With today’s return of the group we’ll start looking for the WLOX reporting. For now we have the reports from the hosts in Pennsylvania. We’ll start first with the arrival of the Chorale in Doylestown and this news story:
Well, they’re here. A busload of folks from Hancock County, Mississippi, in town this weekend to thank those involved with the Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project, have arrived at The Intelligencer office in Doylestown for the weekend’s grand finale: A Southern-style picnic complete with a Dixieland jazz band and all sorts of down-home Southern cookin’. Those from the Mississippi delegation say they’ve been overwhelmed by the hospitality they’ve received this weekend, which was supposed to be for them to say thanks for all the generosity they’ve received since Katrina shattered the Gulf Coast region in August 2005. “We have some news for ya’ll,” said Tish Williams, the executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not leaving. We’re moving here now.”
With the arrival of the group Friday the paper rolled out the editorial welcome mat too as they give those who stepped up for us a well deserved pat on the back:
YOU READ THE STORIES about how so many Gulf Coast victims of devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are still struggling to survive day to day. You see the pictures of almost 3-year-old destruction that has yet to be addressed. And you have to wonder how such could be the case in the greatest, richest nation in the world.
But there are silver linings in the dark cloud that continues to hang over too much of Louisiana and Mississippi. And one of the sources of that silver is the Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project, a group of concerned local individuals, businesses and organizations put together to make a simple yet profound statement: We care, and we’re going to do something about it.
To date, the group has raised about $3 million in cash, gifts and in-kind services to aid and comfort the residents of one specific area of the hurricane-ravaged coastal region, Hancock County, Miss. The project spent well over a million dollars to build a child development center in the Mississippi county and is working on a new food pantry and an animal center for abandoned pets. The group has even taken its act on the road as it were, with Bucks-Mont residents traveling to the Deep South to help build homes, interact with storm victims and, most importantly, impart a spirit of hope.
The Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project was the brainchild of three community leaders: Doylestown attorney Bill Eastburn; Bob Byers Sr., founder of Byers’ Choice; and Mike Scobey, chief operating officer of the print division of Calkins Media Inc. They worked with the Salvation Army and helped organize their own army of Bucks and Montgomery County residents and businessmen.
Sadly, Mr. Eastburn passed away in March. Yet while his physical presence is sorely missed, the concern that prompted his heavy involvement in the project is hardly diminished and was on display over the weekend when some Mississippi residents visited Bucks County to personally express their thanks.
Our own brand of “Northern hospitality,” with our Southern friends as guests of honor, included a concert, tours of area historic sites and a lawn party hosted by The Intelligencer.
The Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project has attracted national attention and offers a model for this and future disaster relief efforts. It has demonstrated that the most important factors in this vital work are a sense of concern and a desire to help those in need.
Because of what we here in southeastern Pennsylvania have been able to do, people living in Hancock County, Miss., have been given the opportunity to resurrect their lives after the horrors of three years ago.
Everyone who had any part in the relief project should know they have done a very good thing.