PACA still in need of volunteers

I read in last Saturday's edition of The News-Gazette that April 5 is the second annual day of service. This gets me on my soap box, and I think my thoughts and gripes are valid.

First of all, PACA (Preservation and Conservation Association) receives no local money from the United Way or the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, the two local charitable groups that give the most money to Champaign-Urbana not-for-profit groups. PACA does not qualify for handouts from these organizations because โ€” while it is a not-for-profit group โ€” it is not profitable. PACA gives thousands of dollars back to area non-profit groups in the form of grants every year.

PACA has close to 350 members, the majority of whom probably draw Social Security. Out of that number they probably have fewer than 50 active volunteers, people who contribute on a monthly basis. Habitat gets that many people on a weekend building a house.

Probably 80 percent to 90 percent of those volunteers were public service workers who were sent to us through the courts and Bill May's County Probation office. I do not know how to count the thousands of dollars they have saved Urbana, Champaign and the University of Illinois in donated hours on salvage projects.

They really need volunteers, especially young, strong ones. PACA needs the UI and the state of Illinois to get off their hands and give us written permission to salvage the two houses on Armory Street and set in motion a process for future salvage โ€” efforts that can be given instantly instead of taking forever.

PACA sold $70,000 worth of pavers (bricks) in six years at 50 cents apiece. In April or May, PACA will be the recipient of 60,000 to 70,000 pavers, from a campus street, that need to be stacked on pallets. They currently have hundreds of wooden bookcases in storage and in our warehouse that they need help with. In the next few months they will be receiving numbers of large cast-iron shelves from the UI library. It takes two strong people to move one upright. They can remain profitable and continue to give back to the community but they need help. PACA needs younger, strong volunteers.

Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing aacanabs@soltec.net.

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