Pascagoula Welcomes Volunteer Center - - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula Welcomes Volunteer Center

A soulful singer outside the old Pascagoula High gymnasium Monday morning gave a volunteer center ribbon cutting the feel of a pep rally instead.

"We are family! Are we family everybody?" she shouted into the microphone.

Two former Red Cross volunteers, Tammy Agard and Annie Card, are the driving force behind this gymnasium-turned-volunteer-center.

"This center will be here for the long haul. Before it's over, thousands and thousands of volunteers will come through these doors. And because of those volunteers, thousands of Mississippians most needy will actually get back home," said Agard.

"This is our common area. And this is a place where the teams can relax and spend their free time. We have TVs over there," said Callie Ramish, while giving a tour of the new center.

She's among the Americorps workers who helped create the place that will become "home away from home" for hundreds of volunteers.

"We put the nice little touches, the colors on the bunk beds," she said proudly.

Familiar blue tarps serve as shower curtains.  Bright "blue roof" tarps serve a useful purpose in the bathroom as well.

"We tried to be as resourceful as possible. Because we knew the money we saved while we were working here was money we could use in the community later," she said.

Organizers say the volunteer center is coming together at an opportune time, since many of the churches and faith-based organizations that have been so busy hosting volunteers over the past year, are beginning to scale back their efforts somewhat.

"Today's a wonderful day. Thank you for your attention to the community, to our region. God bless each and every one of you, because you have truly been a blessing to us," said Pascagoula's mayor, Matthew Avara.

Along with providing volunteers a place to stay, the center will also serve as a clearing house for various groups helping with ongoing storm recovery efforts.

Several corporations and community groups made donations to launch the volunteer center. The Pascagoula Rotary Club presented a $10,000 check, a donation received from a Rotary Club in California.

By Steve Phillips

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