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Local News

Volunteers are renovating a New Lenox church to create training center for veterans

NEW LENOX – Most of the St. Luke Orthodox Chapel might not look like it is ready for Sunday services, other than a small room on the second floor.

The chapel, located at 112 Church St. in New Lenox, is undergoing a pretty major renovation, especially for a building that originally was built in 1899 by the New Lenox Methodist Episcopal church.

The church now is owned by the New Lenox Area Historical Society, which is teaming up with dozens of volunteers from Project Green, ComEd, the United Methodist Church of New Lenox and the general community to work on the project. But this isn’t just to make the place look nicer.

The plan is for the first floor of the building to be converted into “Heroes Hall,” a space for local veterans to train in a particular skill, such as computers or music, or to enjoy a historical exhibit area honoring their service.

The chapel’s Rev. Andrew Harrison was very enthusiastic about the project, especially since he is a trained counselor with a master’s degree and multiple certifications in different types of counseling, and he’s also a relapse prevention specialist and has worked with veterans in past years.

“I’m very familiar with what veterans need,” Harrison said. “So for me, being involved with this was something we didn’t plan. The Lord takes care of things sometimes.”

The partners like ComEd are contributing items such as new lights that are much more energy-efficient and won’t flicker so as not to bother veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Donations and volunteer work will help finish the job on a project that would normally cost upward of $35,000.

The chapel still will have services upstairs for the St. Luke Orthodox congregation, which is a non-ethnicity specific denomination of Orthodox Christianity.

The New Lenox Area Historical Society’s Lori Lindberg said the plan is for the project to be completed by April 15.

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