And we’re off! The summer slowdown on the social scene is over. In one day, I went to four events, starting with the Bengal Belles season kickoff luncheon.
L’Auberge Event Center was taken over Sept. 6 by hundreds of purple-and-gold wearing, die-hard women fans ready to cheer on the LSU Tigers in anticipation of the team’s home opener against the Southeastern Lions. There was an air of excitement in the wake of LSU’s defeat of the Miami Hurricanes just days earlier, and that made everybody smile — especially coach Ed Orgeron, who was introduced by President Aimée Simon.
He commented how this crowd was a lot prettier than the sweaty players he’d been looking at the past couple of months. “But boy, did they look good Sunday night!” That brought on a roar worthy of Mike himself.
Wife Kelly Orgeron got a rousing round of applause when she emphatically stated, “The LSU Tigers will not be knocked down! I have faith in that.”
The Orgerons were followed by three players, who fielded questions from emcee Gordy Rush. He got to the bottom of how cornerback Greedy Williams got his name. Seems he was sucking down bottles as an infant when his aunt said he was a “Greedy D-D.” “They dropped the D-D, but the Greedy stuck,” said Williams, who also won the trivia contest and a box of the famous Bengal Belle cookies. “Y’all loving on us, and we’re loving on you.”
Also vying for the cookies were linebackers Blake Ferguson, who managed to get his degree in three years and is now working on his MBA, and Devin White, who is quite serious about horses.
The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, better known as CODOFIL, is celebrating 50 years and Une Place a la Table (A Place at the Table), which is where the agency is now after members have worked tirelessly to promote and support French immersion and French as a second language in education. One of its three celebrations took place at LSU’s Rural Life Museum, where art and other memorabilia are on exhibit through Oct. 28. The exhibit is sponsored by the Louisiana Crafts Guild.
Friends of LPB
My next stop was Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Telecommunication’s Center, where the Friends of LPB held a reception before the annual meeting. Honored guests at the event were chef John Folse and Robyn Merrick, who received the President's Award for their dedication and service to LPB.
Not only did I rub shoulders with these two, but I had fun visiting with former co-workers Chris Russo Blackwood, Tonya Henderson and Emily Foreman Babineaux, of Lafayette. Chris’ husband, Bill Blackwood, is wrapping up his tenure as chairman of the Friends' board. Tonya and Emily are two of the board’s newest members. I also got to catch up with LPB President Beth Courtney, André Moreau, Dan Hare, Terri Crocket and Kathy Scherer.
‘Twist & Shout’
Thursday night wrapped up at Of Moving Colors’ “Twist & Shout” season kickoff party at the home of Laurie and Hank Saurage. Brother Matt Saurage, a former board chairman, begged me to make sure I pointed out that he was getting into the theme of the night by dressing like a Beatle with his 1960s-style suit and hairstyle. I think his ensemble and the one sported by fellow former board chairman Fred Dent proved helpful when they asked guests to contribute for the dance troupe.
Among the guests were Bettsie Baker Miller, Paul Arrigo, Donna Saurage, Catherine Saurage, Cary Saurage, BeBe Facundus, Susan and Richard Lipsey, Debbie and Hunt Odom, Amy Horn, Claire Major and Heather Day. In keeping with the Beatle theme, we noshed on Sexy Sadie Seafood Pasta, Magical Mystery Mushrooms, Let It Brie, Free as a Bird Chicken Salad, Strawberry (and other) Fields Forever and Obladi Obla Desserts.
Belle’s Royal Celebration
Sunday’s party patrol started out at the Renaissance Hotel and Bella’s Royal Celebration benefiting the Bella Bowman Foundation. All of the Disney princesses, along with Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Supergirl and Captain America, were on hand to visit with the several hundred young guests and pose for lots and lots of photos. These princesses and superheroes are a big part of the foundation. Kim Bowman, along with friends and volunteers, dress as these characters when visiting sick children at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. She was inspired when one of her late daughter’s nurses dressed as a princess and elicited a huge smile from the youngster.
Several of the princesses and superheroes put on a skit to tell the story of the Care Bags that Kim, husband Trey and foundation volunteers pass out to the family of the patients. They contain items like a blanket, a roll of quarters, good shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush, mints, snacks, tissues, a pad and pen, and a calendar — all items Kim says she would have loved to have had when Bella was hospitalized.
Many of the items for the Care Bags are donated, but others are purchased. To help with this and other causes of the foundation, 6-year-old Katie Barnett unashamedly asks for donations from everyone she meets. Her efforts were recognized when she received the debut Super Service Award.
Also recognized was 13-year-old Lane Brouillette, son of Diana and Craig Brouillette, who received the High Five Award. Lane underwent five rounds of chemo as a toddler for acute myelogenous leukemia and has been cancer free for 11 years.
Sandi and Chip Robinson have been raising funds for nine years through Battle Against Autism, the nonprofit they founded. On the eve of the event's golf tournament, a fabulous cocktail party and auction are held that raise money for the Emerge Center. One of the hot-ticket items in the live auction was the painting done by Alex Harvie at the actual party.
Welcoming guests to the festivities at Ruffino’s Restaurant were the Robinsons, Emerge Center CEO Melissa Juneau, board Chairwoman Melissa Gregg Blake and Development Director Shelton Jones.
Power of Women
Speaking of Melissa Juneau, she was one of three go-getter women honored Aug. 30 at the Power of Women breakfast hosted by Capital Area United Way’s Women United at the L’Auberge Event Center. The awards were presented by committee member Ginger Goudeau, of ExxonMobil.
Juneau received the Leadership Excellence Award, which recognizes a woman leader in nonprofit work “who exemplifies a spirit of passion and groundbreaking achievement that shows the way for others.”
Lois Smyth, Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s donor services program officer, received the Legacy of Service Award. Jeanette Dansby, daytime manager at St. Vincent de Paul’s shelter for women, received the Leadership of Inspiration Award.
The day began with a panel discussion moderated by Beverly Brooks Thompson. Panelists included Kris Cangelosi, Cangelosi Dance Project; Terrie Sterling, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center; and Padma Vatsavai, founder and CEO of Vinformatix.
Serving on the committee with Goudeau were Alice Miller, Amy Canik, Michelle Hardy, Charlene Montelaro and Cangelosi.