Spring break volunteers heading to Panama City to help rebuild homes

The Samaritan's Purse rebuild program began in June 2019. (WJHG/WECP)
The Samaritan's Purse rebuild program began in June 2019. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 4:43 PM CST
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Spring break is approaching and local organizations are preparing for new volunteers.

City Church Director of Missions Samantha Seaborn said she's excited college-aged students are taking their time to serve others when they could be enjoying their break with friends.

"That means a lot to our community," Seaborn said.

City Church has been partnering with Samaritan's Purse since November 2018. At first, they strictly focused on disaster relief, now they're rebuilding and repairing homes.

The Samaritan's Purse Rebuild Program began in June 2019. Month after month, volunteers pick up where the others left off and in the end, they hope to build 19 brand new homes.

"Samaritan's Purse is assisting those who have exhausted all of their options and helping homeowners who need that extra help to get back into their home," Seaborn said.

Across town, students from the University of Tennessee will also be volunteering with Rebuild Bay County Inc.

"They'll be working on a home repair project, and most of our volunteers will be working on at least five to six sites within the area over the month of March," Rebuild Bay County Inc. Executive Director Donna Pilson said.

Rebuild Bay County is also expecting around 100 students from a New England chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

"The residents that they will be helping have been waiting for a while and so this allows us to get one step closer to recovery," Pilson said.

Spring break volunteers won't only be working on locals' homes, they'll also be working on new volunteer housing.

Pilson said most of their volunteers live on the beach side and travel over the bridge every day to work on sites in Panama City.

Volunteers are currently working on an old church off of West 19th Street to turn into volunteer housing.

"It takes a good 30-40 minutes to bring a volunteer group to this side of the bridge to do work and this is where most of the repairs are going on," Pilson said. "So I estimate we lose about two hours per person, per day in volunteer labor if we're not able to house them on this side of the bridge."

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