Hi again everyone. This is a later edition of today's blog. If you have already read the earlier posting, please take a moment to read this letter from George Connor who was among the Biloxi crew who flew rather than drove down there. George is a close friend of mine and I was a little mad at him since he chose to fly rather than come visit us in Chattanooga. George was the one who suggested the driving crew stop at our home along the way and that turned out to be so much fun that I am not mad at him for not coming anymore. And besides, I know he will come for a visit with his wife Melinda soon. George is the Treasurer of our church. (I am the retired Assistant Treasurer so he was my boss.) He is affectionately known by church members as St. George. I think he has probably earned that nickname, although I am not sure Melinda agrees with me. But I understand that on this trip he went by George the Foreman. He assures me he did earn that nickname, too.
George is on the far right.
Here is the letter from St. George.
Well, I have returned from my trip to Biloxi, Mississippi and I can
honestly say that it was the most rewarding, fulfilling and enlightening
experience of my life. None of us wanted to leave on Saturday and would
liked to have stayed for another week or more, but we all realized that
we had accomplished what we set out to do and that completing the
construction work was not the objective, but rather to help the people
in their quest to rebuild and survive and to broaden our knowledge and
understanding of what they go through everyday and how they live.
The 10 of us arrived at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS on the 18th and
stayed in a large trailer with bunk beds and two bathrooms. It was very
comfortable and far better than what many other groups had as
accommodations. We were joined by 17 fellow volunteers from Wisconsin
and we prepared our own meals and shared many stories as well as many
bottles of wine and Corona's. We spent the week working on a house in
Gulfport which most of us thought should have been torn down, but it was
all that the family had and it was salvageable so we installed
insulation, drywall and checked off a punch list of various jobs that
needed to be done. For the perfectionists in the group it was time to
forget all that you had learned during your lifetime about square
corners, plumb walls and such and simply learn how to "improvise." The
owners, Lucious and his wife Clementine were nothing short for amazing
people and willing to do anything for us and were most appreciative of
our efforts. They were living in a small trailer( parked in their front
yard) for the past 18 months, but they were not bitter or angry about
their circumstances...I'm not sure I would be as understanding if put in
their shoes. Lucious cooked us a lunch on Thursday that would equal
anything that "Woodmans of Essex" could put on...fried and grilled
shrimp, catfish, steak, chicken and ribs...this was his way of paying us
back for everything we had done to rebuild his house.
We found that everyone in Biloxi and Gulfport were so appreciative of
the work that the volunteers were doing from the police to the casino
workers to the cashiers at the restaurants and stores. The federal
government has done basically nothing to help the people of the area; it
has been entirely the work of volunteers like us.
We even spent an afternoon in New Orleans enjoying the downtown area and
the French quarter as well as driving through the lower 9th ward...which
was...as bad if not worse than the reports. Biloxi and Gulfport are
rebuildable, but the future for parts of New Orleans is far more bleak.
I know that not everyone can, but if given the opportunity, I would
encourage you to go to these hurricane damaged areas and spend some time
helping the people. You will get back far more than you give and you
will have a lifetime of understanding about what is important in your