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Volunteer-Built Hancock County Child Development Center to be Dedicated
From: Bucks-Mont Katrina Project    Filed 3/11/07 GCN

Approximately 60 volunteers, most from Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania, will join with leaders from Hancock County, Mississippi on March 13 to celebrate the first milestone after 18 months of Hurricane Katrina relief work – the dedication of child development center, the first public building to be constructed in Hancock County following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The 11 a.m. dedication will be the first event in a daylong celebration of rebuilding efforts sponsored by The Salvation Army’s Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project. Later in the day, the group will announce the launch of a 5,266-square-foot animal rescue facility to serve an estimated 60 cats and 20 dogs, who like their human counterparts, were also made homeless by Katrina.

“March 13 will be a great day, not only for the gracious people of Hancock County, but for the dedicated volunteers in Pennsylvania who have grown to love those people and a recovering Southern Mississippi,” said Grover Friend, executive director of the Salvation Army Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project. “The events of the day are not a culmination but an interlude in the rebuilding of the communities of Hancock County.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and U.S. Sen. Trent Lott are invited to the dedication ceremony. Also attending will be the founders of the Bucks Mont Katrina Relief Project, Bill Eastburn of Eastburn and Gray; Bob Byers Sr. of Byers Choice Ltd.; and Mike Scobey, publisher of The Intelligencer newspaper. Key leaders from The Salvation Army include Lt. Col. William Carlson, Eastern Divisional Commander; Lt. Col. Al Ward, Southern Territory; and Major Rob Vincent, Southern Mississippi Area Commander.

Under the banner of “Futures Filled with Hope,” the new Hancock County Child development Center on Highway 603 will host a ribbon-joining event, signifying the collaboration between residents of Pennsylvania and Mississippi. The Center broke ground April 24, 2006, and will accommodate 124 children and 25 staff. Designed by ELD Associated Inc. of Doylestown, and owned and operated by Hancock County, the $1.25 million, 10,000 square-foot Center was paid for exclusively with donations of cash, materials and labor – all coordinated by Bucks Mont residents and businesses.

“We’re extremely proud of the volunteers – business people, students, homemakers – who are donating their time, expertise and financial support to help families get back on their feet,” said Major Jorge Diaz, Director of Operations for the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. “The fact that their good works continue reflects the bonds of fellowship that have developed between these communities.”

The celebration continues at 2 p.m. with the rededication of Tercentenary Park in Bay St. Louis, a historic park that was dedicated in 1999 and destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The reconstruction was a project of the Bucks-Mont group and students from Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA.

The milestone events come to a close at 4 p.m. with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Hancock County animal center in Port Bienville.

The child development center was the first major project of The Salvation Army’s Bucks-Mont group, who asked the residents of Hancock County to set priorities for the rebuilding effort. Hancock County leaders reasoned that a child care center – to replace some of those destroyed in the storm – was a first priority in order to help families get back to work. Likewise, the restored Tercentenary Park will help a community with a long history remember its roots. And the new animal center will help to ease the pain suffered by many families who lost pets during the storm.

More Information:

The Bucks-Mont Katrina Project is a partnership with purpose. Co-founders Bob Byers, Bill Eastburn and Mike Scobey formed this unique coalition in September 2005. Partnering with the Bucks-Mont community, The Salvation Army and the MS Gulf Coast citizens allows the team to optimize its impact. Working together, we've completed multiple and meaningful projects to help our Southern neighbors

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