STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
A garment bag with a big bow filled volunteer Lisa Shaw LaCaze’s heart with dread. She was cleaning out Kingsland resident Jean Dunson’s closet after the woman’s home was damaged by floodwaters last October. The despairing look on Dunson’s face as LaCaze held up the bag confirmed the volunteer’s biggest fear: It contained the wedding dress Dunson wore when she married husband Wally 63 years ago.
“I guess we got to get rid of it,” Dunson said.
LaCaze agreed but then realized only the bottom part of the dress was beyond repair. Dunson donned her wedding gown, complete with veil, once more. She and LaCraze snapped photos, which they sent to Dunson’s children as mementos.
“She giggled while I put the veil on her head,” LaCaze said. “She giggled as I shot the pictures. It was a way to save the memory.”
After the flood, area churches sent representatives to a meeting to organize flood recovery efforts. LaCaze, who lives in Spicewood, was named volunteer coordinator of about 25 churches whose members stepped up to clean homes and haul trash in Kingsland and Highland Haven. She was in charge of more than 150 volunteers who recorded over 900 hours of work at more than 25 damaged homes.
“We jumped in and started working on it and organized it and swapped off different areas and got busy,” she said. “I had already been working with small families and continued to. I wanted to see it through.”
LaCaze learned the importance of volunteering firsthand. She and her family were victims of disaster several years ago. In 2007, her home in the Pecan Valley subdivision in Marble Falls took in 6 inches of water. That prompted a temporary move to Houston, where her home was broken into by thieves. In 2011, her mother’s Highland Lakes home burned during the Spicewood fires.
Remembering the dedicated volunteers who helped her and her mother propelled LaCaze to reciprocate when the most recent floodwaters came.
“That kind of loss — those volunteers were important to me,” she said.
After LaCaze saw the Dunsons settled into another home, she continued helping. She made her way to Lookout Point off Campa Pajama Lane, where volunteers from five churches were helping to restore several homes. She heard sounds of laughter, joking, and teasing as they worked side by side. Another group brought in food for everyone, joining the camaraderie.
As LaCaze took in the scene, she realized she was witnessing the very best of the Highland Lakes.
“This is the perfect example of the Texas Hill Country,” she said. “It didn’t matter your religion. Everybody pulled together to help each other. That, to me, encompasses Christ-like love and care for community you don’t see everywhere anymore. That hit me.”