Volunteers are an integral part of any community. They make nonprofits, schools, churches, hospitals and a host of other enterprises run more smoothly. For the past 12 years, the Power of 9 — a joint project of Capital Area United Way, WAFB-TV and Capital One — has recognized some of those volunteers who give so selflessly of their time and talents.
Power of 9
There is no better community cheerleader than WAFB's Donna Britt, whose enthusiasm for those who step up throughout the greater Baton Rouge area knows no bounds. Watching the stories she does for the Power of 9 and getting to see her introduce the 12 honored volunteers at the annual Power of 9 Luncheon is a joy. Presenting the awards at the Feb. 8 event at Boudreaux's were CAUW CEO George Bell and Capital One Baton Rouge Market President David Mullens.
Recognized for their selfless efforts were: January — Judy Bernard, who makes baby blankets for infants at Woman's Hospital and Baton Rouge General as well as volunteers at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church; February — CAUW's Emerging Leaders, for creation of the Little Free Libraries and work at the YWCA Head Start; March — Shelly Tremonte, Baton Rouge General; April — Linda Dawkins, St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, Rural Life Museum and Baton Rouge General; May — Baton Rouge Police Officer Sherri Harris, Volunteers in Public Schools reading buddy; and July — Howard White, Big Buddy's Level Up program.
Also, August — Fred Zeagler, for his efforts in repairing band instruments for local schools; September — Linda Montagnino, Inner Wheel and Baton Rouge Hospice; October — Kris Cangelosi, "Dancing for Big Buddy"; November — Forum 35, for various community projects; December — CAUW's Women's Leadership Council, Life of a Single Mom; and January 2018 — Rosemary Pourrier, International Hospitality Foundation.
The day was extra special for Rosemary, who was celebrating her 90th birthday. It was also a great day for Donna, who was presented with a huge bouquet of flowers and a standing ovation for her 12 years of dedication to the Power of 9.
The night before, the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry hosted a lovely reception at the Old Governor's Mansion for the Louisiana Legislature and LABI members. It was soggy outside but that didn't dampen the party atmosphere one bit. I got to catch up and relive the experience with some of my fellow D.C. Mardi Gras attendees — Colleen Waguespack, Kevin Hayes, Nial Patel, state Rep. Steve Carter and Christel and Bill Slaughter. I also had nice visits with Jay Campbell, David Bondy, Kelli and Eric Troutman and Metro Councilman Matt Watson.
When Bettsie Miller invited me to join her for the Decorators Guest Day Luncheon at the Baton Rouge Country Club on Feb. 6, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I knew it would be fun, after all, Bettsie was my host, but what were the Decorators?
Well, it's a fun group of ladies — many the daughters of its founders, who started it back in the 1950s to get together and share decorating and hosting tips. In fact, my sources tell me local interior designer Dixon Smith was a member back in the day. These days, the Decorators talk about books, art, music and, occasionally, decorating tips.
It was fun hearing the stories from legacies Annette Barton, Jane Flowers and Linda Grace, who were my table mates along with Dovie Brady, Mary Beth Chevalier, Judy Zollinger and Bettsie. We also had way too much fun playing USA Bingo, in line with the Constitution Day theme. Taking home the prize for knowing her state capitals and achieving blackout Bingo was Beth Cenac, a guest of Nancy Crawford.
Black History celebration
Later that night, I headed out to Southern University where the Alumni Federation Home Chapter was celebrating its third annual Black History program and chapter appreciation event in the Smith Brown Memorial Union's Royal Cotillion Ballroom. Suggested attire for the evening was African-inspired, and it made for a beautiful scene throughout the ballroom.
The highlight of the event was the recognition of this year's honorees. They included Ann A. Smith, chairwoman of the SU board of supervisors; Niles B. Haymer, attorney; Chauna Banks, East Baton Rouge Parish MetroCouncil member; and Kia Bickham, immediate past president of the chapter. Presenting the awards were chapter President Courtny Jarrell and SU President Ray Belton.
The celebration also included a dance presentation by the United Nigerian Women Association and the Southern Gospel Choir.
While having lunch with the Decorators, I discovered several of them are accomplished artists. Jane Flowers was one of 16 artists from among 690 entries to have her painting honored by the prestigious Oil Painters of America's online fall show. Bettsie Miller is now the proud owner of that painting.
These two women and their fellow Associated Women in the Arts members got together last week with post-Modern Impressionistic artist Alice Williams for a two-day workshop at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. Known for her strong color and composition, Williams has been creating charming interiors, landscapes and figurative paintings for more than 40 years. I simply couldn't resist the temptation to drop by and check out what they were up to. All of the women remarked how Williams was pushing them out of their comfort zones and, from what this untrained eye saw, it was a success.