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.
"Canada Jon" White