Interfaith group plans blessing for victim of racist vandalism

November 01, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Leaders of an interfaith housing group will gather at the Taneytown home of an African-American woman today "to express solidarity" with her in light of racist vandalism and to celebrate the home-building accomplishments of her and her neighbors.

"There is no question that we saw this as an opportunity to do two things," said James E. Upchurch Jr., president of Interfaith Housing of Western Maryland.

"It is an event to celebrate this group of five homeowners who toiled long and hard for eight months" to build their new homes as part of Taneytown's self-help housing project.

And it will be an opportunity for those who want to make "a statement of solidarity with [Karen Magruder], who was the victim of vandalism," Upchurch said.

Magruder, 29, discovered the vandalism Oct. 5 when she, her three children and a friend went to the house in the 200 block of Maryland Ave. to add finishing touches. Upon entering, she discovered that the walls and appliances had been painted with racial and pornographic slurs.

Magruder and her children are among 19 families taking part in a Taneytown self-help project. The project requires owners who have incomes too low to qualify for conventional mortgages to put "sweat equity" into their homes by building them from the ground up.

The trustees and staff of Interfaith Housing, together with clergy from several Taneytown churches, will gather at Magruder's home at 1: 30 p.m. to bless her house and those of four other residents who built their homes in the past eight months.

Interfaith Housing of Western Maryland has built self-help houses in Brunswick, apartments for the elderly in Woodsboro, rehabilitated housing in Frostburg and a family crisis center for victims of abuse in Hagerstown in the past six years.

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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