Sunday, March 11, 2007

March - 1st Week In Review 2007

The first week of March Madness 2007 seems to have finished with smashing success. Though there were a challenges, they were nothing out of the ordinary that derailed our steady momentum of getting stuff done in East Biloxi. What were some of the highlights for me? Let's see if I can remember:
  • Tana - So, we had Tana from Atlanta come down at the beginning of the week to help facilitate some meetings and provide some training for the staff. Some of us met her in early February and thought it would be great for her to come down to see life in Biloxi and help us work on team building, leadership development, and effective communication. Tana delivered. Her experience and skill at getting to the root of issues was just what we needed.
  • Spring Break - And so March Madness 2007 begins. Molly, Elizabeth (Falcon), Sue, and Kate all put tremendous effort into preparing for Spring Break. Molly spent countless hours planning service and meals. Falcon spent her time thinking about how to engage the college groups in reflection sessions and tell them how to take home what they've experienced down here. Sue worked to have the base ready for the Spring Breakers and order food. Kate worked her operations magic, in addition to ensuring the beds and tents and t-shirts were all squared away. By all appearances, things have gone smoothly. Great job team!!!
  • Caitlin - Our second AmeriCorps Program Coordinator arrived to us from Boston on Tuesday 6 March. Fantastic! She comes with lots of community service experience, a vision for the world, a smile on her face, and a fresh perspective on how to help the AmeriCorps Program maximize its impact. I'm excited about Caitlin, and I know Sara's thrilled to have her on the team.
  • AmeriCorps Member Development - We had the first member development session this Friday. Though orientation was just last week, we need to get into the routine of every other week. From what I could hear and see, the session went well. Friday afternoons are tough time because folks are tired from a week of work, but hopefully they provide some closure for the service spent in the community. One glitch was on my side of things. I had worked to get everyone email addresses. Come to find out not all the passwords were properly setup ... ugh. Back to the trouble ticket system.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore - Anne and Erin lead a team of intrepid park-bench, put'er togetherers to Gulf Islands Nat'l Seashore in Ocean Springs. Anne wandered out there one day, made some inquiries about work, and voila. A perfect opportunity to be outdoors during March in Mississippi. Talk about fantastic. Folks g0t to put together park benches and make fire pits. By all accounts, a great project and a great way for Hands On to help the Gulf Coast, literally.
  • Education Meeting - A highlight for me was meeting with a roomful of folks - Ali, Anne, Sara, Sarah (a VISTA from MGCCC), Will, and Caitlin - to talk about how we're going to do more for educational programs along the Gulf. We talked about the programs we're already doing - Boys & Girls Club support, tutoring, mural projects, etc. - and we talked about how to expand our impact in this area. A constant theme through the discussions was the need to determine what organizations are already doing along the Gulf Coast. A couple of the exciting thoughts that came from the meeting were creating outdoor education experiences and putting together a science lab for Nichols elementary.
  • Timber Framing Course - in Alabama ... A couple weeks ago, Mike, came to volunteer with Hands On. He loved what we were doing, so Mike offered Eddie, the construction manager, a spot in the timber framing course Mike was teaching in Alabama. Though it is Spring Break and we pretty much need all available leaders for the crews, we managed to let Eddie and Brian get to the class. They learned so much, had a great experience, and really got some folks excited about coming down to volunteer. Mike is apparently super excited about the prospect of building a timber-frame house from the ground up. What is a timber framed house? According to, a timber framed house "is a specialized version of timber post and beam that is built like furniture, utilizing wood joinery such as mortise and tenon, held in place with wooden pegs." Regardless of the technical definitions, Eddie and Brian learned a lot and will bring their honed skills back to Biloxi to make our houses last for the next 100 years!
  • International Women's Day in Beck Park - Elizabeth Falcon worked with Sharon of Coastal Women for Change to pull together a gala (one of my new favorite words) event in the beloved, beautiful John Henry Beck Park. There were lots of local groups who came out to share information about their organization - from the Mom's Network to Avon. Hands On was of course there to represent. I was only there for the morning, but Falcon told me that around lunch time tons of folks from the community poured into the park to see what was going on. I'm glad we could be a part of the day's festivities. The history of International Women's Day is fascinating, you should check it out
  • Mr. George's Celebration -We celebrated the near completion of this house. Read the blog entry for more ruminations.
Not bad for a week's work. I'm proud of what everyone is accomplishing in their area of expertise. Each little bit helps move us and the Gulf Coast along the long road to recovery.

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