Czech Republic's Donation Helps Community Pharmacy Reopen

A generous donation from across the world will help a local pharmacy take care of people in need.

The Czech Republic's Ambassador to the U.S. hand delivered the money Thursday to St. Vincent de Paul's Pharmacy in Biloxi. The volunteer agency has served the community for seven years, providing prescription medications to people who can't afford them.

The pharmacy has been closed since Katrina, but that will soon change. The $100,000 donation will help the community pharmacy get back on its feet.

Czech Ambassador Dr. Petr Kolar called the donation "relatively small," but says his country wanted to help the storm ravaged area.

"We learned from you that's it's something natural. If a friend is in trouble, friends should come and help. A friend in need is a friend indeed," Kolar said.

Biloxi city officials and pharmacy volunteers gathered for the special ceremony under a tent outside the pharmacy's new temporary home on Division Street. It's just one block away from their old Division Street address.

"We lost everything. We were on Division Street and took eight feet of water, lost our equipment and medicine. We've had to start from scratch like so many other people on the coast," St. Vincent's Executive Director Theresa Pavlov recalled.

Pavlov said the need in the community has gone up since Katrina, and the support has gone down. She says the generous donation will help them open their doors again to serve the needy.

"I couldn't believe it. We were honored and just touched that they would even consider our program."

To thank the Czech Republic, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway gave the Ambassador the keys to the city.

"We'll let you in our city any time you want to be here," Holloway said.

Guitarist Giovanni DiChiarro also provided a musical tribute to the Czech Republic by performing their national anthem.

"I'm proud to say the Czech Republic is an ally to the U.S., but this is something different here. This is people to people and the needs of the local community," Kolar said.

A community that will not forget the generosity of their new international friends.

"It's a wonderful day to know people half a world away actually know about your plight and care about you," Pavlov said.

The pharmacy is scheduled to reopen to pre-storm participants on February 21st. It will then open to the entire community on March 7th.