St. Helena Advocacy for Parish Enrichment recently received $5,000 from the CoBank “Sharing Success” program.

The program is part of a charitable fund designed by CoBank to benefit cooperatives and the charitable groups they support.

CoBank Board of Directors member and lifelong St. Helena Parish resident Richard “Dickie” Sitman assisted SHAPE board members in receiving the donation.

Sitman also is chairman of Dixie Electric Membership Cooperative, chairman of DEMCO Energy Services LLC and chairman of the Dixie Business Center.

Additionally, Sitman is a director of the Louisiana Council of Farmer Co-ops and the Zachary Taylor Parkway Association. Sitman said he is dedicated to improving St. Helena Parish.

SHAPE started a few years back, after the parish received a grant to have a comprehensive plan developed, an in-depth study of how to improve St. Helena.

It took over a year for the design company, Brown+Danos, to complete the plan, Police Juror Major Coleman said.

Because this plan was so far-reaching in its implementation goals and suggestions, there was no way one person could get it done alone, grant administrator Virginia Bell said.

After the plan’s completion, police jurors were asked to create a committee to help implement the plan, Bell said.

SHAPE was implemented to assist the parish in getting the comprehensive plan underway.

Rita Allen, treasurer of SHAPE, came up with the acronym, Bell said. They had gone through several variations but finally settled on Allen’s idea of SHAPE.

The committee quickly took on a life of its own and began launching projects, the farmers market, held on the last Saturday of each month, being the first major such project.

SHAPE Chairman James Miller said Sitman and other volunteers have worked over the past few years in helping to improve the parish.

“I believe their efforts have accomplished laying the groundwork to begin working on the comprehensive plan,” Miller said.