Volunteer camps closing down - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Volunteer camps closing down


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Rev. Elizabeth Wheatley-Jones and her husband Butch Jones welcomed a new group of volunteers Sunday afternoon. They are among the last group of volunteers that will stay at the Mission on the Bay in Bay St. Louis before it shuts down at the end of August.

"We can no longer afford to operate volunteer camps and do the work in the communities we've been doing. There's no grant money available. The donations have slowed down, and the monies are just not there," said Rev. Jones.

Though the news is disappointing, it's not dampening spirits among the volunteers from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

"It's sad to hear that, but that's not going to deter our efforts. They're just fired up, and I'm excited," said Brian McNeal, volunteer.

Mission on the Bay in Bay St. Louis and Camp Victor in Ocean Springs are the only two volunteer camps remaining of the six that opened after Hurricane Katrina.

Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi is responsible for organizing and supporting the six camps that started after Katrina. The camps have rebuilt 550 homes and hosted more than 60,000 volunteers.

"If there's one thing I hope they went home with is that they can make a difference," said Butch Jones, Mission on the Bay.

Although the camps are closing, Rev. Jones and her husband are hopeful the mission of rebuilding homes and lives will push forward long after their doors are closed.

"We know that everything has a season, and we know at some point the people that remain on the coast are gonna have to join hands and work house by house...family by family to continue the work that has been started. We would like to at least walk away and bow our heads and give thanks for a job well done," said Rev. Jones.

Jones said grants have paid to cover the costs of materials for nearly 30 homes. The camps, however, cannot afford the cost of housing volunteers or the construction and hospitality crews needed to supervise the volunteers as they work.

Anyone interested in helping Mission on the Bay or Camp Victor in their efforts can call 228-466-2900.

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