Volunteers to Renovate Home

The Gormleys work hard being good parents, devout church members and taking an active role in the community--even though Pat can't see and Tina is legally blind.

Pat Gormley is a lay reader for masses at St. Jerome's Catholic Church and a ham radio operator who recently assisted in the North Carolina flood relief effort. Tina Gormley helps raise money for St. Jerome's and is a former first aid technician who also has worked at a volunteer fire department.

In between, the busy duo care for their 8-month-old daughter, Andria Louise.

But life is not without its complications. One day last year, Tina Gormley arrived home and found police cars surrounding the family's house in the 3500 block of Jefferson Street in Hyattsville. It had just been burglarized. Despite their losses--two computers and a stereo were taken in the heist--they didn't complain.

"I try to deal with situations as they come," said Pat Gormley, 47, who along with Tina Gormley, 42, purchased a 50-year-old home in 1992 that needed fixing up. The burglars made matters worse.

But this Saturday, the mayor of Hyattsville, members of the City Council and officials from the Hyattsville recreation department will coordinate volunteer painters, electricians and carpenters who will converge on the Gormleys' property and give the home a much-needed make-over.

"The house needs a lot of work, I just feel that this is sending out a positive message from people from all walks of life," Hyattsville Mayor Robert W. Armentrout said.

"This is good for our entire city. I hope this will send a message out to the rest of the world to help your brother."

Armentrout said community leaders in Hyattsville decided to help the Gormleys after the U.S Department of Housing and Urban and Development issued a report saying that 12.5 million people in the country live in inadequate housing and that local jurisdictions should do more to help.

Armentrout began to look for a homeowner in Hyattsville who could benefit from a community spruce-up effort.

"I saw Mr. Gormley walking down the street with his cane; I knew his house had been broken into," Armentrout said. "We are trying to be role models for others to help families in need."

Dozens of volunteers are expected to help the Gormleys renovate both inside and outside their home. Renovations will include painting the living room and replacing a shutter, gutters, screen doors and a drain grate.

The volunteers didn't wait until Saturday to begin. Armentrout and others already have started working on the Gormleys' property. Last week, trees and scrubs were pruned, a ceiling fan was installed and volunteer firefighters put in new smoke detectors.

Tina Gormley works as a retirement specialist at the U.S. Customs Service, and Pat Gormley worked for the Legal Services Corporation as a clerk until he was laid off. The couple met in 1986 at the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Columbia.

"It is very uplifting that the community would be willing to come out and help us," Tina Gormley said.

Pat Gormley said he is grateful for all of the help, especially the painting. "I probably would get more paint more on me than the surface intended. Hyattsville is a small town, and the people I know look after each other."

-- Hamil R. Harris


Residents Lobby for Dog Park

A group of College Park residents are lobbying for a park to go to the dogs--literally.

A loosely organized committee of dog lovers and pet owners calling themselves the College Park Dog Park Alliance want the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to dedicate an acre for use as an off-leash dog park for the county's canine citizens, said Rick Constant, a roofing and gutter company manager from College Park who is spearheading the effort.

"It would be an opportunity for dogs to socialize with each other and play and exercise without the constraints of the leash," Constant said. "Many dogs in a neutral territory like this without a leash are not aggressive at all, and it's fun to watch them play and socialize."

Constant said about 40 people total have attended four meetings on the dog park subject. The group is awaiting word from the commission about a meeting to discuss its request. The group has been communicating via e-mail and fliers posted at various locations in College Park.

Constant said the committee hopes to have the dog park modeled after similar facilities in Greenbelt, Gaithersburg and Arlington. The Greenbelt Dog Park, at Hanover Drive and Hanover Parkway, is for use only by residents of Greenbelt and their dogs.

Constant and his group want their dog park to be fenced and equipped with park benches, trash receptacles and a "rule and information board" outlining the regulations for attendance.

Rule number one would be: No aggressive dogs allowed, Constant said. Dog owners who failed to follow the rules initially would be required to leash their pets. Second offenses might result in the pet's being required to leave.

Constant said that typically dogs who are freed up to run and play unencumbered have fewer behavior problems. "A lot of the aggression you encounter with barking and all when you first meet a dog you don't know you don't encounter most of the time in an off-leash dog park," he said.

Representatives of the committee have been scouting sites in the College Park area but have yet to whittle their choices down to one.

They hope the commission will consider the proposal and plan to stress the benefits of the park to humans as well as dogs when they meet.

"Our preference in working with the [park and planning commission] is doing a dog park that is open to people as much as possible," Constant said. "There are some that are open only to residents of the city where they are located. But we want this one open to the county with the hope that more parks would open up in other parts of the county to give people and dogs a chance to enjoy them."

Regulations in Prince George's County require dogs to be leashed when they venture off their owner's property.

The College Park City Council was expected to consider the proposal at its meeting last night, sending a letter to the commission in support of construction of the dog park, Constant said.

-- Avis Thomas-Lester

If you have an item about your community, please let us know. Fax to 301-952-1397, e-mail to or write to Prince George's Towns, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. The phone number is 301-952-1391.

CAPTION: Tom Falcone, on ladder, and Jason Lynn, right, install a ceiling fan in the home of Pat Gormley, left, who is blind. Last year, his family's home was burglarized, and now the Hyattsville community is helping the Gormleys fix up their property.