Benefit for New Orleans Firefighters

Olivia Cranin

Candi and Arthur Ramer, owners of Sushi Blues on Broad Street, will be contribution to the Hurricane Katrina Relief effort. They have organized a fundraiser to be held at the Palace Theater on Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. to raise money for Captain Allan O’Keefe and the 36 firefighters in the Engine 46-Airport Division of the New Orleans Fire Department.

Candi Ramer, along with other local shopkeepers, met to plan a fundraiser for the Katrina victims. She left the meeting feeling unsatisfied with such an impersonal approach.

“I was cynical about what would happen to the money,” she said.

That same night at Sushi Blues, she began talking to Elizabeth O’Keefe-Manaseri, a regular customer of her restaurant and a New Orleans native. Beth’s brother, Allan O’Keefe, is currently in New Orleans with the 35 other men in his division. Because they are in the Airport Division, which lies outside of the city, these men were the only firefighters who were not immediately evacuated from the city when the hurricane hit.

“All [of Captain O’Keefe’s] men stayed on the job even though they had nothing,” Ramer said.

After her conversation with O’Keefe-Manaseri, Ramer decided to focus her fundraising efforts on Captain O’Keefe and his division.

“You can’t really make a difference with a little money; you can’t help everyone,” she said. “These men are not thinking about what they need right now, so it’s nice to help them.”

At the event, people will gather to donate money, bid in an auction, dance and have a good time. All of the proceeds will go to the men of Engine 46. Everything for the event has been donated, including the space at the Palace, all auction items, music from Club Ed and alcohol from the Colgate Inn. JJ’s Salon, was asked to donate a basket worth $100 but donated one worth $230.

“Everyone has been like that,” Ramer said. “People enjoy the local feel of the fundraiser and appreciate that it has a focus. I hope the community will come out to support this event the same way the sponsors have.”