Young volunteers help out in Hobson

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Volunteers: Members of an AmeriCorps team prepare to clean out Carl and Minnie Boone’s shed in downtown Suffolk Tuesday. The team’s main project, however, is to fix Hobson’s water supply system.

Hobson villagers have waited a long time for help to fix the well system they rely on for water. Now it has finally arrived, in the form of a team of eager volunteers.

Young men and women from AmeriCorps arrived in Suffolk on June 20 after the Hobson Artesian Well Association successfully applied to the national community service organization for assistance.

Volunteers with National Civilian Community Corps team Delta 9, aged 18 to 24, will update infrastructure in upper Hobson, connecting about 30 households to two new wells a nonprofit group helped establish in 2009.


Email newsletter signup

“What we have in the ground now are galvanized pipelines,” association officer Mary Hill said. “It was recommended that it would need to be upgraded.”

Hobson, established in the 1800s by freed slaves who harvested oysters in nearby waters, has relied on a single community well since 1947.

Residents have known for years their water system needed work, with water contamination having long exceeded state and federal limits.

Hobson folks have clung to their well system, though, arguing they couldn’t afford the costs associated with connection to the city’s water main.

“It’s a valuable asset,” Hill said of the well system, “and I think one of the most important commodities today is water.”

The so-called Upper Hobson Village Water Project’s list of sponsors and partners is too long to list exhaustively. Home Depot is one of the major benefactors, having donated the pipes that will connect from the new wells.

“There are different contractors and engineers that are involved in the plan,” Delta 9 Assistant Team Leader Glenn Herring said. “We have been digging trenches … for where pipes are going to be.”

AmeriCorps volunteers are required to spend a certain number of hours on community projects independent from their main project.

Accordingly, several members of Delta 9 visited downtown Suffolk Tuesday to clean out Carl and Minnie Boone’s shed.

There was a time when Carl Boone would have cleaned his own shed, but that was before he developed stage 4 prostate cancer.

“It’s a blessing,” Minnie Boone said. “I’m going to feed them good when they’re done.”

The AmeriCorps volunteers come from all over, Hill said, including Baltimore, Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“They are the most amazing young people I have met,” she said. “They’re very adamant about serving, and that’s why they are here. Many of them recently graduated from college and saw this as an opportunity to do a service and just to enhance them as a person.”

The volunteers are scheduled to remain on the project until July 20. Hill said they may stay longer if needed.