AmeriCorps Team Appreciated in Foxburg

AmeriCorps members work on a French drain and retaining wall on North Palmer Avenue in Foxburg.

On Monday, July 19, residents of Foxburg and the surrounding area sat down with an enthusiastic Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps crew to share some delicious food and a ton of positivity. The good vibes were flowing thanks to the hard work of the Foxburg Borough Council in putting together an impressive lunch buffet for all to enjoy as well as the hard work of the SMILES crew on two ongoing community projects. Foxburg Borough Secretary Karen Best explained that the council and community wanted the crew “to feel welcome and appreciated while they are in town,” which seemed to be working from the warm smiles and laughter on display over lunch!

Keystone SMILES is currently working on a stormwater mitigation project at the end of North Palmer Ave, at the site of a recently demolished blighted dwelling. The site is very steep and subject to severe stormwater flows which not only erode the hillside but also cause damage to the road surface and headaches for neighboring properties. In order to slow and disperse the stormwater as it passes over the hillside, the SMILES crew is installing a system of French drains and retaining walls with a catchment pond near the bottom of the slope. Besides minimizing the impact of stormwater, the drainage improvements and selected plantings will also create a lovely park-like setting on an otherwise vacant lot!

As if one impactful community project weren’t enough, though, the AmeriCorps team, led by Keystone SMILES director Joyce Fosdick and crew leader Libby Hansford, also agreed to fix up the back room of the Foxburg Community Building while they are in the area. Improvements to the space will include three new windows for better natural light and all new electrical, including wiring, outlets, fixtures, a heater, and even a replacement water heater. The crew will also repaint the room and install a small kitchen area. Best noted that “Libby just keeps looking around and seeing more possibilities!” Once complete, the borough intends to dedicate the new and improved Community Room in honor of James “Doc” Preston, a devoted former community leader and military veteran.

Both projects have just gotten started, and it will be some time yet before they are complete. In the meantime, if you see the SMILES crew getting lunch at Foxburg Pizza, or some ice cream at Divani, be sure to let them know how much we appreciate their hard work! We are grateful for everything AmeriCorps does for our community, such as redevelopment projects like these, working with our schools, and staffing the Boys and Girls Club Along the Allegheny. We look forward to even more opportunities for collaboration in future!


Selina Pedi is the Oil Region Alliance redevelopment manager. She can be reached by email at