As soon as Easter services ended at Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church in Biloxi, five people loaded a van and headed to Alabama. they're on a mission to rebuild tornado damaged home, and restore a community's faith.
The picturesque grounds next to Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church didn't always look like so pristine. They came back to life after volunteers from places like Pleasant Grove, Alabama rebuilt what Katrina destroyed.
Now people like Ray Marshall want to give back to the Alabama community. "If you just come, right, we'll find something for you to do," said Marshall, explaining what he heard when volunteer coordinators in the town near Birmingham.
There's plenty to do in Alabama these days. So, a five member team of disaster volunteers left Easter services and headed north. One of the volunteers is Karen Arseneau. She got help after Hurricane Katrina from groups in Alabama. So, paying it forward feels like the right thing to do. "This is really special for me to be going there," she said.
The mission this week is to put the finishing touches on part of Pleasant Grove's tornado recovery. "What we receive is much more than we ever could give," said Shirley Leist before boarding the van bound for Pleasant Grove.
Joey Lassiter is tagging along on this volunteer mission. He's never done this sort of thing before. "It's hard to explain. I just get a good feeling out of it, you know," said Lassiter.
Leist explained what he'd feel once the van makes it to Pleasant Grove. "Goodness. You're surrounded by goodness. No feeling like it," she said.
Also on the mission trip is Biloxi teacher Brad Shonk. "This is just going to be a great experience for me to be a better person," he said. "You come back feeling better, feeling better about yourself and being with a great group of people, and meeting new people and just loving life and loving the Lord."
When their van arrives outside Birmingham, the volunteers get right to work. Assignment one: kitchen duty at the volunteer headquarters. Job number two: installing insulation, sheet rock and flooring in a newly rebuilt home.
"They need help," Marshall said. "We're going to give them help. And we're just glad we can do it."
The goal is to make Pleasant Grove look as pristine as the Leggett Memorial grounds in Biloxi.
*Brad Kessie is the News Director with WLOX-TV in BIloxi, Mississippi. Used with permission.