Local Volunteers Honored For Their Time And Hearts

Ten years ago, when everyone else was talking about the high cost of health care, officials with the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish were doing something about it.

Pharmacy President Fabin Ladnier said, "The people that we investigated with St. Vincent de Paul conferences were spending about half of their money for groceries and half for medicine. Well, a half of a prescription is not going to do it and half way eating is not going to do it."

That investigation lead Fabin Ladnier, the current St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy President and other founders to start their free pharmacy in east Biloxi.

Executive Director Theresa Pavlov said, "It makes a significant difference in peoples' lives. It takes away a tremendous amount of anxiety. It makes sure that people who have very acute long term conditions like diabetes have the proper care."

Pavlov says it's the volunteers who man the facility, who've made the biggest difference.

"Some of these very same people began 10 years ago and have been giving a day a week for at least 10 years," said Pavlov.

Gen Gans is one of those people.

"I told them I wanted to be a pion. I don't want to be in charge of anything. Of course that didn't work for too terribly long, so now, I'm in charge of stocking the shelves," said Gans.

But for Gans and 70 or so other volunteers being honored here for their service, no amount of responsibility will keep them away.

"The people that come in are definitely in need. I wanted to do something worthwhile, and this seemed like something that was worthwhile," Gans said.

The pharmacy also relies on local pharmacists who volunteer their time and about 100 local doctors who donate medical samples. Last year the pharmacy handed out $1.4 million dollars worth of prescription medicines alone.