NEW CUMBERLAND - Patrick Vulgamore may have left New Cumberland, but his heart is still in his hometown.
Vulgamore, 28, of Philadelphia, and his brother, Adam, are the guiding force behind a new nonprofit organization that will spearhead and fund community improvement projects in the New Cumberland area. The first project is to create a community garden.
"There are a lot of empty lots that we can make better," Vulgamore said.
The Vulgamore brothers recently founded Magic Tree Inc. as a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to "educate, facilitate and demonstrate a green and sustainable lifestyle," according to the website, MagicTreeInc.org. The website is live but still under construction.
Patrick Vulgamore said he got the idea for the organization while studying for his master's degree but that the inspiration for the name is much older.
"Magic Tree Inc. comes right out of New Cumberland, when my dad used to tell us fairytales as children," Vulgamore said. "I have good memories from my childhood of him telling those inspirational stories. ... I thought it was fitting because we are trying to start something positive in the area."
A 2002 graduate of Oak Glen High School, Vulgamore received his bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and a master's in public health from West Chester University in West Chester, Pa. While taking a class there in grant writing, he had the idea for an organization that would promote a better quality of life in New Cumberland.
"I suggested the idea to my brother during our family vacation, and our ideas ran wild with how to improve our hometown area," he said.
Vulgamore said he and his brother moved away from the area several years ago "because opportunities were limited," so Magic Tree Inc. is his way of making New Cumberland a destination for future generations. The brothers' parents, Howard and Maureen Vulgamore, still live in New Cumberland.
"We are hoping to instill a stronger sense of pride in the community," he said. "We also would like to attract more attention from business owners, making the area more inclined to economic growth."
Founded under the IRS code for organizations that promote the social welfare, Magic Tree Inc. is operated by a board of directors that includes Vulgamore, his brother, Adam, New Cumberland resident George Hines, Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller and East Liverpool attorney Ian Masters.
Hines, coordinator for Keep New Cumberland Beautiful, said the Vulgamore brothers come from a community-minded family.
"They miss their hometown, and they'd like to make their hometown nicer," he said.
Hines said he has identified three potential sites for a community vegetable and flower garden, including two vacant lots where homes used to be. He plans to send pictures of the sites to Vulgamore.
The organization also is researching funding sources, including grants, and recruiting volunteers and sponsors, Vulgamore said.
"We hope this will be an area for residents to get together, community activities to occur and to beautify the community," he said. "We hope to have the garden ready for planting by next spring."
Anyone interested in being a volunteer or sponsor should send a message by going to the website and clicking on the "contact us" link.
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