Focus On....BRICK Layers of Alabama
The following is written by Jennifer Johnson for the Huntsville Times and is the third in a series of articles focussing on the Volunteers of Pearlington.
BRICK Layers - Believers Rebuilding In Christ’’s Kingdom
Our Motto: REBUILDING PEARLINGTON…….one brick at a time
Last fall when we were helping Katrina evacuees get settled in housing here, we realized they also need help to salvage furniture and belongings from their homes. Mark Javins gathered some supplies from his church in Hazel Green to take down to the tiny little forgotten town of Pearlington, Miss. The 30-foot storm surge that swept through the town destroyed most of the homes there. We were shocked at the devastation. Since then, 90 individuals from Hazel Green, Madison and Huntsville have been down to Pearlington to help several times.
Many others have donated supplies, household items, building supplies, gift cards and money. Many of our volunteers have given up Christmas presents, birthday presents and family vacations so that the money could be used for the residents of Pearlington. Individuals car pool and pay for their own gas and expenses. That way, any and all donations that are made to the Madison Baptist Association go directly to needs of the residents of Pearlington.
Our groups are usually 30 to 35 people from several churches and denominations, some with no church affiliation. My home church, Willowbrook Baptist, has adopted Pearlington as one of its missions. The members of Willowbrook have been very supportive with their time and gifts of supplies, gift cards and monetary donations. Bonnie Beard, teacher at Grissom High School, collected uniforms here to take to schools there. She organized Hoops for Hancock at Grissom and raised almost $4,000. Everyone at the Madison Baptist Association has been very supportive of our efforts.
Our mission is to rebuild Pearlington ... one brick at a time. We are working with all of the other volunteer organizations in Pearlington to assess each resident's needs, take them where they are, work on whatever their current needs are, and leave them in a little better condition than when we arrived. We have had nine organized mission trips so far and have plans made through October when we will take our 15th mission trip. Our biggest dream is about to be realized when we begin framing a house for George and Margaret Ladner June 24-30. My family, husband Keith and daughters, Meg and Emily, and I have made a personal commitment to make a trip to Pearlington at least once a month for a year.
Each time we go to Pearlington, we think that there is no way that we can beat what we experienced on that trip. When we return, our next trip is always better than the one before. We keep thinking and praying for the people we've met there.
We cannot get the original pictures out of our mind of Susie's home, with insulation fallen from the ceiling, desk and freezers turned upside down as if they had been stirred with a giant spoon. On her property stand two crosses in memory of her husband, who died in April 2005, and her brother, who died on her property in November 2005 while using a backhoe to remove hurricane debris. With the help of volunteers from all over the United States and Canada, Susie moved back into her home this month! We also cannot erase the memory of George and Margaret's home, the roof barely held up by a few remaining 2 by 4s. They lost two sisters and a brother, their home, their son's home and their daughter's home.
I would encourage any group that wanted to go to any of the towns on the Gulf Coast to do so. Don't think about it too long. Don't plan for it too long. Just jump in your cars and go. They are in need of skilled workers to frame, wire, plumb, sheet rock and roof houses. They will be in need of people who know about landscaping so that they can have grass again.
(Jennifer Johnson was recognized recently by the Volunteer Center of Madison County for "Outstanding Efforts in Disaster Relief for the City of Huntsville" because of her work with Katrina recovery.)