Sunday, February 18, 2007

Listen to This: MP3s From Our Favorite Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Organization

Music from Hands On Summer '06. I'll keep adding to it when I have access to the internet. I've already extracted all the files and just need to upload them. Some sound crackly because of various errors and hardware and strategic shortcomings. Some should be roughly CD quality, but not in this first wave. The difference will be obvious.

Thank you An awesome, awesome website.

Marco X

The summer '06 posts on this blog are by far the greatest. The greatest ever.

Also... Anyone, I kinda need a job-- I'm multi-talented. I might have to sell back the Lexus soon.

Don't forget to join the 169 members of the "Hand On Gulf Coast Biloxi" group on Facebook!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Management Days

Well, I spent the day talking with folks. That's what my job amounts to. Though it sounds like I don't enjoy it, that's not the case. It's amazing how the words move into action. So by talking to lots of folks, we're able to get lots done...

Anyway, what did we talk about today. Well, we talked to the community partners about the AmeriCorps program, what their responsibilities are, and what their members need to participate in. I also talked about drywalling Rozzina Manning's house, writing a recommendation for Kate to Samaritan's Purse, about Hands On Gulf Coast, AFH and the future of building, and there was probably something else in there.

The AFH conversation with Mike Grote was pretty interesting. They're working on their model home program and their funder is interested in perhaps expanding the program into a second phase. That means more homes for East Biloxi, which is pretty awesome. Mike also said he would provide some introductions to local folks whom I haven't yet met. These local folks would be connections to businesses. I talked a bit about my thoughts on where we're headed as an organization, and that's always exciting.

There's great potential for this place. There are so many talented, committed folks who want to be here long term. There are areas where our volunteers can have a big impact - education, public health, capactiy building, and (of course) physical building. They're broad and unrelated, but I think that we can support efforts in these areas by really working some unique new and existing partnerships.

A perfect example of an existing partnership is Kaiser Permanente. They recently came to visit us. A group of 30 or so employees worked in the houses and and painted a mural in Coastal Family Health Care's Gulfport clinic. John, the Kaiser employee who organized the trip, said he would be interested in planning a larger even, perhaps next February, that involved Coastal and more of the medical staff. Very cool. So, we have someone interested, we have work, we have the need, we just need to connect all the dots into a project. It's exciting to think about the lasting impact we can have on Gulf Coast.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I went to New York City to see a screening of the Guiding Light episode that's about their week in Biloxi. Talk about awesome. First, I spent the morning in the Hungarian Pastry Shop geeking out with an Excel spreadsheet, coming through HOGC's finances. Then I moseyed over to another cafe where I talked shop regarding the AmeriCorps program and the opportunity to really affect the public health landscape through some strategic partnerships with the Children's Health Fund and Coastal Family Health Center.

After a few phone calls, I wandered the three miles from my hotel to the CBS studio where I got to see an advance screening of the 70th anniversary episode of Guiding Light that airs today (14 Feb). I don't have words to describe the episode. It's sincere in it's portrayal of the destruction, despair, fun, and hope that you find along the Gulf Coast.

The episode focuses on the cast as they experience the life of a typical Hands On Gulf Coast volunteer. The experience of helping Ro, Ms. Gerda, or Ms. Ethel touched them in a way that has transformed them. Ellen Wheeler did a fantastic job capturing the honest emotions of the cast members. I almost cried and I live the experience every day.

I wish I were with the building crew to see the show. I want to see their faces and hear the comments as the episode unfolds. Perhaps next time Guiding Light comes down.

I'm happy I came to NYC, though. I got to chat with cast and crew members I didn't get to chat with in Biloxi. It was my opportunity to connect a little with the folks who bonded with Luc, Eddie, Sheli, Brian, and the rest of the gang.

Many props to the building folks, admin folks, and support folks who made the endeavor such a smashing success. Many thanks to Guiding Light for rebuilding three residents' homes.

:: Chris ::

Sunday, February 11, 2007

At long last

Well, I'm glad that Luc and the building crew have taken up the slack on my blog postings. Hands On Gulf Coast has gone through a few transitions that have had me focusing my time mostly on a couple areas that didn't involve the awesome work the volunteers do daily in the field. Rather, I've been focused on internal issues of attending to the organization's structure and ability to deliver well-crafted service to the community from volunteers who care.

OK, what does all that mean? I took over as the Director in early January and have been trying to have the staff members focus on some house keeping items and the mammoth AmeriCorps program that starts (in earnest) at the end of February. It's been a tough transition in a lot of ways - unlearning old habits, relearning new ones, and spreading wings to go down a different path in a different way.

As a staff, we went to a retreat and planning session in Atlanta, where our parent organization (Hands On Network) is located. We had a couple goals, one of which was to ensure we can give the building program a real chance to become sustainable and understand how we can effectively fundraise. Both of these goals help us along the path of becoming an independent, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to serving the needs of residents along the Gulf Coast.

I think all the staff walked away excited about the meetings we had and about the potential for Hands On Gulf Coast to be a real force in the community. We're also really excited (and terrified) by the AmeriCorps program. Though there are new rules (it's a Federal program, there's a rule for everything!), it's an opportunity to strengthen our own organization while empowering our local partner organizations to continue helping the community.

Well, that's my management update. It's not glamorous like building or working with the Boys and Girls Club, but it's necessary to keep us moving forward. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back out to see the work in the field soon.

:: Chris ::

Friday, February 09, 2007

Building Empire Update 5

We've got no short term volunteers because of a staff training/regrouping period so its pure long termer sweat these days. In short, here's whats crackin at the houses:
Mannings: Michelle and Mike are leading hanging gypsum boards in the neglected rooms. Progress is steady and will drastically speed once the walls are hung. Rock on.
Curry's: Woody and George are heading up leveling out the floors in Deub's absentia (vacation) and have made big progress in resheeting the exterior walls. This place has been a huge endeavor. Its nice.
Gerda's: Dr. A and Dr. B have finished mudding and are shooting texture currently. Paint's on the horizon.
George's: Hitting the floors hard the past week. Tile and Carpet in. Robyn rocked the tile. Its pretty. Pretty pretty. Dave Perez is a diamond and has hooked us up. Hardwood floors, hanging doors, and baseboards tommorow. Save 1 little spot, the exterior is finished. Huge efforts from The Streaker and Marge. The end is within sight. Oh its beautiful.

Here's some Mr. George pictures:

Deubs, come home. Eddy is back with a crew boss truck. Mike is leaving soon and we will miss him something aweful. The Empire strikes daily!

Building Empire Update 4

Well, we had Guiding Light in town a few weeks back and that was a home run. A big deal for us and them. We loved them. Everyone got to be friends and we worked some serious hours. Hard to sum up quickly. Eddy and Shelly led the charge and everyone was right there behind. We built, people cried, it was good. Cant post pictures of it really becuse someone said not to. Maybe later.

From what we've heard, the episode from their trip will be on CBS on February 14th, during the regular Guiding Light hour. I trust you all know when that is. Check your local listings.