By Mary Pickels Tribune-Review
A Greensburg woman is leading an effort to increase the number of volunteers providing tours of the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel in Somerset County.
Volunteer director Carol Love, a self-employed tour director, hopes to hold training sessions beginning next month.
Love said the chapel founder, Bishop Alphonse Mascherino, is in poor health and unable to continue staffing the chapel on a daily basis.
The chapel, located three miles from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93, is open only for scheduled tours.
Love, who arranges bus tours that include a stop at the chapel, hopes to boost the number of volunteers from four or five to 10 or 20.
“I think that would allow us to be open more than Saturdays and Sundays,” Love said.
“We definitely want that chapel open as much as possible, so people can hear the story,” she said. “I want to start with weekends and expand as much as we possibly can,” Love said.
Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville on September 11, 2001, after passengers and crew attempted to overtake terrorists who had hijacked the airplane. All 40 passengers and crew members onboard perished.
In 2002, Mascherino decided to honor the Flight 93 heroes by reopening the doors of the former Mizpah Lutheran Church, a small chapel near Stonycreek Township.
Portraits of the 40 passengers were hung on the chapel‘s walls, and family and friends donated artifacts to display at the site.
Mascherino said on Monday that his health is “pretty bad.”
“The board of directors have taken over just about everything,” he said.
Love said her tour, which includes a stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial, the chapel and the Quecreek Mine rescue site, is her most popular.
Walk-in visitors often arrive when they see that the chapel is open, she said.
Love is seeking people who can donate a few hours on a regular basis between April and October.
“I‘m looking for people who are somewhat comfortable with getting in front of a group and talking,” Love said.
She intends to hold training sessions in February and March and start scheduling volunteers in April.
Shanksville resident Judi Baeckel said she got to know Mascherino when she worked at the borough post office.
“I had a memorial in my yard. He said that inspired him to do something,” she said.
An ambassador at the temporary Flight 93 memorial and a volunteer at the permanent site, Baeckel started assisting Love with the bus tours last summer.
“There are people who come there every day. They look for it, find it, then it‘s closed,” she said.
“It would be so nice if (Mascherino) could get a group of volunteers like they have at the national memorial,” Baeckel said.
Interested volunteers may contact Love at 724-972-7277 or email her at email@example.com