Volunteers, Home Owners Celebrate Building Blitz

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Home owners cut a cake decorated with the picture of a new house.

Friday's noon hour celebration under the gazebo began as an ambitious project several months ago. Everyone sharing the barbecue lunch played a role in the special recovery effort.

"I guess I represent the direct three thousand blue shirted Presbyterians who came down here and worked on every one of these houses and they in turn represent the thousands of Presbyterian churches in this country who have sent them down here," said Bruce Byers, who helped direct the volunteer labor.

Jennifer Stackhouse is a case worker with International Relief and Development. She helped organize the funding and match the need with the providers.

"It's very rewarding. It is very rewarding for me to see them get back on their feet. It's been such a long, hard road for them," she said.

Shirley Scott's long road meant living in Atlanta after Katrina destroyed her Gulfport home. She filled out dozens of applications for help and endured countless sleepless nights before this group answered her prayers by building her a home.

"It's the people. It's the people that's doing the work that is. I can't say enough. All I can do is just ask God to bless them and bless their hands. Because this is a beautiful house," she said, admiring the home from her new wrap around deck.

"Couldn't think of a more rewarding job," said the blue shirted Lynn Lanier.

After volunteers helped rebuild his Gulfport home, Lanier quickly joined the effort.

"I'm a diesel mechanic by trade, but to be able to build a few houses for the needy people is a fantastic thing," he says.

The home building blitz was made possible by a grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundations. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Lutheran Social Services were also significant supporters.