Friday, January 11, 2008

Biloxi - Day 5

Today was our last full day in Biloxi, MS, and a productive one at that. For some of us, it meant tying up loose ends and finishing the projects we had begun on Wednesday. We began our week conducting surveys in the communities of Soria City and the Quarters, assessing the exterior conditions of homes affected by the storm. While the majority of the group continued working in the Quarters on Wednesday, several of us headed over to the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) to help the attorneys there. I was part of a group of four students who worked on a project to analyze grant data compiled from previous surveys of households in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. The object was to determine whether a correlation could be drawn between specific factors, such as income, race or age, and the awareness, participation, and outcome of Mississippi homeowner’s grant programs, through FEMA, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), etc. We analyzed responses from over 880 respondents and wrote a summary report discussing our findings. Our supervising senior attorney, John Jopling, may use these results to address the disparity of grant awareness and participation among households in these regions.

As expected of Maryland law students, we finished strong. At one point, one senior staff attorney said that this week, their office looked like a full size firm. What a complement! As I listened to other students describe their various experiences today, it became clear to me that this trip impacted us just as much as our presence here helped the community and her servants.

1 comment:

reilly said...

This note of thanks and praise is from your hosts at the Biloxi office of MS Center for Justice. The U Maryland team put a full day's work and then some, every day we had you. Your commitment and focus on getting the work done was inspiring to us. By the end of the week, the U Maryland students working for us had completed lot-by-lot surveys of two sizable traditionally African American neighborhoods, helped to staff three Katrina legal clinics in three towns, analyzed community knowledge surveys and disaster recovery expenditure plans, updated contractor fraud files, and more. This is why we say your team helped turn us into a large law firm for a week. Gayle Tartt, one of the community leaders in the Quarters said she hadn't seen anything like this since the Freedom Riders. THANK YOU MARYLAND.