Fundraising Begins For Fountain Honoring Katrina Volunteers

A Diamondhead man says he's come up with a wonderful way to thank our many Katrina volunteers. James Seglund has proposed building a large memorial fountain to show our appreciation.

Every day, it's easy to find volunteers from across the country working in South Mississippi. One group from North Carolina said their hearts drew them to the Coast.

"Since Katrina, we have had four different teams to come here to help in the restoration," volunteer James Banks said. "It's just part of our philosophy from the Presbyterian Church of America, which we're a part of, that we reach out to our brothers and sisters in need."

Dedication to helping South Mississippi rebuild is why one Diamondhead resident says a simple thank you is just not enough.

"Many of us have approached them and given them a hand shake and a real sincere thank you, but it seemed that was just a passing of a moment and that we needed something a little more permanent so that we would never forget the volunteers," said James Seglund, Chairman of the Katrina Volunteer Memorial.

Seglund is proposing a memorial water fountain. The Egyptian Obelisk will tower 30-feet to symbolize the 30-foot storm surge Katrina brought with her.

"So that people standing looking at that fountain can look up 30 feet and say, 'That's a lot of water.' We want them to really appreciate what happened here on the coast with that 30-foot surge," Seglund said.

"The statue is actually rising out of it to signify rebuilding. The walkway in front of the monument will actually be constructed out of storm debris," said Jim McBride, President of J.M. Digital Corporation.

The proposed location for the Katrina monument is right at the Hancock County I-10 Welcome Center. As the gateway in to the Gulf Coast, it's one of the first places volunteers often make a stop.

The cost of the project is around $400,000. Seglund is relying on donations and corporate sponsors to make the monument a reality. He says it's a small price to pay for the volunteers who have given so much.

"They've helped people put lives back together, encouragement, hope and homes... So I think it's great to commemorate that," said volunteer Jordan Sikkema.

A fundraising kick-off dinner will be held Friday night at the Diamondhead Country Club to honor volunteers. Congressman Gene Taylor will serve as keynote speaker at the $30 a plate dinner.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the volunteer monument can drop a check in the mail to:

Katrina Volunteer Fountain
Gulf Coast Community Foundation
P.O. Box 2984
Gulfport, MS 39505

You may also call (228) 255-3451 for more information.