Long term solutions sought

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three agencies, Tulane University’s Rally Foundation, World Vision US Programs and Habitat for Humanity International, have a vested interest in organizing citizen groups and neighborhood organizations such as non-profit and community organizations, the education sector, business sector, government and agency sectors and the faith sector into a well-oiled machine devoted to community research, leadership skill training, community capacity-building and networking in Pearl River County. This alliance called the Pearl River County Alliance does not have mountains of money to pour into the area. What it does have is a deep desire to develop opportunities for fixing the things in PRC that went wrong after Katrina whipped through here.

The project is the Gulf Coast Recovery Transformation Project, and the focus is centered in Pearl River County.

“It is a unique partnership that brings material, programmatic, and financial resources to the issue of capacity development for recovery,” stated a PowerPoint slide at the meeting.

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The next meeting will be at 10 a.m. on October 9. It will be an open meeting and all organizations that are interested in moving the county forward are encouraged to attend this meeting at World Vision offices at 1203 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

One of the major assets is a website developed by RALLY Foundation which is continually updated with current information available to the public, or soon will be.

“An asset map will be produced,” Joselin Landry of RALLY told the Alliance at Monday’s meeting. “It will have demographics and community information which will allow county citizens to leverage what is there and to use that information to best advantage.” This will impact the recovery in a positive way, she added.

The RALLY Foundation is affiliated with Tulane and serves as a research and knowledge center for projects in the Hurricane Katrina area.

“Disasters interrupt the norm,” Tommy Goode, Director of World Vision Gulf Coast, told the group. “One of the things you said at the last meetings was that the population explosion was a major concern. The population (of Pearl River County) has increased 116 percent in the last decade with most of it in the last two years. Schools have been challenged by this. Teachers are having problems because of the cost of living increases. And the cost of living increases have created pluses and minuses and things that need resolving.”

The Alliance will help establish and develop an ongoing community-based collaboration to implement permanent community solutions.

There is a need for cooperation and collaboration, Goode told the group. This is a long-term recovery even after the second anniversary of the storm. Quality of life and other challenges will be addressed as this project progresses in organization. The plan is to have monthly meetings at the World Vision offices located at 1203 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Picayune’s Industrial Park.