Ohio volunteers honor five year promise to south Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ohio volunteers honor five year promise to south Mississippi


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) – A piece of property on Pine Street in Pass Christian was the site of the Katrina Relief Camp.  Ironically, this week, some college students are tearing down the very camp that once housed hundreds of people like them -- recovery volunteers.

Spring Breakers used to come in droves to help with the rebuilding effort.  Although it's been five years since Katrina clobbered the coast community, the students from the University of Toledo in Ohio are still spending their Spring Break in South Mississippi.  The first group came in 2006 to help a professor. Celia Regimbal's relatives lost their home in Bay St. Louis.

"I know they lost everything and they weren't the only ones. But they were my family," said Regimbal, as tears filled her eyes.  "So I said, 'We have to go. We've got to help them.  We can't go for just one year.'  It's going to take people a long time to recover."

So the college made a five-year promise to help rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"Oh, you keep promises. And I knew we would only begin to see change if we kept coming down," said Regimbal.

Many students who sign up are new volunteers. Others are familiar faces, like Megan Piel. This is her third trip to South Mississippi.

"We're just so blessed to have people that really do care for us here and I guess that's what makes me keep coming," said Piel.  "It's like a family and I feel like I do have a family here in Mississippi."

This is the final year of their five year commitment.  It's been five years of fond memories. Don't be surprised if you see them again next March, because that's what family is all about.

"I was definitely awestruck the first year I came down, at everything, all the destruction.  I would love to keep coming to help out if I could," said Piel.

The 17 students from the University of Toledo are based at the Mission on the Bay camp in Bay St. Louis.  The camp is housing more than 200 volunteers right now.

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