The Old Forge Junior Blue Devils youth football teams will soon have themselves some spiffier digs, courtesy of a group of community-minded employees from the Dickson City Lowe’s.
Volunteers from Lowe’s are hard at work renovating the Old Forge Football Association fieldhouse at Lower Pagnotti Park. The improvements come courtesy of $2,500 in funding the association secured from Lowe’s nationwide Heroes program.
“Every year, our store does a different project for the community,” said Jess Walsh, assistant manager of the Dickson City store. “Last year, we did the pavilions at Nay Aug Park. It’s great community outreach, and we’re really excited to do it.”
“The work they have done so far has just been amazing. And they’re the nicest people. It’s really an unbelievable effort,” said Jen Churla, vice president of the Old Forge Football Association.
The fieldhouse was built a few years ago by a group of association volunteers. The association’s former vice president, Michele Ruby, initially contacted Lowe’s regarding a Heroes grant, in hopes of making further improvements to the facility.
“It needed upgrades,” said Churla, noting the association has about 160 football players, ages 5-13.
About 10 Lowe’s employees are volunteering their time to the effort. They spent the better part of last week working there, as well as parts of this week – a considerable effort, since initially it was only supposed to be a one-day project.
“Going in, the fieldhouse was just concrete block and studs,” Walsh said. “We’re going to finish it completely.”
“It was their decision to expand the project, and we’re grateful,” Churla said.
Among other things, the volunteers are adding insulation, dry wall, spackle and a fresh coat of paint – Old Forge navy and gold, of course. The Devil logo will be included, and a portion of the wall space will be reserved for outgoing players to leave their handprints prior to moving on to the high school level.
“Now, with the insulation, it’ll keep the kids warm and allow them to watch videos in there. We’re trying to make it more of a relaxing place for them to spend time between practices,” Walsh said.
“The kids won’t have to freeze when they’re watching film,” Churla added. “Plus, we keep all of the equipment in there over the winter months.”
The fieldhouse also has a concession stand that’s getting a new cooler and stove courtesy of Lowe’s. Both will get terrific use, considering association volunteers sell food at both games and practices.
Once the renovations are complete, the association will set a date to hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony when all the players can be in attendance, Churla said.
“The kids are so excited when they’re there. They’re really excited to see the progress and transformation of the space,” Walsh said.
“When this is done, we’ll definitely have the nicest junior association fieldhouse around,” Churla said. “It’s wonderful what Lowe’s has done for us. You can’t put a price tag on it.”