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Champions Tour players spruce up Pennsylvania woman's house, spirits

June 26, 2013

By Mark Williams, PGA TOUR Staff

Margaret Rumley (in red) with the day's volunteers.

PITTSBURGH, Pa.-  Margaret Rumley knew people were coming to her Verona, Pa. home to do some yard work on a hot and humid Pittsburgh afternoon, but she didn’t expect any photographers.

“I’d better go put on some make-up and make myself look pretty,” said the spritely 88-year-old homeowner, scuttling inside while realizing this was a bigger deal than she first thought.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh’s A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) Program had selected Margaret to benefit from the work of volunteers who turned out to beautify her home, revitalize the appearance of the neighborhood and strengthen connections within the community. The program focuses on neighborhood beautification through exterior painting and landscaping of homes.

Joe Daley trims bushes around Rumley's house.

Margaret’s husband, Charles, who passed away six years ago, was an Air Force Veteran who served in World War II. The couple had five children and 18 grandchildren as well as two five-year stints as missionaries in the Philippines. Margaret lives alone now and her house was re-roofed by Habitat last week to stop some constant leaks. The soffits and facia board were replaced on the outside of the house so she no longer worries about the long-term maintenance required which has also reduced a major expense. It’s the smaller things that she struggles to cope with.

“If it was just me, it takes me about a month to do the weeding and by the time I get to the end, it’s time to start over again,” said Margaret.

In advance of the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at nearby Fox Chapel Golf Club, three Champions Tour professionals joined several Constellation employees and other volunteers to help improve the appearance of Margaret’s home by pruning hedges, trimming tree branches, filling the gardens with mulch and planting drought-tolerant and low-maintenance Vinca flowers of all colors.

“He’s from Scotland and I’m from Australia and we came all the way here to help you,” said Champions Tour professional Peter Senior, greeting Margaret and introducing himself and World Golf Hall of Fame member Sandy Lyle.

“I don’t have any green grass at home and it’s nice to come and get stuck in to this type of work to help,” added Joe Daley, the 2012 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS champion, who changed shirts, put on some gloves, picked up a shovel and began digging holes immediately. A little later, Daley also showed his expertise with the hedge clippers, trimming the overgrown shrubbery to perfection.

Maggie Withrow, Habitat’s Executive Director, explained why Margaret is a very deserving candidate for assistance from A Brush With Kindness. “Not all Habitat projects are large-scale new construction or major home rehabs. A project like Margaret’s home isn’t major, but it’s the things she’s no longer able to do and because she’s on a fixed income she really can’t afford to hire people to do it for her.”

According to Withrow, Habitat has about 60 people on their waiting list in the Pittsburgh area, where there is a demand due to its large senior population. The projects are usually one or two days and Habitat has already completed close to 80 new or rehabbed homes. Over the next three years they plan to do 160 more homes.

Margaret was very grateful and happy for the help she received from everyone, including Senior, Lyle and Daley, but admitted she didn’t know much about golf, saying “I watch it sometimes on Sunday afternoon. I’ll watch it more now because these gentlemen have got me inspired.”

(From left): Champions Tour players Senior, Daley and Lyle at work.

“It’s satisfying knowing that we are helping Margaret,” said Senior. “It’s amazing how much 20 people can achieve in a short period of time. We’ve made a good impression on this yard today.”

Taking a brief break from planting flowers, Lyle, a two-time major champion, spotted a golf club leaning against a tree and took a few swings and turned to Margaret and said, “You can tell your friends you had a former Masters champ practicing on your front lawn and they won’t believe you.”

Little did Lyle know, Margaret already has a connection with the Masters. She attended Latrobe High School with Western Pennsylvania legend and four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer, although she never met him.

At the end of the day, with a little help from Constellation, the Champions Tour and A Brush With Kindness, Margaret’s yard was ready for the cameras, just like her.

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