Church Volunteers Building Hope In Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/03/05

Church Volunteers Building Hope In Gulfport

Karen Roberts looked at her damaged home and said, "I was really in shock. I was like, 'What are we going to do now?'"

The Harrison County teacher learned a heartbreaking lesson, when Katrina flooded her home in the Oakley Manor subdivision in Gulfport. 

"Everything I've had for 53 years. I sat on my front lawn and watched, as my grandson says, the 'claw' pick up everything and put it in a dumpster," Roberts said.

Roberts had no flood insurance, and worried about starting over.  So imagine her surprise when volunteers from the town of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, showed up in her neighborhood.

"It was unbelievable. I cried. I realized then that prayers were answered," Roberts said.

The volunteers from "Hope Grace Brethren Church," aren't just cleaning and fixing-up the Roberts' home. They're ripping out moldy, smelly sheet rock, and repairing more than 40 houses from Gulfport to Bay St. Louis.

Darren Davis is the team leader.

"We felt like if we can come down and do one small thing for a person, if it's just raking their yard or picking up some limbs off their roof, that can give them a little hope to get going again. Personally, it's life changing to come down here."

The generosity from the people of Dillsburg involves more than just labor and supplies. They've also purchased brand, new appliances to refurnish the gutted homes.

"I got a refrigerator, and washer and dryer and range. It's not just what they wanted to bring. It's what I wanted. They asked me specifically, 'What do you want?'" Roberts said.

Roberts wonders how can she repay the volunteers who've given her so much?

"I've given lots of hugs, and I hope when we get on our feet to go to Pennsylvania and visit their town. There's a lot of people there that couldn't be here, but their hearts are here," Roberts said.

The Pennsylvania volunteers will go home at the end of next week. More teams will be arriving in South Mississippi next year -- one in February and another during the summer.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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