Volunteers To Reopen Damaged Head Start Center

During Katrina, the Turkey Creek Head Start Center in Gulfport had water up to the ceiling. Teachers and staff say the building would still be full of muck and debris had it not been for kindness of hard working volunteers. Now plans are to reopen the center in a few weeks.

The pre-school teachers toured the Turkey Creek Head Start center in amazement on Tuesday. Around every corner was a reminder of how a place once considered to be a total loss was now on the verge of coming back better than before.

"Truly above and beyond," said teacher Rosie Clark. "We couldn't have done it by ourselves. There's no way we could have done it by ourselves."

The Head Start Center didn't have to go it alone thanks to the Free Methodist Church. Over the past few months, volunteers from across the country have donated the materials and the labor needed for a complete overhaul.

"We had to redo the framing," said Lewis Bunn of the Free Methodist Church. "Tear out all the walls, redo the ceiling, all of the insulation and the electrical. Just about everything and even a lot of plumbing."

Christina Watford is one of the 160 children who should be back at Turkey Creek soon. To make sure they'd have books to read, 11-year-old Mikey Carlson convinced his Washington state elementary school to help out.

"I actually said that the class that raised the most money would get an ice cream party, so I got them raising a lot of money," Carlson said.

Teachers say it's been difficult being separated from the children they try so hard to educate. Ethel Davis is the center's manager.

"It is sad that they are not here right now, but we're looking for a brighter and a better day real soon."

When Turkey Creek does reopen it will be the third Head Start run by the Gulf Coast Action Agency to open after the storm. Because of funding issues, no one is sure when the other six centers will reopen.