The devastation of Hurricane Katrina hit close to home for both Amy Norris and Margaret Waagner.
Waagner's mother-in-law's parents, who lived on the Gulf Coast, were displaced by the storm. Norris is a New Orleans native and both her parents and her 99-year-old grandmother were forced to come to Virginia following the hurricane. Two weeks before the storm hit, Norris was visiting a friend at her home in Louisiana and now that house is completely gone. Her parents were fortunate enough to only sustain repairable damage to their home.
"While we're the lucky ones, there is a trickling effect," she said. "Everyone has been effected."
Following Hurricane Katrina, the two mothers and Cascades residents decided, along with the rest of the Cascades Babysitting Co-op, that they wanted to do a community service project.
Saturday, May 27, they, along with the Cascades Homeowners Association and area residents, put on a fund raiser for the victims of Hurricane Katrina at the Stone House Community Center.
"Helping out victims of Hurricane Katrina was a natural focus for our community service given our connection to the area," Waagner said.
To help raise money, Waagner and Norris set up a silent auction with items such as round-trip tickets from Southwest Airlines, rounds of golf, massages and gift certificates. In addition, attendees were able to buy tickets for their children, which allowed them to have their faces painted and to request balloon animals. There were also two performances by local music group, Unfinished Basement and a Home Depot Kids Workshop where children could build their own flowerpot.
WHEN WAAGNER AND Norris first came up with the idea for the fund raiser, they were not sure where the money they raised should go. Then they learned about Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.
"People from New Orleans were sending articles on Habitat for Humanity and the work that they were doing," Norris said.
"We learned they are in the business of rebuilding and we wanted to do something for them," Waagner said.
Since Hurricane Katrina struck, Loudoun Habitat for Humanity has been making trips to Biloxi, Miss., where its rebuilding efforts are focused.
"I'll never forget what our president, Bud Green, said when he came back from his first trip down there," Loudoun Habitat for Humanity treasurer Bill Fox said. "He said, 'It is so much worse that you could ever imagine.'"
As hurricane season approaches once again, Fox said fund raisers continue to be "hugely important" and every dollar makes a difference.
"We have in the neighborhood of $200,000 raised for Biloxi, but the need is huge," he said. "You can't forget the people who still don't have homes."
All of the money raised at the Cascades fund raiser will go directly to the rebuilding efforts in Biloxi, with no money taken out for the members of Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.
"Bud Green told us that every penny is going to buy materials to rebuild houses," Waagner said. "He told us that these houses would not be built without this fund raiser."
It was Habitat's commitment to the rebuilding process that impressed Norris the most.
"Habitat volunteers pay their whole way down there," she said. "None of this money is for them."
FOR THOSE IN attendance, coming together as a community was as important a part of the day as the fund raising was.
"I live in Cascades, so this is home for me," Del. David Poisson (D-32) said. "If the people in my community are coming together to support a community as far away as Biloxi, the least I can do is show my support."
Poisson's sentiment was echoed closely by Norris.
"Cascades has over 5,000 families," she said. "We hope this is a role-modeling situation and will inspire other communities and get people coming together to help their neighbors even though they are so far away."