Pass Christian Rotary, Mennonites Get Rebuilding Aid From Illinois

Pass Christian's mayor is preparing for another important trip in his city's recovery efforts. Chipper McDermott is going to Naperville, Illinois to help that community raise money for his city's rebirth. Naperville has promised $2 million to the Pass, so new homes can be built.

Home rebuilding in Pass Christian starts with cement blocks. One, after another, after another are stacked on top of each other. Dr. D.H. Short says they'll form a safer, more elevated foundation for a Pass Christian storm victim.

"This is the most amazing thing we've ever done in this city," the Pass Christian Rotary Club member said, "the most amazing project we've ever done."

The Pass Christian Rotary has become partners with Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers to put families back in homes.

"We're allowing the people to get back in their homes, to return to their normal life," Dr. Short said. "The homes we're building, we give them to them. There's no mortgage. There's no guarantee on their part demanded."

Chipper McDermott is Pass Christian's mayor.

"We wouldn't be as far as we are now without them. And hopefully they and other people will continue to help us," he said.

So far, the Rotary Club and the Mennonites have either finished or started 14 Pass Christian homes. The goal is to build 100 homes in five years, so needy families have a place to live. A two million dollar pledge from Naperville, Illinois is making a lot of that work possible. As a matter of fact, Mayor McDermott will visit Naperville later this week for a fundraising gala to build more homes.

"We wouldn't have a town. We wouldn't have any semblance of a future without them," McDermott said.

Pete Husted is one of the Mennonite volunteers building a home on Fleitas Street.

"It's a good sense of accomplishment," the Ohio man said. "It makes you feel good inside, feel real good."

The Pass Christian Rotary Club determines which families qualify for one of their homes. Mennonite volunteers can build a home in three months.