Benefit Raises $83,000 for Hurricane Victims By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 27, 2005

A gala dinner at HS Lordship’s Restaurant Sunday evening raised an estimated $83,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina both in Berkeley and across the country. 

About 250 people paid $100 a plate for the four-hour event, co-hosted by Mayor Tom Bates and UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and largely organized by local Persian-American organizations. 

“Berkeley’s generosity was tremendous in aiding the victims of the earthquake in Bam (Iran),” said Niloo Nouri of The Persian Center. “As citizens of this country we felt compelled to give back to our fellow Americans.” 

HS Lordship’s donated the ballroom space, and Alborz, a local Persian restaurant, donated food. An auction raised an additional $11,000 and Relief International matched $19,000 in donations. 

Top executives from the city, school district and university were all in attendance, but the stars of the evening were two families that are living with family in Berkeley after their homes in New Orleans were destroyed. 

“It was the families and the love that made New Orleans what it was. To be in another family-like city is very encouraging,” said Kanika Stewart, who came to Berkeley with her 6-year-old daughter Kyla to live in an aunt’s house. 

Stewart said city officials have given her clothes and helped her look for work. Along with two other evacuee families, Stewart will be moving to an apartment building at Seventh Street and Allston Way owned by Affordable Housing Associates. 

AHA’s Executive Director Susan Friedland said volunteers from Rebuilding Together and Prospect Sierra School worked to fix up the building for the evacuees. 

Families and staff at Rosa Parks Elementary School have raised about $3,000 for the family of Lamont Snaer, the Rosa Parks’ after-school coordinator. 

Snaer, a New Orleans native, has been hosting his father and three cousins who lost their homes in the earthquake. Snear’s cousin, Charles Baptiste, told those assembled Sunday, “Thank you for everything you are doing for us. We appreciate it.” 

So far, equipped with a local fund set up by the Rotary Club and Mechanics Bank, Berkeley has given aid to nine families, consisting of 31 people, that have arrived in the city following the hurricane.›