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 Saturday's 'Make A Difference Day' to Change 'I CARE House' in New Castle 



Oct. 21, 2003

CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine (724) 738-4854; e-mail:




           NEW CASTLE, Pa. – Make A Difference Day – the nation’s largest day of service – will be marked Saturday [Oct. 25] in New Castle with a major project benefiting underprivileged youth and their families. Volunteers will refurbish the second floor of Slippery Rock University’s I CARE House, which provides tutoring to low-income children, lunches for senior citizens and dozens of other community revitalization programs.

           Event organizers say this Make A Difference Day project is special because it builds on a partnership between Slippery Rock University, Lowe’s home improvement, small businesses, New Castle High School and New Castle. The I CARE House is the only on-going university project of its kind in Pennsylvania, said SRU’s Alice Kaiser-Drobney, director.  It was started from scratch and operates as a service-learning laboratory and community center.

Community involvement

           Lowe’s in New Castle will donate materials and labor for the home improvements. “Lowe’s generosity will make it possible for us to serve twice as many children and families as we have been able to so far.  As Lowe’s program suggests, they really are ‘Lowe’s Heroes’ to us,” Kaiser-Drobney said.  “It just goes to show what can happen when business and citizens take civic responsibility seriously.”

            In keeping with their corporate goal of increasing home fire safety, Lowe’s employees and SRU students will also install 100 smoke detectors in East Side homes. 

           Lowe’s invites volunteers of all skill levels to join the project between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Activities will include music provided by ROCK 107 FM, a visit from a fire safety truck, food, and give-aways for a fun atmosphere.

Helping children

           SRU launched programs at the I CARE House in September, providing a safe environment for tutoring and after-school clubs for children complete with snacks.  Other activities include lunches for senior citizens, a toddlers’ playgroup, drill team, the neighborhood’s first Girl Scout troop in 15 years, art classes for children and adults, book clubs, exam preparation, computer training and weekend and summer excursions.

           Weekly, the I CARE House engages 45-50 SRU students who tutor 75-100 children in grades 1 through 12, serve lunches to 25 senior citizens and organize a dozen other activities and clubs for children and adults.

           I CARE House long-term goals include academic enhancement of neighborhood children, economic revitalization and crime prevention on New Castle’s East Side, and youth leadership development.

           “As a public institution, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution,” Kaiser-Drobney said. “Democracy is not a spectator sport. By definition, it must be interactive.”

Economic impact

           SRU operates the facility through its Institute for Community, Service Learning, and Nonprofit Leadership.  New Castle will provide Community Block Grant Development funds for the upcoming purchase of the house by Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc., the first step toward in the revitalization plan for the East Side.  Additional plans include micro-enterprises and youth entrepreneurism.

           Lawrence County provided the land for the nearby I CARE Community Garden.  Lawmakers have offered support and encouragement, including State Rep. Mike Veon, of Beaver, whose staff will attend the Make A Difference Day event.

           I CARE House is at 602 Court St., New Castle. Telephone: 724-658-8873.

Editor’s note: Photography will be allowed inside the I CARE House on Saturday





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Click here to view the Economic Impact Report