New soup kitchen director fell in love with the coast

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – A Biloxi soup kitchen is in transition this holiday season. Three weeks ago Betsey Murin became the new executive director of Loaves and Fishes. On Wednesday, she spoke about her leadership style and her vision for the Main Street soup kitchen.

Volunteers at Loaves and Fishes have their plates full this week. Murin says the soup kitchen has been serving daily meals on top of doing prep work for Thanksgiving dinner.

"It's absolutely hectic but so many people helping out just makes it joyful," said Murin. " You just smile all day long."

On Wednesday, children from the East Biloxi Boys and Girls came to help out. Murin believes it's important to give people an opportunity to give back to their community.

"I think we have two customers here. We have the people who come to eat with us every day. We certainly want to continue the kind of welcome they've always received here at Loaves and Fishes," Murin said. "But we know that there's another customer out there. It's the person that lives on this coast who understands that things can change in a minute. Just wants to spend time counting their blessings and making their blessings count at this time of year."

After just a few weeks on the job, Murin is already thinking of ways to grow the mission.

"We have some plans. I think you'll see Loaves and Fishes expanding its food operation over the next year. Maybe it will take us 18 months," said Murin. "We know there are people out there for whom getting good nutrition every day is a hardship. They can't get to us. So we're going to be looking to see how we can reach out to people who can't come in our door."

Before coming to South Mississippi, Murin ran a Florida soup kitchen for 15 years. She says what she learned is her leadership is only as good as the team behind her.

Murin said, "You can't do it alone. You can't run up the hill yelling 'charge' alone. You've got to make sure you've got people behind you that believe what you believe and feel the way you feel."

The new executive director came to the Gulf Coast to help relatives who'd lost their homes in Katrina with recovery. Five years later, Murin is still here and trying to reach out to a South Mississippi community that she's come to love.

Loaves and Fishes will serve Thanksgiving dinner at 11:30 am on Thursday.

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