Daily Diary – Day 3

'Warm is wonderful'

Fee and James Boehm traveled from their home in Chicago to join daughter Katie, an AmeriCorps volunteer, on this year’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. On Tuesday, mom (pictured here) and dad were painting trim molding in a sunny back yard on Holly Circle, while daughter Katie was working across the street. Photo by Ezra Millstein.
Daily Diary – Day 3 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The people’s person

Biloxi
– Willie Wilkerson, 66, is a bit of a legend at these Carter Work Projects. The former high school teacher from College Point, Ga., has made it to 23 of 25 projects. He’s working on a home at 325 Huff Alley this year. What brings him back?

“People,” he said quickly. “Families. Volunteers. Everybody. I’m a people person, and I like to talk and to teach. It’s part of my background, and it’s my passion.”

Wilkerson has been a house leader for many years, but he’s content just to be part of the crew this year. “Being a house leader is a lot of pressure,” he explained. “I’m telling you, being a teacher is nothing compared to that!” — Phillip Jordan

Hammerin’ hard

Diamondhead, Miss.—Homeowner-to-be Dawn Lovett laughed at the two pieces of a broken hammer in her hand, adding, “I guess I got carried away and was hammering too hard.” Her house was under construction with volunteers building with the Bay-Waveland Habitat for Humanity this week. “The volunteers are absolutely awesome,” she said. “They came from around the country just to work on my house. I’ve even got two people from Ireland working on my house today!” — Dave Walker, director of communications, Bay-Waveland Habitat for Humanity

Having a (different kind of) ball

Pascagoula — Romanian journalist Alessandra Stoicescu is here this week with a Habitat for Humanity Romania team. The top-rated Antenna 1 television news anchor and CNN World Report contributor says Habitat is her kind of non-profit. “In my position, I get invited to a lot of charity balls, the kind where you have to put on a Dolce & Gabbana dress and give money. I don’t like that,” she said. “I like that this week is not about charity. This is work, this is doing something. I can help. I can be a part of changing someone’s life.” — Shala Carlson

Warm weather and family

Gulfport—Fee and James Boehm traveled from their home in Chicago to join daughter Katie, an AmeriCorps volunteer, on this year’s Carter Work Project. “Since she was going to be here for a week, we decided to spend Mother’s Day with her,” Fee said. “It was such a bad winter in Chicago, anywhere we go where it’s warm is wonderful.” The Boehms have been married for 30 years; he is retired from the federal government, and she is a self-employed small business consultant. They enjoy the freedom to travel to many places where their daughter is volunteering. On Tuesday mom and dad were painting trim molding in the sunny back yard of the Overdear Norwood family’s house on Holly Circle, while daughter Katie was working across the street.
Sandy Weaver

A natural fit

Biloxi – Back home in Baltimore, Vicki Dailey, 44, is a director at a nonprofit group called Healthcare for the Homeless. “Through that, I’ve seen a lot of need for housing,” Dailey said. “I work specifically with those living with HIV, but as part of our work, we try to help people get stabilized and get them in houses. Habitat is a natural fit.”

She worked on a Women Build a few years ago and attended the Carter Work Project in Los Angeles last year. This year, she’s working on a home at 316 Nixon Street, while a fellow director at Healthcare for the Homeless, Carla Flaim, 45, is working a block down at 249 Nixon Street. “This is an incredible experience to start from the ground up and make an entire house happen in one week,” Dailey said. “Now we both want to figure out a way we can work with Habitat in Baltimore.” — Phillip Jordan

Train depot

Biloxi – Rand E. Phillips has been working the saw for the crew at 318 Nixon Street. You can find him easily because he’ll be standing near the boat and train he assembled from blocks of discarded wood. “I’m the cut man,” Phillips said. “So while I’m waiting on measurements, I’ve got to keep busy!” The Madisonville, La., native’s piece de resistance is a three-car train with the upper half of a plastic bottle serving as the steam engine and Gatorade bottle caps nailed into the wood to serve as bright, orange wheels. — Phillip Jordan

Faces from 2006 return to place in the Gulf

Pascagoula— In September 2006, Habitat World marked the first anniversary of hurricanes Katrina and Rita with a special issue on Habitat partners, volunteers and donors who were driving the recovery efforts all along the Gulf Coast. www.habitat.org/hw/sept2006/default.html

Familiar faces from that issue are on the work site this week, a testament on Testament Street to the long-term commitment of so many individuals to the rebuilding of the region.

Then Larry Gluth was an executive who had taken a sabbatical from Starbucks to help out with Habitat’s hurricane recovery program. Today, he is Habitat’s vice president for the U.S. area. On Tuesday, he was hard at work, sawing boards and lifting them to volunteers standing by on the rooftop. “I write policy all week,” he said, “but to come out here and be a part of this event is just really special to me. It’s amazing to see the progress, but there is still so much more to do.”

Longtime RV Care-A-Vanners Bill and France Moriarty were working just a few streets over. After the storm, the couple did stints in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, doing any volunteer work they were called on to do. Their fluffy, friendly dog Spirit was with them then, and was surveying a build site Tuesday from his shady perch on the front seat of a golf cart. “We got him when he was a puppy,” France said. “So all of this is all he has ever known.”

He’s obviously not the only longtime volunteer that’s so comfortable on a Habitat work site.
Shala Carlson

Meet the writers
who are covering this year’s Carter Work Project. See their bios at the bottom of this page.