Fifteen young professionals were honored at the Boys & Girls Club’s annual Great Futures Gala on March 23 at the Shaw Center for the Arts. A lovely spring evening and a breathtaking sunset set the backdrop for the rooftop pre-party.
This year’s honorees, recognized for achieving a "great future" while also giving back to the community, included Annie Claire Bass, co-owner of SoSis Boutique and Annie Claire Designs; Alsie Dunbar, quality assurance manager for Noranda Alumina; Chip McAlpin, vice president of corporate strategy and development at Stupp Corp.; Davante Lewis, public affairs and outreach coordinator for the Louisiana Budget Project; Franz Borghardt, of Borghardt Law Firm; Jessica Keasler, environmental department manager at TerraConn; Jessica Trepagnier, manager of marketing and community development for Aetna Better Health of Louisiana; and Jill Kindler, a CPA with Hannis T. Bourgeois.
Also, Jonathan Blake, an attorney with Hammond, Sills, Adkins & Guice; Kelley Dick, an attorney with Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick; Kelli Bondy Troutman, director of communications and marketing for LUBA; Lacey Sanchez, an attorney with Taylor, Wellons, Politz & Duhé; Mathew Laborde, CEO of Efifin Realty; Natalie Wood, vice president coordinator with Entergy; and Neshana Bilbrew, a registered nurse and EPIC Application system analyst for the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady of Health System.
The evening was chaired by Jen O’Connell. Her committee members included Ryan Allen, Chelsey Blankenship, Ryan Byrd, Joe Cefalu, Thomas Chauvin, Ian Dallimore, Brittany Ernest, Helen Butts Field, Todd Hymel, Bridgett Kaigler, Dorothy Kemp, Meghann King, Allie McAlpin, Jill Miller and Lauren Westbrook.
The L’Auberge Event Center was packed the evening of March 21 for the Bella Bowman Foundation’s eighth annual Bella’s Ball, an event that gets bigger and better every year. What a tribute Kim and Trey Bowman have paid to their daughter Bella, who lost her battle with cancer less than year after being diagnosed. They are truly an example of paying it forward, as they try and make the road a little smoother for other children battling cancer and their families. Two of those children and their families were recognized at the ball — Travis Norsworthy, son of Renée and James Norsworthy, and Emmy Lou Fabre, daughter of Natalie Fabre.
The evening featured cuisine from some of the city’s best restaurants, a very tempting silent auction and a live auction, conducted by auctioneer extraordinaire Brian Fourroux. An impressive $10,000 was raised through the Gift of the Heart, which will go toward making a reality Bella’s House, a home offering comfort care and special services for medically delicate children and their families.
Moonshine & Music
Before Bella’s Ball, I made a quick stop at Pointe-Marie, a charming new development located a stone’s throw from L’Auberge, for a kickoff soirée for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Ebb & Flow festival season. Playing in the town square was Barry Hebert as guests milled around the outside bar enjoying another perfect spring evening and sunset along River Road.
The outdoor concert was the first of several scheduled at Pointe Marie. The Chris LeBlanc Band plays on April 4, followed by Ashley Toman on April 11. Ebb & Flow takes place in downtown Baton Rouge April 6-7 with the Third Street Songwriters Festival set for April 5-7.
The following day got underway at the Music Club’s annual scholarship luncheon at LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center. Entertaining the several hundred guests were members of the Musical Theatre Club at LSU, under the watchful eye of voice faculty member Terry Patrick Harris. Co-presidents of the LSU club are Gabi Eaves and Jonathan Thomas.
As guests arrived and shopped the silent auction, the John Dupaquier Band provided music. I enjoyed visiting with table mates John Jackson, Warren Fraser, Devera and Jerry Goss, Mattie and Rod Olson, and Harris. Luncheon-goers also included Susan Borgmeyer, Lois Saye, Alice Kronenberger, Sue Rainer, Ed Greene, Connie Smith, Katherine Martin, Carol Newman, Linda Manes, Brenda Cather, Virginia and John Grenier, Nadine Russell, Nancy Ginn and Frances Bennett.
Another enthusiastic crowd filled the ballroom at the Baton Rouge Marriott for the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter's Bal Masqué: Unmasking ALS Together Black & White Gala on March 22. Several celebrities were unmasked throughout the dinner, sharing their connection in the fight to cure ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. They included restaurateur and former LSU Tiger Ruffin Rodrigue, Dr. Craig Greene and Congressman Garret Graves, who shared the unsettling news that those who have served in the military within the past two years are twice as likely to get ALS than the general population. As terrible and frightening as that thought is, it will most likely benefit ALS patients now that Veteran’s Affairs has stepped in to put a spotlight on the insidious disease.
A heartfelt standing ovation embraced former WAFB news anchor Donna Britt as she received the association’s Iron Horse Award. I got a huge lump in my throat during the video presentation when it showed Donna with former co-anchor Paul Gates, who lost his battle with Alzheimer’s not too long ago.
Britt's award was presented by WAFB meteorologist and the night's emcee Jay Grymes, who shared poignant moments with Britt on the anchor desk.
Jéná Hampton, a nurse at the Oschner ALS Clinic, received the Healthcare Professional of the Year Award, which was presented by chapter development manager Chrissie Trosclair.
Auctioneer Brian Fourroux once again presided over a lively auction. Committee member Dusty Manson manned the wine pull, where for $20 guests got to pull a wine cork from a bowl and match the number to a bottle of wine — two of which were the award-winning Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and Joseph Phelps Insignia — both worth well over the $20 pull fee.
The gala was chaired by Claire Trahan. Aside from Manson, she was assisted by Fran Grega, Gina Wilson, Jill Diedrich, John Schittone Jr., John Simoneaux Sr., Kelee King, Kim Phillips, Laura Nolan and Miriam del Rio.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
The following night’s round of parties started with Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School’s Auction Classic at Live Oak Arabians. A tempting array of items were up for bids in the silent auction and the live auction included dinner for 10 with the Rev. Cleo Milano.
‘Salute to Sinatra’
Later that night, I dropped in at Ned Fasullo’s “Salute to Sinatra” benefiting the Baton Rouge High Foundation. An impressive crowd filled the school’s auditorium, which I learned from alumna Stafford Wood has the largest presidium stage in the state outside of New Orleans. She was there with son Steven, who is currently a student at the magnet school, and Sean Matassa.
As we waited in the lobby for the show to start, I got to visit/wave at Laura and Ken Duhé, Peggy and Bob Westerman, Phyllis and Lee McLauren, Susan Saye, Sissy and Ralph Stevens, Stacy Blanchard, Jimmy DeBenedetto and Caress Threadgill.
Fasullo, with backup from his Fabulous Big Band Orchestra, opened with “Come Fly with Me,” a perfect selection for the musical journey he was taking the audience on.