The Junior League’s 35th annual Hollydays “Shopping for Cause” market, which kicked off Oct. 16 with the traditional Preview Gala, transformed the cavernous River Center Exhibition Hall into a wintry wonderland and put everyone in a happy, holiday mood.

League members wined and dined us with some of the city’s best restaurants and caterers; provided some inspirational and holiday-themed shopping tunes and just generally enticed us to shop, buy tickets for drawings for a Mercedes-Benz and a Rolex watch and bid on all the tempting items in the silent auction.

Friend Ann Guercio was my shopping partner, and we had too much fun as we checked out the vendors and their wares, visiting with friends along the way. We caught up with Carol Keppinger and daughter Allison, Diane and Murphy Foster, Robin Hebert, Anne McCanless, Ann Hamilton, Cuch Fiduccia, Bobby Bernard, Pamela and Will Hayes, Rose Hudson, Yolanda Dixon, Diane and Johnny Tate, Alice Kronenberger, Steve Storey, Jan Wells, Sharon Kleinpeter, Tiffany Dickerson and Chad Sabadie.

Blues Brunch

LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center was packed for the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge’s second annual Blues Brunch on Oct. 20. The highlight of the event was the presentation of several awards, including the Woman of Distinction to Roberta Madden, a member since 1958. While she and husband David moved to North Carolina a few years ago, Robbie began several of the organization’s key programs, including the ENCOREplus breast cancer awareness program, and she served as director of Racial & Social Justice and helped design Dialogues on Race. Robbie continues to fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, having taken that battle with her to North Carolina.

“Many of us, particularly as women, stand on her shoulders,” said emcee Gerri Hobdy in introducing Madden to a standing ovation.

Awards also went to Tristi Charpentier, Advocacy & Civic Engagement; Carissa Graves, Corporate Social Responsibility; Rosa Gomez-Herrin, Advocacy & Civic Engagement Award; Tonja Myles, Social Justice; Winifred Reilly, Eliminating Racism & Empowering Women; and Albert Champion and Eugene Collins, HERo Award.

All helped to advance the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Angel Awards

Awards were also given out at the start of the week on Oct. 14 when the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation held its 25th annual Angel Award Gala at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center. The awards recognize a group of people who work tirelessly in their commitment to the children of Louisiana.

In the spotlight were eight Angels, chosen from nearly 200 nominees submitted from throughout the state, including three from Baton Rouge. They are Destiny Adams Cooper, one of the founders of the Humanities Amped program, which empowers students to become critical readers, writers and thinkers; O’Neil Curtis, a barber/entrepreneur who co-created the Line4Line reading and mentorship program; and Melissa Juneau, who recently retired as CEO of The Emerge Center which, under her leadership, saw dramatic growth in its services for children with special needs. They each received a $25,000 grant to the nonprofit organization of their choice.

Their fellow Angels included Pamela Allen, of Ruston, executive director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind; K.C. Kilpatrick, of Shreveport, a foster parent and founder of Geaux 4 Kids Inc., a nonprofit that provides Geaux Bags of necessary items for a child’s first night in foster care; Sarah Omojola, of New Orleans, director of The Welcoming Project, which supports young people who have been involved with the criminal justice system; Anna Palmer, of New Orleans, a foster parent and founder of Crossroads NOLA, which helps recruit and train foster families; Yolanda Green, of Shreveport, a nurse in a school-based health center known for her innovative approaches to improving the health and quality of life for students.

This year’s Blue Angel Award, which recognizes a Blue Cross and Blue Shield employee’s volunteer efforts, went to Dr. Deirdre Barfield, of Shreveport, who received a $10,000 grant.

The evening ended with Blue Cross Foundation President Michael Tipton announcing a new initiative — Angels of Change. It’s a $2.5 million grant fund for organizations served by past Angel honorees to collaborate on solving issues for Louisiana’s children.

Exhibit opening

Associated Women in the Arts hosted an opening reception on Oct. 17 at the Louisiana State Archives Gallery for an exhibit celebrating its 35th anniversary. AWA is a professional artist organization whose mission is to create opportunities for women artists to exhibit and discuss their work, as well as provide opportunities for art education through local workshops, programs, guest speakers, museum visits and plein-air events.

Among those whose works are hanging are new members Maury Hawking, Laura Lindsay, Kim Pierson, Stacie Rhodes, Kay Wallace and Nona Weatherby. The art in the show also is for sale. Check it out during gallery hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 29.

Steak & Stake

Next stop on Oct. 17 was the Renaissance, where the Boys & Girls Club was holding its annual Steak & Stake Dinner. Some 400 guests had the honor of breaking bread with the club members, who were seated at every table. The boys and girls shared their stories of how the club has positively impacted their lives and what it means to them.

Nothing like seeing up close where your dollars are going, and the lives they’re helping to change.

Email Pam Bordelon at