New Yorkers lend helping hands in Pearlington

By Al Showers - bio | email

PEARLINGTON, MS (WLOX) - Colleen Lais has made not one, not two, but five trips to the Pearlington community to help rebuild homes.

"First trip we were mucking out houses, and the last couple of trips we've been able to build," said Lais. "We built the backs of houses, framed some houses, put foundations back together; we got a couple of folks back into their houses which is very satisfying."

She's here with 11 others from Brunswick Presbyterian Church.

"I get to be part of the family down here. The people of Pearlington are amazing. They are very welcoming, and they just embrace of us," said Lais. "We get so much more when we come down than we give."

This mission is David Paige's third trip to Pearlington. It's how he chooses to spend his vacation time.

"The people have kept me coming back because they still need us. And I just want to be there for them. Because if it were us, they'd be there for us," said Paige.

Linda Thompson is also a Troy, New York volunteer.

"I guess you could say I just felt moved to come down and see what was going on. And I have to say, I was really humbled, embarrassed and basically ashamed that as a Northerner I didn't have a clue," Thompson said. "I didn't know the extent of what happened and how wide spread it was along the coast."

The volunteers are among nearly 10,000 others who have helped the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Center rehab more than 150 homes in Pearlington since Katrina.

"I'd like to think that maybe I was a little drop in the bucket of good water," Thompson said.

The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Center opened in Pearlington about six months after Katrina. Leaders say they hope to operate a camp in the community as long as there is a need for one.

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