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Texans help local residents with Hurricane Ivan damages

By By LYDIA GRIMES Features writer
The spirit of giving is still alive and well in the Brewton area. The proof can be found in many places where people are coming together to help others who have lost roofs, trees and have had other damage to their homes and property due to the hurricanes that have visited the area in the past year.
One of those groups has come all the way from a suburb of Dallas, Texas, to lend a hand.
Several months ago Freddy Boswell, a missionary who is a member of Tyler Street United Methodist Church in Oak Cliff, Texas, was in Brewton to attend a mission conference at First Presbyterian Church. After the conference, Mike Godwin took him to the airport in Pensacola and they discussed the many "blue roofs" that dotted the landscape. The two were both interested in the possibility of having a group come to Brewton to help those who were still in need in this area from the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
Boswell took the idea back to his church and after months of planning and setting things up, he, the church pastor, Chris Allen and the group came to Brewton on Monday, July 18, to spend a week working on several projects.
The workers are mostly young adults with the youngest being 13. There are also six adults who have come with them from Texas. Those have been joined by members of local churches and individuals who want to help. Kim Lloyd, who is the procurement manager at Smurfitt-Stone, along with Kenny Revel and Dan Weaver, joined the group as well as a large group of local young people. The materials needed were donated by local businesses and coordinated through the Escambia County Long Term Recovery Committee.
The Wayne Stallworth Memorial Park on Pea Ridge was one of the sites visited by the team. They were cutting limbs and clearing debris left by the hurricanes.
Pearl Stallworth, who began the park as a memorial to her son and three other young men who were killed in a vehicle accident, was overjoyed to see the workers come to help clean up the area.
Because the park is located on private land, she is unable to get state and county help in the upkeep of the park. She depends on the kindness of individuals to keep it going.
"I can't really tell you how I feel about these people coming to help," she said, "but I do know how to say 'thank you.' "
Boswell was working at another site in East Brewton on Thursday morning. He and a group of young people from Texas and some local youth were busy putting a roof on the home of Marilyn Phillips on Shoffner Street. The members of the group had to take frequent water breaks to beat the heat of near 100 degree temperatures, but the helping spirit continued throughout the day.
Boswell, who is a native of Ozark, Ala., and has relatives living in the Brewton area, was leading his group who were finishing Phillips' roof.
"I have a lot of ties to this area," he said. "Everybody has been so nice to us this week. People have opened their homes for us to have a place to stay and we are being fed very well."
So far the group members have repaired the ceiling in the home of Katie White and built a wheelchair ramp, in addition to the work they are doing at the Stallworth's park and at the Phillips home.