Boys Home Teaches Life Lessons Through Volunteering - - The News for South Mississippi

Boys Home Teaches Life Lessons Through Volunteering

Many residents along the Coast are still struggling to move debris from the back of their property, to the front, so city workers can dispose of it.

But 16 young men in Gautier took time out of their weekend to lend a 75-year-old lady, a few dozen helping hands.     

"We're just carrying wood from a big pile and just putting it in another pile," one of the boys said.

 A Sunday in October usually means football games for boys like these.

 But on this Sunday, the only thing being tossed around this backyard is scraps of a Katrina-ravaged home.      

"There's our pictures. They've been living in this house since I was little, so probably a couple of my toys when I drew on the wall. The walls are gone," granddaughter Laura Merritt said.     

 But for these young volunteers, helping others hasn't always been their top priority.

 That's where the Accendo Boys Home comes in.            

"Their parents, or foster parents, seen them going down the wrong path and wanted more structure in their life. They contacted myself and the boys home there in hope that they can learn structure and discipline in their life," Tommy Fortenberry, Director of Accendo Boys Home, said.      

 Fortenberry has been changing lives at the boys home for more than seven years.       

 He says that the biggest lesson is that the boys learn that have they to have the ability to change peoples lives for the better.            

"I was once told Katrina meant cleansing. I guess in a way we all need a lot of  cleansing. Maybe they can take some of that from this. Just seeing the struggles of people and knowing you're still young, you're still healthy. And not only can they still help, they want to," Fortenberry said.      

 The helping spirit Forntenberry has instilled in these once-troubled teens makes them glad they have the chance to give back.            

"It makes that person feel good, and it makes you feel good that you're doing something for them," 17-year-old David Finley said.      

 And as Fortenberry says, that's more important than any ball game, any day.      

"They could have been home watching football, playing whatever the updated video games are. They're more than glad to help you see. And that's something that you learn, you see people in need. That's a sense of gratitude," Fortenberry said.

 The Accendo Boys Home fosters young men ages 11-18, from all over the United States, and even Russia and Venezuela.

 Once they turn 18, Fortenberry helps the boys purse degrees at the local community college, careers in the military, or helps them return back to their family.

By Keli Rabon

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