R3SM receives a generous grant

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - Members of Recover, Restore, Rebuild Southeast Mississippi or R3SM, are working to see to it that a home on the corner of River Avenue and Buschman Street in downtown Hattiesburg is fully renovated.

The home was once used to house railroad workers, but now the goal is to have it shelter volunteers.

Those volunteers come from all over the country every year to help the organization assist Pine Belt residents still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. Sheila Varnado is the Executive director of R3SM.

"And so we felt that we are bringing it back to life in the same manner that it was built initially. But this year alone we have had over 300 hundred volunteers. Some of those have been local volunteers," explained Varnado.

Often times these volunteers head to the Hub City in the winter months to build and repair homes for needy Hattiesburg area residents. It's a challenge to house these good hearted volunteers, but the downtown boarding house provided a solution once it's fully renovated.

Varnado said, "We are now at the phase of finishing up the dry wall. Ready to paint the walls, then we will do the floors and then get the plumber and the electrician in to do their final work."

Work that was made possible through a grant this year of 125-thousand dollars from the Asbury Foundation. The private organization gave R3SM the same amount in 2010 to help them finish work on the first floor of the volunteer's home. Bill Ray is the chairman of the Asbury Foundation.

"And we think this renovation is going to give them that type of a place that when they give of their time away from their families that they can shower, they can get a good meal and can rest to work again the next day. So we are fully in support of it," said Ray.

Varnado said work on the first floor should be completed by the fall of 2011. R3SM's offices will also be located on that level.

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