Fresh Start building damaged by water leak day after sale

DARBY, Pa. (WPVI) -- The owner of the Fresh Start program in Darby Borough went back inside the building Thursday, along with kids and their parents, to clean out equipment and their personal effects after learning that they won't be able to use the building anymore.

Adding insult to injury, when the staff went in they discovered a water leak had destroyed or damaged much of their belongings and equipment - computers and printers water damaged, seats and furniture soaked by water and mold.

Fresh Start Director Leslie Lewis-McGirth called it heartbreaking.

"Everything is just so overwhelming right now. So, we're just trying to get everything out of here once the kids come down here, to try to keep them calm," Lewis-McGirth said.

Darby Borough was allowing the Fresh Start after school tutoring program to use the building free of charge. But after 12 years, borough officials, concerned that the building had become a liability, sold it to SEPTA for a dollar.

With nowhere else to go, Lewis-McGirth had the difficult task - the program is now shut down.

Some parents whose troubled youth succeeded and went on to college because of Fresh Start admonished Darby Borough politicians who allowed this to happen.

"Now where's our kids gonna go? You tore down something so strong and so positive, you tore it down," said parent Gloria Yarbrough.

"I am so disappointed and I feel for Leslie. More importantly, I feel for the children," said former state representative Ron Waters.

The kids themselves wanted to thank Leslie Lewis-McGirk.

"I think that she made a big impact around here for a lot of the people, a lot of the young kids, the youth," said high school senior Judge Dopson.

Listening to the testimonies of the children and their parents, a program like this proved valuable to many who were at risk and headed the wrong way. Now, the question is if they'll be able to find a new home.


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