Focus On....David and Patty Baldwin
After weeks of waking at 4:00 a.m. and hearing God’s voice directing them to volunteer on the coast, David and Patty Baldwin first scouted Pearlington from their home First Baptist Church in Vicksburg, MS. Little did they anticipate that soon they would be one of the volunteer groups at the very center of things in town. They chose Pearlington like many of us did; the town had been forgotten in the surge of activity around New Orleans and David and Patty felt themselves called to make a difference.
After two such trips, they adopted the First Southern Baptist Church on Hwy. 604. They felt they needed a reliable place to base themselves and their expected teams, where those volunteers could be fed and have their work directed from a central location. They knew they had to "focus on the people first" and chose First Southern because it needed restoration and they were willing to trade the use of the building for the reconstruction effort. Since then, donations are paying for three separate contractors to do what has to be done to restore the church.
By mid-January they were in full swing. They invite groups from everywhere and every faith and denomination to come and serve. By April, 700 volunteers had appeared and worked through their mission. They generally house 60 at a time, but have put up almost 100. Supplies to feed them come partly through the Pearl*Mart and also through the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. They accept voluntary contributions from visiting helpers and suggest $10 per person per day. This money goes completely to purchase building materials for the folks in town.
They have erected a tool shed, pantry, showers and all else needed to be completely self-sufficient. They recently acquired a convection oven and are working on ice-making equipment. Each visiting group is expected to bring one cook and two volunteers to clean up, so that task doesn’t fall to the same people all the time. The day I was there in April, a local woman named Raquel, from the Oak Harbor subdivision, was in helping a volunteer bake muffins for the work crews.
The Baldwins plan to stay in Pearlington until Christmas at least and have done an outstanding job assisting in the rebuilding of Pearlington. They know that any length of stay by volunteers - even a weekend - can make a huge difference in the life of someone who’s lost everything.
A very good thing for Pearlington that when God called, David and Patty Baldwin answered. As David says, "We finally succumbed!"
Raquel and a volunteer, in the kitchen at