UMCOR / Our Work / Disaster Response / Ongoing / Katrina & Rita / Bright Spots / Archives 2008 / 0515-Home Dedications Emotional

UMCOR Bright Spots

May 15, 2008

*Home Dedications Emotional for Homeowners, Staff and Volunteers
*You Made Her Happy
*This Week's Quote
*Recovery Stats


By Susan J. Meister, Domestic Disaster Response Correspondent

At a recent home dedication in Hancock County, Mississippi, Lillian Jeffries, a case manager with UMCOR partner Mississippi United Methodist Disaster Response Inc., warmly thanked benefactors and volunteers that helped make the rebuilds a reality.

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Mr. Edward (left), Lillian Jeffries, Stan Lowery and Jennie Lowery celebrate the dedication of his new home in Pearlington, Miss.
Photo by Susan J. Meister/UMCOR

“We love and appreciate you!” said Jeffries, She thanked UMCOR, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and Samaritan’s Purse for underwriting the construction of Mr. Edward’s new home in Pearlington. She acknowledged the work of Coordinator Robert Sharp, Case Management Coordinator Debbie Strickland, and Construction Coordinator Eric Church.

“And we thank the volunteers,” she cried. “We could not have done it without you!”

Homeowner Mr. Edward expressed his gratitude. “Everybody did a beautiful job,” he said. “God bless everybody!”

During the dedication ceremony, Jennie Lowery, site coordinator for Camp Gulfside, presented Mr. Edward with a prayer shawl to “wrap him in love, just as his new home was built with love.” Church presented the homeowner with his certificate of occupancy with tears and a hug. Volunteers from California spending the week at Camp Gulfside took time out of rebuilding to attend the dedication, and were invited to lay their hands on the new home to bless it.

Recovery organization to eventually consolidate to three camp sites

At the eastern end of the Mississippi Coast, staff and volunteers are closing operations at Camp St. Paul in Ocean Springs. Dee Boreing, site coordinator for St. Paul, was busy moving items to Camp Hope in Vancleave. She and her husband Jack have served as site coordinators since June 2006. “You can remind everyone that you don’t need a passport to be a missionary,” she asserted.

The move from St. Paul to Camp Hope is part of the realignment of the Mississippi Conference recovery organization. Sharp anticipates that construction of Camp Love in Gulfport will be completed shortly. The soon-to-be-called Camp Faith, the third multipurpose building built in cooperation with the Seashore District, will be located in the western part of the state. “The new organizational structure enables us to gradually condense our work force/camp sites,” he said.

Miss Irene feels so much better now that she in not breathing the mold that permeated her ruined home.

Case manager Deborah Hatcher (left) is helping homeowner Miss Josetta with every step of the rebuilding process in Moss Point, Miss.
Photo by Susan J. Meister/UMCOR

But even during the consolidation, rebuilding work continues all across the Gulf Coast, with volunteers scheduled throughout the remainder of 2008.

Case manager Deborah Hatcher focuses on homeowners in Jackson County. She feels a special connection to older homeowners like Miss Josetta and Miss Frances whose houses were so badly damaged that they could not be salvaged. “Sometimes the only option is to tear the house down,” she said. “But we work to get funding to rebuild. For these elderly homeowners, this is the only asset they have.”

“I am an advocate for my clients with the city, the funders, everyone,” Hatcher continued. “In fact, some people say we should rename Community Street to ‘United Methodist Street’ – we’ve helped with seventeen houses here.”

Work with Long-Term Recovery Organizations continues

During the April ceremonies, Volunteer Coordinator Stan Lowery encouraged volunteers to “lay their hands” on the home being dedicated.

During the April ceremonies, Volunteer Coordinator Stan Lowery encouraged volunteers to “lay their hands” on the home being dedicated.
Photo by Susan J. Meister/UMCOR

In March, all three coastal counties in Mississippi—Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson—conducted intake days to identify persons still in need of assistance. The first quarter 2008 Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery report documents that over 1,000 cases were received.

“This was an effort to find those people who have ‘fallen through the cracks,’ did not know who to contact, had fallen short in their own efforts to recover, or simply had not thought anyone could help them,” wrote Robert Sharp, coordinator. The Mississippi Conference organization is active in streamlining the case management approach and networking with other recovery groups still on the coast to facilitate rebuilding efforts.

“We still need help,” said case manager Lillian Jeffries. “We’re on our way to recovery—let everyone know.”

UMCOR’s reputation is to stay in a disaster area until recovery is complete. Rebuilding from the devastation of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons continues all along the Gulf Coast through the work of UMCOR partners from Texas to Florida.

To learn more or to volunteer, visit UMCOR partner web sites below.

UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)
UM News Service
Mississippi Conference
Louisiana Conference
Texas Conference
Alabama-West Florida Conference