Chamber receives $10K donation for local business recovery

Published 8:41 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

LAPLACE — In a demonstration of continued commitment to restoring the River Parishes, the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce recently presented the River Region Chamber of Commerce with a $10,150 check for Hurricane Ida recovery.

The generous donation was made possible by the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, the St. Bernard Chamber and the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. Representatives from each entity were in LaPlace this week to present the check.

River Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chassity McComack is having conversations with the RRCC Executive Committee on how to best utilize the contribution to uplift businesses in the community.

McComack said St. Bernard Chamber CEO Elizabeth Dauterive has been an angel throughout the past two months of hurricane recovery. When McComack was overwhelmed immediately after the storm, Dauterive was the first person to call and ask, “What do you need us to do?”

McComack told her, “We are three parishes, and I don’t know where to start.”

Dauterive responded, “Well, we’ll start in the middle.”

Before plumbing had even been restored to most of the River Parishes, Dauterive and six board members of the St. Bernard Chamber traveled to LaPlace to host “Operation BBQ,” an initiative that served hot meals to 500 individuals in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Two weeks later, representatives of the St. Bernard Chamber and the Irene Campbell Foundation arrived at the Lloyd B. Johnson Law Enforcement Training Center in LaPlace with a truck full of non-perishable foods. The contributions, distributed in the community by the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, included a week’s worth of food for 80 families of four.

However, that wasn’t the end of St. Bernard’s service to the River Region community. A relief fund was established weeks ago, leading to the presentation of the $10,150 check Thursday morning at the Chamber office.

“Our Chamber and our community know what this feels like, so it’s not out of the norm for us to ask how we can help. That’s what people did for us in St. Bernard after Hurricane Katrina,” Dauterive told members of the River Region Chamber following the check presentation. “This is not the end of it. We know that recovery takes a very long time. If you have any other needs, please let us know, because we have members ready to help.”

McComack expressed her appreciation for those who contributed to the Hurricane Ida fund, noting that it’s a humbling experience to be on the receiving end of disaster relief efforts.

“Normally, as a Chamber, we are the ones helping with the recovery, giving, orchestrating and contributing. This time, we were on the flip side,” McComack said.

RRCC Board Secretary Diane Jackson said the St. Bernard Chamber members have been a positive presence in the community over the past two months.

“It feels like we are with family, even showing up to see you all as we served meals. We feel the camaraderie. We are not by ourselves for this recovery,” Jackson said. “We are very, very thankful, and I am dying to return the favor and the blessings that you’ve bestowed on our executive director.”

RRCC Past Chair John Little was astounded by St. Bernard’s willingness to go the extra mile for victims of Hurricane Ida.

“The generosity is incredible, and I think the geography is what makes it even more so. It’s not like we’re neighboring chambers,” Little said.

Bill Haines, board member for the Meraux Foundation, responded, “We might be geographically distant, but we’ve had similar experiences, and we understand where you guys are at. We know you will get through it.”

Also on hand for Thursday’s check presentation were Meaghan McCormick, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation executive director, RRCC board members Libby Hotard and Wayne Vicknair, and Jay Robichaux, executive director for Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission.