Moishe Smith, President of B'nai B'rith International, has made a number of trips to South Mississippi since Katrina. On this visit, he met with the Mayor of Gulfport to get an update on recovery in the area.
"We started off doing community service work, which is a major part of what we do, disaster relief, which is what brings us to Gulfport-Biloxi. And we do community activist work and help the people," Smith said.
B'nai B'rith has certainly helped the people of South Mississippi. The non-profit Jewish group has donated more than $1 million to help with recovery efforts here on the coast.
"We've helped rebuild churches and synagogues here, libraries and those types of things. And of course, we're working closely with the Mayor of Gulfport to help them as best we can," Smith said.
B'nai B'rith donated $100,000 for the City of Gulfport to hire housing specialist Greg Graves. The city is already seeing a big return on that investment. Gulfport has just been approved for a $9 million grant to build affordable housing.
"Right now, we're just seeing the first ones, like Sawgrass which is an apartment complex which is very, very fine, is up and going in Gulfport. Also, work is underway on another affordable, very fine housing development that is being coordinated by the individual who is being paid by the grant from B'nai B'rith," said Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr.
Smith says B'nai B'rith understands recovery along the coast is a long term investment, one to which the nonprofit group plans to remain dedicated.
B'nai B'rith International also made a donation to help rebuild Beth Israel, the Biloxi synagogue that was destroyed by Katrina. The new synagogue will be built in Gulfport.