Habitat Volunteers Rehab North Gulfport Homes

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Gulfport is one of four main locations where Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project volunteers are putting south Mississippi back together.  That recovery site is in the Forest Heights subdivision. However, Forest Heights is different than the other Habitat for Humanity locations for one specific reason. Instead of building new homes, the Habitat volunteers are renovating old homes, and repairing scars that never quite healed after the hurricane.

One of those volunteers is Judy Hall.

"Oh golly it's wonderful. It is so amazing," the Jacksonville, Florida woman said.

Hall is working on a house on Holly Circle.

Next door, Ike Thomas is also doing some work. Thomas owns the house he's working on.

"I waited three years for this. And I thank God for it," he said.

Thomas' house qualified to get the makeover it desperately needed. So, the Carter Work Project sent a team of volunteers to his home to scrape away debris, and repaint walls.

Morgan Littin is the house leader.

"It's cool, because the homeowner is actually here," she said while on a mid-morning break. "That's fun. That's cool to work with him."

Habitat volunteers are scraping away hurricane decay, and in the process, with a whole lotta love. Joseph Teipel work for Habitat for Humanity in Denver, Colorado.

"I believe heavily in helping people out."

When he volunteered for the Carter Work Project, "I had no idea that all this destruction was still here," he said. "So, it's great to be here and great to be part of helping."

Thirty three homes in this Forest Heights neighborhood are getting new windows, new doors, and a new lease on life. The Weaver Family Foundation -- an organization headed up by the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team -- paid for much of the Forest Heights work. Judy Hall is part of the HabiJax team.

"We really care about you. We hope that you're lives get put back together again. And we're here to help," she said.

In just five days, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project volunteers will do something in north Gulfport that seemed so impossible for so long. They'll put people like Ike Thomas back in their Holly Circle homes.

"People that have been here forever and still are living in filth, it's great to help them out and get a clean house, a new house," Teipel said.

Mary Spinks Thigpen is the president of the Forest Heights Homeowners and Tenants Association. As she walked around her neighborhood, she marvelled at what was taking place.

"Words can't express how people care about people. It's just unbelievable really," she said.

Besides the Forest Heights work, Habitat teams are building new homes in Pascagoula and Biloxi.  They're also participating in a 48 home framing frenzy at the Biloxi lighthouse.