Rex Perry is not a carpenter, but he's certainly creative.
"These are beautiful banisters for the front porch. I hand cut each one of these, all 160 of them," said Perry.
Perry is an editor at Cottage Living magazine. The Birmingham, Alabama company is teaming up with Lowe's to build a Katrina Cottage.
"They wanted Cottage Living magazine to possibly decorate one of their cottages," Perry said. "And I had gotten wind of it, and I said why don't we build an actual house for an actual family, instead of another model home?"
That family is the Swaniers of Pass Christian. The family of five can't wait to move out of their FEMA trailer.
"We want to get back in the home, and just live a life. Live a life when Katrina stopped it," John Swanier said.
Cottage Living, and numerous volunteers are building the family a Creole-style cottage on Saucier Avenue. Sometimes, they get a helping hand from the Swanier's two children.
The house will be featured in the December issue of Cottage Living magazine, that will reach more than 4 million people. And those involved in the project hope that people will see the story and contribute to the Cottage Living Builds Fund, so more money will be available to build additional homes in the devastated neighborhood.
"The mission of our magazine, we like to think of community and compassion," Perry said. "So this just fits that bill, to help rebuild communities."
As Perry showed how his hand-crafted banisters will look on the porch, John Swanier said "Awesome. Awesome. God is good ain't He?"
"I feel blessed and privileged to know that they would come all the way down here, just to help us. Somebody they don't even know," said his wife Tina Swanier.
John's eyes filled with tears as he said "For these people, they don't know you, and they come down here and give all what they got in their heart to help a person that's in need."
No doubt, the emotions will overflow when the Swaniers get the keys to their new home on August 29th, the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"That will be the most exciting day of my life, and my kids, and my husband," Tina Swanier said. "It will be a dream come."
"It is beautiful," said her husband. "It is a home. Home sweet home. It's a blessing."
Mercy Housing purchased the lot, Lowes donated the materials, and Room and Board will donate the furnishings. The Mennonite Disaster Service provided some of the free labor.
By: Trang Pham-Bui
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