Volunteers Learn Eight Days Can Change A Life

The group 8 Days Of Hope has returned to the Coast with more volunteers than ever before. More than 1,100 volunteers from 42 states will spend the next eight days building and re-building homes in Hancock and West Harrison counties. The goal is to get more than 300 families out of FEMA trailers and into homes.

Since Katrina, the organization has brought together more than 5,000 volunteers in five different mission trips to the Gulf Coast.

"We've worked and completed about 625 homes that have been refurbished, rebuilt, remodeled. We've done about $6 million in work, we think. By the end of this week, we'll do about another million dollars in renovations," 8 Days Co-Founder Stephen Tybor III said.

"First Peter 4-10, Peter tells us in the bible to serve others with the gifts that God has given us. We all have different gifts."

The organization is based in Tupelo, Tybor's hometown, but brings together volunteers of all faiths for one common goal - to help the coast recover. Many are skilled home builders.

"We have electricians, we have carpenters, we have roofers, we have some plumbers. We have all the skills in the range to build a home," said Ben Morris with 8 Days Of Hope.

Michelle Hodges has little experience in home building, but said she wanted to do what she could to help. In fact, her entire family is involved. Three generations of the Hodges family will spend their holiday break helping storm victims.

"The joy of knowing we did something for somebody that couldn't help themselves," volunteer Fred Hodges said.

The organization is operating out of the St. Rose DeLima Parish Center on Necaise Street in Bay St. Louis. Leaders have planned a New Year's Eve bash out on the beach for the volunteers.