Biloxi Says Goodbye To A Devoted Volunteer

BILOXI (WLOX) -- In the Bible, Peter was a fisherman. But volunteer Peter Salemme is a carpenter. He's used his gifts and abilities to help South Mississippians get back into their homes after Katrina.

"When Peter came into town, he helped tear out my house, and he also built me new kitchen cabinets," said Biloxi resident Anita Ferrill.

Katrina destroyed Ferrill's Biloxi home. But with Peter Salemme's help, she was back in her house by Spring of 2006. She and others joined for a farewell celebration in his honor and to say goodbye to someone they consider not only a helper, but also a friend.

"He's a wonderful man. He's a wonderful man, and he's a family man, and he's a very wonderful man," Ferrill said.

Salemme will return to his home in Virginia in about a week. Since he's been in South Mississippi, Salemme has served as the Construction Director for Project REHAB.

"Basically, we concentrated on rehabbing existing homes for people in East Biloxi on the Point. We helped over 70 families get back in their original homes," Salemme said.

"Peter has done an outstanding job. Many of the homes we have back in place, Peter has had either a direct or indirect hand in it. When he was working at Home Depot, he would have supplies, parts, look for bargains they might have. Then when he came on with Habitat from Virginia, he really did get in and just spearhead the groups that came in. Because of his efforts, we have about a hundred homes that have been put back," said Biloxi Ward 2 Councilman Bill Stallworth.

And it may not be long before Salemme and his wife are neighbors with one of the families he's helped out here in South Mississippi.

"I love Biloxi, I love the people of Biloxi. I love Mississippi, and I hope to convince my wife once my fifth son is out of school that we can come move down here," he said.