Once Troubled Teens Learn Important Lessons In Katrina's Aftermath - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/14/05

Once Troubled Teens Learn Important Lessons In Katrina's Aftermath

Hurricane Katrina has brought out the best in some people, including kids in Gautier who came to our area with troubled pasts. Between their group home and helping during the storm's aftermath, the teens have learned some life changing lessons.

Fifteen-year old Danny Butt walks around what's left of his school rooms at Accendo Christian Academy in Gautier. In a different way, his life was a mess when he moved here from the Cleveland, Ohio area.

"Four years ago, I was miserable. I was angry 24/7."

Accendo's Pastor and Director Tommy Fortenberry started this home five years ago.

"I fully believe if you can change a child's heart, then his mind will change with it," Fortenberry said.

The home to about two dozen troubled kids from across the country has lots of damage from flooding, but they're pulling together. They're cleaning up their home, and others, and dumping any of their old attitudes.

"I had one young man, we were actually squeegeeing up raw sewage and it stank to the high heaven. The young man said, 'You couldn't pay me to do this, but to show God's love, I'll do it for free,'" Fortenberry said.

Katrina certainly packed a powerful punch, but the storm also fueled the fight for their own lives and for others.

"Getting help to elderly people, people who can't physically help themselves, feels good to be a helping hand in the community," teen Kevin Pinder said.

Giving back is something these kids may not have ever thought about before coming here.

"It makes you pleased when you see how they came here and then you see these effects in their life, positive effects as they start changing things," Fortenberry said.

Pastor Fortenberry tells us he's getting calls everyday from people who need the boys' help, and they're responding, even while their own home needs a lot of work.

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