Tuesday, May 26, 2009
By Shirley Langlois - Practice Leader
Northern California Health Plan - Regional
I'm tired, a good kind of tired. We spent the day scraping lead paint off an historical building. The paint was stubborn and didn't want to come off. The resilience of the paint reminds me of the resilience of the people here. This area has been so battered and bruised. But it carries on and it is so beautiful.
The house we are working on, "Twelve Oaks" is on 36 acres of gorgeous property. Right after the civil war, the owner gave the land to one of his slaves. Later it became a church. After passing through several hands, it became very neglected. Luckily, the Land Trust was able to acquire it. The centerpieces of the property are three gigantic and gorgeous oak trees, aptly named Faith, Hope and Charity.
After several hours of tedious scraping, it was finally time for lunch. I had been in Biloxi last year, so I knew "the" place to go -- "D'Vine's". Three elderly ladies cook up the finest soul food in the world. After a feast of fried pork chops, fried chicken, shrimp po boys, fried okra, corn bread, potato salad, collard greens, red beans & rice, red velvet cake, sweet potato pie, sweet tea and "hood juice" (aka Kool aid),we were ready to resume scraping. I know this meal wasn't very thrive-like, but it sure was tasty.
On our way back to work, we searched for the house I worked on last year. We finally found it --- a yellow house with two porches and a wheel chair ramp. It looked terrific! Along with my KP colleagues, I put up the siding. I had never done that before, and it really looked great. All of the seams were perfectly aligned. Seeing it a year later made me feel very proud. After taking some photos, I timidly knocked on the door and was thrilled to meet Miss Bennet. She was so happy to meet someone who worked on her house. She invited all of us in and proudly showed off her home. Seeing how much she loved her home brought tears to my eyes.
It has been 3 and a half years since Hurricane Katrina. The scars are still evident, and it will be a long time before they disappear. It is a privilege to give back to this wonderful community. Seeing Miss Bennet's was a real treat. One day in the future, I hope to return and re-visit "twelve oaks" (and eat another yummy meal at D'vines).
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