New Volunteer Group Takes Over Recovery Operation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New Volunteer Group Takes Over Recovery Operation

They do much of the dirty, smelly work, like scrubbing away mold in flooded homes. They are volunteers with "Hands-On Network," an international organization that took over where "Hands-On USA" left off.

"We really saw such a need to consistently maintain a presence on the coast, because of the impact of the storm," said Erika Putinsky. She's the local Field Coordinator for Hands On Network .

Some 75 volunteers are gutting homes, clearing debris, and working on community projects to help lift people's spirits. They come from all over the country and from all walks of life, like Rich Kilcullen. He dropped out of college in his Freshman year in New York to come to Biloxi.

"I can always go back to school, and there are people who need help right now. I have free time, and it's really not that big of a sacrifice for me at all," said Rich Kilcullen.

Lunch is no luxury either. It's usually MREs.

"That's not bad. That's pretty good," said one volunteer after tasting a chicken dish.

And after a long-hard day's work, the volunteers return to a Biloxi church building to rest. Many sleep on the floor. Others in tents. Despite the rough conditions, many volunteers vow to stay in the area for as long as they're needed.

Putinsky said, "We're planning to stay here for the long term. We're going to be here for at least two years. We're looking to expand our facilities to have the ability to house more volunteers."

The expansion means as many as 400 volunteers could descend on South Mississippi to help get the job done. With more help, "Hands-On Network" can send more volunteers to Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis and Waveland to rebuild homes.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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