There were plenty of hugs as Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco greeted volunteers, many of them students or faculty members from the State University of New York at Geneseo. But the 20 volunteers will soon be rolling up their sleeves and helping out again with Harrison County's rebuilding efforts.
Leanne Sisbarro is a senior business administration major. While many of the volunteers have been here before, this is her first trip to South Mississippi.
"I just think it's a really good cause. I love how I can do something to help people and kind of see the result and know that in the long run, it's really going to help out. And it helps me feel good about my self. I just really like people and being out there," Sisbarro said.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, these volunteers have not only built homes, but also a bond with the people of the Gulf Coast.
"It was apparent that New Orleans was getting a lot of the attention. We were watching and seeing how little help you were getting here. And we thought 'where we can go and develop some relationships, get to know people, make this a long term thing,'" said Tom Matthews, Director of Leadership Education of University of New York at Geneseo.
Since the storm, more than 200 volunteers from the group have volunteered here. And their efforts have reached far beyond the Magnolia State.
"They can take that back to their representatives, their experience, and they can take it back to their representatives from New York on a federal level and help us let them know the importance of not letting them forget about the people that are Katrina victims in Harrison County," said Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco.
The group will be working on various rebuilding projects throughout the week. Volunteers plan at least three more trips to South Mississippi in February, March and May.