New Yorkers Keep On Giving - - The News for South Mississippi

New Yorkers Keep On Giving

"And on this side right here, there's two of them. That's our bathroom," said Biloxi resident Roxanne Smith as she proudly pointed out progress in her Main Street home under repair.

A team from Port Henry, New York is in charge of the storm repairs. Some 11 different groups from upstate New York have made 10 trips to the coast since Janet and Skip Trembley saw the initial Katrina coverage on national TV.

"It sounds weird, but I can't imagine what we would be doing if we weren't doing this. And I can't imagine what we'll be doing when it ends. And I can't imagine when it's going to end. It's like, this is what we're supposed to be doing right now," said Janet Trembley.

"Let's start right here," said a worker, while positioning a piece of insulation on wooden walls.

The New Yorkers started their Katrina relief handing out meals and hugs at a distribution center shortly after the storm.

Home repairs quickly followed and the group "adopted" Melvina Smith's family on Main Street in Biloxi.

"They are just lovely. It's a beautiful family. They've had other family members to come, brothers, sister in laws, children. It has just been wonderful," said Melvina Smith, the matriarch of a large family that will all benefit from the New York volunteerism.

The volunteers from 1500 miles away are helping the extended family, one house at a time.

"It means a lot. How can you tell someone thank you for helping rebuild your life? Just like they say, you can never repay Christ, you can never repay these people that's coming in here... taking off their time for people that they don't know," said Donna Jackson.

Hugs and happiness are enough payment for the volunteers. The volunteers say they leave Biloxi with far more blessings than they bring.

"This is what church should be about. It's not about the little building and building a sanctuary with gold and silver. It's about people. People are what's important," said Skip Trembley.

The people in a certain Biloxi family will never forget the giving.

"Tirelessly just giving of themselves, helping us, whereas we couldn't help ourselves," says Donna Jackson.

The volunteers first organized through a small church in Port Henry, New York. The effort has since expanded to include multiple churches and volunteers from both upstate New York and New Jersey.

By Steve Phillips

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