Relief Organization Hopes To Grow Roots In South Mississippi

You might say the case workers at International Relief and Development know all the right people. In place since shortly after the Hurricane struck, IRD representatives have connected thousands of citizens in need with the right people and organizations to provide help.

"Our operations change everyday," says Program Coordinator Lori Quilan. "We may be focused on one aspect of relief and recovery one day and the next day it may change. It's just contingent on what the needs are at that moment."

For Patricia Hawthorne of Gulfport, that moment arrived as a dark cloud on the horizon several months after Katrina had done her worst.

"The tree fell on the top of the house and it had a hole in the kitchen roof and it rained in there and in the wash room too," says Hawthorne.

And with more rain coming Patricia called on IRD to find help in a hurry.

"They called the church and the church came the next day, before it started raining."

But program director Lori Quinlan is looking beyond the quick fix.

"Most organizations are hoping to be here two years," says Quinlan. "Our goal is to stay here, to turn this organization over to the community."

She envisions IRD becoming a locally funded Gulf Coast Social Services Center, that will continue to find fast answers to tough questions.

"We cover financial assistance, legal assistance, deeds to housing, mortgage questions, roofing questions, basic needs, you know, food and shelter. The whole spectrum."

And Quinlan believes local funding, combined with the connection forged by Katrina, can make future acts of compassion an unending reality. If you'd like to help, call 864-6677.