Friday, July 21, 2006

Focus On: Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam came to the coast after Katrina to redeem himself.

Years before, he watched with cynicism as his sister formed her own charitable organization, Labor of Love. He watched over the years, convinced that it would never work, as she and her team worked one regional disaster after another. By the time she was finally driven out of business by politics and then saddled with a significant debt, Bob had learned an important thing.

It DOES work. Independent and faith-based groups could indeed make a difference in this world.

Originally from New York, Bob left his home in Boston to help on the coast with the Salvation Army. A one-time resident of Biloxi, Bob operated a large distribution center for the Salvation Army for three months after the storm. Sent to Pearlington by CAN-DO founder Eric Klein, just to do a "simple assessment," Bob knew where the need was the greatest.

He’s been here ever since.

A valuable member of the Pearlington Volunteer Community, Bob has an innate gift to see the Big Picture. I can tell you, from personal experience, that’s not always a good thing. It tends to be the guy out front, fearlessly carrying the banner, who often makes the most convenient target. Yet Bob is nothing if not persistent and he has assisted greatly with the smooth operation of the Recovery Center and has facilitated food and materials from the Salvation Army and many other contacts. He has negotiated favorable rates on building materials and is well-connected all over the country. Bob now represents CAN-DO’s initiatives on the entire Gulf Coast.

I will not share any of Bob and CAN-DO’s plans. They are not mine to share. Suffice it to say, though, that not only will Bob "redeem" himself, but he will leave an indelible mark on the hearts and spirits of the residents and volunteers alike of Pearlington. His experience, wisdom and insight serves this community well and we support him fully.

Bob says, "This is just my way of keeping my sister’s dream alive. If you are not part of the solution, you are still being a part of the problem."

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