Neither Rain nor Hail nor Dark of Night…
by Mariellyn Dunlap
The United States Post Office has nothing on the Martin Methodist College group who helped with hurricane recovery in Gulfport, MS this fall. From October 19-23, 2007, twelve Martin Methodist College students, three staff members, and three members of Pulaski First United Methodist Church in Pulaski, TN, helped roof, paint, and remove debris in Gulfport and Wiggins, MS. As the trip concluded, all eighteen volunteers worked through torrential rains to finish their tasks.
"The best part of our recent trip for me personally was the feeling of being a part of a group where no individual was more critical to the project than another," said Joe Henry, a lawyer in Pulaski. "We all played and worked together as a group; there was a sense that we succeeded…as a team."
Martin Methodist College Freshman Dustin VanEst commented, "I thought the trip was fantastic primarily because of the way it felt to give to those people who needed our help, and how great it was to get to know the people I met, and to re-meet the ones I thought I had known."
Members of the team who hadn't been to Gulfport before were given the opportunity to tour the area and see the damage wreaked by Hurricane Katrina two years ago.
"I thought the trip showed me more then I saw on TV when the hurricane really happened," remarked Laura Holt, a sophomore.
Though commercial properties are being rebuilt along the Gulf Coast, many former residences are still just piles of debris or slabs of concrete. Serene blue waters and white sandy beaches stand in stark contrast to the evidence of Katrinas destructive forces found just a few hundred yards away.
Still, the resiliency of the people of Gulfport is inspiring. Signs can be found along the coast proclaiming, 'We're coming back!' Parishioners of the Mississippi City United Methodist Church, which was severely damaged during the hurricane, welcomed the Martin team with joy and enthusiasm.
This is the third time Martin Methodist students have returned to Gulfport in the past year to work with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the Mississippi Conference United Methodist Disaster Response. Gateway United Methodist Church serves as the headquarters for hurricane recovery work in the Gulfport area.
Date posted: Jan 25, 2008