• Payton Armstrong, 8, a third-grader at West Meade Elementary School, makes a donation with her mother, Gena, for the victims of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Armstrongs were among the 20 people who attended the fundraiser Sunday at Heritage Park Neighborhood Center.

    Resident sponsors fundraiser to benefit Japan

    Payton Armstrong, 8, a third-grader at West Meade Elementary School, makes a donation with her mother, Gena, for the victims of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Armstrongs were among the 20 people who attended the fundraiser Sunday at...

  • Junichi Saigo, a pastor of the Washington Alliance Japanese Church in Potomac, discusses the courage of the Japanese people at Sunday's fundraiser as Maj. Gen. Mitsuru Nodomi, defense and military attaché to the United States, and Heritage Park resident and fundraiser organizer Caress Hudson listen.

    Resident sponsors fundraiser to benefit Japan

    Junichi Saigo, a pastor of the Washington Alliance Japanese Church in Potomac, discusses the courage of the Japanese people at Sunday's fundraiser as Maj. Gen. Mitsuru Nodomi, defense and military attaché to the United States, and Heritage Park...

  • Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Hudson discusses Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami with Maj. Gen. Mitsuru Nodomi, defense and military attaché to the United States from the Japanese Embassy. Nodomi was a guest speaker Sunday afternoon at a fundraiser organized by Hudson's wife, Caress.

    Resident sponsors fundraiser to benefit Japan

    Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Hudson discusses Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami with Maj. Gen. Mitsuru Nodomi, defense and military attaché to the United States from the Japanese Embassy. Nodomi was a guest speaker Sunday afternoon at...

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - A year ago, Caress Hudson interviewed for a marketing job at World Vision, a Christian humanitarian relief organization.

Although Hudson did not get the job, what she didn't know then was that within the next year she would organize and host a charity fundraiser to support the group's relief work in Japan.

On Sunday, 20 of Hudson's family members and friends gathered at the Heritage Park Neighborhood Center for the two-hour fundraiser to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. What began as a simple desire to aid others became a noteworthy event with a visit from a major general from the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C.

Hudson, an event planner and resident of Heritage Park, told the audience that when she contacted the Japanese Embassy last month and requested a representative to speak at the event, she never imagined Maj. Gen. Mitsuru Nodomi, defense and military attachAfA to the United States, would agree to attend.

"I'm so honored to have him here," said Hudson, the wife of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Hudson of Naval Information Operations Command. "When I found out he was coming I almost fainted."

Nodomi and Rev. Junichi Saigo, a pastor at the Washington Alliance Japanese Church in Potomac, spoke about the resiliency and courage of the Japanese people and the generosity and cooperation of the American public and armed forces.

"We will stand against this disaster. We can overcome it, [but] it will take a long time," Nodomi said.

During his remarks, Nodomi explained that the earthquake that struck in northeastern Japan a little more than a month ago was the largest in the country's history. Nodomi said the last major earthquake occurred in 1923 near Tokyo and measured 7.9 in magnitude. The March 11 earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9. Its effects were "45 times larger than the one in Tokyo," he said.

The tsunami that followed swept over 1,000 kilometers of coastal land, causing 165,000 people to be displaced or evacuated, the general said.

"Our efforts are tremendous," Nodomi said. "But we are lucky, 134 countries extended their hands to help Japan.

"We don't have the proper words to express our gratitude to the U.S. forces."

Hudson decorated the conference room with red and black balloons, representing the colors of Japan. She also displayed storyboards of photographs from the disaster and text that gave a timeline of the earthquake, tsunami and the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Monica Smith, a friend and former neighbor of Hudson, said she came to support the cause and to learn more about the tragic event.

"I did not pay a lot of attention to it when it happened," Smith said. "I came to learn about what exactly happened there."

Gena Armstrong, a resident of Meuse Forest, attended with her 8-year-old daughter Payton, who was dressed in a blue and white yukata, the summer version of a kimono.

"My mother has descendants from Japan," said Armstrong, who has relatives and friends residing in Tokyo. "I just wanted to show support and teach my kids about their origins. I want to teach them compassion and how something small can make a difference."

Saigo spoke about the selfless courage of several members of a Christian church in Tomioka, a city located three kilometers from the troubled nuclear plant.

"They are sacrificing their life and safety," Saigo said, explaining that the church members have volunteered to help workers cool down the plant.

The pastor said he attended the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., last weekend to offer his prayers. He also said the Japanese people have a strong heart that comes from hope.

Hudson came up with the idea for the fundraiser after viewing scenes of the disaster on the news.

"I felt [a connection] from one mother to another when I saw them looking for food and water for their children," said Hudson, the mother of three girls. "My heart dropped."

When she initially interviewed at World Vision, Hudson promised the executive director that she would hold a fundraiser for the group because she was impressed by its relief efforts. The tragedy in Japan seemed like the perfect fit.

"I thought, 'I'm gonna do something,' " Hudson recalled. "I want to be a woman of my word."

Hudson said she hasn't yet tabulated the donations from the event, but she hopes to donate $1,000 to World Vision. She is expecting more donations from family and friends, as well as from Fort Meade's Officers' Spouses' Club and the Enlisted Spouses Club. She is also accepting donations over the Internet.

"I want to show [my children] how to be citizens and that the world extends beyond the soil we stand on," she said. "It's very important to me."

Editor's note: Caress Hudson is accepting donations throughout the month of April. To make a donation, visit www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/owcevents.

Page last updated Wed September 28th, 2011 at 08:55