Hands On Volunteers Building Homes And Friendships - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hands On Volunteers Building Homes And Friendships

"Okay, bring it down some Drop it," said Barry Kidwell, as he directed his fellow electrician volunteers on a work project in Biloxi.

Kidwell joined fellow workers from Lockheed-Martin in Virgina, on a working winter road trip to Biloxi.  They volunteer through "Hands On Gulf Coast."

"Okay, hold it right here", said  Kidwell, as he pulled wiring through an electrical box. The Virginia group decided to make volunteering for "Hands On Gulf Coast" a yearly commitment.

"We get our team assignments. We find out what crew we're going to work with. There's good direction, good leadership. The base camp is great. Everybody is friendly. You meet people from all over the country," said Kidwell.

People like Yvone Lamarche from Long Lake, New York.

"Too cold to live there now, so I come down here and volunteer for the winter," he said, while working a paint roller loaded with bright color.

His son is the Hands On team leader for the house on Lee Street.

"Kind of nice to work on the same house. You kind of like take ownership, you know," said Lamarche.

Chris deVeer helps coordinate the hundreds of volunteers at Hands On Gulf Coast. "Since the storm we've probably had about four thousand volunteers come down from various places in the country, even internationally. So, we've got a lot of volunteers that have come through," he said.

It's the second tour of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for Jakln Miller of Spokane. She also accompanied a "Hands On" disaster team to Indonesia.

"Putting my efforts into doing something that I actually believe has a value, as opposed to just working to make some company a profit. Profit here is in the good feeling that comes naturally by helping others," said Miller.

It's a feeling "Hands On" workers have in abundance. "It's amazing how you can get up in the morning, and feel like coming to work." said Lamarche.

For the volunteers, it's more about building relationships than building houses. "Hands On" workers make friends with the other volunteers and develop special bonds with the people they've come to help.

By Steve Phillips

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