Last week I was in Mississippi for five days. Biloxi, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs. Few people remember that the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over Bay St. Louis and Waveland as a category 3 (sustained winds of 120 mph). The highest wind gust recorded was 135 mph in Poplarville. Most associate the devastation with New Orleans. Flooding and levee breaches created their catastrophe, the hurricane HIT Mississippi.

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Just 3 1/2 years later, you can barely notice that there was extensive flooding, bridges washed out, counties cut in half, 900,000 people without power for days. These are resilient people.

So when I learned that Mississippi was one of only four states to adopt the iBelong campaign, I was enamored.

An historic economic crisis is the last thing Mississippi needs right now. But they embraced it. And focused their energy on building their community – again.

Southern hospitality = Tom McWilliams, Sr. Vice President for the Mississippi Credit Union System.

I flew 170,000 miles last year, stayed in 95 hotel rooms, rented 36 cars, and received zero fruit and cheese trays. Tom not only sent up this lovely shnack – he also arranged to have a coffee maker put in my room (because Casinos don’t provide those – they want you to go downstairs, walk through the rows and rows of clanging slot machines, passed the little mall filled with sparkly clothes, jewelry and purses, to the ONLY coffee shop where you’ll spend $8.00 for a latte’. And no, it was not a Starbucks).

Thank you Mississippi (which is not only fun to say and spell, it’s fun to type – try it!)

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