Rachel Dangermond and the 100 WOMEN DBA will commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina the way the people of Bay St. Louis know best – by giving back to their community.
- Story by Dena Temple
She didn’t live here during Hurricane Katrina. She did not lose a house, or a pet, or a loved one. Rachel Dangermond came to Bay St. Louis in 2018 by way of New Orleans, and she came to own the 100 Men Hall on a fluke.
While not a native of the Bay, Rachel and her son, Tin, became woven into the fabric of the Bay St. Louis community almost from the start. Her stewardship of the beloved 100 Men Hall had something to do with it – but when asked, her neighbors in the Bay say it’s her generosity, compassion and a luminous spirit that makes her so special.
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“What we learned from that tragedy is where systems failed us, our community saved us,” said Rachel. “The outpouring of love from neighbors and strangers to those in need was overwhelming and crossed all the boundaries that keep us apart - racial, political, and all the rest.
“Instead of focusing on what happened then, let’s focus on who needs us now. Service is our highest calling.”
This is not the first food drive undertaken by the group. Working with Pearlington Impact, earlier this summer the group made up 100 bags of non-perishable food items, plus something unexpected: notes of encouragement from the NAACP Youth and College Division; “How to write a love letter” materials from The Writing Room at 100 Men Hall; and art kits from Ann Madden. Cash donations were converted into food by volunteer shoppers, and the food baskets were distributed in four locations around the county.
“We dropped off the bags, and it was first-come, first-served,” said Rachel. “We hoped that people would take what they needed and leave the rest.” All of the bags were gone before noon.
“Sadly, we did have someone take nine bags from the Kiln Library.” She sighed. “I hope that those nine bags went to kids who needed them.”
This time around, Rachel says, “we know better what to do with the bagging and distribution.” There are three efforts to feed food-insecure students in Hancock County; two are by churches, First Baptist Church and Christ Episcopal Church, and one from the Hancock Rotary.
“The schools that the churches serve are not meeting face to face, so their ‘Backpack Buddies’ program is on hold. We hope to fill the gap with the 100 WOMEN DBA Food 4 Youth.”
The food bags will be available after 10 am at the front of each institution. They will contain nonperishable items that could easily be prepared by youth; personal care items such as shampoo and lotion; and notes of encouragement from the NAACP Youth & College Division teens.
- Chef Boyardee cups
- Easy mac n cheese
- Granola bars or breakfast bars
- Instant oatmeal
Personal care items being accepted:
- Small shampoo and conditioner
- Small toothpaste
- Small deodorant
- Small lotion
Rachel is quite pleased with their progress so far.
“We are already ahead of where we were last month in terms of synergy,” she said. “Sally Isaacs of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce reached out to fast-food Chamber members for donations – and Domino’s Pizza donated 100 gift certificates! We are thrilled at the amount of community support we are seeing for this effort.”
She concluded, “The 100 WOMEN DBA is all about using leverage to help those who are underrepresented and underserved. When we see organizations like Gulfside Assembly, the Hancock Chamber and Domino’s coming through for food-insecure children, we know we are making a difference.”