Friday, September 15, 2006

Projects, People, Parting

Another day, another mural, another group of skilled volunteers who came to Biloxi and made a difference in the life of a local.

I spent some of the day doing the admin work that I'm supposed to do. It can be really interesting at times, but it hardly compares to working with an artist. William is a fabulous artist and Dan has a way with kids. Together, the dynamic duo motivated Hands On volunteers and kids from the Boys and Girls Club to paint the side of Le Bakery. Talk about amazing. Each time I came to visit, I loved the mural more. The creative energy that exists in all of the folks who worked on the mural inspired me to have fun taking photos.

Moving from the mural, we stopped by another of my favorite projects ... JHB Park. Karissa was in the skid steer and Astrid was on the tractor. Talk about crazy. Astrid on a tractor. It wasn't the first day, but dang. Astrid on a tractor! I always think of the Pace Picante sauce commercial where the rough and tumble cowboys are sitting around a camp fire reading where the picante sauce was manufactured. One of them shouts "New York City?!" in alarm and surprise. You might wonder where the connection is, but Astrid's from ... "New York City?!"

The park is moving along. The drainage channels between the plots are almost all filled with gravel. The sod is turning a nice green in the places that get regular water. The trees and shrubs look beautiful. It makes me proud to be close to the volunteers who make this park an awesome place to be.

Moving from one great project to the next, there was the Thornton's House. You might ask, who are the Thorntons? Are they a new family. We know you've been working on the Thorton's house ... except some of us can't spell, namely me, and so I've been incorrectly spelling Pat and Sandy's name. Ah well. At least Luc can hang doors in the house. We're getting to the finishing stages, but it will be a while before the Thornton's have dishes in those beautiful oak cabinets!

The day ended on a bit of a downer because Paul Hammond, a super guy, is leaving tomorrow. He is an older gentle man who worked in artsy non-profits. He's got construction background from building stage sets. He's got management from running non-profits. He's got personality and caring from being a great human being.

I rarely say stuff in the meetings about folks, despite how I feel about them. I feel more comfortable with writing. Seeing Paul go is deeply saddening. He is dedicated, committed, compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable. The organization always loses when folks like Paul leave. Luckily, people with personalities like Paul become part of the woodwork and leave an indelible mark on the people they meet. So despite Paul's physical departure, his spirit and contributions to each of our lives remain vital parts of the culture at Hands On. He joins the ranks of the recently departed (no, not dead, just gone from Hands On), who include John Harlow and Niko Poore. We'll miss you ... promise to get a couple MOU's, an org chart that works, and the Thorton's house finished while you're away.

:: Chris ::

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