You can hear the sounds of progress echoing in east Biloxi, as volunteers with the Hope Community Development Agency work on eight more houses. Since Katrina, the non-profit organization has re-habbed about 750 houses and rebuilt 70 homes.
“This community has seen great strides in rebuilding and re-healing itself, and we want to celebrate that and get that message out,” said Hope CDA Executive Director Bill Stallworth.
So Hope CDA is planning a series of events on the weekend of August 29th, to mark the fifth anniversary of Katrina. This year’s observance will honor volunteers, storm victims, and progress in recovery.
“We don’t want to forget those who lost their lives. We don’t want to forget the lessons learned. But we want to celebrate all of the great things that have happened to this community since then and that’s why we’re calling it ‘A celebration of healing,'” said Stallworth.
On Wednesday, IP Casino Resort and Spa provided the seed money, by donating a check for $50,000.
“We try to identify programs that fit our values and fit our direction and Hope CDA was one of those organizations,” said IP General Manager Jon Lucas. “It’s great to give back to the community. It’s great to be part of the rebuilding process.”
Hope CDA will use some of the funds for anniversary events, including a coast-wide torch run, street festival, gospel extravaganza, and solemn memorials.
“What we’re looking to do is work with all these organizations, package this into a more cohesive message. We want to try to attract national attention,” said Stallworth.
And part of the money will go towards fund raising events, like a concert at the IP casino and a Katrina breakfast, in which casinos would provide the food and non-profit agencies can sell tickets and keep the proceeds.
“We hope to be able to leverage this money and put it back into the work that we are already doing,” said Stallworth. “We still have a lot of people who are in need of homes and we want them into their homes. We want to make sure that the entire job is completed.”
“We are setting the bar high as far as community leaders and we hope other businesses will participate and help to put on this event and help support this organization,” said Lucas.
Hope CDA holds weekly planning meetings and wants to invite the public to share ideas and commen
ts for this year’s Katrina anniversary. If you are interested, call the organization at (228) 435-7180.
By Trang Pham-Bui
WLOX- ch 13