Rain, rain go away was our mantra last week as wet weather tried to put a damper on our social life.
Shield of Hope
The storm that left thousands without electricity began its roll through the area just as we were beginning the Salvation Army’s second annual Shield of Hope Dinner at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel May 19. We could hear the thunder as we visited during dinner and then as featured speaker Bill Burke shared his experience with the Salvation Army and tips on brand marketing.
Burke is the mastermind behind Nationwide Insurance’s catchy jingle, “Nationwide is on your side.” He also serves as chairman of the Salvation Army National Advisory Board.
“You have to be clever with your resources,” said Burke of positioning the relatively small insurance company. “Be a good steward and deliver on your promise of excellence. That’s the same mission as the Salvation Army.”
Touched by the problem of poverty in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, he got involved with the local Salvation Army’s Heart to Heart Canteen, preparing and providing meals to the homeless on weekends.
“I did this every Saturday for two years,” he said. “We have to escape this inter-generational cycle of poverty. It’s about helping solve tough problems one at a time.”
Following Burke’s talk, Capt. Brett Meredith presented the local chapter’s “Others” Award to Advisory Board Chairman Gerald Garrison. This is the army’s highest civilian award and recognizes “extraordinary” service to others in the community.
Fortunately the weather was a bit nicer for the Capital Area United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council’s luncheon at the Crowne Plaza. Welcoming the 100-plus go-getter women was council President Su san McCarter, who recognized the lone man brave enough to join us — interim co-CEO Stevie Toups, who was sitting at the Turner Industries table with his co workers.
My tablemates included council executive team member Kris Cangelosi, Charlene Montelaro, Terri LeBlanc, Cindy Bowman and Whitney Vann, who spoke at the event. She used segments from her show, “Weekends With Whitney,” to highlight examples of leadership throughout our community. More than one caused us to wipe away a tear or two; others had us chuckling.
The following day I joined members of the Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge, family and friends in honoring this year’s Silver Magnolias, eight women 70 and older who have made a positive impact on our community. The 12th annual tea took place at First United Methodist Church. Welcoming guests was council President Dee Mather-Muenzler.
This year’s honorees included Rebecca Cureau, past president and alumna member of the La Capitale Chapter of The Links and a volunteer with Adult Literacy Advocates, Unitarian Church, Interfaith Federation’s Holy Grill and former board member of the Baton Rouge Symphony and Louisiana Art & Science Museum; Marjorie Green, first African-American president of the Inter Civic Council and Downtown Kiwanis Club and past board president of the YWCA, Council on Human Relations and Community Association for the Welfare of School Children; Sue Dillion Hilliard, creator of the Derrick White Scholarship at Theatre Baton Rouge and volunteer with Cancer Services and Special Olympics; JiJi Jonas, LSU Track & Field official for past 20 years and recipient of its Hall of Fame award in 2014 as well as vice president for sport and leisure for the Louisiana Association of Health, PE, Recreation & Dance; Sharon Richard, past president of the founding board of the Baton Rouge Assistance League and Trianon, and five-year volunteer with Inner Wheel’s Trash & Treasure sale; Trish Sedlin, who has held several offices with Trianon and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, past president of PEO Chapter K and historian for SCORE; Willie Honeywood Smith, recipient of the Educators of Yesteryear 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Xi Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s MLK Civic Rights Award and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s Soror of the Century and Golden Soror of the Year awards; and Eleanor C. Torres, volunteer at Manship Theatre, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Crochet Compassion, Red Shoes, Louisiana Book Festival and Alzheimer’s Services Walk/Run to Remember.
Lois Holden , representing her husband, Mayor Kip Holden, read his proclamation proclaiming it Silver Magnolia Day throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. Tea Chairwoman Maureen Corcoran presented each honoree with a gift.
The week began at the traditional French picnic hosted by the Charity Ball Association to introduce its 2016 debutante coterie. Lynn Box opened her lovely home for the soggy May 17 celebration coordinated by social Co-Chairwomen Brandli Roberts, Mary Stablier and Mary Weller.
This year’s group of debs has two sets of twins, who also happen to be the daughters of friends of mine, so I remember when they were little girls. What lovely young ladies Alexandra Leigh and Olivia Marie Cox, daughters of Sandra and Keith Cox, and Madeline Claire and Mary Margaret Sanchez, daughters of Marcia and Marc Sanchez III, have grown up to be.
Also introduced at the picnic were Gabrielle Lucia Ferrara, daughter of Dede and Skip Ferrara; Allison Louise Hultgren, daughter of Susan and Carl Hultgren; AnneMichael Demoruelle Jenkins, daughter of Susan and Steve Jenkins; Julia Bahin Leonard, daughter of Cory and Harwood Leonard; Meredith Ann McKernan, daughter of Shannon and Gordon McKernan; Brooks Claire Nader, daughter of Holland and Breaux Nader; Mary Frances Patrick, daughter of Nell and Kirk Patrick; Sydney Alexandra Saia, daughter of Amber and S.J. Saia; Mary Camille Savoie, daughter of Paula and Tommy Savoie; Ashley Rae Smith, daughter of Renée and David Smith; Anna Kate Spring, daughter of Molly Spring and Ladd Spring; and Katlyn René Upp, daughter of Dr. Bobby and Susan Upp.
From the picnic, I headed over to LSU’s Lod Cook Convention Center and Career Compass’ 10th anniversary celebration luncheon. Founders Kacy Edwards and Julie Scott, along with their staff, were sporting these cute black tops with gold lettering that read “Best Job Ever” —- a reference to the Career Compass mission of removing obstacles that would prevent students from succeeding after high school graduation.
“We were the first college access organization that didn’t know we were,” quipped Scott. “Our vision for the next 10 years is for students from across the state to have the opportunity to sit across from a caring individual to help them plan for their future … It matters to us what Louisiana looks like in the future.”
“Why are they still here 10 years later?” asked Lori Bertman, CEO of the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation and the luncheon’s speaker. “They asked questions and they listened. Every part of you makes great leaders.”
Honored along with the foundation for helping Career Compass realize its mission were East Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent Warren Drake, who hired Edwards and Scott as teachers when he was at Tara High School, and Lane Grigsby, who through the Boo Grigsby Foundation provides scholarships to deserving students to continue their education. The program also included a video featuring Northwestern State University President Jim Henderson, a longtime supporter of Career Compass, who read a proclamation from Gov. John Bel Edwards proclaiming it Career Compass Day throughout the state.
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