We are in Biloxi and doing great! It was a time of transition for us, but we are adjusting. I don't know if anyone knows, but there are two facets of the mission here. One is building affordable housing for people on the Gulf Coast. Dick is really involved with that. He makes sure the volunteers have the supplies, tools, and knowledge to do the work. We have volunteers from all parts of the country. Last week we had groups from Oregon and Illinois. This week it's Iowa and Connecticut. As you can imagine, it's really great to meet people from so many different places, but they are bound by a common thread. They believe in the work of the mission and love to build the homes for the displaced. Almost every group has been here multiple times, and all come in to my office to book for the next year. It's soooo cool. I am in the office making contact with the volunteers both before and after they arrive, I try to make them happy. The last two weeks, I have done shrimp boils for the volunteers. Okay, I buy them already boilded, but I am trying to carry on with the traditions of my predecessors.
The other facet that is taking place around us is the work of the mission itself. There is no homeless shelter, and the people sleep wherever they can. The Mission provides bag lunches for the homeless, but that is only a tiny bit of what they do. There is a food pantry from which we give food for families and individuals. Last week, I went to the store with the Social Workers to buy food. Some kind souls sent checks designated for food, so we bought three full carts of food. I have never had so much fun. We spent $600, and our shelves were full for a time. It was so cool because the next day a woman came in with three little boys, and they were so happy to see the bananas we bought. Those bananas didn't make it out of the building; the boys scarfed them down. Mostly, the people here are becoming desperate. The week we arrived, most people had evacuated from Gustav. It was not a choice. They had to go and they were afraid not to. But it costs money to evacuate, so when they came home, there was not enough money for food and rent. Because they know that Back Bay does provide some assistance, they were here getting very loud. My first staff meeting was so sad. The social workers were in tears because they could do so little. It's a real eye opener, but it's not all sad. There is so much good work being done, that you take a little bit of joy for the people you do help. -- Dick and Phyllis Rhinehart