Navy volunteers help with restoration work at KIFA
STEVENSVILLE — Over the weekends of Aug. 18 and Aug. 25, members of the U.S. Navy Communications Specialist Training Unit, out of Ft. Meade, came to Stevensville to lend a hand with needed restoration work at the Kent Island Federation of Arts headquarters. Their volunteering was initiated by KIFA member Paul Placek. Placek had written a letter to the U.S.Navy about KIFA’s beed for assistance. Communications Specialist Kaylee Perry received it and replied that they could help. A work detail of 20 Navy volunteers was organized.
The volunteers arrived in vans at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. They were welcomed by KIFA President Judy Wolgast, who had arranged for the volunteers to take a quick walking tour of the historic buildings in downtown Stevensville. The tour was guided by Kent Island Heritage Society President Jack Broderick and Heritage Society members Nancy Cook and John Conley.
The tour began inside historic Christ Church, which is owned by Queen Anne’s County. The Navy volunteers sat in the church pews, as Cook, a longtime public school teacher and choir director, “orchestrated” a very interesting 10-minute history of the Kent Island. Cook almost had the group singing the information she was teaching them back to her.
She told them, “Here’s Kent Island” (pointing to a map). “Where are we?” she’d ask. “Kent Island!” the group replied in unison (like a choir). “The Island was found by William Claiborne in 1631,” she said. “Who founded the island?” and so she continued. Cook engaged with the communications specialists. When she’d ask a question, she would wave her arms as she would when conducting a choir.
The three, Broderick, Cook and Conley, then rotated groups of six or seven Navy volunteers through Stevensville to the Cray House, the old Stevensville Post Office and former Stevensville Bank. They also visited the Stevensville Train Depot located behind Cary House. Each group spent about 10 minutes at each location.
Coming back to KIFA at 9:30 a.m., the volunteers were divided into small work groups to tackle several big projects inside and the outside the building. A portion of the rear roof had to be removed, a labor intensive job that involved striping the old shingles off and then putting new shingles in their place. They also removed old wooden siding panels that were severely water damaged. Those panels are being replaced.
Inside the building, a leak in the roof had caused a portion of the ceiling plaster to collapse. The volunteers carried sheets of dry wall upstairs to repair the ceiling.
Local carpenter Tom Yates, a longtime KIFA member and artist, coordinated the work being done by the volunteers. The repairs could not be completed on just one Saturday. The group returned Saturday, Aug. 25, to finish the work.
Wolgast said, “We’re ecstatic to have their help. With Tom Yates to guide, it’s helping KIFA to upgrade the house to modern standards (not to mention saving KIFA lots in expenses).”
One of the members of the U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist Program inspects the vault door once used inside the former Stevensville Bank.
U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist Program personnel climb to the roof at the Kent Island Federation of Arts building in Stevensville Saturday morning, Aug. 18. Local carpenter Tom Yates directs repairs from below.
Tom Yates, center, in hat, talks with volunteer workers from the U.S. Navy Mass Communications Program as they remove damaged shingles from a portion of the roof at the Kent Island Federation of Arts headquarters in Stevensville and prepare to replace them with new singles, Saturday, Aug. 18.
“We’re right here, in downtown Stevensville,” said Nancy Cook, former Kent Island Heritage Society president, as she gave a quick local history lesson to members of the U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Program, who volunteered their labor to help with repairs at the Kent Island Federation of Arts headquarters.
KI Heritage Society President Jack Broderick, far right, speaks to members of the U.S. Navy Mass Communications Specialist Program Saturday, August 18. The Navy specialists took a quick walking tour of the historic sites in Stevensville and then volunteered their labor to help with repairs at the Kent Island Federation of Arts headquarters.
Two of 20 U.S. Navy Mass Communications Program volunteers stack wood needed for repairs at Kent Island Federation of Arts headquarters in Stevensville.