All hands on deck

My wife, Alice, Jim Ingram and I drew a challenging assignment for our final two days in Mississippi. We were asked to build a small deck and a flight on stairs so that an elderly woman could easily get in and out of her trailer without assistance.

Jim lives in Cincinnati now, but he lived here for 35 years, served on East Washington Council and was a member of First Presbyterian Church. None of us is what you'd call an actual carpenter, so we approached the task with a bit of anxiety.

Virginia Hoskins, 81, is a widow who lost everything when her Biloxi apartment was detroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The trailer she purchased is parked in the back yard of her daughter's house in St. Martin. It's the fifth place she's lived since the storm.

Virginia and her grandson went with me to Lowe's to buy materials. She paid for everything. We buit at 3'-by-8' deck and set the posts in concrete. The steps are wide and gentle enough for her to pull up her grocery cart.

We were slowed by the brutal heat and humidity but managed to finish the job ahead of schedule.

"I wish you hadn't gone and done that," her son-in-law, A.J., told us. "I was gonna build it for her, but not in this heat. There's folks here who need the help a lot more than us."

Before we left, Virginia handed us a check for $200, made out to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. That will go a long way toward helping those less fortunate.


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