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House That Phil Built


Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" He was the master of tragedy, triumph, and irony... and just such a Shakespearean drama has engulfed a small community in Alabama. The town of about a thousand suffered a setback and celebrated a milestone surrounded by friends with a special bond.

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(Phil Campbell, Alabama)

Rev. Phil Campbell, Northern Light Church: "To be named Phil Campbell at this time really feels like a gift; it feels like an opportunity, a privilege that I feel obligated to make use of. I'm Phil Campbell, pastor of Northern Light Church, a union United Methodist/Presbyterian congregation in Juneau, Alaska. I made the long trip to Phil Campbell, Alabama to help in the relief effort here. It's a town that was virtually destroyed by tornado on April 27, where 26 people perished. And Phil Campbells of the world-I'm one of them-we're here to help the town rebuild."

(Various Phil Campbells) "Phil Campbell from Birmingham... I'm Phil Campbell from Springfield, Ohio... Palo Alto, California..."

Rev. Phil Campbell: "I feel a connection with the other Phil Campbells. It's interesting we don't necessarily have anything in common..."

(Various Phil Campbells) "...Tuscaloosa, Alabama... Glasgow, Scotland... Austin, Texas... Nottingham, UK..."

"...but we're here for a common purpose and I believe that common purpose to help the town binds us together in a significant way."

(Various Phil Campbells) "I'm Phil Campbell from Brooklyn, NY&ellipsis; Savanna, Georgia&ellipsis; La Farge, Wisconsin&ellipsis;"

Phil Campbell, Wisconsin: "I threw my tools in my truck and came down here hoping I could help somebody out 'cause, what good's a Phil Campbell without his tools?"

Sgt. Terrell Potter, Phil Campbell Police Department: "And you can see that what they're doing here is not lip service. I'm Sergeant Terrell Potter of the Phil Campbell Police Department, and a lot of people are really fascinated with the number of Phil Campbells we've got to come show up to help us with our town."

(Barbara Mashburn greets Nottingham Phil on street.) "You're a Phil Campbell?"

Phil Campbell: "I am."

Barbara Mashburn: "Well, it's good to meet you we're glad to have you here!"

(Nottingham Phil talking to Barbara) "I've never seen anything so devastating in all my life."

Barbara Mashburn, Phil Campbell resident: "My name is Barbara Mashburn. I've lived in Phil Campbell since I was six years old. My house was damaged in the tornado. The roof blew off, but I'm alive and well. It really surprises me that all the men thats names are Phil Campbell are here."

Barbara Mashburn: "I'm glad that it's bringing the attention to Phil Campbell that it has brought, and we really appreciate it."

Rev. Phil Campbell: "The timing of the Phil Campbell convention coincides with the town's annual hoedown. That's a bigger event this year because it's the town's 100th anniversary, just several weeks after the tornado hit, and they decided to go ahead with it."

Jerry Mays, Phil Campbell Mayor: "This is a happy day and a sad day for all of us."

Rev. Phil Campbell: "We're here not only to help in the relief effort, but also to help the town celebrate and commit to its future."

Jerry Mays: "We've had neighbors that we didn't know we had."

Phyllis Campbell: "I'm Phyl, with a 'y', from Michigan."

Phil Campbell: "I'm Phil from Franklin, Tennessee. I have a special connection with this town."

Rev. Phil Campbell: "There's something symbolic about we Phil Campbells being here that has really buoyed the town's sprit. The goal of all the Phil Campbells has been to raise enough money to build a Habitat for Humanity house here in Phil Campbell for one of the storm victims. And our church in Alaska raised five thousand dollars to send to the effort. We've set up a special "I'm with Phil" fundraising page where people can contribute to the Habitat house."

(Ohio Phil) "You know Phil-if you watch TV, you watch movies-Phil is always the wacky neighbor. Phil's never the leading man. So it's nice to be able to help, and we're all leading men today-at least in the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama."

Jerry Mays: "This is a proclamation from the town of Phil Campbell..."

Rev. Phil Campbell: "I'm just moved by that generosity of spirit. Here people have lost everything, and they're appreciative that we've come in, just for a short time, to do a small amount. And it's memorable to have the connections with the Phil Campbells; and to have the connection with the town and to feel a special kinship with the Phils and the town of Phil Campbell. We use what we can, to do the good that we can."


There were 19 Phils in town for the 100th anniversary. You can connect with the group at There is also an I'm With Phil Facebook group.

Posted: June 22, 2011