Volunteers thanked for four years of hard work rebuilding south MS

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - What would the people of south Mississippi have done the last four years without its volunteers.  People have come from all over the world to help us rebuild our homes, our businesses, and our lives.

On Thursday, members of a volunteer group from Kansas talked about their never ending commitment to south Mississippi's recovery.

One of the Kansas volunteers was Grace Wulf.

"I'm ready," the 85-year-old said.

That's right, Ms. Wulf is 85.  Yet, she's wearing a hard hat and a tool belt.  It's a pretty safe bet you may never meet another volunteer like Wulf.  When it was mentioned to her that there aren't that many 85-year-olds who come and volunteer their time, she said, "I know that.  But I'm one."

She may be 85, but she's having no trouble keeping up with the younger generation at this Habitat for Humanity worksite.  "

I pick up nails, I hand nails, I hold the ladder, I hold boards for the saw.  Anything they want me to do," she said.

Dennis Fuhrman is her jobsite partner.

"A lot of people say they're too old to do this.  But she's a good example that you're not," he said.

Around the Habitat home on 38th Avenue in Gulfport were pharmaceutical reps from the southeast, and retirees from Kansas. People like Elmer Kellner, who desperately want to see south Mississippi rebuilt.  He's been in town with his wife for two weeks.

"We live in a good home and have lots of good things.  And we see people that don't have it," he said.  So the couple came to the coast to "see if we can help somebody."

Since Katrina, roughly 20,000 volunteers have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build homes across the coast.  When somebody said thank you to Ellen Love for donating her time to the recovery efforts, she said, "Thank you.  It's been a pleasure being down here.  It's been very rewarding."

Fuhrman echoed that sentiment.  "We get more out of it than what we give," he said.

Nobody may have gotten as much out of the trip than the spry 85-year-old, from a small town in Kansas.  She hammered home a point that thousands have heeded.

"Everybody should volunteer once and come on a job like this," said Wulf.

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