This week we go from the frivolity of Spanish Town Mardi Gras to the humbleness of 12 amazing volunteers to the brave “Champions for Change,” so let’s get started.St. Valentine’s Day Masquerade

Several thousand party-goers filled the River Center Exhibition Hall Jan. 31 for the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball. Reigning over the festivities as the Queen of Hearts was Johanna Smith. Her king was the late Shelby Holmes, whose donated kidney saved the life of Doug Cossman, a founding member of the Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana. Cossman led everyone in a second line in memory of Holmes to kick off the royalty presentation.

Following Smith onstage was parade Grand Marshal Allen Kirkpatrick.

The Eddie Smith Band already had the dance floor hopping by the time I arrived. The fun continued after the royalty presentation as the Bucktown All Stars took the stage to rock until they turned on the lights. Having witnessed that scene once, I made sure I was gone by then. It’s not a pretty sight!

I had fun dancing with Leonard Augustus and LeBrian “Mr. Chocolishous” Patrick, who were the hit of the night in their costumes. It was also fun to meet so many Spanish Town Ball virgins. I easily talked to two dozen folks who were attending their first ball, including Diane Deaton, André Moreau, Jesse Hoggard, Veronica Mosgrove, Gay McFarland, Lou Hudson and daughter-in-law KK Kennon.

The Spanish Town fun continues at the parade, which rolls at noon on Valentine’s Day. If you can’t make it, don’t despair. Karen Profita will join me in live streaming all the fun online at theadvocate.com. And, if you are on Spanish Town Road, come by for a visit. We’ll be just a few doors down from Capital City Grocery atop a scaffold, so you can’t miss us!

Power of 9

On the last Friday of every month, WAFB’s Donna Britt showcases an extraordinary volunteer on the Channel 9 evening news. Those honored during 2014 were in the spotlight again Jan. 29 when Capital Area United Way, WAFB and Capital One Bank hosted the Power of 9 Honors Luncheon.

The honorees included: January — Tony Langford, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge; February — Brian Babin, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, Charlie’s Place Respite Center; March — Gwendolyn Hilliard, Volunteer Ascension; April — Baton Rouge General Hall of Fame Volunteers; May — Rhonda Loy, Big Buddy Program; June — Neva Butkus, Youth Oasis; July — Monique Cole, HOPE Ministries; August — Edwin “Spike” Barras, The Hospice of Baton Rouge; September — Marvin Borgmeyer, community volunteer; October — Liz Judice, Capital Area CASA Association; November — Mike Zobrist, Volunteers in Public Schools; and December — Mike and Gloria Graham, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

Adding their congratulations and thanks for all these dedicated individuals do for our community were CAUW President Darrin Goss Sr., WAFB General Manager Lee Meredith and Capital One Baton Rouge Market President Ric Kearny. Britt served as mistress of ceremonies.

To nominate someone for their extraordinary volunteer efforts, log on to CAUW.org/Powerof9.

‘Champions for Change’

STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response) hosted its annual “Champions for Change” fundraising breakfast Jan. 28 at Ruffino’s Catering at De Le Ronde Hall. Among the “champions” in attendance were District Attorney Hillar Moore and Police Chief Carl Dabadie.

Executive Director Racheal Hebert highlighted the agency’s Plan for Change, a “roadmap to the future.”

“We see our work as an investment for social change,” said Hebert.

STAR began in 1975 as the Rape Crisis Center of Baton Rouge, a division of the District Attorney’s office. It incorporated as a nonprofit in 2011 and since then has expanded its coverage to the capital region — East and West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and East and West Feliciana parishes. It provides a 24/7 hotline, (225) 383-RAPE, which in 2013 handled 692 calls; hospital and criminal justice advocacy, which helped 213 survivors receive sexual assault forensic exams; individual and group therapy, where 370 survivors and 71 family members received individual counseling; and educational programs, where 107 middle and high schools were educated about sexual assault prevention.

Beauregard honors

The Beauregard Civic Association presented its Community Spirit Award to Michele Deshotels at its annual meeting Jan. 26 at Beauregard Gallery. The award is given in memory of Beauregard resident Alexandra Engler, whose tragic murder served to bond the neighborhood more closely, and goes to someone whose “contribution of time, effort, spirit and community service result in the betterment of Beauregard Town.”

The association also presented a check to Hilltop Arboretum Executive Director Peggy Coates to help fund a historical marker for the South Boulevard trailhead of the William Bartram Trail.

Our condolences

Clydette Rispone, recipient of the Iron Horse Award at the ALS Association’s annual ‘Red, White & Sneaux’ Gala, who was seen in last week’s Party Line column, passed away Jan. 28 due to complications from ALS. Our deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

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