DELISLE, MS (WLOX) - "The indomitable spirit of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast shall rise again and supercede the decimation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And we have in fact risen to that occasion," said a proud Linda Harvey-Irvin, Director of the Head Start Program in Harrison County.
Words of perseverance and praise marked the grand opening of the new Head Start Center in Delisle on Tuesday.
"This is a Cadillac compared to the trailers, and I know the staff love to get out of those trailers," said Board Chairman Anthony Hall.
Those trailers were wiped away by Katrina. Four years later, in the same spot stands a magnificent 17,000 square foot building. The new preschool is the first of four Head Start centers that are being built from the ground up.
"It's a day that's huge. I mean that's a gross understatement. I just don't have any other words. It's also very emotionally charged," said Harvey-Irvin.
It was also a special day for Doyle Moffett. Head Start leaders surprised Moffett by unveiling the sign, naming the center in his honor. Moffett has served as the long-time Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency, which runs the Head Start Program.
"Isn't it wonderful?" Harvey-Irvin asked Moffett.
"It's beautiful," he answered. "A lot of good people have helped me, and I thank you for that."
Afterwards, everyone gathered to cut the ribbon. Then the crowd moved inside for a tour of the building. The center features a commercial kitchen, parents' room, and eight large classrooms that will help prepare three and four year olds for Kindergarten.
"Oh my goodness! I'm so amazed!" exclaimed one woman.
"The classrooms are beautiful. I mean, you have a lot of things for the kids to play with and get involved. My kids, they were in there earlier playing with everything. They're excited," said Makisha Sexton of Pass Christian.
Board Vice Chairman Eddie Hartwell shared a special prayer.
"We thank You for the little children, that for generations to come, will be able to walk on these grounds and leave better citizens then they came."
Classes at the new Head Start Center in Delisle will begin on August 11th. The center can accomodate 160 children.
Three other centers are under construction. The Isiah Fredericks Center in north Gulfport should be finished in a few weeks. The one on Dedeaux Road is scheduled to open in November. And the D'Iberville Center is expected to be ready in March, 2010.
The projects are funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The D'Iberville building is funded by FEMA.