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Bay St. Louis Update

GCN published a list of things needed by the City of Bay St. Louis early in March. The response has been amazing. This is the latest update on what has happened since - Ed.

By Mark Proulx - Special to GCN               Filed 4/21/06

I never doubted that when asked, the American people would come through to help their own.  Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that a simple article would generate so much publicity, bring so much support…and bring so many people together. Here's the latest information from Bay St. Louis city administrator  Ms. Mike Cuevas....

“Dear Mark,

Wow!  Thank you and all the friends you forwarded our email to in reference to the office supply needs for Bay Saint Louis.  We have received almost everything we asked you for from so many sources across America. 

Individuals, communities and World Care (Tuscon, AZ) filled these needs in less than one month.  Overland Park, Kansas Public Works folks sold cakes and sausages and sent over $1000 for our Public Works Department's fuel expenses, a resident of the Bay credited our McDonald's Hardware account with the $1000 we need to last us through the remainder of the year.  Port Townsend, WA, must have raided every supply store in the area to generate copy paper, pens, correction tapes, coffee pots and two computers.  (One computer went to a police officer and the other went to a local business.)  A wonderful couple from NC sent hand held radios, office supplies and a Fuelman credit.  World Care filled in the rest and has another shipment scheduled to come sometime this week.

The list just continues and I don't mean to slight anyone, but I want you to know that the help is coming from all over.  Everyday we are blessed with the generosity of the people of this country in ways that we never imagined could happen to this little town that is such a small blip on the radar screen.

Please, please, each of you feel good about yourselves because for every penny you spent on a pencil a city employee has a job for a day longer.  We still need help, especially with the rising fuel costs, but you have bought us more time to get our community back on its feet and producing sales tax that will keep us funded so we don't have to continue to ask for help. 

Just an update to you, and I do hope that you will pass this on to your friends, who may be inclined to continue their help and support.  CityTeam Ministries has started a comprehensive door-to-door needs assessment. 

They selected the area of the Bay north of Highway 90 and to date have interviewed 104 families.  Of those 104 families only 10 did not need some type of help.  So, what we have decided to do, as a partnership, is to start with 10 families and send out to you what their very specific needs are.  These families will be the closest to completion of being able to get back in their homes.  Each family will be identified by a code number (the Privacy Act, you know).  If more than one group adopts a family their donation will be rolled over to the next group who will reach the same stage in due time.  Each giver will be acknowledged by the family who receives help and by the City of Bay Saint Louis.  I can't give you their names, but they can identify themselves.  The families will have been fully vetted before I send out any information to assure donors that these are families legitimately in need.

We have developed a system of assurance, through the efforts of CityTeam and their volunteers, that families receiving help are not just at the food bowl because it's there, but because they are unemployed and without resources and what they receive can be used to supplement the purchases they have to make and direct their resources to getting back in their homes.

Our distribution center is still open, but monitored, and we have virtually eliminated the greed that develops when "free stuff" is made available.  As soon as we can get a local grocery up and running the distribution center will reduce its operations so we don't perpetuate dependence.  CityTeam has offered and as soon as we can find the local space and local volunteers they will help us set up a food pantry to meet any continuing or new needs.

Loudoun Medical Group (Loudoun County, VA) has helped to locate space for the re-opening of the Coastal Family Health Clinic to serve the uninsured and financially needy find a new "medical home".  This partnership is served by LMG, Coastal and Hancock Medical Center.  Social workers are at the depot free clinic to help county residents file for whatever type of medical assistance may be available to reduce their costs.  The one local pharmacy open in Bay Saint Louis has honored prescriptions at greatly reduced costs to help citizens not have their funds completely depleted by high prescription costs. 

Church affiliated groups, Christian ministries, small towns and large cities and special individuals who just show up on our doorsteps have been so generous and wonderful to our community.  As we get back on our feet all of these groups of volunteers who have taken on the big tasks since last September are helping us through the transition of being able to stand back on our own two feet.  We don't know how to repay you, except through our prayers, and those you are receiving in abundance.

Please take care and God bless each of you.”

Mike Cuevas



More Information:

Hope is Alive in Bay St. Louis - GCN

Six Months After Katrina: What Bay St. Louis Needs - GCN

About the author:
Mark Proulx family has deep roots in Bay St. Louis and Hancock County. He currently lives in Deerfield, Florida. He has a communications background in journalism and graduated from USM in 1982 but returned to school later and works now as a bio-engineer.. His father retired from the Air Force and was stationed once at Keesler.

Contact the author: mxpowerdive@hotmail.com

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