Fourth Of July Holiday More Work Than Play For Colorado Volunteers

They're cutting, caulking, and cleaning.  Volunteers are basically doing what they can to finish up another storm-damaged house in Bay St. Louis.

"After I nail them down, I come in off the top, and kind of fill in the gaps," said Sam Young, as he proudly showed off his smooth baseboards.

Sam Young is part of the SouthWest Conservation Corps, based in Durango, Colorado. The group is spending the Fourth of July week, helping Katrina survivors who are seeking freedom from their FEMA trailers.

"It feels good to be helping people and building houses and hearing people's stories," Young said. "The people around here really appreciate what we're doing."

Young remembers one woman he met at the Crab Fest over the weekend.

"She asked me if she could give me a hug, and got all teary-eyed," Young said. "That was kind of special. She kept thanking us over and over, and kept telling us if it weren't for us, it would still be like wreckage around everywhere."

The rebuilding project has also been a moving experience for 20-year-old Erin Carter. She just received her Associates Degree, and is now considering changing her future plans.

"It was surreal when I came down, and saw how much more damage there was and how much needed to be done," said Erin Carter. "I think I'm going to come back for a long-term period."

Despite the hard work, and sweltering heat, the ten volunteers intend to fit in some fun, and have a blast this Independence Day.

"Some people told us it's fun to have a bonfire on the beach," Young said. "And then I heard someone else telling me they have big fireworks shows everywhere, in Gulfport. So we might check one of those out."

"It doesn't feel like it's giving up a holiday," Carter said. "I'm happy to here for the 4th of July. I definitely feel like there's no other place I'd rather be."

The SouthWest Conservation Corps volunteers are repairing five homes, as well as building a new house in Hancock County. They are also working on the trails at Buccaneer State Park.