Under a tent, surrounded by food, Louise Henry has become the defacto lead singer of a group called North Carolina Baptist Men. In that role, she spends as much time leading cheers as she does serving lunch.
"We're just happy to be here. And we just try to keep everybody's spirit up," she said.
Henry volunteers with the North Carolina disaster recovery group. In between hymns, the kitchen crew she serves on whips up at least 1,500 meals a day. Thursday's menu included salisbury steak and tea.
For six weeks, Gulfport hurricane victims met in the Pass Road Baptist Church parking lot and enjoyed this group's generosity. Charles Lomax is one of its leaders.
"We feel it's an obligation to do as the bible says, go and help people. Go and serve. And that's why we're here," he said.
Starting Friday, the baptist group's mission will change just a bit. It won't be cooking Red Cross meals anymore. So it won't offer free food to the public. Instead the feeding focus will be solely on North Carolina rebuilding crews.
The baptist men brought 250 hungry repairmen to Gulfport. They shore up hurricane damaged homes. And they lift the spirits of people who got hammered by the hurricane. For the North Carolina Baptist Men and their volunteers, disaster relief in Gulfport has been an inspirational experience.
"Human nature is amazing, really amazing. And it has really touched me," Henry said, right before she led her group in another spiritual hymn.