Saturday, September 27, 2008

ServiceNation Day of Action

Again on WLOX, this is a link to a clip that ran Saturday evening. This time, WLOX featured Hands On Gulf Coast's participation in the Service Nation's Day of Action.

The news clip introduces another new staff member at Hands On Gulf Coast: Ann Lewandowski, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator. She arrived at the end of August to run the AmeriCorps program. She is a two-term VISTA and is excited to be on the Gulf Coast.

Welcome aboard!

Note: The clip is linked to WLOX and has an advertisement at the beginning. The clip also ends with an advertisement before it moves to the next, unrelated piece. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WLOX & HOGC's New Executive Director

This is a piece WLOX broadcast on 24 September 2008.  In the piece, you'll see Lillian Jenkins, our new Executive Director.  A Long Beach, Mississippi native she was on the job a few short hours before giving the interview.

We are excited to have her aboard!  We are also excited to continue putting down our roots on the Gulf Coast and becoming an everyday part of life.

Aired on 24 Sep 08.  Just so you know, there will be an advertisement, then the clip that aired, then another advertisement.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

KaBOOM Chicka Boom

[Originally posted on Design . Build . Learn . Repeat]

If you haven’t heard of the fine folks at KaBOOM!, they travel the country building playgrounds for neighborhoods that need them. Their goal: a place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Friday and Saturday, I helped prepare and lead the construction of a shade structure as part of a KaBOOM! build at the Isiah Fredericks Community Center in North Gulfport. The shade structure was designed by Jessie Zenor and built by Hands On and the North Gulfport Community Land Trust; it incorporated hundreds of tiles decorated by children from across the Gulf Coast school system.

  • Total number of KaBOOM playgrounds as of Saturday: 1,500
  • Number of tiles decorated by kids in Gulf Coast schools: 620
  • Number of total volunteers: 400+
  • Number of Air Force volunteers: 225
  • KaBOOM playgrounds on the Gulf Coast since Katrina: 107
  • Time we finished prep work on Friday night: 11:30
  • New picnic tables: 4
  • Shade structures built: 1
Friday afternoon, I got a message from Caitlin at Hands On saying they needed help getting the structure ready for the KaBOOM! day. We ended up staying there until 11:30 at night, and good thing we did, because Saturday morning we had eager volunteers ready to begin gluing tiles to the structure.

Check out many more pictures on Hands On's Flickr Page!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gustav and Ike Update

Hi folks-
With the arrival of Ike late last week, all of our disaster response projects from Gustav received further damage, mostly due to the huge storm surge Ike brought all along the Gulf Coast. Biloxi itself did receive some flooding, but Bay St. Louis, Pearlington, and our project in Chauvin, LA were all inundated with flood waters, forcing us to evacuate those projects for the weekend. Our team in Chauvin restocked supplies and returned to Louisiana on Sunday when the water receded, to find most of the roof work they completed still intact, but a new challenge in mucking out homes flooded this time around. The plan for now there is to keep our team on the ground through this week and re-evaluate the scope of work, and to determine the long-term plan based on the needs, and capacity of local groups to continue to respond.
HOGC has also reached out to the Hands On affiliate in Houston to offer any assistance they may need, but until assessments are complete and we are asked to respond we will be standing by in Biloxi, continuing to help our community recover from this year's storms and our regular work load. We do need volunteers to help with our project in Pearlington, helping the Pearlington Recovery Center muck out and gut the 100+ homes that were flooded, so if you want to help in Mississippi we can certainly put you to work!
Take care and stay well,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gustav Response...and also, hello!

Hi, I am the mysterious Caitlin that de Veer has been talking about. I've been holding down the fort since June as we search for a new Executive Director, and it has been a wild ride so far...particularly the past few days. I've been sending the brief, weird updates to the left through, from the Red Cross shelter most of the HOGC team was assigned to through the storm. We worked for about 3 days straight to prepare the HOGC base in case we got flooded/tornadoed/or lost power/water, then with the Red Cross to help stage their shelters across Harrison and Hancock counties, then checking in and feeding the fine folks who turned out at Stennis Space Center over in Hancock county. Many of our volunteers worked around the clock, and our team really pulled together to assist before, during and after the storm. I am so proud to be a part of this organization right now!

Yesterday and today we've been working on getting our heads around the damage and needs in the area affected by Gustav, and how we can best respond. HOGC and our partner, HopeForce International, are sending a small team of volunteers and AmeriCorps members over to an area just south of Houma, to a town called Chauvin, LA. They will be working to assess the damage in this area tomorrow with the local fire department, and will be housed in the fire station. In the next few days they will begin tarping roofs and clearing debris, as well as working to determine the long term response needs and the capacity for a larger team of volunteers.
View Larger Map

We have received huge support from the Hands On Network and Points of Light staff, as well as The Home Depot, all of whom mobilized literally overnight to support our response effort. An enormous THANK YOU to all of the support we've already received, and to all of the volunteers already registered to help out...we are looking forward to working with you!!

I also traveled to Hancock county today to check out Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Pearlington, and it seems Gustav has been fairly merciful. Some neighborhoods did take quite a bit of water, and we heard about 100 homes were flooded in the area, but the storm surge did not seem to be particularly violent, and the volunteer organizations in the area seem to be acting very quickly to address the needs. We will be helping Presbyterian Disaster Assistance rebuild their volunteer camp so they can begin to receive volunteers, and we also stopped by the PearlMart and they seemed to be in good shape. We will be working with the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) being set up by Volunteer Gulf Coast to receive any work orders and deploy volunteers, but the damage seems to be fairly manageable with the great organizations already working in Hancock county. We will continue to stay in touch with our partner organizations to respond to any further need as people begin to return to their homes and survey their own damage.

I will be traveling to Chauvin on Friday to check out the work our team has been doing and to check out the capacity for the area to receive volunteers, and we will most definitely be working with Hands On New Orleans and Volunteer Baton Rouge, as well as the VRC in Louisiana to deploy volunteers. If you want to come down and help out, please visit to register with the VRC...we will be directing all out of state volunteers to this VRC to connect them with organizations to make the recovery effort as orderly and impactful as possible. There will be plenty of work to do clearing debris, tarping, mucking out homes and gutting (AND MOLD REMEDIATION, OF COURSE!!), so as soon as we are able to secure housing, food, and to assess the extent of the work, we would love to have all of ya'll's help!

Take care,


Gustav, Update 2

What are we up to?  At this point, we're still awaiting all the damage assessments from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

Flooding has receded in most, if not all, areas, but residents have been encouraged not to return until today, though according to the Sun Herald many came home yesterday.  Highway 90 is closed for repairs.  Check here for the Sun Herald's city-by-city report.

While we're waiting for damage assessments in our communities, we plan to check out Pearlington, Mississippi to see what sort of assistance is needed and what assistance we could provide.  They were were hit with flooding again.  More to come later this evening.

At this time, both Hands On Gulf Coast and Hands On New Orleans are directing those who want to volunteer to the Louisiana Volunteer Reception Center (VCR).  You can find out more information on their website

Additionally, a small team of Hands On Gulf Coast volunteers will go with Hope Force to Houma, Louisiana for a two-week mission.  There, we will be assisting in the initial stages of disaster recovery.  Our focus will be on tarping roofs, cutting away trees, and performing general debris clean up.

As with each disaster, we can use your support for these operations.  Gas stations are closed in Houma, so all fuel needs to be brought in.  Additionally, we need to purchase tarps to put on people's roofs.  Please support our efforts by donating for our emergency operations efforts.  Your generous support is always appreciated by those who receive our services.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gustav Report

As you can see, the HOGC Base seems to have weathered the storm well. There is little apparent damage. Power was on and food doesn't seem to have spoiled in the fridge.

Initial reports from Harrison, Jackson, and Hancock Counties are that there was damage, but it's not nearly as significant as there could have been. There were downed trees and flooding, particularly around Point Cadet and East Biloxi.

Until we get a more full assessment on the site, check out the news on  Here are some links to region-wide stories: