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Berea Celebrates Benefit for Big Easy

On September 28, Berea College and community members gathered together to help raise funds for the city of New Orleans that, in recent weeks, has endured an unimaginable amount of devastation due to Hurricane Katrina. The evening was full of music, poetry and personal stories. It was an event that those in attendance will not soon forget.

Back to the Bayou provided fun and entertainment for all.

Not only successful at bringing together the Berea community, the Back On The Bayou Cafe hosted more than 75 guests and raised $648.00 for the Living Faith Baptist Church. The church has been feeding over 100 Katrina victims twice a day. CELTS director Betty Hibler commented, "I am a member of the mayor's hurricane relief committee and some of my fellow members knew of this church and what they had been doing for the victims. We thought it would be nice to raise money for a small organization." CELTS chose the coffee house themed fundraiser due to the success of last year's fundraiser for tsunami victims. While on the CELTS officer retreat, Patrick McGrady was determined to organize another successful event for the hurricane victims. "We knew we wanted to do something [for Katrina victims]. While we were on the CELTS retreat, it seemed that the coffee house was the most popular idea." McGrady added, "It was something that was needed and also something that would be fun to put together."

The culture of New Orleans was prevalent at the event. Eight performers were featured atop of stage boasting 'Bourbon Street' sign; four were musical guests and four read inspiring and thought-provoking poetry. Upon entering the room, guests were given armloads of multi-colored Mardi Gras beads and a ticket that was to be used in exchange for desserts prepared by the Boone Tavern Restaurant. The pastries were given names such as "Mississippi Mud," in honor of the affected areas in the deep south.

The concern for Hurricane Katrina victims in our community is overwhelming and awe-inspiring. When most guests were asked if they had family directly involved, the typical answer was, "No. I just wanted to help out."

If you missed this benefit, don't worry, your chance to help is coming in the near future. Patrick McGrady is currently working with a fellow CELTS member on another fundraiser to continue collecting money for relief efforts. Also, keep an eye open for emails regarding the short-term class that will focus on rebuilding severely damaged sections of New Orleans.

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