We celebrated those who give of their time and talents and local artists. We dined in the dark and raised money to spread a little sunshine. All in all, just a typical week in Red Stick.
More than 400 family members, friends and supporters of the Emerge Center filled the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel for the 43rd annual Volunteer Activists luncheon Nov. 13. Honored for their outstanding volunteer service to our community were Linda and McCleish Dawkins, Charles Freeburgh, Kathryn Kissam, Kevin Knobloch, Crissie Head Landry, Dr. Carol Patin, Chip Robinson, Nick Speyrer, Mike Wampold and Erin Monroe Wesley.
Emcee John Pastorek introduced the recipients, who were presented the awards by their nominators. He also reminded everyone that autism doesn’t define the Emerge Center’s clients and staff, “they define autism.”
Executive Director Melissa Juneau presented this year’s Margaret Neeley Award to the Sigma chapter of Delta Zeta, which has donated over $150,000 to the center. It was accepted by Peyton Klemm, the chapter’s vice president of philanthropy.
Luncheon goers also heard the powerful story of Angie and Craig “Moonie” Bergeron, parents of two autistic children and founders of Anglers Against Autism. They made the appeal for donations to the center’s scholarship fund. Up to $30,000 of those donations were matched by proceeds from Sandi and Chip Robinson’s Battle Against Autism fundraiser.
The Baton Rouge Gallery was the hot ticket in town on the night of Nov. 13 as it hosted its annual KINETICS live art auction. Lucy & The Gamblers were rocking on the patio as guests began arriving, sampling the almost-too-pretty-to-eat hors d’oeuvres created by guest culinary artist chef Sean Rivera , of Foodie Patutie.
Some 30 pieces of contemporary art by artist members were up for bids by auctioneer Brian Fourroux. Art wasn’t the only thing up for grabs, either. Attendees also were parting with their cash trying to win one of the three very tempting raffle packages, like the “There’s No Place Home!” package featuring a table for 10 to the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball, tickets to the River City Jazz Masters Series and limo service to the local event of your choice or “Crusin’ into New Orleans,” which featured a two-night stay at the Blake Hotel, brunch at the Court of Two Sisters and use of a Cadillac ATS for a week, courtesy of Gerry Lane Enterprises. Then there was the “Louisiana Sportsman’s Dream” with its guided duck-hunting trip, personal kayak, new running shoes and yoga sessions.
As I scoped out the art work, I enjoyed visiting with Michael Robinson, Don Boutté, Claire and Steve Broyles, Debbie Daniel, Leonard Augustus and Thomas Telhiard.
The day before started out with lunch with a very special group of ladies, the women of Sharing Shores, for their seventh annual Spirit of Giving get-together at Bayleaf Indian Cuisine. Proceeds from this luncheon benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, which was represented by Development Director Charlene Montelaro.
Board member Meena Sachdev opened the festivities with the Hindu universal prayer for peace. Featured speaker for the day was LSU Baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who shared how he was struck by the purpose of Sharing Shores, which is to raise funds for charities assisting women and children. The group has donated over $120,000 to such charities.
Sharing Shores President Pinki Diwan also announced that the group awarded its first scholarship this year to an LSU student pursuing a degree in social work.
“Sacrifice, hard work and team work are not just about being good baseball players but being good citizens,” said Mainieri.
Later that evening, Bettsie Miller opened her home for a lovely cocktail reception thanking volunteers, donors and sponsors of Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge. And who did I bump into but coach Mainieri, who, with wife Karen , serves as honorary chairman of Capital Chefs’ Showcase every year. I also got to visit with Ann Guercio, Layne McDaniel, Suzanne Sexton, C onnie Caldwell, Nick Speyrer, Tricia Day and Joe Simmons and Carole and Charlie Lamar. Carole told how she got to meet actor Tom Cruise when he was at Tiger Stadium for the Florida game. Can you say jealous? Lucky lady!
While the night was mainly about visiting with friends, Executive Director Jill Roshto took a moment to formally thank those present for their support of Cancer Services and its mission. “We have a bright future ahead of us,” she said. She also talked about her experience with the 41 campers from Baton Rouge and New Orleans attending the previous weekend’s Camp Erin bereavement camp.
Friends and fellow gardeners of County Agent Bob Souvestre gathered at the Burden Center Nov. 11 to celebrate his retirement from the LSU AgCenter. Bob is credited with starting the local Master Gardener program and for years penned a popular weekly gardening column for The Advocate. We wish him well in his new retired life!
Hanging it up
Souvestre isn’t the only one celebrating retirement. A large contingent of friends, family and board members past and present packed the Bocage Racquet Club Nov. 10 to bid bon voyage to Volunteers of America of Greater Baton Rouge CEO Jane Shank. Jane has been with VOA for 20 years, 13 of them here in Baton Rouge, and during her tenure our chapter has grown into one of the strongest in the nation. In fact, Jane’s leadership is so valued that she sits on the national VOA board.
In recognition of her service, board Chairman Drew Sellers announced that the board had made a donation to the Shank Family Fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. He then joined Jane in introducing Janet Pace, who takes over the reins at VOA Dec. 1.
Dining in the Dark
From Bocage I headed to Galatoire’s Bistro where Lighthouse Louisiana was hosting its Dining in the Dark dinner. This was one of my favorite events last year but my schedule prevented me from staying this go around. I got in a quick visit with former Mayor Bobby Simpson and wife Allison, Nikki Slaton, Robert Schneckenburger and Emily Beach before heading to my next stop.
Fortunately I didn’t have to travel far, just down the street to the Crowne Plaza, for the 17th annual Sunshine for Kids Gala. This year’s event fêted my buddy, John Paul Funes, CEO of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. Former gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle and state Sen. Fred Mills reprised their rolls as auctioneers extraordinaire to raise over $20,000 in the live auction.
The night also included a raffle of an estate cocktail ring donated by Chief Johnny Johnson and a silent auction as well as yummies from Heirloom Cuisine, Mansurs on the Boulevard, The Little Village, Crowne Plaza and Sincerely Sweet.
It was fun to catch up with Marilyn and Mackie Price, Janet Boles, Pam Chenevert, Shelton Jones, Kelly Hurtado, Lynn Washauer, Brett Blanchard, Alvin Kimble, David Manship, Ann and Dub Hamilton, Sharon and Claude Pennington, Becky and Jack Harris, Diane and Johnny Tate, Lois Saye and Jeanne Triche. I also got to make new friends — tablemates Cynthia and Hugh Ross, Jan Wells and Bridgett Denicola.
Shirley Porter, author of the book “You Are Sunshine” and founder of the Sunshine Foundation, announced they have now enlisted the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to join the National Guard in distributing books to kindergarten students throughout the state.
David Francis Renoud and Crystal Len Coppola, of Gonzales, were introduced to members of the Krewe of Orion as King and Queen XVIII at the krewe’s announcement party Oct. 30 at the St. Amant home of krewe Captain Darren Coates and wife Angie. They will reign over the krewe’s parade and ball Jan. 30.
Also introduced to krewe members and guests by master of ceremonies Larry Rosendahl were 2016 maids Mary Katherine Arotin, daughter of Marie and Jasper Brock, of Denham Springs, and Mary Margaret “Maggie” Calandro, daughter of Dorothy and Raymond Calandro.
Serving as pages to the queen, who is married to Chad Coppola, a 10-year member of Orion, will be Kindal Renée and Taylor Ann Coates, daughters of Shelley and Dean Coates, and Emma Rose Leger, daughter of Jessica and David Leger, of Lafayette.
Pages to the king, an 18-year krewe member who is married Elizabeth Renoud, will be the queen’s son, Chase Joseph Coppola; Brennan Scott Rosendahl, son of Angele and Christopher Rosendahl; and Dalton Junis Rousselle, son of Robin and Darryl Rousselle.
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