Thursday, May 18, 2006

Port Townsend Sister City

Sister City Project Family Will Be Guests at Rosewind Brunch June 11th
May 27th, 2006
George and Rayceille McCullum will be flown from Mississippi to Washington State, guests of the City of Edmonds. Back in February, the Port Townsend/ Bay St Louis Sister City Project decided to “adopt” the McCullums with the intent of rebuilding their home that had been inundated by Katrina’s storm surge along with so many other homes on the Gulf Coast. This particular home was where Rayceille McCullum was born, and her relatives lived up and down the same street. T

he hitch with the agreement to rebuild was that the Sister City Project did not have the funding base for the cost of materials, and neither did the McCullums. Retired, and in their 70’s, these two outgoing, gregarious people were housed in their FEMA trailer, (what Rayceille calls their tuna can). They could not handle their own rebuilding process without alot of volunteer help. Teaming up with a contractor from Seattle, Ben Hines, the Sister City Project managed a pitch to the City of Edmonds, also a sister city with Bay St Louis, that they, too, could “adopt” the McCullums. They said YES!! The Edmonds Mayor’s office led the effort, and they made the commitment to raise the needed $25,000 for building supplies on the promise that under Ben Hines’ supervision the Sister City volunteers would return the McCullum house to the point it could once again be occupied.

That is exactly what is on the verge of being completed. PT locals, Carla Main and husband/contractor Brad West, have been passed the baton by Ben Hines, and within the next two weeks, they will be putting the finishing touches on the interior trim and cabinet work. At least 10 other PT/BSL Sister City volunteers, along with an untold number of others through BSL church volunteers, have cooperated to get the job done. Katrina has engendered much of this type of cooperative and collaborative spirit, the energy that calls people to serve those in need. Just in time for this summer’s hurricane season, the McCullums will have a greater margin of safety being housed in something more substantial that their FEMA ‘tuna can’.

George and Rayceille, along with Ben and Aleana Hines, will be honored here, on Sunday June 11th, from 10:30-2:30pm at a potluck brunch hosted by the Sister City Project at the Rosewind Common House at Umatilla and Haines. All locals who have been down to volunteer in Bay St Louis are especially encouraged to attend, along with anyone else interested in an update on the Sister City efforts. Mid-brunch, there will be an opportunity for people to comment on the impact being a Sister City volunteer has had on their lives. For most a profound experience, it will be the first opportunity for volunteers to gather to share their stories, and for the local public to hear what has been going on for the past nine months via the Sister City exchange.

This summer, the Project is taking a break from sending volunteers down south due to the extreme heat and humidity that make working conditions there quite difficult. In place of volunteerism there, the Project is encouraging locals who wish to extend hospitality to our friends from Bay St Louis, in offering in-home stays with families or other available housing in open ADU’s, RV’s etc. There is much needed respite from the heat and intense recovery efforts that will be going on for several years as Bay St Louis rebuilds it town from the bottom up. To share some perspective on this reality, as of this month, Bay St Louis STILL does not have its own grocery store. Once the hurricane season is over and the temperatures abate, there will again be an opportunity for individuals or groups from local churches or other organizations to travel to Bay St Louis to be a part of the healing and recovery process. Going there will change your perspective, if not your life.

If you would like to learn more about the Project, please attend the June 11th brunch, or, if you have an offer of respite housing, you can call Judith at 360-385-5794 or email her at with particulars.

Port Townsend-Bay St. Louis Sister City Support Project

Port Townsend is part of an official “Sister City” relationship with Ichikawa, Japan. The goodwill missions are centered on cultural and educational exchanges.

Another type of Sister City is forming: Port Townsend with the hurricane-ravaged city of Bay St. Louis, Miss., on the Gulf Coasat about 50 miles from New Orleans.

Port Townsend volunteers responding to the Hurricane Katrina disaster have turned from delivery of supplies to helping a community start the arduous process of rebuilding.

The terrible situations left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake will last a long time. For anyone listening to the news, it has been made clear that FEMA has fallen very short of the need to care for those devastated by this storm. Many communities of varying size are still without their basic needs being addressed.

For some time, there will be a long-term need to assist evacuees and those more permanently displaced from their homes in getting adequate food, clean water, temporary shelter, and helping them to rebuild their homes, as well as other basic human needs such as clothing, household items and jobs.

If there is a gift in the disaster Katrina has been for our country, it is the collective recognition that the gap between the rich and poor is PAINFUL to witness and further tolerate. Many of us want to do SOMETHING, in addition to giving money. We want to be part of an active solution to the obvious racism and classism we see here.

This is one of the most well thought-out websites I've seen in regards to the relief effort. There is just so much information on the site that you need to go to it in order to see all they are doing, all they have done, and all they hope to do. It is just phenominal. If you live on the West Coast, please, consider supporting their effort.

BSL - you've got some friends who truly care about you here...

There is a gentleman - Ben H., who started a website who has since joined efforts with the PT/BSL Sister City Project. This is what he wrote me of his personal efforts:

"I have been in Bay St. Louis since mid March rehabbing houses. I am associated with the SisterCity Project of Port Townsend, WA. The house I am now working on is funded by the City of Edmonds, WA. That house will be finished about mid-June and the homeowners will move in.

This is my fifth trip here usually about ten days each but this time it will be two months.
I haven't done any work in Waveland though I do have some family there. Their house was flooded to four feet. "

We will prevail.


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