How did we get HERE???

In less than a month we will celebrate our 2nd birthday!  In reviewing all the pictures of the past couple years tears leaked from my eyes and heart as gratitude flowed for the goodness and grace to make this dream a reality!!

The middle of September 2005, following Hurricane Katrina we were traveling down highway 603, past boats, cars, piles of debris, and the heartbeat of God began to define the days ahead.  The new assignment for our ministry was at hand, little did we know that Bay Saint Louis, MS would become our new home!  In the early days and continuing through today the mission was LOVE!

Love in action through intentional acts of kindness, long days of compassionate outreach, listening with hearts and ears, speaking encouraging words, using our hands and feet to BE love, living and breathing the same as residents from Corn Dogs with Collard Greens for dinner to Strawberry Scented Porta-Potties, we became one with this community.

August 29th, 2015 will be TEN years since we arrived here.  It seems like yesterday and today simultaneously exist!  Although buildings, harbors, and homes are rebuilt, unemployment is down and as you drive down tree lined streets with flowers and gardens one would think all is well!  However, beneath the appearance of wellness, there is evidence of an underlying problem.  Hancock County Mississippi currently has more children in Foster Care than the city of Atlanta (the county population is 45,566 in the 2010 census).  We are experiencing increased drug use, domestic violence and crime when measured to pre-Katrina.

Why is that important to us?  The Children of Katrina!  Recently in an article out of New Orleans they are measuring the same cultural change in young adults 18-30, these were the young people ages 8-20 at the time of Katrina.  Although the physical has recovered, what happened to all the emotion of the event, the memories of living in a FEMA trailer for 5 years, standing in lines for food and supplies, the complete desolation of the infrastructure of society including schools, health care, business, government, parents without work for years and prolonged frustration that the “FIX” was far away?  Additionally, add the influence of Hurricane Gustav, Ike, Isaac, the Deep Horizon Oil Spill and the economic recession, yes all of these events in the last 10 years!!

student pictures 1

This is the reason that Starfish Cafe was opened in 2013!  We provide a place for young adults 18-30 years of age to gain job and life skills.  We provide anger management, resiliency training, life coaching, Serv-Safe Education and Certification,and upon completion most students qualify for a 6 month paid externship at the Hollywood Casino. While there they are Culinary Associates and are exposed to the entire Food and Beverage Industry!

Over the next few weeks leading up to our Birthday Bash we will be posting a history, pictures and inviting you to join our journey to Wellness for a Lifetime for these precious ones.  Each day we begin with this reminder;

I am Somebody, I am Somebody Special, I am God’s Child, I can change things, I can make life better for myself, I can make life better for my family and community, I want to work with all of you to make this world a better place for all of us, I AM THE CHANGE I WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD!

thanks to Father Murrin for the model!!

resiliency

God bless ya BIG,

di fillhart

executive director PNEUMA-Winds of Hope, Inc. parent of Starfish Cafe