International Relief & Development, South Mississippi Heroes

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There is an amazing organization that quietly does good deeds throughout the world and set up shop here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Sara Saucier wrote, "the case workers at IRD literally put a roof over my elderly mother's head and hope in her heart, they are the most kind and giving souls we have ever had to pleasure to know."

So we honor the folks of International Relief and Development as South Mississippi Heroes...

International Relief and Development is all over the world. In Afghanistan they pay teenagers to learn how to build and wire houses, so they won't join the Taliban to feed their family. IRD is in places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia still helping Tsunami victims. In 2005, they came to South Mississippi to respond to our disaster.

Christine Popwell an IRD Case Worker says, "We're very busy."

Popwell is one of just 16 case workers at IRD who in just 6 weeks after the storm helped an astonishing 24-hundred people at no charge. And they continue to do miraculous, life changing work.

Lori West, IRD Executive Director, "Our case managers are extremely dedicated, they have a different situation every day, they save people's homes, they really save people's lives and they are the ones that really need to be given a special thank you."

Popwell, "I'm working with mortgage companies trying to save people's homes, we have other programs where we are trying to rebuild homes."

This is one of their "youth build's" in Long Beach. It will put an elderly woman back in her home and help Amber Ryals get a degree. The 16 year old was always in trouble and says this has changed her outlook and her attitude and they actually pay her to go to school.

16 year old Amber Ryals says, "I had originally started to get my GED and I didn't know we had to build a house till I got into the program and i wasn't all for it but after I met miss harris I was willing to do it, she's a nice lady and she deserves it."

And now Amber understands what it means to help people like Mr. Jesse James, whose one wish was to move his sick wife out of an assisted living facility and back into the home they shared for 50 years.

Lori West says, "And he did get to see her come home before he passed away."

Courntey Peeler, "I don't what I would have done without them."

Courtney Peeler, her husband and 3 kids were left homeless, the 5 stayed in a tiny camper for more than 3 years until IRD came to their rescue. And now she and her family want to start giving, the way they have received.

She says, "Yes i've called to see about coming to help on other houses, yes you know that's the way, I feel that you to help me to give back to other people, cause there's still plenty of people that need help".

With grant money from the Mississippi Development Authority, the IRD has committed to at least 2 MORE years here. IRD is also "SO" successful, it has absorbed 2 other non-profits who couldn't keep their doors open.

The list of things IRD offers goes on and on; including business training, home ownership counseling, rental assistance even nutrition counseling.

Their number is 1-877-795-4IRD if you'd like to get involved in this amazing organization or if you're in need of their help. They have centers in Harrison and Jackson Counties are now trying to open one in Hancock County.

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