Clermont Harbor Brothers Move Back Home, Thanks To Volunteers

Two Hancock County brothers left their FEMA trailer Monday and moved into a new home, built by volunteers from across the nation, and dedicated by the Bethel Lutheran Church Disaster Ministry of Biloxi.

Nearly 500 volunteers gave of their time, money and labor to build the Railroad Street home in Hancock County's Clermont Harbor community.

"My uncles have decided to call it the Ecumenical Cottage," Donna Tasker said. "Ecumenical because, yes, it was Lutherans and Presbyterians and Methodists, but it was more than that. It was the unity of everyone working together."

The brothers who now call this place home both have health problems, so the house was built to ADA standards. Monday was the first time either had seen the inside of the house.

"Oh, a fire place! It's a beautiful house, just absolutely beautiful," Pete Lestelle said.

"I can't put into words my true feelings. All I can tell you is all the gratitude in the world is what I feel for these people," Clyde Ladner said.

Jessica Bordner, a senior from a vo-tech school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is one of those people who worked on the house.

"Being involved with the dedication was very special. It really made us feel good to be here and work on a house. And then get to see the family who is going to live here, it was very exciting," Bordner said.

For project coordinator Pete Berlowitz, the dedication was bittersweet.

"It's a great feeling to see the completion of the house," Berlowitz said. "We've done now about 50 some houses. There's still about 30, 40, 50 thousand more houses to go. So it's like this is just one and there are more left to do."

Congressman Gene Taylor looks at it as one more Coast family back into a home thanks to volunteers.

"On behalf of the people of Mississippi, I just want to thank them for what they've done and continue to do," Rep. Taylor said Monday.

It took rotating volunteers less than six months to build the totally handicap accessible home.