Thursday, November 30, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 30, 2006

The Newest Members of C.O.D.R.A.
I would like to welcome to the C.O.D.R.A. community two new members. The first is Gene Butterfield - both the Elder and the Junior - representing Walls of Hope. Tomorrow, look for an article on their outstanding organization, as part of our "Focus On...." series.

The second is Mr. Joseph Keys, a dedicated and caring community advocate, who took me on a tour of some of the more disenfranchised residents of Pearlington. These are some of the people who have fallen through the cracks; people who, for one reason or another, have had little help and have little with which to begin anew.

I will strive to get Adopt-a-Home blogs up for them as quickly as possible and I encourage all of you to view these sites carefully. Some need only a Salvation Army sponsor, as they have been holding onto their FEMA money for dear life. Some have nothing, except faith and a belief that somehow God will provide.

It was a difficult morning....

Look also for an upcoming "Focus On...." Mr. Keys.

We had lunch at Rev. Rawl's church, who no longer has a church. It is been taken down and removed and a new church will be built in it's place. Miss Johnnie prepared spagetti for lunch and her, the other ladies and Rev. Rawls himself welcomed me back to Pearlington with open arms.

Security at the PRC
To further ensure the safety of all volunteers and to cut down on late night traffic using the laundromat at the Pearlington Recovery Center, they are looking at relocating Pearl's Cafe within the fencing on the field behind the school and locking the gate at night.

The Salvation Army, which is setting up a field office where the old school cafeteria used to be, has already requested that the main gate to the school property be locked at night. More on this as details become available.

FEMA Presence in Pearlington
now provides three outreach workers, with a daily posting to Pearlington. Sammy Crider, Dean Porter and Dave Schinnerer are available during business hours through the PRC.

Today is the last day of the official hurricane season. Mercifully, it was the season that wasn't, and I KNOW we can all live with that....

Focus On: Camp Coastal Outpost

When life serves you up a lemon, make lemonade.

Few are better at squeezing lemons than Mike Sweeney and Sandy Mullinhouse, the driving forces behind Camp Coastal Outpost. Mike, formerly of the Emergency Operations Center and Sandy, of International Aid joined together this year in a desire to focus on the job of rebuilding the coast and of just getting it done.

Together, they have built a thriving volunteer community on a chunk of donated land adjacent to Coastal Hardware in the Kiln. There they can house and feed up to 300 volunteers working on a wide variety of reconstruction projects and new home building in a number of coastal communities, including Pearlington. They are well-equipped and determined, having surrounded themselves with a core of talented and dedicated volunteer staff.

Yesterday, at Camp Coastal, Mike Sweeney announced to me that they had just been successful in the acquisition of a generous grant from an international donor - to the tune of $2.25 million dollars!

It is their intention and mandate to construct 150 new homes on the coast, including a good number in St. Bernard's Parish in New Orleans. They will focus on the neediest and most high-risk families and they know that the possibility of additional funding is dependent upon their ability to effectively employ these funds NOW.

Camp Coastal, like all of C.O.D.R.A.'s members on the coast, requires volunteers. We cannot afford to let such financial largesse sit idle or go to waste. In fact, that donor originally granted these funds to two other larger, more "known" agencies who were just not able to use them effectively or immediately. This same international source has already invested $1.25 million in Camp Coastal through monetary and in-kind donations this year.

In Pearlington, Camp Coastal is currently working on four homes and about to start two more. I visited the Doyle project with Mike Sweeney and Larry Randall. You may remember young Alexis Doyle, the recipient of a wheelchair from Ardmore Baptist Church back in late April. Soon, her parents Donnie and Donna Doyle and their family will have a new home they can call their own, thanks to Camp Coastal.

Donna Doyle with her son and Larry Randall

We encourage Mike and Sandy to continue to see Pearlington as one of those high-risk areas deserving of their ongoing consideration. Their vision, dedication and brilliant leadership is making a huge difference on the coast. I encourage C.O.D.R.A. member agencies and our own volunteer network to support Camp Coastal's projects; certainly, in the least, here in Pearlington. I know we are all hurting for volunteers, but this opportunity is too good to jeopardize.

It was also great to connect with Arjay and Cindy Sutton - a great pair of volunteers who met while running the New Waveland Cafe after the storm, affectionately known by all the early volunteers as the "Hippie Cafe." Arjay and Cindy were married and are back on the coast doing what they can.

I was also reunited with Andrea Tveit. Andrea was the Team Leader of the Americorps group I worked with back in late October and November last year, while I was managing the Recovery Center. Graduated now from Americorps, Andrea discovered being idle at home was not for her and so threw herself back into the thick of things.

Hats off to Camp Coastal! Check them out at:

Let's see what we can do to make them the newest member of C.O.D.R.A.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 29, 2006

It's a foggy morning in Pearlington and it feels like some fantastic things are about to bust loose for the good folks here who have been so patient so long.

Today, I will begin the first of two tours to identify what is yet to be done and who needs immediate help. I will update the Adopt-a-Home and "Impossibles" blogs to reflect the current situation and get listed those who desperately need support.

And while there is yet lots to be done, Camp Coastal Outpost, who is already building homes in Pearlington, announced that they will be assisting in the facilitation of two new Salvation Army grants, obtained by the Pearlington Recovery Center. One is for Bill Royal and the other is for Bob and Elaine Carden.

The Cardens are a remarkable couple. Bob is a retired police officer and a Viet Nam vet. Both he and Elaine have given selflessly of what little they have, feeding volunteers and helping ensure a healthy Thanksgiving meal for the folks of Pearlington. What resources they did get from the storm were lost to shady contractors and an equally shady lawyer they hired to get it back. They deserve this break and we are all thrilled their patience and faith has been rewarded.

I expect to meet with Mike Sweeney and Sandy Mullinghouse of Camp Coastal this week. Stay tuned....

Yesterday, I labored with Susie Sharp and Randy Turpin on building a handicap ramp so that Otis and Ruby Mitchell can get access to their new home. As we worked I was struck by how much labor is required to just do this simple a task and the exhorbitant cost of materials. Yesterday, at Lowes in Bay St. Louis, I was forced to pay almost $28. for 5 lbs. of 2" deck screws. I was stunned! I just bought some back home for my own deck railing I built and paid under $10. for the very same thing!

By all accounts, prices here rose sharply after the storm. I personally find that unconscionable. Mega-corporations like Lowes and Home Depot - and their suppliers - should be ashamed of themselves! I will be checking out local supply companies in the Bay and Kiln that guarantee to under-price them both, and I will report back. Let's keep the money local and get a better bang for our hard-come-by bucks.

I also have observed how diligent and determined are people like Charlie Holmes, Tom Dalessandri, Larry Randall, Laurie Spaschak and many others here, in chasing down every opportunity to get the people of Pearlington what they need. Very few know about this, because we have all learned Rule Number One the hard way: NOTHING exists until it's in your hand. I can assure the world there are few who work harder at making things happen.

When Laurie called Bob Carden to tell him his house was going to be built, he cried so hard he could not talk. He never believed it was actually going to happen and he had long ago given up the outcome. Yet, no one had forgotten him. No one has forgotten anyone in Pearlington, despite the time it is taking to gather what we need to do the job.

Back home, when people ask me what we are doing in Pearlington, I tell them that "we are rebuilding a devastated town with no resources, no money and no time." This recovery is being accomplished by the people of North America themselves. It is a unique experiment in global community and in the big hearts of people like you. The greatest travesty of all would be if we let the government "organize" or "help" us in any way. That would quickly turn this miracle into the same kind of bureaucratic quagmire that has characterized efforts all over the world.

That's why organizations like C.O.D.R.A. are organized "sideways," - as a coalition, not "vertically" like all other hierarchies in our world that have amply proven that eventually it takes more resources to hold up the structure than to deliver the mission. I saw it in Bosnia, in the Soviet Union and in lots of other places right here at home.

This is working because we have been forced to get the job done and to hold all other considerations as secondary. It works because volunteers hear God's voice calling them to service and then answer that call.

Be still. If that voice is calling you, don't try to reason it out with your brain.

Just do it. Contact me and we will Plug you into Pearlington.

God bless,
"Canada Jon" White

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 28, 2006

The Coalition of Disaster Relief Agencies (C.O.D.R.A.) held a meeting in Pearlington last night.

There, members reaffirmed our commitment to continue in Pearlington until everyone who needs help, gets help. There was much discussion concerning the great need for volunteers, especially in December and January and what we could do to attract them.

When I return home, among other things, I will be creating a new site called: Pluggin' in to Pearlington - a blog for potential volunteers to visit and peruse the various C.O.D.R.A. member groups, what their facilities look like, what kind of jobs they take on, accommodations, who to contact to book a mission here, etc.

The goal will be to facilitate volunteer groups in making a timely and informed choice about coming to volunteer in Pearlington. I will ask, upon completion, that we all use to power of the Internet to get the address link out to everyone on our respective mailing lists.

We need another miracle and Pearlington's counting on YOU!

Zeke and Debbie are a couple from Colorado, who landed in Pearlington from Bay St. Louis two months ago. Z & D are in charge of the Pearlington Cafe, feeding up to 80 volunteers a day. The plan is to remain until late spring and both are taking the upcoming Case Management training, to make themselves even more valuable to the Pearlington volunteer community.

Welcome, folks!

Santa Claus Parade:
The Christmas party hosted by the Pearlington Resident Committee announced yesterday on this Blog (and since removed), has been amalgamated with the traditional Fire Dept. Parade.

Co-sponsored by Turtle Landing, the parade will be on Saturday, Dec. 16th starting at 2:00 p.m. from the playground on White's Rd. It will move down 7th Ave., along Hwy. 90 west to Hwy. 604, then north on 604 to the Pearlington Recovery Center.

Around 3:00 p.m., Laurie Spaschak has organized all kinds of great music, food and activities for the kids in the former library at Chas. B. Murphy School.

Have a great day!

Focus On: Conrad Velasco - Nov. 27, 2006

Be very careful about getting into a car with Conrad Velasco.

He just might drive you to Pearlington to assist him with some task or another. You will soon come to realize that the real purpose of the journey was to call to your spirit and, before you know it, you're the newest volunteer pouring your heart into Pearlington.

You've just been 'Con-jacked'.

Hours before Katrina hit Pearlington on August 29, 2005 Conrad already had a plan and knew where he was heading. Leaving his family and construction business back in South Carolina, he set up a small camp on Lower Bay Road to bring relief to the hardest hit.

He hasn't stopped since.

With Jake Earle, Conrad's 'Sheds for Jesus' has built and placed 160 sheds in Pearlington and Lower Bay. His construction expertise has weighed in on countless projects and he is one of the most respected volunteers on the Coast. You can read more of these early experiences from Jake Earle's perspective HERE.

When the Morrell Foundation decided to close its operation on Waveland Beach, they looked for a group to be the recipient of almost $400,000 worth of bunkhouses, materiel and equipment. The plan was to have someone set up a more permanent long-term center in Bay St. Louis. Of all the possible groups, the Foundation chose Conrad, citing as their reason, "we have never seen someone do so much with so little."

Conrad has since been instrumental in setting up a large Center at the Lagniappe Presbyterian Church in the Bay. There, they can house and feed up to 300 volunteers and task them out around Hancock County. He continues to help Pearlington and other areas hard hit by the storm. His wife Missy has since moved down to be with him, bringing their infant daughter Savannah.

Conrad is a Dreamer and knows that faith doesn't require him to know the last step - just the next one. He moves forward each day in trust and allows the outcome to unfold in God's timing.

Thank you, Conrad, for all you do.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 26, 2004

I have been thinking a lot about this time, last November, as my stint as Manager of the Recovery Center was drawing to an end and we were struggling daily to get everyone off the ground and into FEMA trailers, at last.

And so, it seemed odd to be sitting in a Slidell steakhouse eating Prime Rib with Susie and Randy last night. Last year, the best we could have hoped for was some industrial-strength powdered eggs and runny grits in the Red Cross food tent. I awoke this morning with Pearlington on my mind, as I have many, many mornings since I first fought my way into town early last September.

It's been a ride, that's for certain, and so much more yet to do....

Miss Becca Weaver, of Longmont, CO. Becca is the new Manager of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Camp No. 6 in Pearlington. A graduate of the University of Colorado with a degree in Sociology, Becca arrived on the coast in early September, under a Young Adult Program with that organization. Becca arrived in Pearlington later that month and will be spending at least a year in Pearlington taking care of PDA's interests at Camp 6.

Joining Becca as co-Manager until December, is John Hill, of Claremont, CA.

Welcome to Pearlington, Becca and John!

Salvation Army Grants:
Today, please notice a new link to the right of this panel, outlining the procedure by which a Resident might access these grants. There has been much hoop-jumping to date to make a few of these happen and we are working with Salvation Army to make them as accessible as possible.

Once again, they rely heavily on the ability of C.O.D.R.A. members and other organizations to have sufficient volunteer labor to get the jobs done!

You may access the file directly HERE.

UMCOR Case Management Training:
Training sessions will be held for interested parties on Dec. 4, 5 and 6th. Case Management is basically the interviewing of residents seeking assistance, during which the completion of approx. eight pages of forms detailing the resident's situation is conducted. It is critical, as much of the assistance available uses this information to make decisions.

This is a nationally-recognized training program. There are not many paid jobs available, but Case Managers are desperately needed. What paying positions there are, would be with UMCOR, Red Cross or Salvation Army. The job does require a long-term (one year) commitment. Most Disaster Recovery Operations would welcome a trained volunteer who could do Case Management, even on a part-time basis.

There is a temporary link to the file on the right panel, or you may access the application form HERE.

News from Pearlington:
There is a wonderful story in the SeaCoast Echo concerning Miss Lillian Rogers' new home, built by volunteers and fulfilling Miss Lillian's dream. You may access the story on SeaCoast Echo's web site.

Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Program has raised $500,000 and will be building a large permanent animal shelter on Lower Bay Road. The land has been donated by the Port and Harbor Commission. Good for Bucks-Mont!

The County is set to dispense $140,000 received in donations after Katrina and specifically earmarked for County employees. They hope to have the cheques out by Christmas.

"See" ya tomorrow....

P.S. I was finally able today to upload the rest of yesterday's images. Check 'em out, below.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 25, 2006

Yesterday morning, I received a call from Laurie Spaschak informing me that Dr. Charles Holmes, head of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship here in Pearlington, had been involved in a serious incident at the Recovery Center and could I come and help? I was there in minutes, but "my Spidey-senses were tingling." Sure enough, I walked into the Pearl*Mart to be swept into a giant hug by a grinning Charlie.

And so it went for me in Pearlington yesterday, getting caught up on progress and reconnecting with some great friends and fellow volunteers I have come to love, like Tim Goodnow from the Dog Soldiers of Atlanta. I also missed two - Corrie Ayers and Amy Overton - who had to leave before I could get to them. Sorry, Folks!

I took a tour with Charlie of the homes CBF is working on and has recently completed. What a miracle CBF has wrought in Pearlington! But Charlie finds himself in an interesting predicament. CBF needs volunteers! Charlie could start rebuilding four more houses - he has the resources - but needs volunteers to help lay piling foundations, get the framing done and the houses blacked in.
Remember: not everyone in your group has to be a skilled builder. We've even had older, retired people come just to guide and instruct others in how to do things. Please dig deep and help Charlie - and others - who have worked really hard to gather the resources but now need your help in getting it done.

Charlie and Dallas Trammel at her home-under-construction

If you can help, please contact Charlie immediately at 601-519-2785.

After Corrie Ayers' family, along with the Roberts and Lewis Families returned home to MN on Friday morning, Charlie awoke to find his vehicle festooned with goodbye notes and drawings from the young people. Karla Roberts also left this note:

"We have so enjoyed being here in Pearlington and serving with CBF. You have blessed us by finding lots of work for our multi-aged, multi-talented crew. Coming to serve with you this short week has done a lot to teach our children the value of serving God wholeheartedly through serving others who need a helping hand. May God continue to bless you richly."

By all reports, you folks did excellent work and we thank you!

David and Patty Baldwin, who were working out of the First Southern Baptist Church have ended their stint in Pearlington and have moved their headquarters to Gulfport. They did an amazing job in Pearlington and they will be sorely missed. The Parsonage at the church is still open and available for volunteers to be housed, to cook and look after themselves. All volunteers wishing to come through the Southern Baptist organization may now contact Charlie Holmes, who has taken over the Baldwin's outstanding projects. Charlie will make arrangements for you and be happy to task groups in various ongoing projects.

Charlie may be contacted at the number above. He is also available by email, although calling him directly is more reliable and timely. Charlie's email address is:

Jimmy Lamy is a local resident who is currently hosting a large group of Seventh Day Adventists from two locations. The Auburn Adventist Academy from Auburn, WA has sent 16 young people and 6 adults. They are spending a week in Pearlington doing everything from sheetrocking, to insulation, siding and painting. Yesterday, part of the group was at Larry Randall's house siding and painting.

Also, Jimmy is hosting two families from Portland, TN. One of these, Rod and Mary Schmitz came partly because they felt that reaching out in service might help alleviate some of the pain of the recent loss of their 20-year-old son in a car accident. This is the second child the Schmitz's have lost and they are a remarkable couple, firm in their faith, and doing what they can for others. Our hearts and prayers go out to them and we admire their dedication and willingness.

Thank you also Jimmy, for all you are doing to help your neighbors in Pearlington!

Lots more to come, so stay tuned....

A reflective Johanna, from Auburn, WA after a hard day's work.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Live from Pearlington - Nov. 24, 2006

The deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey was expertly prepared by Randy Turpin and all the traditional trimmings - Mississippi-style - were there. Susie Sharp picked me up at the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport and by the end of the afternoon I was stuffed and trimmed like a holiday goose. Fresh rolls, sweet potatoes, giblet gravy, corn casserole adorned the table and Laurie Spaschak, from the Recovery Center, joined us for dinner with her Poor Man's Pie.

It was a welcome fit for a king and it's good to be back in Pearlington.

We have much here for which to give thanks. Some construction is going on to finally get these people back in their homes, but as Tom Dalessandri has pointed out, only about 35% of the town is rebuilt.

Wednesday night, as I finished my work and prepared for the shuttle to the airport, I had a conversation with a new friend, Brad. He had watched Comic Relief last Friday night and was shocked to see that so much remained to be done here. As I flew over New Orleans and Pearlington on the shuttle from Houston, I saw the big picture of the vulnerability of this region and just how precious a jewel is the Gulf Coast of America.

As the plane circled and prepared to land, the blue-tarped roofs, the FEMA trailers and the continuing mess of broken homes and shattered lives became startlingly apparent. There is so much more to be done and it's heart breaking.
It will be my mission and that of the Coalition of Disaster Relief Agencies in Pearlington (C.O.D.R.A.) to begin a New Blitz. There is still an enormous need for volunteers here and we need more people to come and help. The world has moved on, but not so the many yet-homeless folks of Pearlington, Mississippi. I will find a way to advise the world that our responsibilities - our Ability to Respond - has not yet been fully met in this battered southern town.

As Rev. Rawls and his crew at the First Southern Baptist Church reach out to feed the volunteers Thanksgiving turkey; as folks around town invite smaller groups of out-of-towners into their humble homes and trailers to break bread and to share what they have, I ask us all to look into our hearts. Can we tap the creative spirit that is our birthright from God and find new ways to inspire others to come and help?

I call all the members of C.O.D.R.A. to our greatest place of Unity and Common Purpose. We know that this tragedy didn't just happen to ALL these people, it happened to EACH of these people. We feel their frustration and occasional hopelessness. As I share their stories in the next two weeks, let the world remember why we came here in the first place. One year ago I was here, managing the Recovery Center and sleeping on the ground, like they were. I was freezing at night and foraging for a decent meal by day, like they were. I was coughing and sweating and praying for a miracle - like they were.

Many other volunteers were here in the trenches too. Many have gone the distance and I am so proud to be your colleague. You never gave up, never stopped caring, never stopped sacrificing to do what had to be done. Your effort is etched in the collective memory of the people of Pearlington.

Now it's time to finish what we set out to do. Be eloquent in your calls for help. Write, speak, beg, plead and bully to get what these people need. They are counting on us and we must stay the course with renewed vigor and faith.

Let us all join hands in unity and unconditional love. Let's rise above our human foibles and fears and concentrate on the task. Those groups who have not yet joined C.O.D.R.A. are invited to do so and to fully be a part of this remarkable miracle. Let us redouble our efforts and not allow the destruction of Hurricane Katrina - the most devastating natural disaster of our generation - to slip from the North American consciousness. We cannot let the world go back to sleep.

A year from now, let us give thanks on this holiday as all the good folks of Pearlington sit down at their own tables, in their own homes and do the ritual things that most of the world takes for granted.

Only then, will we be truly finished what we started.

With gratitude on Thanksgiving,
Canada Jon

Old Friend: I'm sorry if I've disappointed you and you find me no longer worthy of our friendship. I did what I could and I will continue to do so. I love you and believe in you and that will never change. My door - and my heart - is ever open

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bruce Pender: A Perfect Stranger

On Sunday, November 12th, Bruce Fender, a volunteer with Pickin’ Up The Pieces, was killed in a car accident.

I can think of no finer tribute than that penned by Pearlington’s Patricia Cole Wilson, a grateful recipient of Bruce’s generosity. Our hearts go out to Bruce’s family and friends and to the Edwards and his fellow volunteers at Pickin’ Up The Pieces. Bruce was 44 years old:

"A few weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated our small town of Pearlington, Mississippi, Bruce Fender came with a Relief group called "Pickin’ up the Pieces." It’s a long way from Savannah to the Gulf but we desperately needed help and they came.

Bruce was a tall, handsome young man, with a heart of gold and arms of steel. He was in charge of construction and worked twelve or thirteen hours each day to put together a home for us. I marveled at his happy face, he really seemed to enjoy the hard, filthy work before him.

When the house was finished enough for us to move in (out of the FEMA camper) he beamed with pride! The only reward was our eternal gratitude, a pot of gumbo and a pecan pie. From his reaction, you would think he’d been paid a million dollars.

He left us with hugs and a promise to return; "to fish," when things were back to normal. The telephone rang Sunday afternoon – a terrible accident. The Bible teaches us to "take care when entertaining strangers; there might be an Angel unaware." Our lives were forever uplifted by this Angel. He took the pieces of our broken world and by the work of his hands made a home. A Perfect Stranger in a strange land.

Samuel Johnson said, "A friend is the Masterpiece of Nature." How true!

We pray that the other Angels guide you to Paradise, Dear Friend. We will always remember and love you."

Harry and Pat Wilson
For all of Pearlington

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Service with a Smile!

We are pleased to welcome two more new members to the C.O.D.R.A. family of those working to rebuild Pearlington, MS.

Corrie Ayers, her family and colleagues from Minnesota are readying themselves for another trip and sends this:

"We are leaving on Saturday 18 November from our church parking lot at 6:30 AM. All are very excited about this trip. Check the blog site during Thanksgiving week for updates as we have time. I hope to put some of the kids writings on the blog site. We don't really have a name for our group. Our t-shirts have the slogan ‘The Ministry of Walking Alongside.’

Otherwise we are just a team of families looking to serve the Lord.

Have a thankful Thanksgiving."

The blog to which Corrie refers is located at....

....and is now a permanent link to this site. Thanks, Corrie et al.

The second new member is Beverly Brown and the folks from Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL. Beverly writes:

"We have been working with Larry Randall since February at the Recovery Center. We came down the 23rd. Then again in July. We are currently helping to sponsor and work on Josephine Ackers house on 8th street. We will be down again in November to help."

Beverly is also Emergency Services Director for American Red Cross of Central Alabama. You can check out their work in Pearlington at:

Men, Friends and Family,

A Thanksgiving team is gearing up to go to Pearlington to work and share Thanksgiving with the people of Mississippi. Men (and women?) going to "give" during Thanksgiving. Our circle will include volunteers from around the country, demonstrating what "commitment before ego" looks like.

They will learn from our circle how men do work together. Circling up around large fires at night, sharing our lessons and insights, recognizing our accomplishments, initiating honorary Dog Soldiers, and celebrating. Many of the other volunteer group’s members have already asked if they can be part of our trip. We will be eating together in the mess tent at the Elementary School, and staying on-site too.

If this stirs you, call me. There will be a lasting and indelible mark left on your soul; having given yourself to others, especially when there are a myriad of options for you when staying right here/home, and a million reasons not to go do something away from family and friends.

Thank you, Tim Goodnow

Folks: If you are as yet unfamiliar with Tim Goodnow and his remarkable organization, treat yourself to their web site located at:

You’ll be glad you did!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Fate of a School

Jeanne Brooks sends the following, from the SunHerald, concerning the disposition of Chas. B. Murphy Elementary School:

HANCOCK COUNTY - Construction could begin sometime in the spring on a new elementary school for students in Lakeshore and Pearlington, according to district officials.

School Board President Morgan Ladner said site preparation for the new school will soon begin at the old Gulfview Elementary location at the corner of Lower Bay Road and Lakeshore Drive. The board voted this week on the location.

Gulfview Elementary and Charles B. Murphy Elementary were demolished after Hurricane Katrina struck last year. Since the storm, students have been forced to drive more than 12 miles to classes on the high school campus near Stennis International Airport.

"This is good news for the people in the southern portion of the county," Ladner said. "We plan to have a state-of-the-art facility, the best on the Coast, for the students of Pearlington and Lakeshore. "In order to use federal funds to help build the school, the district has to meet FEMA's flood guidelines, which means rebuilding on high ground.

District officials recently narrowed a list of potential sites for the new school to two properties: The Gulfview campus and property along Lower Bay Road near U.S. 90.Ladner said the Gulfview campus is higher above the flood plain than the other property and the district would not have to purchase any land.

"The deciding factor was that this was the highest of the two," he said. Ladner said parents and students will likely come up with a list of suggested names for the new school and then the school board will select one. In addition, students may determine a mascot and the school colors.

Jeanne Brooks

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

(William Butler Yeats)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Passing of a Family Man

Dear Friends,

My father-in-law Leo Killoran passed away quietly, earlier this afternoon. His loving daughter Marian stood at his side and held his hand as he began his next great adventure.

I have never been so proud of my wife, as she took this journey with him, constantly at his side these past two weeks. I had a quiet moment of my own with Leo a couple of weeks ago. I shared with him my own father’s death and the impact it had on me. I was able to say things to Leo my own father was too hurt to hear and I was too hurt to say. As I spoke quietly with him that day, I know another piece of my own heart was healed. I am not the frightened, abused little boy I was that Christmas Eve, 38 years ago.

And Leo, surrounded by his 13 children and his wife of almost 60 years, was able to say some things to me my own father would never say.

Marian and I, her mother, eleven brothers and sister wish me to thank all the wonderful people - friends from all over North America and Europe - who prayed for Leo and his family. It is a remarkable thing to have such friends, united in God and in the spirit of unconditional love.
Thank you also for allowing me to share this with you, here alone in this home so filled with love and partnership. Leo’s death has caused me to consider my own, and I know that I will count my success in life not in dollars, but in those I love and who love me.

It is the currency with which we do this work in Pearlington. It is the coin that will save the world and it is the wages of faith and trust in a loving and merciful God.

Thank you Leo for the gifts of spirit you imparted, even in death.

I am blessed.

Kind regards,
Jon White

The Newest Member of C.O.D.R.A.

It is with pleasure that I introduce to you the newest addition to the C.O.D.R.A. Family: First Baptist Church of Livingston, TN.

Colleen Richardson sends this moving story:

"First Baptist Church Livingston, TN completed their FIRST Work Trip the week of October 9-14, but that was not the beginning and it will not be the end.

The Lord led eight women from the Women’s Missionary Union of Livingston FBC to Mississippi on a short mission trip in April 2006. He had hidden His agenda from them, but by faith they went, knowing little more than they would deliver clothing to a group of teachers in a Gulf Coast town. The story of this trip is wonderfully long, but the most important fact was that the Lord was in charge and revealed much in the journey. The women spent one morning assisting in the Pearlington Recovery Center, known as the Pearl-Mart where food, clothing, and household supplies are free to those in need. The women were overwhelmed with the devastation they saw, but were uplifted by the atmosphere of love and compassion. With volunteers from all over the country they were humbled to be served a free lunch at the Missionary Baptist Church.

Beginning with an "Unmentionables Shower" the Lord began providing for needs through them. The church approved the monies to purchase enough electrical supplies for five homes. These supplies were delivered to Pearlington First Southern Baptist Church for distribution. Upon their arrival the four men, who delivered the supplies, were informed that there were homes ready for electrical installation immediately. The Lord is The Great planner!

During the summer, plans began to shape up for an October work trip with the assistance of Jennifer Johnson, of Huntsville,AL. Jennifer was invaluable in her guidance and experience in working in Pearlington. She encouraged us to make a visit to Pearlington before the actual work week. We chose a week-end when Jennifer and the BRICK LAYERS were also in town. Jennifer put us in contact with Laurie Spaschak of the Pearlington Recovery Center and David and Patti Baldwin coordinators at the First Southern Baptist Church Pearlington. All were ready to assist us any way.

Arriving in Pearlington, our advance group was once more struck by the recovery needs still so apparent even after one year since Katrina hit. The volunteers we met were inspiring and dedicated, we were more sure than ever that God was doing a mighty work here and we wanted to be a part of it.

Jennifer introduced us to two Pearlington residents, Charles Acker and Rosa Jackson. Both had lost much and were just beginning to restore their homes. We got to know them and they told us their plans. We committed ourselves toward the restoration of these homes.
The FBC work team of 19 men, women and youth arrived one month later and amazed even themselves with the work accomplished, but on our last day, "if only we had one more day", was heard often. We wanted and were committed to do more!

Charles and Rosa are now our family. We talk to them often and are excited that the construction continues by many others. We pray for their needs and our continued part in their plans. We rejoiced to hear that Charles’ exterior siding is completed and his kitchen cabinets have arrived. Rosa is coming to visit us in Livingston for the week-end and we are planning a family reunion. We will return to Pearlington early in 2007 to continue the work. God is a working in many ways in Pearlington.

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." [Hebrews 3:4.}

I encourage you to join with God in this work, you will be blessed!"

Check out FBC Livingston at:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Focus On: One House at a Time

One House at a Time needs our help.

When Ministry Director, Glenn Locklin, left his business and came to Pearlington from Gallatin, TN 11 months ago, he was committed to doing what he could to get people back in their homes. Not even a tornado in his hometown could deter him. He lost two good friends in that event last April, but God was watching over his home and his family and they were spared.

To date, One House has built 11 homes, been instrumental in the completion of four others and currently has five more that he needs now to complete. As usual, donations are the challenge. He has committed personally to another year of service and needs our help.

Currently, Glenn is working with another great organization, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, on a rebuild of the Watson home. He has plans in hand for Jackie Acker’s rebuild, but desperately needs help if this is to become a reality for her.

If you can help, please contact Glenn directly at:

One House at a Time
Glenn Locklin
(615) 496-6981.

Check out the following links for information on this project:

Dennis & Ivey Watson, with two of their children,
front row center

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wonderful News from Pearlington!

GREAT news out of Pearlington!

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), one of the founding members of C.O.D.R.A. under the skilled local direction of Charlie Holmes, has announced a new grant of $250,000 from American Baptist Churches - USA. Two of their representatives visited Pearlington a few weeks ago and were clearly touched by the needs there. Nell Nation sends the photo below, of Kenneth George (left) and Vickie Goff posing with Rev. Rawls at the Missionary Church, where they're still serving lunches daily.

Three cheers for CBF! More details will be shared as they become available.

Upcoming Volunteer Trips to Pearlington:

Curt Liedel
posts this:

"We have 25 to 30 folks from Howell, Michigan heading your way on Nov. 4th. We will be at the PDA camp with 40 or 50 other folks from Michigan."

John Chickering sends this:

"Franklin United Methodist Church is probably going to head back to MS in 2007. In fact, I'm working on two trips. One is the week of March 10th - 17th. The other is the week of July 7th - 14th. Let's plan on around 20 each time. I've just started the sign up process for the March trip. We'd like to head back over to the Pearlington Recovery Center."

Larry Charbonneau logs in also, with this:

"We are also starting to think about a trip in February or March. I will keep you all in touch."

CBF Activities:

Nell Nation sends along an update on their activities:

"The team from Winter Park Bapt. Church, Wilmington, NC, is there (AGAIN) doing what they do best....foundations and getting houses ready for finish work. What a great team! Some of them have decided to stay thru next week! They even have some folks from New Hampshire helping out.

The most telling clue of success was the number of people who had lunch at First Missionary Bapt. Church. The building was full, and volunteers kept coming. There are a lot of workers in Pearlington building houses. In Sept. the lunch crowd was down to fewer than 15. November is looking good.

We visited Lois and Debra Kelly. Their house is about 4-6 inches off it's foundation and to repair it was going to be a nightmare. Some group has taken on this repair job [Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project - more on this later - Ed.], so we will move on to the next project.

One of the teams coming in next week is Calvary Baptist - Denver (our Colorado hurch). We will be there to greet them Sunday....

Next Thursday evening a truckload of furniture, appliances and other goods will be arriving from Rome & Cave Springs, GA. Driver is Barbara Elliott, choir director of Rome Presbyterian Church. She & two friends will be staying overnight. Then on Saturday 11/11, Lynn Lusk (Beauregard United Methodist Church, Wesson, MS) will be bringing more furniture. Things are taking shape in Pearlington.

Thanks to all who are helping out!"

Plea for Help:

Linda Edwards of Pickin’ Up The Pieces, is urgently asking for help:

"Pickin' Up the Pieces is continuing relief efforts in Pearlington, Mississippi. We just had 10 volunteers return from a very successful rebuilding trip October 1-5.

We are returning to Mississippi Nov. 17 - 20. We will be leaving Savannah Friday evening, working Sat. and Sun., returning no later than mid-day Monday. Our plan is to finish up a home (see photo below) that was started by the One House at a Time Project. The home primarily needs some electrical and plumbing work done before the family of 7 (including 1 wheelchair bound family member) can move into their new home. Be a part of enabling this family to spend their first holiday in their new home!

We desperately need an electrician, a plumber and a generally handy person to accompany us on a very short (4 day) rebuilding trip. If you are one or know of one, please contact us ASAP.

We are also planning other volunteer trips in the upcoming months. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, if you want to be involved, or know of an organization and/or person that would be interested in accompanying us, we would love to share our information."

Gulf residents still need our help desperately.
Tel: (912) 429-4220

Speaking of One House At A Time, please check out this link to their organization. They need out support!