Operation Reconstruct a Positive Force in Mississippi
Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of NAHB, is seeing steady progress in Operation Reconstruct, which was established in Gulfport, Miss., in 2007 in response to the devastation to the area left by Hurricane Katrina.
The relief program continues to make headway in rebuilding projects that are a core part of HBI’s Operation Reconstruct curriculum, and it is also addressing long-standing social issues in the community.
Over the past two years, Operation Reconstruct has made significant progress in addressing unemployment in Gaston Point, one of the poorest parts of the city.
HBI has been working closely with the Gaston Point Community Development Corporation (GPCDC) on a number of projects — including the construction of a KaBOOM! playground in partnership with AmeriCorps and building or repairing the homes of several Gaston Point residents.
Shortly after Operation Reconstruct opened its doors in Gulfport, its students and instructors played a major role in helping GPCDC get off the ground. They worked side by side with the fledgling organization to overhaul a dilapidated fire station and warehouse donated by the city to become the base of GPCDC operations.
“I have personally witnessed the impact that Operation Reconstruct has has on its students — raising their self esteem and allowing them to put their past behind them,” said Sidney Rushing, chairman of GPCDC. “The positive changes made in these individuals’ lives have also been felt by our community. Many Gaston Point residents are aware of Operation Reconstruct’s success, and the program currently has a waiting list of applicants.”
HBI Graduation in Jackson
Up the road in Jackson, nine Operation Reconstruct students recently completed their Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) and were honored during a graduation ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by program partners, the families of students and HBI staff members and included a special appearance by Bobby and Annette Rayburn, who have played an integral role in establishing Operation Reconstruct in their home state. Bobby Rayburn is a former HBI oversight officer and past president of NAHB, and Annette Rayburn currently serves as an HBI trustee.
“Student recognition is a critical part of all HBI programs, and these graduates deserve praise for their commitment to bettering themselves and their community,” said Annette Rayburn. “Even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, HBI had a strong presence in Mississippi through its Job Corps programs, and it really understands both the individual and community needs of this state. We hope that Operation Reconstruct and other HBI programs continue to flourish here.”
Operation Reconstruct in Jackson works in partnership with The Paxen Group, Inc., which is also a partner at other Operation Reconstruct sites in Louisiana and Delaware.
For more information on Operation Reconstruct, e-mail Dennis Torbett at HBI, or call him at 800-795-7955 x8908.