This December will likely be the last month that Hands On Gulf Coast inhabits the large, cluttered building behind Beauvoir United Methodist Church on Pass Road in Biloxi. Lillian Jenkins, the new Executive Director, and Caitlin Brooking, now Director of Programs, have been heading up the search for new, more compact office space. The implication has been slowly sinking in: the task of moving three years of possessions, supplies, and memories out of a space that thousands of people have shared.
Having never lived at Hands On, I don’t have the personal connection with base that others do, but moving out provides a moment to reflect on what it’s all meant: quotations and advice scribbled on walls, worn t-shirts with the names of past long-termers, discarded cans of Budweiser water, and dozens of signs left by appreciative volunteers. These are the physical traces of the massive secular pilgrimage of youth and energy called into action in the wake of disaster.
As the AmeriCorps year comes to a close for me and the rest of Hands On’s AmeriCorps crew, we pitched in to help clean out the building. I took pictures as I went. Others will do a better job of documenting and preserving, but I wanted to have my small record as well.