Volunteers Launch Fundraising Campaign To Finish Rebuilding Job

Since the mid-1960s, Oliver West has lived in a house on Texas Avenue in Gulfport.

"Yeah, this is where it used to be at, 'till the Lord came along the tore it up with a hurricane," West said.

At the age of 102, Mr. West had no insurance, he did not qualify for state grants, and he has no money to start over.

"No transportation, nobody to build nothing for me, and I ain't have nothing to build it with," West said. "I just live on the mercy of the Lord. But He's a good God you know. He'll take care of it."

Volunteers pitched in to demolish the storm-damaged home, and he has qualified for private grants to build a new house.

"But what else we need are his furniture and the finishing touches to get him completely back in," a volunteer said.

So many other Katrina survivors face the same financial obstacles.

"We are not done recovering from the hurricane. We have a lot more work to do," said Brian Rivers.  He is a member of the Rebuild Jackson County Organization.

His agency and other hurricane recovery groups are joining forces to make a nationwide appeal.

"We've come together and created a committee to oversee a fund, which we call Finish the Job Fund," said committee member Michelle Wilson.

The goal is to make sure the resources don't run dry.

"We're trying to raise as much as possible," Wilson said. "If everyone in America gave $1, that would be $380 million."

The contributions will help cover unmet needs, like renters' assistance, demolition, and elevation costs. It's targeted toward the disabled, elderly, and low-income families.

"Every day we see people that will call our office that still have not been touched in two years," Wilson said. "So we know we do not need to forget. We do not need to feel like the job is done. We need to finish the job in Mississippi."

It's the kind of help Oliver West needs to be back in a house again, and on the road to recovery.

"Yeah, I hope I have a chance to live in it a little while," West said. When asked how many more years, West laughed and said "I don't know. I don't count the years."

Disaster volunteers will oversee the funds, and a case management committee will review all requests for assistance. You can donate on-line or by mail. Send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Finish the Job Fund/GCCF
P.O. Box 3448
Gulfport, MS 39505