Gone Starfishin’: Spring breakers donate their time to a good cause
By Jennifer Lenain
Mar 12, 2013, 19:32
United Way is hosting its seventh annual Alternative Spring Break on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with approximately 66 students volunteering in multiple communities during their spring break vacation, working on community beautification, beach clean-up and youth-focused educational programs.
A group of 11 volunteers from all over the United States are in Bay St. Louis this week lending a hand at the Starfish Café on Main Street.
On Tuesday, the students were preparing the building for painting, sanding away rough spots and caulking the siding.
Volunteer John O’Neil, 25, of Fredrick, Md., said, “I’m inside all the time at school, to get outside like this is great.”
Paige Roebuck, 20, a student at Purdue University in Indiana, said she is excited to see the outcome of all of the work done at the Starfish Café.
The students have no experience in construction, O’neil said.
They are working from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day this week, remodeling the 1920s building that will soon operate as a restaurant training program for young adults and teenagers ages.
The non-profit program PNEUMA – Winds of Hope signed a lease for Starfish Café last year and Executive Director Di Fillhart is anticipating a mid-April opening, she said. The Starfish Café will be the home of a 16-week experimental restaurant-learning program, Fillhart said, “we will provide life and job skills in a professional atmosphere.”
The Starfish Café will function as an earn-to-work program, she said. “Hopefully, during the week we will accumulate $100 in tips per student so at the end of the program they will have earned $1,600 that will be disbursed at different points after graduation.”
“When students leave the program they will be able to go into any restaurant and only need fine tuning,” she said. “They will already have all of the basic training.”
The deadline to submit applications to the program is this Friday, March 15.
Fillhart also hopes to have a Monday night program that is geared toward high school students, she said.
For more information on PNEUMA - Winds of Hope, visit www.pneumawinds.com.