Six organizations and individuals were honored for exceptional service to Volunteers of America of North Louisiana during the annual Volunteer Luncheon today. The event was held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12 at East Ridge Country Club.
Most of the honorees were surprised to learn of the recognition at the event.
“The heart of our organization is still those people who are willing to step forward and do whatever comes to hand – that is, you,” CEO/President Chuck Meehan told the crowd. “We could not do what we do without your time and energy.”
Last year, volunteers donated 2,747 hours to the people we serve.
Altrusa Award: Southfield School
For the past several years the faculty, staff and parents of Southfield school have proven children can make a difference. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade have made snack bags for LightHouse children, ensuring they had healthy snacks over school breaks. They have delivered carloads of toiletries to the Veterans facility, and they put together gift bags for our senior adults. The school has also taken the children on tours of the programs so they can see the needs in our community first hand and learn about the many ways we work together to solve complex problems like poverty and homelessness.
Beacon of Hope Award: Ruth Schlichtemier
Ruth Schlichtemier saw potential in our children and in a little patch of dirt we hoped would be a garden. She taught the children about soil composition, growing seasons, planting and pruning. Soon they coaxed life out of the ground, and the children look forward to weeding and watering. As the various fruits and vegetables are harvested, Schlichtemier has also lead cooking lessons. Her work does not stop at the garden. She has also chaperoned field trips and tutored students preparing for the LEAP test.
Champion of Dignity Award: Broadmoor Baptist Young Professionals
This Sunday School class has stepped up to serve a population that many other groups fear. The young adults provide quarterly birthday parties and a Christmas party at Corbitt Lodge, one of our apartment complexes for people with mental illness. “The residents feel special having people from the community take time out from their busy lives to shower them with love and attention,” said Paula Williams, program coordinator.
Ellen Brown Spirit of Volunteerism Award: Luther Cox
This award honors the first director of the Highland Center, and continues to honor those who invest in the Highland Community. This year’s award goes to Luther Cox, founder of Inner City Row Modern Dance Company. His company is committed to bringing dance to all people and that is exactly what he has done in working with our LightHouse children for nearly 10 years. Each year, he brings some of his students for a black history program, emphasizing music and dance. Throughout the year, he leads one-day workshops, and during the summer program, he teaches weekly dance lessons to students of all ages. While they learn some dance, they also learn discipline, self-respect and confidence.
Rachel Sparks Memorial Award: The Cody White Family
Named for Volunteers of America’s longtime executive director, this award honors those who continue her legacy of leadership and excellence. Our introduction to the White family began when Sara Margaret White served on the board in the late 1970s and again in the early 1980s. Cody’s involvement intensified when in 2005 Volunteers of America and the Highland Center merged. Through behind the scenes networking, Cody has helped us renovate some areas of the Highland Center and ensure that we serve as many people as possible. Cody served on the board from 2004-2010, and his vision also sparked one of our greatest fundraising tools: the Evergreen Giving Society. These generous donors has pledged to support us for as long as their finances allow. As a continuing legacy of their service, Sara Margaret and Cody introduced us to their son Stephen, who joined the board in June.
Humanitarian Award: Anne Wilson and Lenora Nazworth
About two years ago Anne Wilson and Lenora Nazworth approached us with an idea and a truly generous gift. They were working on writing a book that combined some of their favorite things: God, giving back to the community, and shoes. After months of writing and editing, we published “Take Off Your Shoes” last fall, with all of the proceeds going to support Volunteers of America’s special ministry of service. By giving of their unique talents, they demonstrate the sometimes untraditional but effective ways people can give back to our community.