A sign proclaiming "Hospitality Post" proudly hung on the American Legion Post 77 building. The nickname developed after the Waveland veterans' group honed a reputation for being good hosts to national and state Legionnaires.|
The post formed in 1974, and is open to any who served in U.S. armed services or an ally of the U.S. during a war. With its 350 members, Post 77 was a beehive of activity at 208 Coleman Avenue.
This post is best known for two things, according to Russell Voorhies, community relations chairman: scholarships and its fun Mardi Gras ball.
The first centers on nursing scholarships, at least $7,000 each year for students in the Pearl River Junior College program. Why nursing?
"Many of us are members of the 40 & 8, the Legion's honor society which has a name that goes back to World War I when it took either 40 men or eight mules or horses to load cannon in railroad box cars, and that many to take the cannon to the battlefield.
"Whenever any of them were hurt, they were brought back to field hospitals and it was the nurses who helped them. So we want to help train nurses to help the veterans and the community."
As for the Mardi Gras ball, this year that recognition is moot. There is no building left in which to hold the ball, and the rest of Waveland is part of Katrina's ground zero.
"We're trying to continue the membership and hold meetings in a tent," said Voorhies. "We're re-establishing ourselves but it's difficult to do when you have no facility to operate out of."
Soon, the activity meter will rev up when Camp Second Helping opens on Post 77's little piece of Coleman Avenue.
Last week, the post board approved the Rainbow Family, a national affiliation of individuals who have a common goal of world peace, setting up a kitchen and dining hall to feed citizens until they find a permanent site for a community center.
By that time, Post 77 might know its own building future, which Voorhies says will depend on new height and facade requirement for metal buildings.
- KAT BERGERON