A seven-member team from the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise and the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara recently returned from a week in Biloxi, Miss. While there, they helped rebuild a home that had been severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The group included team leader Bill Boyd, Sandy Grasso-Boyd, Bill Abel, Lily Berrish, Jane Watkins, Bryan Stern and Gary Maxwell.

The damaged home on which the team worked belonged to a young family who had to live with their grandfather for the past 2½ years until the house could be reoccupied. Prior teams had installed new siding, drywall and some flooring. The Santa Barbara team designed, purchased and installed a complete set of kitchen cabinets and countertops. They completed the flooring and baseboards in two rooms; installed electrical outlets and door hardware throughout; and installed vinyl flooring in the kitchen, two bathrooms and a hall. 

Team members were housed and fed at First Presbyterian Church of Biloxi, the only church on the Gulf Coast to survive the 2005 hurricane. Flooding from the gulf surge had engulfed the first story of the structure. Team members helped prepare meals most evenings. Fifty-seven volunteers from five states worked out of the church on various rebuilding projects while the Santa Barbara team was there.

The team presented checks to the Biloxi Rotary Club for $1,000 from the Sunrise Rotary Club and $817 from the Unitarian Society’s Sunday Social Justice collection. The funds were used to help offset the cost of building materials and supplies for the many repair projects that were undertaken by the volunteers.  The Biloxi Rotary Club and the Presbyterian Church, partnering together, have channeled more than $38 million in donated funds to help rebuild about 2,000 homes since Hurricane Katrina.

Bill Boyd is a member of Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise.