learning is a course that each Waynesburg student is required to complete, and every project is different. Some students serve the local community at the soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity while others travel on domestic and international service trips.

When Adams registered for her Service Learning class she was unsure of how she could make an impact, but she knew she wanted to do something local in the Greene County community.

“I had no idea what exactly I wanted to do for a service learning project,” she said. “I only knew that I wanted to do something local in the Mapletown area.”

Inspiration struck Adams on Christmas Eve in 2007 when she and her family had a difficult time getting her grandfather, Ewing Minor Barb—a longtime member of Mapletown United Methodist Church who was using a wheelchair for the first time that year—into the sanctuary for worship service. At that moment she knew she wanted to make her church handicap accessible as part of her service learning project.

“I wanted access to the church to be easy,” she said. “Church should be somewhere everyone can attend with ease.”

Adams began researching and after two estimates found that she needed to raise $27,000 for her church to install a wheel chair accessible lift. This fundraising goal led her to organize soup dinners, craft shows, a pancake breakfast, and chicken roasts to start raising money over the course of five years.

The project caught local resident’s attention after an article was published in the local newspaper. Soon after that, donations started pouring in from people who, like Adams, believed the project was important.

One of the most important things to Adams was that the project was able to bring the community together.

“This was my project for one semester—after that it was the church’s and community’s project,” Adams said.

A total of $34,000 was raised in less than five-and-a-half years. Over half of the money was from generous donations.

“I love how people took ownership of this,” she said. “This was not my service learning project anymore.”

On August 18, 2012, the men of Mapletown United Methodist Church began working on the wheelchair lift. The project was completed in May 2013 and dedicated in June 2013.

Unfortunately, Adams’ grandfather passed away before seeing it come to fruition, but she says that his inspiration continues through those who are now able to use the lift. Three people use the lift each Sunday—one is in a wheelchair.

According to Adams, anyone can make a difference in his or her local community.

“Some people didn’t think this could be done—we proved it could,” she said. “I hope what we did inspires others to look at the needs of their own community.”

Waynesburg University’s mission of faith, learning and service helped lay the groundwork for Adams to complete her project as an alumna. It continues to provide the same support for current Waynesburg students.

“I am grateful I received my education in a Christian environment,” Adams said. “Waynesburg allows its students to learn while being prepared for the moral and spiritual challenges in the real world.”

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