Visiting volunteers help Moore Community House in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Volunteers from the Kaiser Foundation are on their annual visit to the Gulf Coast. This year the group is in Biloxi helping to expand Moore Community House.

Volunteers were hard at work Monday drilling, nailing, and sawing away to make someone's life better. The nonprofit is composed of people who work in the medical field.

John Edmiston, who is the National Manager for Employee Engagement at Kaiser, says it's pretty surprising how many well paid people want to take a vacation to do community service on the Gulf Coast.

"We had close to 800 people apply for this week of service in Biloxi and we only can choose 30. We go through all the applications and we choose the people with those strong backgrounds in volunteerism and community service," said Edmiston.

Volunteers range from registered nurses to pediatricians. The organization has been coming to South Mississippi since 2007, but this year they have chosen to work alongside the Women in Construction program. It is designed to teach low income women the skills needed to join construction trades.

Sharika Jolly is a student in the program, and has learned more than how to use a drill.

"Before this, I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. Now I have an idea. I think I want to go get my business degree and open up my own construction company," said Jolly.

Since the Women in Construction program began in 2008, they have been able to serve more than 160 women. Program directors hope after the building's new expansion they will be able to serve even more.

Nailah Thompson is a San Francisco physician who started volunteering with Kaiser two years ago. It's her first time in Mississippi, and she's enjoying her stay.

"I've had an opportunity to meet some of the women in the program here. It's been a pleasure to meet them, their children, hear their stories. Everyone's been very welcoming to us, so we're really having a good time," said Thompson.

The Kaiser volunteers will only be in Biloxi for a week, but hope to do as much on the Moore Community House expansion as they can.

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