Retiree volunteers ready to lend hand

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If a local non-profit has a job that needs a few good handymen, the F.R.O.G.S. are happy to jump on it.

F.R.O.G.S. Richard Bush (from left), Steve Williams, Earle Maxwell and Mike Gardner pour concrete around a gate post at the new Fireside Ministries farmer's market on Wheeler Road. The men perform a variety of jobs for local nonprofits as part of an outreach of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.  Lisa Kaylor/Staff
Lisa Kaylor/Staff
F.R.O.G.S. Richard Bush (from left), Steve Williams, Earle Maxwell and Mike Gardner pour concrete around a gate post at the new Fireside Ministries farmer's market on Wheeler Road. The men perform a variety of jobs for local nonprofits as part of an outreach of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.

“Our motto is: ‘We don’t croak,’” quipped member Earle Maxwell.

The Faithful Retired Old Guys Serving, F.R.O.G.S. for short, were started about eight years ago by Mike Gardener, a retired dentist and member of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.

The outreach ministry began as Faithlift, a group of “weekend warriors” who set out to do odd jobs for local nonprofits such as Turn Back the Block on Saturday mornings, Gardner said.

One Saturday, a group of about 30 volunteers spent a day mowing, picking up trash, painting and freshening up the place.

But so much more needed to be done in order to bring the house up to code so that families could occupy it, and it couldn’t be done in an occasional Saturday.

“It dawned on me that the kinds of places that we worked on weren’t a weekend job,” Gardner said. “It was wonderful, but it didn’t get the job done.”

He changed the format of the group from Faithlift, which included volunteers who still worked during the week, to the F.R.O.G.S., made up entirely of volunteers with more time on their hands.

They only perform jobs for nonprofits or churches, and will do work for an individual only if it’s requested by a nonprofit or a pastor, Gardner said.

There are currently about 16 members on the e-mail roster, though a typical workday (they work Mondays and Thursdays) brings out anywhere from four to 10 volunteers.

They work on a variety of projects, including the restoration of the Heritage Academy school building on Greene Street, the renovation of houses for Turn Back the Block in Harrisburg, and a variety of jobs for Trinity on the Hill, Family Promise, New Bethlehem Community Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

Earlier this month Gardner, Maxwell, Richard Bush and Steve Williams helped Fireside Ministries director Phin Hitchcock set up a farmer’s market on Wheeler Road.

They installed a chain link fence and gate posts and put up framework for a greenhouse.

“This is our first project we’ve asked them to come (do),” Hitchcock said. “I asked them this week and here they are. They jump.”

They come from varied backgrounds, Gardner said. None of the members have a background in construction.

“I have accountants, hospital administrators, a lot of engineers. I have a guy that used to work for the state. One research chemist,” Gardner said. “None of us really have building experience.”

But most have been handy around the house and enjoyed doing handiwork.

Now they put that interest to use helping others, but they receive plenty of benefits from the work in return.

“Socially, it’s good. It’s a good bunch of guys,” Bush said.

Williams said helping others makes him feel good and keeps him physically active and in good health.

“It was the best thing ever for me,” he said. “It’s nice to be with guys who have a lot of the same interests.”

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corgimom 03/23/14 - 02:46 pm
“None of us really have

“None of us really have building experience.”

And there you go. You get what you pay for.

I wouldn't let a group like that on my property to do anything, the liability is enormous, not to mention a high likelihood of work not being done properly.

There is a REASON that work is expensive, it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to do it right, and you don't learn it over the Internet or by watching the DIY shows.

If you ask any building professional, they will tell you that a large part of their business consists of fixing other people's mistakes, especially the DIY'ers.

justthefacts 03/23/14 - 02:58 pm

Super nice thing these guys are doing.

Connor Threlkeld
Connor Threlkeld 03/23/14 - 06:56 pm
Corgimom, I think there's a

Corgimom, I think there's a difference between not having been a professional builder and not knowing how to operate a hammer. The story lists them as having done mowing work, painting, installing chain-link fence, and framing a greenhouse. Typical DIY stuff. I painted a room today, and I'm not a pro. In a story from 2007, they ran circular saws and hammered nails under the supervision of a contractor working to renovate a building for a school, and the group included a retired electrician. They're not building skyscrapers, hospitals and server farms. They're just lending a hand to groups that need it.

TCB22 03/23/14 - 09:29 pm
So very nice and heartwarming

What a wonderful thing these gentlemen are doing. You are what makes this country great. Godspeed.

revscottep 03/27/14 - 03:28 pm
Clueless Peanut Gallery vs. Community Workers

It's a real shame that Corgimom, & other frequent commenters like her, know so much yet speak out of their opinion and lack of facts. Sadly, she must not be very involved in the community or a close reader of the Chronicle. The list would be too extensive to share, but if you've been in Heritage Academy, Harrisburg Family Healthcare, or a host of other non-profit groups you'd see the FROGs excellent work accomplished over the last decade. The FROGs often work with professionals so that you often can't tell the difference in the quality. Of course, if you want to lump all DIY folk together you go ahead, as I'm sure little would convince you that you are wrong. If you ever want to move from talk into action our community can certainly use more "builders" of all different skill levels and interests to join the team. Sincerely, One of the FROG Pastors

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