Blogathon for Pearlington

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Wellesley at Pearlington

Contributed by Nancy Ratliff

It is noteworthy when students from an Eastern women's college have the concern and enthusiasm to spend a week of their winter vacation to work for Habitat for Humanity in Slidell, LA - mudding out houses and rebuilding damaged homes. And yet my alma mater, Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, sent nineteen students and staff, including the college president, to Slidell in January to work. I got in contact with them and met them at the church where they were staying and brought them to Pearlington to see the little community my church, University Baptist Church, has been helping since shortly after Hurricane Katrina blew through, leaving unimaginable devastation in her wake.

The students were overwhelmed with the destruction, were amazed at the distribution of goods from Pearl Mart, and were touched by the people they met who were trying to recover amidst the debris and confusion around them. We ate supper in a tent with residents of Pearlington. Two of this Wellesley group came back during their spring break to spend a week working in Pearlington and getting to know some of the people there.

In June another group of nineteen came from Wellesley to work in Slidell, and from the stories they had heard from the January group they wanted to do something for the children in Pearlington. They planned an exciting Fun Fair for the Friday they were down here. I made arrangements with the First Baptist Church in Pearlington for the Wellesley group to use their facilities. They were so gracious to allow us to use their air-conditioned rooms and their grill. The Wellesley group brought hamburgers and hotdogs to cook along with the trimmings, planned several fun crafts - face painting, cookie decorating, flower creation, etc. - played games with the children and gave many prizes. About 50 - 60 children and parents came and enjoyed an afternoon away from a cramped trailer. As always, the givers received more blessings than the ones whom they served. The Wellesley students and staff went back to their homes for the summer with warm memories of a tiny community in South Mississippi almost lost to a horrific storm. Their lives have been changed forever.


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