Photos & Farewells

March 16, 2009

I’ve found a place that can host all of our photos but it will probably take me a few days to upload them all (it’s 2 gigabytes).  This is the link to the site; (  This will be my last post so enjoy the photos and check out my other sites in the blogroll or friend me on facebook if you want to keep in touch.


Last day

March 14, 2009

Today was our last day building on the house.  We accomplished everything that was expected to be done this week and a few extras as well.  We completed the required roof, windows, doors, and house wrap.  Then moved on to the plumbing, water hookup, and job site organization which were not expected to be done.  It has been a great trip and I for one can’t wait to get home.  The last post of pictures will be up in a couple days and will include a link to a huge collection of all of our photos.  We have compiled a collection of over 1,000 photos consuming 2 Gigabytes, so they will take a little while to upload.  We would all like to thank everyone here in Hattiesburg that made our trip so enjoyable, especially Habitat for setting us up with living space and food as well as the businesses, churches, and other organizations that provided the food and snacks at the job site.  Thanks to them we were able to have a great time, help build a house for someone who deserves our help, and keep the whole trip under budget.

Almost home!

March 13, 2009

We are just back from a trip to Gulfport Ms, having enjoyed a few hours at the beach, visiting an outlet mall and a wonderful dinner at “Steve’s Marina Seafood”! 🙂 Everyone enjoyed our 1/2 day off and it is hard to believe that we have almost completed our week in Hattiesburg.

While our group had a slow start on Monday after the Wingate University students left, we started placing shingles today and finishing the exterior insulation and wrapping.  The five students from Washington University in Saint Louis will be leaving tomorrow morning, so we will finish our portion of the house tomorrow. 32 University of Maine students are expected to arrive on Sunday and will hopefully be able to work exclusively inside during their work week.

We met “our homeowner” Ms. Connie today.  She has one daughter and two grand-daughters who will be living in her house.  She worked with every group except the shingling crew, however she did carry a 1/2 bundle of shingles (almost 25 pounds) up a 16 foot ladder to them! 🙂  I can attest that a full bundle is quite the challenge to carry up a bouncing ladder. Connie, Luther, Cathy, Jennie and I later installed the side door, quite an experience but Luther shepherded us all through the process.

Everyone has had their own project(s) to work on this week, and most were working without supervision for the majority of the week. While Mike P., Mike O. Vic and Keith were there to help, they were kept busy in correcting errors in the framing for the most part. Our group has bonded very well this week and now works as an effective group. You should have seen us on Monday. J

We are expecting rain tonight and everyone is saddened that we might not be able to complete the exterior.  Regardless, we will all put in a full days work tomorrow and will leave knowing that the Hattiesburg MS Habitat for Humanity organization remembers the Students, Faculty and Staff from UNC Asheville. This has been an exceptionally hard working group of students this year, who have remained dedicated to both the Habitat and UNC Asheville service learning goals.

Both Cathy and Merritt have been tirelessly working side-by-side the entire week as well. A humorous aside, we were invited to dinner last night with the members of an area Methodist Church who were told that we were from UNC Chapel Hill. There were numerous members who were wearing Duke related clothing, all were disappointed to learn that they had been given false information. UNC Asheville, they now know who we are!  🙂

Respectfully Yours, Greg Dillingham

Mississippi Coast

March 13, 2009

We had a short day at the build site and decided to run down to Gulfport, MS, which is a quick hour and a half drive from here.  We arrived at the beach already slightly tired from the work day but mostly excited to spend a day at the beach, go shopping, and have a nice diner.  It was a cool spring day and the sand felt wonderful on our feet as we walked out toward the gently rolling waves.  There was the usual lingering clean ocean smell and circling gulls and sand pipers.  We divided up into several groups to play with the football, soccer ball, and frisbee that we brought with us and a few people continued to the waters edge to take couples pictures.  After about 15 min we had enough people in the soccer group to start a game which lasted through several intermissions, aka walks to the water line to cool our feet.  It wasn’t until my first walk to the water line that I noticed some of the environmental damage that had been left behind by Katrina.  There were small pieces of plastic floating in the water and under the sand.  As I walked further out into the water my feet began to sink into the sand which, having been in the ocean a time or two before, I figured was normal.  When I pulled my foot out of the mud I noticed that it was far stickier than usual.  It seems that it was more of a tar like substance.  As I looked around in the shallows I noticed that other that the circling birds there was no other sign of life.  There were no minnows, no sand crabs, no living things in the shallow water going as far as knee deep.  On my way back to dry land for the next round of soccer Paul pointed out a jelly fist that he had found washed up on the beach.  Upon closer inspection we found that it was probably what was attracting the birds since it was now dead, just like most of the sea life that once inhabited the shallows along the cost of Gulfport, MS.

As we drove in to the outlet malls we were encouraged by the observations of Clayton and Amanda who had volunteered in the area only a short time ago.  They described the destruction they witnessed and the vacant foundation that made up block after block of the new construction we were now driving by.  This was very uplifting for me because it signaled the returning and redeveloping of the area and hopefully the cleanup of the environment and reintroduction of the plant and animal life in the shallows along the cost.

After shopping we headed out for diner at Steve’s Marina Restaurant, which was recommended by several of the workers at the shops.  From personal experience I know that the Fried Green Tomatoes and Spinach & Artichoke Dip are wonderful.  As is the Crawfish Etouffee which comes with either Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco sauce or, as I had it, with both.  The Stuffed Flounder Chandelier was amazing, it consists of multiple flounder fillets stacked with shrimp stuffing between them and a mushroom gravy poured over the top of it all and is served with fresh sauteed vegetables.  All together this was a great trip and a wonderful meal to end the day.

Below are some more photos of the trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Soccer with the kids

March 13, 2009

We did our usual thing building on the house from 8:30 to 3:30 today.  Completed decking the roof and covering the front and rear of the roof.  The team that I worked with completed the bracing for one side of the roof and began the bracing for the other, we will have that completed in about 2 – 3 hours tomorrow.  Some folks from Rawls Springs Baptist Church brought us snacks during our break which were very good.  My favorite were the oatmeal and M&M cookies which I’m still working on eating as I write this.  After work we headed back to the houses to get ready for supper at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church, and to watch this video which is too funny to describe, just watch it.  I’ve got to put in a shameless plug about the 30 hour famine that the Amnesty International group at UNCA will be holding from 11am on March 27 to 5pm March 28, this relates to the trip because the folks at Parkway Heights United Methodist will be having a 30 hour famine as well.  Everyone here has been very kind in helping us to provide this help to Habitat for Humanity.  From the people who have been buying us lunches, to the Churches that invited us to diner and brought us snacks, and even a gentleman from the neighborhood that the girls are staying in which donated $100 that we gave to Habitat.  The best part of the day was after we stopped at the store and bought some toys to leave with the neighborhood kids.  We went out to the park by the girls house and played soccer with the kids as well as football and frisbee.  We also bought water guns to give the kids before we leave.  All of these toys will take a trip with us to the beach before we leave them with the neighborhood kids.  Also, as a point of clarification, I should mention that the ‘we’ that bought the toys were actually Ryan and Ben, I just helped pick them out and by helped of course I mean that I was there at the time they got them.  Any way, the toys were a great one of Ben and Ryan’s great ideas and we all had a lot of fun playing soccer with the kids.  As always the pictures from today are listed below, enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

Busy day

March 11, 2009

Before lunch yesterday I drove over 300 nails by hand, this lead to my first blister of the trip.  It was a small blister so it turned into a callus over night, but it still proves that I really did so some work here.  It’s been rumored that I’m just taking pictures and blogging but not doing any building, now I can prove otherwise.  I didn’t get around to posting yesterday but everyone should have enjoyed the post by UNCA – Freshman, Paul Paddock.  Thanks to him I got a small break from the daily grind on the blog.  We left the build site promptly at 3:30 to get showered and changed then had a wonderful diner of lasagna and garlic bread before heading out to the play.  The play was hilarious even though the first act was mostly setup and only gave me a few chuckles, acts two and three had me rolling in the isle.  I did miss the beginning of act two, however, due to a contact malfunction that began two minutes after the intermission ended.  Today we are off for another build day from 8:30 – 4:00.  After lunch and breaks are taken out, we spend about six to seven hours building each day (at about 600 – 700 calories per hour for construction work, that’s a good workout).  Yesterday we also found that one of the circular saws had the safety disabled, photos to follow.  This was very worrying to me because I found this out as I was showing someone how to adjust the depth of the blade and the trigger was bumped, I still have all 8 of my fingers though, plus two thumbs.  One person needed stitches so far, but that was due to a tragic pencil sharpening incident.  Also, it seems that the blog has become quite popular.  We’ve had over 1500 visits and 1000 of those are just from the last three days.  Tell your friends and any news outlets about this blog so we can try to get it up to 10,000 visits.  It’s just about time to hit the road, so enjoy these photos and I’ll post more later. Read the rest of this entry »

Up on the rooooooof….

March 10, 2009

I was up on the roof most of the time; ever since the first day, I was up there helping lay plywood sheets and putting up rafters to create the slope part of the roof. Once you’ve been up on the roof making considerable contributions and wearing your wrists and forearms climbing around, you gain a bunch of new insights and perspectives from above the operation. Whenever you are on a mission trip such as this, try to throw away your fear of being up high, and climbing up on the roof and catch these insights.

-photos and post by Paul Paddock

Read the rest of this entry »

Other Photos

March 10, 2009

Here are some more photos from other people on the trip. Read the rest of this entry »

First day

March 10, 2009

Today was a tough one for all of us.  We did half the roof, most of the indoor plumbing, the front windows and deck, and fixed more than a few things that weren’t done right the first time.  After a long day of hard work and still in our sweaty clothes, we went on a tour of the University of Southern Mississippi, and I’m sure our tour guide would have preferred that we had a shower before going there.  We did get our tickets to “Noises Off“, which we will be seeing tomorrow evening after work.  Below are some of my photos of the job site and USM followed by the photos of others with cameras on the trip (they’re in the next post). Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Post

March 9, 2009

This is going to be a quick post since it’s 10:30 and we’re supposed to be up at 6:30 tomorrow morning.  We got checked into the Habitat office and guest house earlier today, then went straight out to get some diner at a little local Mexican place called Cucos (we sat in the booths shown in the photo).  There were only two waitresses and one cook, so the food took a while but it was worth the wait and it gave us a chance to get to know each other better.  The only strange thing on the menu was the re-fried beans which were made with black bean and looked something like “Mississippi mud”, but they tasted great.  Enjoy the pictures Read the rest of this entry »