Yankie Stadium Still A Busy Volunteer Village - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Yankie Stadium Still A Busy Volunteer Village

"And so, we have folks that are living here. It has heat, air conditioning, and of course a light. And we just came right under the stands and built the same kind of bunk beds," said Major Rob Vincent, as he leads visitors on a tour of "Volunteer Village."

Homemade bunks fill the former football locker rooms at Yankie Stadium in Biloxi. Beneath the stadium stands is the living space for hundreds of visiting volunteers.

"They put in the accent pieces that, I guess, add to it," said Vincent, pointing to a decorative lamp outside one dorm room.

A sign marking the Hurricane Katrina high water mark is a stark reminder that the stadium itself was underwater during the storm.

"I mean, the first thing we had to do was get rid of all the mud and muck," said Vincent.

A map of the United States, covered with colored pins, hangs in a prominent place inside the village.

"Each pin represents a volunteer team that has been here," said Vincent, as he continued his indoor tour. "They have their devotions here. They have their team meetings here. Orientation is all done right here. And then they go out."

The stadium's former equipment room is no longer filled with helmets and shoulder pads. It's now the tool bank.

"A complete collection of compressors, generators, electrical tools. You name it, we have it," he explained.

Trailers for long term workers are parked just outside.

"This is the old concession stand. It's now a laundromat," he said, continuing the tour outdoors.

Washers and dryers keep volunteers in clean clothes. The kitchen trailer keeps them well fed.

"For lunch we feed about 350 on the field. All the volunteers in the area from the different organizations," said kitchen manager Seth Jackson.

They converge on the field over the noon hour.

"Sloppy Joes? Where y'all from?" said one of the women serving lunch.

"Florida. Tampa, Florida," comes the reply from the lanky, young volunteer worker.

The Volunteer Village has been up and running since November of '05. Its mission is about half over now.

"We are committed to the site for another 18 months," said Major Vincent.

The Salvation Army is partners with a faith-based group from Florida called "Project Teamwork." And their volunteer village isn't the only one there. Habitat for Humanity also has a volunteer camp at Yankie Stadium.

By Steve Phillips

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