After Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of volunteers came to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild homes. Now, almost ten years later, there are still homes in need of repair. Back Bay Mission in Biloxi continues to find those in need and connects them with their strong volunteer base. Hammers have been swinging for almost two months now on Lee Street in downtown Biloxi. Back Bay Mission has been rebuilding homes since 1969 and is still bringing in volunteers to help those in need. Shelia Cole, a volunteer for Back Bay Missions, says, "It was just such a positive experience. There's just something so, I don't know, I'm drawn to coming here. It’s just a terrific place and the people that live here are just awesome." Cole and others from a church in Connecticut have been teaming up with Back Bay Mission for eight years now, but the positive reaction they get from the families they help here hasn't changed.
Maryland Williams, a homeowner, says, "I'm very thankful that all of them have came out. I have met every last one of them, and it’s just a blessing. And hopefully after this, I can get into it and start helping too." Back Bay Mission started working on the Williams’ project in the beginning of January and hopes to get the family back in their home by the end of March. Cole also says, "It's a reminder to me sometimes when I'm struggling with something. I think of the woman who had to hang onto the tree to keep from being swept away in the waters." The Williams family had work done by another group after Katrina, but there were issues with the electrical wiring and leaking roof. Back Bay however, is in it for the long haul, taking pride in a job well done through extra time, effort, and money. Craig Steenkamp, the Construction Manager for Back Bay Mission, says, "We're not just putting lipstick on it. We're not just putting band aids on things, so when we approach a house and we're going to fix a house for a family, we want to make sure that we're fixing it right and doing it right from the beginning. And so it takes money to do that, and that's our biggest challenge is trying to do the fundraising to get the funds to do it."
Everything from the roof to the kitchen cabinets are being replaced in this home, and the love and generosity driven home by each hammered nail will live long in the memories of the Williams family. Back Bay Mission gets 800 to 900 volunteers each year to help work on a variety of projects. They say this is what enables them to be so successful.