Monumental Task Faces Smaller Group Of Habitat Volunteers

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The 2,000 Habitat for Humanity volunteers are gone. But there's still plenty of work to do to finish what they started. So on Tuesday, a much smaller group of volunteers picked up where Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project teams left off.

In east Biloxi, just 50 people worked on the 10 homes that came out of the ground last week. The volunteer numbers are much smaller than a week ago. But the determination of this week's crews is just as strong.

Around the 10 construction sites, the pounding was not as loud. And Ken Forrester noticed the pace was not as fast.

"A little less frantic. A little more time to think about what you're doing," said the Habitat for Humanity staff member who was working on a Huff Alley home construction project.

Instead of hundreds of volunteers buzzing around east Biloxi, Habitat has about 50 determined souls in town from Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.

"Much easier to handle 50," Forrester said with a laugh.

When volunteers reflected on the first word they thought of after hearing these homes were built in a week, "awesome" came to mind. Jerome McGlotten's second impression was "still awesome, because now I don't have to do as much."

McGlotten came from Maryland to work on homes started by the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

Bethany Phillips was from Norfolk, Virginia.

"We've got a lot of work to do. It may not look like a lot, the house is here, the house is ready to go. But there's still a lot of work to do," she said as she put a railing on a Huff Alley porch.

Now that last week's rush is over, the truth about construction quality can come out.  All those volunteers who came to south Mississippi with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter did an amazing job. But, Habitat staff members admit they made a few mistakes that have to be rectified by this week's volunteers. Siding issues had to be resolved on one house. A porch railing had to be torn apart on another new dwelling.

"In some instances it's one step back and then we go two steps forward," admitted Forrester.

Those steps forward are being taken with Charles Adams' assistance. Adams is at the mercy of his cell phone. If it rings, and it's his daughter going into labor, he's gone. Otherwise, the Tennessee man will paint east Biloxi's new Habitat homes.

"I always said when I retire I would help Habitat, so that's the reason that I do it," he said.

Habitat staff members welcomed Adams with open arms, because this week, there's plenty of construction work to do, and not many bodies to do it.

Habitat for Humanity hopes to move families into the Carter project homes by July 1, 2008.