Mennonites Continue To Help Rebuild Pass Christian Homes

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A faith based organization is taking a break from re-building homes in Pass Christian, but volunteers say they'll definitely be back. On Friday, Mennonite Disaster Relief wrapped up its summer youth program.

Dominic Arbogast came to Pass Christian from Germany as a volunteer for Mennonite Disaster Relief. In that time, he says, he's learned a lot about homebuilding.

"Working on the piers, foundation, doing the inside work, dry walling, sanding, painting, roofing," said Arbogast. "Everything."

Since adopting Pass Christian two years ago, the Mennonites say they've built 26 new homes and remodeled many others.

Dave Weibe of Mennonite Disaster Relief said, "It is our faith, I guess. We like to go and help people. Be servants for other people. We feel Pass Christian was so devastated, and we've been so welcomed in this area. We bought some property here in town. We've set up on the site and we're bringing in groups."

Volunteers come in from around the world to help. Mennonites say those groups are becoming more important than ever. The coast has fewer helping hands, as some volunteer organizations have left the area.

"Most of them have moved out it seems like," said Weibe. "For a little while there were some youth groups in. Now there's odd weeks that sometimes we'd see some youth groups and sometimes there weren't any. Most of them have moved out. Some of the homes we are hearing now that if the Mennonites don't build them for you, you might not get a home."

Rebecca Kutos proudly shows off her new home that was built by the Mennonites.

"It has something to do with making you stronger so that you feel like being here and making a nice life which is not the way I felt after the storm," said Kutos. "There was nothing here. It was just depressing. Then they came and they just sort of uplifted everybody. They didn't just build houses. They did much more than that."

The Mennonites say they plan to start back in early October. They say once harvesting season is over, they expect more Mennonites to have the time to volunteer.