The dog days of August are upon us! The suffocating heat and steamy rains make us want to stay inside with the AC blasting. But school starts in a few days and as the summer winds down, the Red Stick social scene will begin to heat up. Keeping us occupied until then were several fun get-togethers.

'Power of 1'

After what has been one of the most challenging years in its history, the Capital Area United Way celebrated those who helped steer the organization at its annual luncheon meeting July 25 at the L'Auberge Event Center. CAUW raised an additional $3 million for flood relief in the wake of last August's flood and, in the 27 days after the flood, got more calls to its 211 community hotline than they usually get in a year.

"Last year was one of improvisation," said CEO George Bell. "We raised $11 million last year. That tells me this community believes in United Way … I pledge to you that we will continue to work as diligently as we've done in the past."

This year's Big Five Awards went to Guaranty Media, Outstanding Media Award; Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance, Community Impact Award; Entergy, Standard of Excellence Award; outgoing board Chairman Stevie Toups, Outstanding Board Member; and CAUW staff member Katie Pritchett, Myron Falk Award.

Ginger Goudeau, of ExxonMobil, was recognized as the Employee Campaign Coordinator of the Year. Also honored was Ralph Bender, who along with Toups served as interim CEO until Bell came on board and has served as board chairman and campaign chairman.

The meeting also included the election of officers. Toups was smiling from ear-to-ear as he passed the gavel to successor Randy Young. Fellow officers include Dr. Stewart Gordon, chairman-elect; Amanda Stout, secretary; Aaron Stanford, treasurer/finance committee; Robert Schneckenburger, resource development chairman; Stacey Gautreau, community impact chairwoman; Kelli Joseph, community impact chairwoman-elect; Stan Levy, communications and marketing chairman; and Toups, governance committee chairman.

Rounding out the board are Dr. Kenny Cole, Greg Guilbeau, Les Gatz, Stephanie Manson, Pat Van Burkleo and Tom Yura.

'Kitchen Table Talk'

The following day, I joined Executive Director John Daniel and a slate of community leaders for a "Kitchen Table Talk" for the Southern States Scholars and their parents at LSU's Cox Academic Center for Student Athletes. The opening pep talk was given by Kenneth Miles, center director, who explained the center's motto, "Enter to win — Leave to serve."

Before breaking into smaller discussion groups, about the number that can fit around a kitchen table, where those attending could interact one-on-one with community leaders, we all heard from former Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Human Resources Vice President John Brown, Episcopal's Head of School Hugh McIntosh, undefeated super lightweight boxing champ Regis "Rougarou" Prograis, and Robert Walker, head of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Office's Special Community Anti-Crime Team.

Prograis, of New Orleans, had a powerful message for the teenage scholars. "I love to read," he said emphatically. "But when I was younger, I hated school. Then I stopped watching TV and started reading. I read books six hours a day … Try reading, it'll change your life."

Also participating in the event were Capital Area United Way CEO George Bell, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady College Chancellor Tina Holland and Baton Rouge Community College Foundation CEO Bill Smith.

Black & Orange Bash

Consortium 10/31 had a very busy couple of days at the end of the week. It started with a private luncheon July 28 honoring recipients of the organization's special awards. The Saundra Lane Community Award was presented to Maxine Crump, the Dwayne Sanborn Creativity Award went to Jonathan Palmisano and the Corey Tullier Courage Award was presented posthumously to Trevor Sims, who was represented by mom Allison Sims.

Crump and Palmisano joined the gang of Halloween enthusiasts at the River Room the following night for the annual Orange & Black Bash. As one of their last acts, 2016 King Brien Buxton and Queen Denise Clause introduced this year's court, which will be fêted at the annual Ghostly Gala and lead the annual Halloween Parade. Mark Bounds and Judy Rockforte Gonzales will reign as king and queen. Nick Stein and Meredith Beck-Wiggins were named count and countess. Meredith also took home the Lance Parker Spirit Award and was awarded the coveted orange jacket for winning this year's Peanut Butter Cup.

Consortium 10/31 parade captain Bridgit Didier announced the theme for this year's parade, "Rhythm & Boos," which rolls through downtown at 2 p.m. Oct. 28. She also introduced this year's grand marshal, Patrick Mulhearn.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.