Acadiana's Local Hero Finalists Have Been Chosen!
Please review the finalists below and vote for your local hero.
One deserving person or non-profit organization will be awarded $3000 from Giles Automotive for their hard work and for giving of themselves to the community.

The deserving person or organization that is selected by the community each month will be announced on KLFY TV10 at the end of each month.

Finalists were chosen from nominations submitted to Giles Nissan and TV10.
The three finalists below have been selected based on what that person has done in the community to give back to others.

Please take a moment to review our 3 finalists below and cast your vote for one of them.
We would ask you to please take your time and read every nominee's essay(s) that were submitted about the person before making your final decision.

Please Note:  Only one vote is allowed per person.
Any votes made by the same person using a different email address will not be counted.

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Hero Name: Bonnie Hession

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Bonnie Hession started a movement. It's called Keep the Faith. She finds people who need prayer or help and then Bonnie goes to them and offers a Keep the Faith token, but more than that she offers her prayers and concerns. I came to know about her when my dad was near death in the hospital. He was visiting me when he got sick and knew no one other than my family in the area. Bonnie's visit affected him in such a positive way. It uplifted him and boosted his spirits. I will always be grateful to her for that, but since then, I've learned how much more Bonnie does for others. She has what she calls Giving Mondays where she makes her rounds of hospitals and shut-ins to offer prayer and company. She raised money and went to Oklahoma after the tornadoes and helped provide comfort and other help there for people who need it. She just keeps on doing for others. Bonnie is truly an Acadiana hero.

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Hero Name: Jennifer Reynaud

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
She runs Ministry of Acadiana. They help with after school programs/computer skills/trips/community involvement.

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Hero Name: Marlene Foreman

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
In May 2011, Marlene Foreman, a Navy Nurse Corps veteran, was chosen as Hospice of Acadiana’s coordinator of the We Honor Veterans Partnership (WHV) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) to lead the organization through the four levels of activities to achieve the coveted Level Four status. Each level required increasing education and activities for staff and community. Level Four added organizational participation, and a Veteran to Veteran Program of veteran volunteers visiting veteran patients. Marlene trained several volunteers who were veterans to care for veteran patients. Level Four was achieved in October 2012, just 17 months after beginning as a recruit, through the leadership of Marlene Foreman. Hospice of Acadiana was the first hospice organization in Louisiana and Mississippi according to Louisiana Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (LMHPCO) and only the 37th in the nation to achieve Level Four.
Hospice of Acadiana Social Workers obtain information related to military service and thank veterans for their service by giving the veteran an Appreciation Card designed by Marlene. Marlene uses the NHPCO We Honor Veterans website to personalize a certificate for each veteran patient with their name and branch of service and an appreciation message from Hospice of Acadiana. Marlene has made pillowcases of Americana fabric for veteran patients for Christmas the last two years. Marlene also volunteered at the Traveling Vietnam Wall in 2012, made boutonnières for Veterans for the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Celebration at Comeaux Park in 2012, and presented a patriotic wreath and bouquet at the funeral for the unclaimed remains at St. John’s Cathedral in 2012. She rode with volunteers and staff on the Hospice of Acadiana Veteran float for the Sonic Christmas Parade for the past two years. She is an active participant in the Veteran’s Action Coalition of Southwest LA to acquire an improved Veteran facility in Lafayette. She is a member of the American Legion POST 271 in Kaplan, and a dual member of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Marlene has organized Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day Ceremonies to remember veteran patients as well as various educational endeavors. The most recent activity was the decorating of a Veteran Alcove in the Hospice office. Marlene writes a monthly article for Hospice of Acadiana’s newsletter, The Pillar, concerning news about recent and upcoming veteran activities.
She actively pursues occasions for flying the flag, and engaging the staff in military and veteran endeavors and ceremonies. Education within the community has also increased awareness of veteran needs. Marlene has continued to educate staff and community including veteran and civic organizations to increase knowledge of the unique needs of veterans at the end of life. In July 2012, Marlene was a speaker at the LMHPCO Convention on WHV – Moving through the Levels. Marlene is always available for educational activities related to veterans and end of life care.
Marlene Foreman has been a Registered Nurse (RN) since 1970 and a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) since 1981. Her

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Hero Name: St. Bernard/ St. Francis Food Pantry

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
It is an honor to nominate the St. Bernard / St. Francis Food Pantry “Eye Glass Program” which is a non-profit, faith based non-sectarian, equal opportunity organization. This program is run by an all-volunteer staff providing food and eye exams and glasses to those St. Martin Parish residents that qualify. This eye exam / voucher program is the only resource available to the needy in the parish.
In order to qualify people for the Food Pantry eye exam / glasses services, the volunteer staff interviews each prospective client. If a person qualifies, then he/she and anyone in that person’s immediate family is eligible to receive a voucher to obtain an eye exam and glasses if needed, and if the family remains qualified, the voucher can be re-issued every two years and every year for diabetics.
In 2010, 34 vouchers were issued at a cost of $2,322. In 2012, sixty vouchers were issued for eye exams and forty one clients were issued glasses at a cost of $5,270. The numbers have risen in the first six months of 2013 as referrals are increasing.
This eye exam / glass program is fortunate to have an optometrist in Breaux Bridge who provides a complete eye exam and glasses, single or bi-focal lens for a nominal fee. And the Pantry is blessed with a work space provided by the St. Francis of Assisi Church located at 610 N. Main Street in Breaux Bridge.
The all-volunteer staff is directed by Mrs. Hazel Theriot and the Eye Glass Program coordinator is Mrs. Viv Brasseaux.
The St. Bernard / St. Francis Food Pantry is supported through donations from individuals, businesses and service organizations and is very proud to announce that 100% of all donations go towards helping the needy of St. Martin Parish. The Food Pantry is a tax-exempt entity with its own Federal ID number as described in section 501c(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The concept of the St. Bernard / St, Francis Food Pantry providing the opportunity of eye exams and glasses to those in need truly embodies what is meant to be an “Acadiana Hero”.

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Hero Name: Marian Davidson

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Louisiana since 1986, she has served in many positions and on many committees. On the Unit level, she served as Color Bearer twice, Treasurer (three years), First Vice President (two years), and Historian (two years). She served as Chairman on the Community Service, Membership, Memorial, Leadership, and Education committees. For the District, she served as Color Bearer, Historian, Vice President and President-elect. She has served as District Public Relations Chairman for four years and on the membership team for two years. The Department has benefited from her experience as Public Relations Chairman for four years and she has served on the Credentials committee for two years. She has crocheted blankets and hats for the tinniest preemies serviced through Heart Strings and Angel Wings for two years. She has donated several yards of materials to them for gowns and special pillows. The American Cancer Society and Relay for Life has benefited from her work and experience. She has worked their events and sold various tickets and products. Her crafts have furnished the team with several hundreds of dollars. She was a member of the “Soldiers of Hope” team for two years and the “Nutty Buddy” team for three years. She has volunteered for the United Way for two years working the “Stuff the Bus” program and the “Day of Action” reading program at the Boys/Girls Club. Since its founding on September 11, 2009, the Vermilion Parish “SHARE” has been dear to her heart. This organization accepts medical equipment that is no longer needed and distributes it to anyone that needs it free of charge. She has traveled several thousand miles picking up and delivering the equipment and has even stored many items in her home. She worked the Health Fair for “SHARE” for two years as well as their “Cans for Fans” program collecting cans and turning them in for cash to buy fans for the elderly and needy. The can tabs have been pulled and saved for the American Legion Auxiliary’s Third District Children’s Cancer Fund. She bakes and donates several cakes and door prizes for the local Woodman of the World Lodge and other benefit bingos at their Lodge. For Maison duMonde, (a local Nursing Home) she has called bingo for their Alzheimer fundraiser for the past three years. She has worked numerous events at their facility and has participated in their Mardi Gras Pageant as a judge. She was the bingo caller for the regional nursing home Bingo Blowout. One or twice a month she calls their Saturday Bingos. She helped with their monthly birthday party for the residents and when the Cub Scouts came to do duck tape wallets, she was there to assist.

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Hero Name: Judy Guillory

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Judy is a volunteer for Family Hospice of Mamou. She became involved with the organization in September, 2009, after Hospice had taken care of her husband before he died. She is currently the President of Volunteers for Hospice. Judy assists with office work, filing, participating in patient care, and going into homes and nursing homes to visit the terminally ill. She coordinates fundraisers and benefits for Hospice. She organizes and recruits volunteers. Judy works full time as Workforce Development Supervisor I for Acadiana Works in Ville Platte, but even so, she still finds time for her patients, who she visits every two weeks. One might even find her visiting her patients before she goes to work in the morning. She states that she receives many blessings from her patients. One of the workers at Family Hospice of Mamou describes Judy as: "A wonderful person, very hard worker, has a lot of compassion for her patients, a great leader when it comes to organizing fund raisers and coordinating volunteers, a great friend to everyone, and very much appreciated for her undying dedication as their volunteer." Mother Teresa stated once that the qualifications for volunteering are, "Hearts to love and hands to serve." And that exactly describes Judy. She has a kind heart and an incredible passion for what she accomplishes at Hospice, without expecting any praise or recognition. She only wants to give back what she received. Through her unselfish endeavors, Judy has met a lot of new people and has listened to their concerns and helped with their fears, especially with family members of patients. It has really been rewarding for Judy. Hospice is a non-profit organization, and all money raised goes to their patients. This Hospice also serves parishes in the surrounding areas. Judy is a 1969 graduate of Chataignier High. She is widowed, losing her husband almost 5 years ago. She has 2 children and three grandchildren. She has currently had two knee replacements, one very recent. Her favorite quote is, "Live life to the fullest--tomorrow is not promised." Her advice: "Spend as much time with family and friends as you can, and give 100% in everything you do!" Judy is an exemplary Christian! Jesus Himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive. Judy feels very blessed to be a part of such an amazing and God-inspired organization, and she would highly recommend a much needed volunteer participation.

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Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Cassandra Monique Gregory

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
February 2013 a young lady approached "Miss Nique" and told her she wanted to go to college but she needed help. Miss Nique assisted her with her college application, Act Test, FAFSA application, and Scholarship application. Word spread rapidly at the high school, in the community and outside of the community. Children and parents lined up at Miss Nique's home. Miss Nique worked from 3pm until 9pm six days a week. She made phone calls to Colleges. Sometimes staying on HOLD for 30 minutes or more. She requested transcripts, ACT scores, spoke with high school counselors and college recruiters. Tutored students with GED and ACT Testing. Set up ACT Test. Helping students get their GED was also one of her goals, which she achieved.

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Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Debbie Dugas

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I do believe Debbie Dugas deserves recognition because she has been through alot these past couple months...I really don't know how to explain too much but she now has to be strong not only for herself but for her husband now...the pic on here i chose because it was taken right befor her husband had his first stroke...in addition to that in order to make ends meet to pay their bills she had to take over her husband's lawn service with her daughter and son-n-law to try to get the bills payed on time...while her husband in the hospital, she had to leave him behind to make money by cutting the lawns for different ppl they knew...because her husband couldn't make it cause of the 2 strokes and main artary surgery he lost 30 yards so that meant money lost for their bills...in spite of the bad news she didn't give up...she trys her best , even though her husband is no longer able to do his lawn service, to take care of him, their home, and lawn service whenever she can...this is why I truely think she deserves recognition

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Hero Name: Nancy Marcantel

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Nancy's work with ARF.

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Hero Name: Pastor Tommy Faulk

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
For his work providing food for needy families

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Hero Name: Chuck Vincent

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
For his work with Veteran's Airlift.

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Hero Name: Linda Lanclos

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Linda has spent the last 28 years of her life helping to start and then working with 3 non profit organizations which help the poor: 1985-1992 in Dallas, Texas, Linda started and directed Reinhardt Community Outreach Ministry (a women's ministry), fed the homeless, started a clothing closet for the poor who lived near the church, held meetings with the women at Salvation Army to help them become independent. Represented her church and worked with 27 area churches to start the White Rock Center of Hope, a non profit organization which provided rent/utility assistance and food. 1992-1994- Linda and her family joined Casa View Church and was asked to start the Casa View "CIA" (Christians in Action) as a volunteer getting involved in social justice issues and educational advocacy issues for the children in public schools. 1996--2001-Linda moved to Lafayette and started volunteering with Love Inc., which serves as a clearinghouse for churches who want to help the poor by providing services such as home repairs, transportation, etc., then was invited to join the Board, then hired as the first Director. 2001-2003-Linda resigned from Love Inc, due to family illness and became an assistant caregiver. 2003-2011 Linda's church started Bridge Ministry of Acadiana, an inter-denominational inner city tutoring program in Lafayette. Linda started out on the planning committee, which turned into the Board of Directors, then was hired to be the Volunteer Coordinator. While employed as the Volunteer Coordinator, she volunteered her time there, starting a music and dance program for the children, which included a choir, guitar, drum and violin lessons. 2010-2013- Linda founded and started her VISION, Escape From Poverty, a non profit organization which launched in February 2012. This organization provides life skills classes for the working poor who want to get Out of poverty. These classes are filmed and are currently in the process of turning them into a video curriculum with printed workbooks, available to help others attain success. Linda is currently serving a the volunteer Executive Director. The unique motivational tool is that participants are filmed as they do the actions necessary to achieve success. Those action films will be turned into a weekly TV series, which will motivate others to replicate our efforts in their communities. Linda is a Christian, wife, mother and a kind caring person who is always looking for ways to help others. Where others see obstacles Linda see opportunities. She's a "Can Do" kind of person. Linda has been on mission trips to Haiti twice and Africa once with her church. Shortened versions of these videos can be seen weekly on TV on AOC Thursdays at 8pm and KAJN Wednesdays 9am, Saturdays 8:30am. Life skill classes are in post-production and will be available soon.

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Hero Name: Randy Hopper

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I have known Randy and his family for about 10 years plus. I first met Randy through Harley Club. At the time he was just getting to know everyone but once he really got into the Club he took off from there. He started working with MDA slowly but as the years passed he really poured his heart and soul into the organiziation. Not only does he gives his time working with the Club for MDA, but he gives a week of his vacation to go to MDA Camp. He is on the Board of MDA but he truly loves the kids. Recently, he starting helping his daughter, ELLEN, with St. Jude in Memphis. They have gone several times to St. Jude for the many ways they can get involved and help. Besides the two charities, he is truly a family man that deserves to be recognized for good works. Gayle Myers Family friend

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Hero Name: Riley Graham

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My father has spent more than 20 years doing volunteer work for the people of Acadiana. He served as the volunteer Chaplain for Vermilion Parish Sheriff's office for 17 years. He is currently the Chaplain for the Abbeville Police Department. He does all this without receiving a salary. He is disabled, but does everything in his power to help the police and even criminals/inmates. He is a certified Critical Incident Stress Debreifer, meaning he is the one who helps counsel police offers with the things they have to see every day as part of their job and also counsels families who have been through a dramatic event. He is the one who has to knock on a famly's door to tell them their loved one has passed away. The things he has seen does haunt him, but he continues to do it, voluntary, because he knows he is making a difference in the lives of police officers in giving them someone to take to as well as citizens of the parish by giving them someone to help them through some of the most difficult times in their lives. He is on call 24/7. He is extremely passionate about the work he does and I couldn't be prouder.

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Hero Name: Cerrisa Couvillion

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
She started a non profit organzation that has helped many of kids in the parish and I do not think people realize the work she does so their kid can eat. She has been doing this for a couple of years and it is only her and volunteers that make this possible. There is many kids a day that would not get food if she would not take her time to find donations to make events possible for our kids to get fed. When we were going up we did not have to worry about this but when you are a kid and you have a long day and your tummy is just making noise it is very hard for them to learn and not including how hard it is now days for the middle class to afford breakfast and lunch is hard and some people that have it are the poor can slide through. I have watched her do miracles for kids. She started in her house and still making a change. I have watched and help with carnivals and delivering a special stuffed animal to kids for holidays bake sales other public events with consessions. She had two kids of her own and the older is the one that made this a realaztion when a student did not get fed and she was upset because the child only had milk and graham crakers and the student was a teacher child that just forgot money for lunch. So now with this there is not a child unfed if enough money is in Louisiana Lunch Money account. She has gone though a long batlle with the school board and schools allowing her to do what she needs to do for the kids to be fed. She is my hero for trying to make a change in a kids life to make sure they are not different nor starving. She makes alot of students happy everyday without hearing funny noises from there bellies and I think she needs to know how special she is.

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Hero Name: ken hargrave

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
He started an organization to help children after school with homework, snack and attention in general. The name of the organization is Heart for Children. This help was set up in an area in great need, Iles De Cannes subdivision. Since the beginning of its establishment many young people have been tutored and cared for. He even moved into the complex to become closer to the community and the people he is helping. I remember him telling a story about shots being fired, but in spite of any isolated situation this organization continues to grow and by that I mean an orchard has been planted and a playground is in the works. The lives and hearts of this community is being affected greatly and I believe this organization will continue to grow and reach more lives.

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Hero Name: Jason Bland

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
In 2005 Jason Bland was in a horrific auto accident which landed him in a coma for 6 days. In the accident his right leg was severely injured. After a year due to pain and infection the decision was made to amputate his leg. Depression as well as alcohol and substance abuse ensued until Jason had an epiphany and decided to turn his life around. He received treatment for his addictions and developed a relationship with a church. In February of 2007 he started an organization entitled Acadiana Amputee Support Group in order to reach out and be of assistance to people who had also suffered the loss of a limb. Jason's love for God and his desire to help people with disabilities led him in 2010 to establish and lead a non profit organization called Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures. Their mission is to provide God led and God inspired outdoor adventures for the disabled and their families. In their first 2 years of existence, they served hundreds of individuals on hunting, fishing, and camping trips. Community support and successful fundraising events has enabled TODA to purchase special equipment that can assist even severely disabled people to hunt and fish! Some of his participants have been mentally traumatized from their disabilities and one man in particular had not left his home in seven years. Jason was successful in convincing this man to go on a rabbit hunt. TODA has established a large network of volunteers and many are family members of a disabled person.

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Hero Name: Les Dames de Gueydan Organization GFWC

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
The Les Dames de Gueydan is a non-profit women's general feerated organization which is recognized national.(GFWC) Les Dames de Gueydan began in 1945 and has never stirred away of the core of the organization, which is to help the community. Les Dames has raised 10s of thousands of dollars each year and is given all back to the community. Helping folks in need, school, students, scholarships, new equipment for the city park, spooners students to attend camps, workshops, funds the beautification of town, funds the Miss Gueydan project, and dozens of other projects that come around that we may be asked to give to. We have monthly meeting and down to business. At the moment we are working hard on giving 12 girls of GHS a Homecoming Tea. We'll spend several hundreds of dollars to assure these girls feel special. The organization has come a long way in the 70 plus years and have on one or two charter members left, but as we look back the importance is still the same, helping the community, we volunteer, we work hard at making what we do count. Each Mayor has known he could call on the Les Dames to spearhead a funraiser or to help prepare a civic pride day, etc. To put it simply we are here for the community.

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Hero Name: Kim Bourgeois

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My friend, Kim Dupre Bourgeois, lost her only son, Ryan Blake Dunn, on July 16, 2010. Through her grief, she has been helping other parents who have lost children, to deal with their own grief. She envisioned a walking park to honor her son's memory and to share with others, where they could go to meditate, reflect and pray. This place is called Pathways of Hope. She has accomplished so much in the last few months, the pond has been dug, the pathways have been paved and she is putting landscaping down as well. She has done all of this while holding a full time job. Her dedication is endless.

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Hero Name: Veronica Mallet

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My nominee has been helping people for as long as I could remember. Three years ago she founded a 501c3 nonprofit organization to help the needy, but mainly veterans. I wasn't surprised when she told me what God had placed on her heart. In 2012 she held and event in her city to show appreciation to veterans for all they have done for us. She went around town collecting donations from restaurants, grocery stores and more. She filled out grants to help giveaway, one thousand dollars to help a veteran keep his home. She was also able to give the veterans insulated windows and heating and cooling units. I have seen her work countless hours trying to better the lives of veterans and others in the community. Most of the times its entirely by herself. Many people dont have an idea what all she has done behind the scenes and may never know. This year in 2013 she tried to have a fundraiser to help the veterans again, but was unseuccessful. Therefore she return all funds because enough wasn't collected. The veterans still show apprecation for the effort, but the results and lack of grant funding cause the organization to cancel the giveaway event this year. Now she is getting a head start for next year. At times I wonder if she gets enough sleep, because she is always coming up with new ideas to help someone. That's why I am nominating her for Acadiana's Hero because she really is a hero to many including myself.

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Hero Name: Joe Hebert

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My father (now 77) is an amazingly gifted and generous man. For 55 years he 's been whole heartedly donating his time to providing musician and entertainment for all local nursing homes. Being a musician and a Christian man all his life this is how he gives back. By puting life and giving the elderly fun and happiness through his music. His talent and amazing good spirit is a must see how the elderly look forward to seeing him play. They alway come alive and dance some even attempt to sing, they really get taken back to what would be there good ole days I think. I would love to visit or be interviewed about my father. He is a hero to our family and our community. Sending this via my phone so please excuse any errors

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Hero Name: Affiliated Blind of Lousiana .

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I would like to nominate Affiliated Blind of Lousiana as Acadiana's Local Hero. ABL is a non-profit organization that provides free training for the blind, deaf-blind and visually impaired of Louisiana. Affiliated Blind of Lousiana Training Center is a wonderful school, and every staff member should be recognized as an asset to the community. ABL is located at 409 West Saint Mary Boulevard. The community may sometimes see blindfolded individuals walking on the UL campus with white canes. People with normal sight probably don't realize how valuable this experience is for a person who is going blind. In 1983, John Lemaire and others founded a non-profit organization with the idea of creating a training center for the blind. In 1989, they began raising funds with charitable gaming, and ABL still operates the Bingo Ranch in Duson, and Vermilion Bingo in Abbeville. The Convent of the Most Holy Sacrament was purchased and renovated to house the training center. By 1994, the school was fully operational, and since then, hundreds of clients have been trained in independent living skills. ABL also has a job readiness and placement program which puts people who are blind back to work. Project COPE is for the elderly blind who do not need or want to leave their homes for training. COPE staff members go into these clients' homes and teach them the skills they need to remain independent. This training sometimes makes a difference in whether or not a person has to go into a nursing home.

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Hero Name: Christopher Ozene

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Mr. Ozene owns his own barbershop since 2002 where he mentors youth in the importance of grooming and being a businessman. He hosts shadowing days where youth can come in and learn what's a day like being a business man and a barber. In addition he is a Volunteer Football and basketball coach for Northside high school and has created his own organization called TEKNEEKS (2011). Through Tekneeks he uses social media to motivate youth and implements community events and projects to facilitate the importance of having a health lifestyle. He determines the missing gaps based in the youths feedback and creates programs that the students requests. Mr Ozene is so passionate about the work that he does he became a certified personal trainer and is recognized through the coaches association. He is a true example of not letting his past predict his future. Mr. Ozene has accomplished all these things despite being in prison and only having a HS diploma. He has been a motivational speaker for several youth events....and no matter what he never holds back on sharing his story and ensuring the youth of today are equipped with what they need to be successful!

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Hero Name: Jeanie Casanova

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jean became aware of the terrible conditions that animals lived in when brought to the St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter when she went to adopt a kitten at the end of 2013. The cramped, dirty, unhealthy conditions made the animals there sick and miserable, so they were then put down because they were not seen as good adoption candidates. She knew that visibility, donations, and volunteers could make a huge improvement on the quality of life and adoptability of these animals. She began Friends Underwriting Rescues (FUR), a not-for-profit 501(c)3-pending organization, and with the help of a few volunteers quickly began improving the lives of the animals in the St. Landry shelter and increasing the number of happy adoptions. As a result of Jean's relentless dedication and hard work, donations, volunteerism, and community education have increased and further FUR's mission to support the shelter and care for its animals, spread spay/neuter and humane education, and encourage adoption and fostering of rescued animals. Also as a result of Jean's efforts, FUR has been featured on the front page of several news stations, which further increases visibility and good results for Acadiana's animals. In a short period of time, the effects of Jean's organization are apparent in the happy faces of the animals she loves so much. Jean continues to hold community events bringing awareness to the significant effect that donations and volunteerism can have on the lives of local abandoned animals. Sometimes the comforts and love that are brought to these animals are in the last days that they know, as they are soon put down if not adopted. Jean also strives to bring the faces of these animals to public awareness in the hopes of becoming a no-kill shelter. Prior to beginning FUR, Jean sought abandoned and abused animals on the streets and took them into her own home either adopting them or loving them and bringing them back to health before having them adopted by an out-of-state no-kill shelter. Her mission now is much larger than even the great good that she was able to accomplish alone.

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Hero Name: Jim Richard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jim Richard was looking forward to a career as an athlete, but that promising football career was suddenly cut short by a horrific car accident more than 25 years ago. Jim was critically injured, and spent several months in a coma before regaining consciousness, then beginning the slow and agonizing process of recovering from severe physical and neurological injuries. Jim never gave up, and with determination and a positive outlook he has recovered physically, and now dedicates his life to helping others as the marketing specialist for Goodwill Industries of Acadiana.

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Hero Name: Connie Castille & The Teche Project

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Bayou Teche is one of the most culturally significant waterways in Acadiana. It brought early commerce to the region, which directly resulted in our bayou communities. Unfortunately, it has been neglected and, worse, used as a dumping ground. As a result, the bayou is now on the EPA's list of impaired waterways. In 2009, a handful of determined local citizens took on the daunting task of returning the 135-mile Bayou Teche to its former beauty and usefulness. The TECHE Project (which stands for Teche Ecology, Culture & History Education Project) is a non-profit organization with an inspiring mission to ensure that the water quality, low-impact recreation, and the historic & cultural significance of the Bayou Teche are restored to the public trust. The members of the TECHE Project Council (just 8 volunteers!) have worked tirelessly, donating over 20,000 hours to bring positive change to the banks of Bayou Teche. In the last six years, this grassroots movement has garnered the support of local citizens, businesses, community organizations, Parish Presidents and Sheriffs to provide financial support and in-kind services. In doing so, they have accomplished the following: • Since 2009, the TECHE Project’s Cajuns for the Bayou Teche has removed over 60 tons of debris from the bayou. This hardworking volunteer program was awarded the National Public Radio E-Town award in 2011. • Since 2009, the Water Sentinel Program volunteers have collected quarterly water samples for analysis, identifying areas in need of water quality improvement and paving the path for a healthier watershed. • 2010 started the annual Tour du Teche, a nationally-recognized annual 3-day race in October for canoes and kayaks along the entire length of the Bayou. This program grew large enough to form its own 501(c)(3) organization in 2011. • Annual Shake Your Trail Feather Festival, October 2012 and 2013, Breaux Bridge, LA, a musical & educational outreach event hosting over 700 people. • 2012, wrote a Paddle Trail Plan and received National Paddle Trail Status from the U.S Park Service. • Annual Trash Bash & Boogie September 2013, a bayou clean-up effort before the Tour Du Teche race. • 2013 received grant approval for the building of a trailhead in Breaux Bridge that is slated for construction in the summer of 2014. • 2013 received grant approval to construct floating kayak/canoe docks in several towns along the bayou during 2014. I am nominating the TECHE Project Council as a 2014 Acadiana Hero to recognize the amazing progress they have achieved and to help further their noble cause.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Tim Marks

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I would like to nominate Tim Marks for Acadiana’s local hero. I feel that Tim is deserving of this title because of the contributions he makes to the Opelousas community. Tim has been leading the Gumbo Cook-Off at Frank’s in downtown Opelousas for the past seven years now. He also organizes several other benefits in our community such as The Wildgame Cook-Offs, Rock the Block, Perfectly Seasoned Cook-Off, and several other benefits. When Tim is not organizing benefits he is participating as an armature chef or a DJ. Tim currently is a board and serves an active role for the St. Landry/ Evangeline Parish Sexual Assault Center, Opelousas Main Street through Louisiana Main to Main, St. Landry/ Evangeline United Way (past president), and Warriors for Christ Christian Academy. Tim is also a registered nurse, which contributes to his love of helping others. Tim has also held previous seats on the board of the Opelousas St. Landry Chamber of Commerce and the New Life Center. Tim has a huge heart and is always willing to lend his time or service to anyone. I have had the experience of witnessing this when Tim’s aunt was losing the building her school was house in while she was at St. Jude’s with a sick child. Tim went out of his way to purchase the building so that his aunt could continue to live out her dreaming of having her own school based on a solid Christian foundation. Tim also organized a benefit for his aunt’s child while he was battle cancer. This is just one example of the extraordinary benefits Tim has provided to our community. Anytime Tim sees that there is a family that is in need he goes above and beyond to try to do all that he can to help them. There has been a couple of times when Tim has seen that someone was struggling with major medical issues and were in need of assistance to help defray medical cost. At the time there were not any available benefits, so he found a place and made a benefit for them. Some of those benefits inspired so many people that they decided to make it a yearly event to help others in need. After working closely with Tim during many of these benefits I discovered that one of Tim’s dreams is to be able to open his own nonprofit foundations. Each beneficiary for the benefits that Tim organizes has to go out and make their own nonprofit foundation which becomes very costly to these families already in need. Tim feels that if he could find a way to get the funds to open one and not have to retain funds from a beneficiary then this could help the families in the future from having to pay for this. I believe that if Tim is selected as Acadiana’s Local Hero this would provide him with the funds needed to make his dream become a reality and benefit so many people.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Phillip Ruddock

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Phillip Ruddock is the founder of a non-profit organization that trains veterans to train their dogs as service dogs for those diagnosed with PTSD, tbi & MST. Dogs are pulled from rescues and shelters. All these services are free to the veteran. Mr. Phillip travels to Leesville weekly to train veterans. He works closely with Jefferson parish officials to accommodate services. Mr. Phillip is himself a PTSD & tbi veteran who speaks to veterans. He is often awakened as late as 2am communicating with veterans on the phone, Facebook and texting those who are having suicidal/depression episodes.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: James Steve Carriere

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Steve is the president and founder of Cajun Woodstock, an annual festival in Church Point City Park to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He founded Cajun Woodstock 11 years ago and has raised thousands of dollars for the hospital. (See CajunWoodstock.com for more info) This past year, 2013 we raised over $51,000.00 in a 2 day festival. We also go to the Ronald McDonald House each September to cook gumbo for the patients and their families bringing much needed supplies donated by the community.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Audry Spencer

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I would like to submit Audry Spencer as Acadiana's Local Hero. Audry is retired from the public school system in Acadia Parish after having taught elementary children for over 30 years. As a teacher, she noticed the failure of so many of the Crowley children to meet educational standards to move on the next grade. After praying about this, she decided to do something about it. She began the non-profit- Empowering the Community for Excellence. The mission of the program is to tutor underprivileged students who are at risk of failure. The targeted students are in grades 1-5, live in public housing and attend Acadia Parish schools. Audry purchased a home in West Crowley and then wrote a grant to bring that home up to standards. This tutoring center began accepting students in October 2013 and will continue to tutor during the school years. Students are tutored by certified teachers for 1 hour, twice a week. The center is open Monday through Thursday. The grant, written by Audry, was approved by the Department of Education to purchase materials,supplies,and salaries for many of the 12 teachers. Audry single handedly visited businesses, churches, banks, and non profit organizations collecting donations. Audry has placed her life on hold in order that this dream becomes a reality. She is out daily collecting the snacks the children receive, meeting with donors, gathering materials, and making sure the center runs smoothly. Between 4:00 pm and 6:)0 pm Monday through Thursday, she is at the center tutoring and overseeing the other teachers. Presently, teachers work with 15-25 students daily in the areas of reading and math. Audry has also mentored quite a few students during her 30 years of teaching. She has encouraged them to pursue their dreams, tutoring them and helping them out financially when needed. She believes in the children of Acadia Parish and has placed her retirement on hold to help those that are at risk for failure. Crowley is blessed to have such a dedicated and caring person that has the foresight to see what the needs in the area of education are in our community. This is why I have nominated Audry Spencer as Acadiana's Local Hero

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Lori Boudreaux

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Lori Boudreaux is not an ordinary woman. She is an extraordinary woman. Lori has devoted her time, love, and life to helping people who are less than fortunate. Lori finds and feeds the needy in Lafayette and even provides shelter on many occasions. She asks for nothing in return and most of the time, her assistance is funded from her own checking account. It is not out of the ordinary for her to have 10-20 homeless people in her backyard at any given time to eat, fellowship, and to just be loved. She has taken the time to get to know each and every one of these people and has never placed any sort of judgement for where they are in their lives. Lori understands that no one chooses the homeless way of life, that it is something that happens because a person may have hard times and not have the family support that others have. She has helped disaster survivors, she has helped individuals with health issues, and she has promoted humility for those of us who have never lived in fear, not knowing from where our next meal will come, or where we might lay our head each night. For the past 6 years that I have known Lori, I have never seen her give up, she works earnestly to find a solution to the problem rather than putting a band-aid and allowing for the problem to continue to exist. She is devoted to teaching, loving, and learning for all people who have had difficulties filling their needs. As a mother of three children, Lori knows what financial struggle feels like, and she knows how hard it is to survive especially in the economy in which we live. Lori has taken time to help many of the people with whom she has worked to find jobs and has even provided transportation. Lori has given up Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter for herself to provide the holidays to families and individuals who would not have a holiday meal, a Christmas gift, or an Easter basket. She works day in and day out to provide a luxury life to people who have never experienced real love. To the extent that even during football season, she will host football viewing parties with Gumbo or another hot meal. She simply friends all people from all walks of life. I am nominating Lori as an Acadiana Hero because she is a hero. She is someone that we should all look toward for guidance on how to love one another. Lori is an inspiration to anyone who has met her. She is humble yet strong, she is merciful yet not enabling, she is full of grace and kindness. Lori Boudreaux is a true Acadiana Hero. I believe that it is time for her to be honored for her love of all people in Acadiana.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo
Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Vermilion Parish 4-H Junior Leader Club Shannan Waits

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Vermilion 4-Hunger Awareness is this year’s theme for the Vermilion Parish 4-H Jr. Leader Club’s Service-Learning Project. The teen leadership club, made up of 8th-12th grade 4-H’ers, boasts 150 members. Every year the Vermilion Parish 4-H Jr. Leader Club Officers meet to select their service project for the coming year. After much brainstorming the officers selected hunger awareness as their focus. The officers wanted to select a service project that would provide “hands-on” opportunities and allow members to truly realize the impact they were having on their community. Louisiana ranks number one in hungry children aged 5 years and younger with many children only getting food at school. This statistic had a profound effect on the officers. They decided that monthly meetings should provide an educational component to for members and the community, as well as service opportunities for its members. Activities included are: Oct. 2013 Members viewed a video on about Heifer International and Hunger Awareness Heifer International is a nonprofit organization based in Arkansas working to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development. Members and local 4-H clubs made donations to the Jr. Leader Club which will be used to purchase animals from Heifer International ???? $2,100 collected Guest Speaker – Deacon Hyde, Christian Service Center Coordinator (Provides food and meals to people in Vermilion Parish) Donation of 15 lbs. of rice (matched by Farm Bureau) to Christian Service Center Nov. 2013 Sponsored can food drive with all in which parish 4-H Clubs participated 14,483 lbs of food collected Club Meeting Activity – Hunger Meal 70 Mmembers in attendance at the monthly meeting were randomly divided into groups representing the wealthy, middle class, lower class, and poverty group of people. Meals were served based upon their class, with the “wealthy group having lots to eat and the “poverty group” having a meager snack. Members of each class realized the impact that socio-economic class status had on their ability to eat. Dec. 2013 $600 Donation to Heifer International from the club Purchased one heifer, a flock of chicks, honeybees and rabbits Members assembled and donated 110 drawstring backpacks which were distributed to 10 students at every public elementary school in Vermilion Parish to ensure that kids don’t go hungry during the holiday break. Each bag contained nutritious, kid friendly meal and snack items. Members viewed video on hunger statistics. Jan. 2014 Members created and displayed educational exhibit boards on Hunger Awareness at parish 4-H events. Members viewed video on hunger awareness. Feb. 2014 Guest Speaker – Information will be provided by guest speakers regarding Heifer International’s Global Gateways overnight educational program. This simulation program is designed to create awareness about hunger and poverty issues around the world. Activity – opportunity to provide fresh drinking water to communities in need. March – May More activities are planned for the remainder of the year. The club intends to take a trip to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR during the Spring. This trip will provide members can to the opportunity to experience a hands-on, interactive program and activities promoting sustainable solutions to global hunger, poverty and environmental degradation.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Becky Prejean

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Ms. Becky is a true living and breathing angel on earth. As a woman who has a biological family of her own, she also has many "dream families". Once a child and their family is met, she along with other members of DCT keep in touch with each family long after the "dream" is granted. Each and every one of them truly becomes "family" to her. She works out of her home, car, etc. whatever may be required as this job keeps her on the roads throughout Louisiana in order to see that each dream is granted to that very special child facing a life threatening illness. As hard as she tries to personally interview every dreamchild and family, sometimes it's just not possible and she enlists the help of other DCT members. The organization could not grant as many dreams as it does without the help of its members and countless volunteers but Ms. Becky truly is the HERO...just ask any dream child or their parent. I guarantee they will say she is a godsend...angel!

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Brenda Andrus

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I would like to nominate Ms. Brenda Andrus as Acadiana’s Local Hero. Ms. Andrus deposits an abundance of contributions into the community. She has no kids, but most of her involvement is centered around our youth. Ms. Andrus passion for raising Christ-minded individual comes from the stories she has heard about her late mother. Ms. Andrus did not get a chance to meet this wonderful woman but is inspired by those who knew her. She strongly believes in Philippians 4:13, “ I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” The community appreciates Ms. Andrus and it shows through the numerous community awards she has received along with the positions she holds throughout the community. The awards and positions include but are not limited to: 1998 Distinguished Citizen Award, 1999-2004 MLK Association President, she is the coordinator of the Fun Fest and has been for the past 14 years. Ms. Andrus is also a member of the Modern Woodman of America (17 years) where she is the youth director and has received the Fraternalist of the Year Award in 2005. Elected in 2000 she has been the pageant Director for the MLK Association, where she encourages kids to keep their dream alive. During the pageant she host a trip for the kids to Atlanta to visit the MLK Historical Site. For three years, Ms. Andrus was a board member and secretary for the local channel AOC where she encourages the viewers to support local artist and musicians alike. She also mans a 30+ volunteer group for 2nd Harvest Food Bank. This is only a small portion of the deposits Ms. Andrus has made into the community account. She has a very good heart and is always focusing on others rather than herself. Her impression left on the many of folks encountered can be described as positive and encouraging. I cannot think of anyone person more deserving and community inspired other than Ms. Andrus. It gives me great pleasure to sit here and tell you the impact she has made on so many people. She is creative in her plans and critical in her actions. She waits on no Thank you’s, payments or rewards for like she says, “she will get her crown in heaven.” (You can visit her Facebook Page where you can see many events, awards and info she displays @ Brenda Andrus)

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Don Mitchell

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I know there will be many nominations for this Acadiana Hero Award and I know they all are deserving however the person I strongly believe is equally deserving is Don Mitchell. Don Mitchell (Yah Fu “the Pen Bender”) is the Founder and CEO of The Lafayette Poetry Community/ Poetry Slam. Don felt a need to bring people together that had a lot on their minds whether it was past or present tragedies, current events, religious issues etc., to express themselves through art. He says, “Poetry is healing and what a way to help heal a wounded world, one poem at a time.” In 2008 he started meeting with a small group at Dwyer’s Café, downtown. As the poetry community grew, he had to move the meeting places. This was the beginning of Spoken Innovation in the Lafayette area. In 2013 Don changed the name to the Lafayette Poetry Community. In such a short while Don has managed to lead The Lafayette Poetry Community to many events. In 2012 The Lafayette Poetry Community was the 1st and only team to represent Lafayette in the National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2012 The Lafayette Poetry Community won the regional Poetry Slam at the Festival International. In 2014 the Women of the World Poetry Slam was represented by one of The Lafayette Poetry Community members in Austin, TX. In 2013 Don led the team to the Southern Regional Poetry Slam in New Orleans, LA. And in June 2014 Don and The Lafayette Poetry Community will travel with the team to Houston, TX to represent the city of Lafayette at the 3rd largest poetry slam in America, the 2014 Southwest Regional Shootout. In 2013 Don started the Acadiana Youth Poetry “Phresh Mindz Collective.” This is a free poetry community for youth from ages 11-20. Don has also brought The Lafayette Poetry Community to a non-profit organization status by obtaining a 501C. Don has organized many community fundraisers such “ Acadiana Toiletries and School Supply Drives,” to assure families have the necessities for their kids to be successful in school. In 2013 he became the Post Television Production Editor & Graphics Designer for the Acadiana Kids Got Talent Television Program. Don meets with The Lafayette Poetry Community the last Saturday of every month in the Rosa Parks Transportation Center inside the AOC Community Media Multi-Purpose Room, where he rotates poetry slam & Open Mic. As you can see Don gives of his time endlessly to try to help heal a broken society.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: AustinX Gaspard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Vermilion 4-Hunger Awareness is this year’s theme for the Vermilion Parish 4-H Jr. Leader Club’s Service-Learning Project. The teen leadership club, made up of 8th-12th grade 4-H’ers, boasts 150 members. Every year the Vermilion Parish 4-H Jr. Leader Club Officers meet to select their service project for the coming year. After much brainstorming the officers selected hunger awareness as their focus. The officers wanted to select a service project that would provide “hands-on” opportunities and allow members to truly realize the impact they were having on their community. Louisiana ranks number one in hungry children aged 5 years and younger with many children only getting food at school. This statistic had a profound effect on the officers. They decided that monthly meetings should provide an educational component for members and the community, as well as service opportunities for its members. Activities included: Oct. 2013 Members viewed a video about Heifer International and Hunger Awareness Heifer International is a nonprofit organization based in Arkansas working to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development. Members and local 4-H clubs made donations to the Jr. Leader Club which will be used to purchase animals from Heifer International $2,100 collected Guest Speaker – Deacon Hyde, Christian Service Center Coordinator (Provides food and meals to people in Vermilion Parish) Donation of 15 lbs. of rice (matched by Farm Bureau) to Christian Service Center Nov. 2013 Sponsored food drive in which parish 4-H Clubs participated 14,483 lbs of food collected Club Meeting Activity – Hunger Meal 70 members in attendance at the monthly meeting were randomly divided into groups representing the wealthy, middle class, and poverty group of people. Meals were served based upon their class, with the “wealthy group having lots to eat and the “poverty group” having a meager snack. Members of each class realized the impact that socio-economic class status had on their ability to eat. Dec. 2013 $600 Donation to Heifer International from the club Purchased one heifer, a flock of chicks, honeybees and rabbits Members assembled and donated 110 drawstring backpacks which were distributed to 10 students at every public elementary school in Vermilion Parish to ensure that kids don’t go hungry during the holiday break. Each bag contained nutritious, kid friendly meal and snack items. Members viewed video on hunger statistics. Jan. 2014 Members created and displayed educational exhibit boards on Hunger Awareness at parish 4-H events. Members viewed video on hunger awareness. Feb. 2014 Guest Speaker – Information will be provided by guest speakers regarding Heifer International’s Global Gateways overnight educational program. This simulation program is designed to create awareness about hunger and poverty issues around the world. Activity – opportunity to provide fresh drinking water to communities in need. March – May More activities are planned for the remainder of the year. The club intends to take a trip to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR during the Spring. This trip will provide members the opportunity to experience a hands-on, interactive program and activities promoting sustainable solutions to global hunger, poverty and environmental degradation.  

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Aaron Williams

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
You've been there… You've seen kids struggling trying to find their way in life but having no one to call on for guidance. Aaron Williams has made it his life’s work to seek out and reach these young men and women in Acadiana who just need someone to lean on. Aaron is the epitome of a father, great friend and selfless giver. About 10 years ago, Aaron made the decision to become a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana. This opportunity impacted Aaron so much that he became employed by this organization to help others have the same great experience he had. As the former Program Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana, Aaron has dedicated his life to mentoring the youth in our area. In 1999, he helped to establish the Junior Kappa League, which is an organization founded by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., which mentors young men in our area. Since then, Aaron has gone on to serve as coach of several step teams and youth sports teams. Although he works seven days a week, Aaron still finds time to give tirelessly and endlessly to our community. I recall a time when one of the young men Aaron mentored got his very first car. Aaron had also purchased a new vehicle shortly before then. They were both very excited; however, the young man did not have a radio in his car. Aaron, without hesitation, had his radio removed from his vehicle so that the young man could have music in his vehicle. This is just one of the many awesome things Aaron has done. Aaron has now begun to work with United Way of Acadiana to help other community organizations come together to provide much needed resources to our area. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Acadiana Hero award than Mr. Aaron Williams. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Kat Crappel

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
As last year's President of the Rotary North Club in Lafayette, LA, she was involved in countless community projects. She spearheaded an effort to provide a new roof for the home of a patient in Broussard confined to an iron lung. Just last Saturday,(January 4th) she supplied a crew of volunteers to build a new wheelchair ramp for another iron lung patient in Scott, LA. Both these projects were successfully completed thanks to her efforts. She also was instrumental in the St. Joseph's Shelter winter clothing & blanket drive. Her ongoing efforts support HUT (Hand Up Thrift) (local non-profit) of Lafayette. Also involved with FAITH HOUSE providing a FREE shopping spree for Christmas @ the HUT. Sponsored Krew of Angels Mardi Gras Parade & Ball @ Canrencro Convention Center for individuals with"special needs". Parade & Ball huge success and a lot of grateful kids & adults. Fundraiser for Rotary International Polio Campaign. Free book distribution (Houma) providing books for Nursing homes, prisons, clinics. Upon completion of term as Preident; now working as Director of Development for TRAIL (Transportation/Recreation Alternatives in Louisiana) - a non profit company enhancing community & opening up bikeable & pedestrian pathways. Projects-Great Ruth Canal Expedition (canoeing down Vermillion Bayou.) Atakapa-Ishak Project @ Beaver Park & now involved in establishing the A-I trail project @ Lafayette airport. PARK & PADDLE garage sale - providing information for A-I trail bike rides,runs & nature stations. Set up information booths in Abbeville Omlet Festival promoting TRAIL. Cycle for HOSPICE - 25/30 mile rides Organizing 2014 Cajun Country Race Acadiana Park Project - Ribbon cutting with city officials for new section of Nature trails along Vermillion river. Vermillionville TRAIL adventure - Race for kids 10-18. Setting up volunteers for trail clearing -Acadiana Park Nature Trail CARENCRO MIDDLE - CHOICES Program- 8th graders staying in school & the importance of H.S. diploma. EARLY ACT students-Project - collecting money for eradication of Polio. CARENCRO HIGH-formed committee to help decorate Oil Center Festival of Lights as well as other school activities/projects coordinating with teachers & family. Coordinated INTERACT Club "Adopt a Road" Project- Removing litter/debris along Butcher-Switch Road-promoting Civic responsibility & pride. Works with stludents in INTERACT Club in all activities, many projects are done in her home, including preparatiions for District Convention. CARENCRO HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY Formed Literacy Project- 'I CAN READ' provided 127 students with DVDs, Teachers with Headsets,CD players and instruction booklets. Now in second year. LAFAYETTE COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER (for the parish's working uninsured) UNITED WAY Programs LEMU Fundraisers Hosted Exchange student from Mexico last year. Hosting Exchange student from South Korea this year. Long time member of St. Genevive Catholic Church who serves @ Mass & is actively involved with numerous activities within the "Church family." Serves communion to the patients @ OUR LADY OF LOURDES hospital. She truly is a source of inspiration. She is dedicated, sincere & a beautiful (inside and out) lady!! SO PROUD of her for all the volunteer work she does while still maintaing a loving homelife. .

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo
Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Linda Williamson

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
She is always extending a helping had to those who are in need of a shoulder to cry, food or just a lead to various areas needed for help, the time of day does not matter. Throughout the year she holds events the most recent @ the Clifton Cheiner center on july 19th 2014 which commerated the lives of those slain or abused through the cruel hands of Domestic Violence. On this voyage (journey) she notice the need to speak on Violence as a complete whole. So that took off with the complete assignment already in motion. This is why I am nominating Linda Williamson.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Staci Pitre

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Staci lost her son Roman to stillbirth May 27th of this year. She took this tragedy and has displayed strength beyond any words. She formed Roman's Wings of Hope, which provides financial assistance for grief counseling to parents who have lost a child ages 12 and under. Staci has worked continuously to advocate for stillbirth awareness and is working relentlessly to personally raise the funds to place a Cuddle Cot into Women's and Children's Hospital. She has selflessly worked day and night to personally pay to get the organization off the ground and formed as a legal 501C nonprofit. Staci, like any grieving mother, has days of tears and heartache, but despite the pain, has pushed forward to continue to get the organization off the ground. She promotes HOPE to those who otherwise would not believe HOPE was possible by sharing her own journey. To me, she is the definition of a hero.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo
Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Michelle Bruce

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
In 2009 the Lafayette First Assembly Food Pantry was founded right here in Youngsville, LA. This ministry began to grow, so the need for a specific volunteers and coordinators also grew. The pantry is considered a “Client Choice Pantry.” This means that the clients are able to walk through the pantry and choose which food items they want to bring home. It is also a sub area of Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana along with a partnership with Feeding America. I am nominating MICHELLE BRUCE, who is the mother of 3 children and married. She started her journey volunteering with the ministry in 2011. After countless hours and unselfish dedication, the church saw the need for a coordinator which she gladly accepted in 2012. When this happened at the time the Food Pantry ministry was only serving 1 day a week and only able to bless approximately 85 families per week. Her hard work and dedication up until today has increased to 3 days per week and now being able to service up 250 families each day of that week and pray with them one at a time. Michelle also personally delivers food to about 25 different families personally every week; those who are restricted to their home and cannot come to the pantry to get their food. Michelle’s position has is completely voluntary and her leadership has caught the attention of many. The system she has set up and great impact she has had throughout the community has grown so much that right now a whole new 1000sq ft addition is being added to the church in order to help support this mission even further. The Lafayette Assembly Food Pantry has also grown to the point because of her dedication to where now they searching to bringing on a doctor to do simple checkups and noninvasive services for the clients who cannot afford health care….all free of charge. Michelle has also implemented with the help and leadership of others; that they are considered a disaster relief pantry. This means that after disasters, the Lafayette Assembly Food Pantry is a “first responder” in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Michelle and her dedicated team has formulated a system throughout the Youngsville, Broussard, and Lafayette area in which all clients who call 232-HELP are screened before they come for help. This helps them assure that the family is not being serviced by any other of the 12 food pantry systems within the area. Being a past community hero, I look at Michelle as a hero who needs an extra pat on her back by this community because she is humble, encouraging, always fun to be around, and is making an impact on people’s lives.

Acadiana Hero Finalist photo

Hero Name: Troy Coleman

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Hero Hunts is a new non-profit, founded by Troy Coleman, that reconnects our local American veteran soldiers with the outdoors. Troy wants to show gratitude to our veterans. He wants to be able to help our local veterans to do what they love and do it at ease. He does not want our veterans to pay for trips to hunt, fish, or any other outdoor adventure that Hero Hunts offers; Hero Hunts wants to do that for them. They want to be able to help local veterans be able to hunt or fish again. For our veterans, Hero Hunts wants to “be able to fill holes in the hearts that the absences of being away from their families have left.” Troy prides himself in tracking down many wounded veterans; whether these veterans were hurt in combat or not. Troy is making it possible for veterans in wheelchairs to hunt. Hero Hunts has wheelchair accessible hunting blinds, which is amazing. Many of these wounded veterans that Troy has taken on Hero Hunts adventures have not been able to hunt or fish since they left for war. And this does not just mean our current war; it extends back to previous wars. Troy Is giving them the opportunity to be able to do what they use to have a passion for but physically could not pursue anymore: connecting with the outdoors. Troy also prides himself in finding our American soldier veterans that get no recognition. Even though these soldiers have fought in the war, many of our citizens overlook their appreciation for them. And it is not saying anything negative about our fellow citizens; just sometimes we might get wrapped up in our own world and forget what our soldiers have done for us. Protect, sacrifice, fight, and the ability to keep that flag flying high is what these soldier do and what these veterans have done. Troy wants Hero Hunts to recognize these people. He wants all of our fellow citizens to see the veterans that don’t consider themselves heroes. He wants to give back and provide a service to THEM, now. It is our veterans turn to be catered to. And that is what Troy wants to do. Hero Hunts is an amazing non-profit organization. Not only does this program cater to the outdoor needs of our local American heroes, they also cater to the needs of our neighboring states. Whether it is hunting or fishing, Troy is providing to our brave men and women through Hero Hunts. He is providing love, support, idolism, respect, and gratitude. Giving back to our American soldiers is not only humble but it is also admirable. Hero Hunts very own founder, Troy Coleman, is an American soldier veteran himself. Putting himself aside to gratify his fellow comrades is just remarkable in itself. Troy wants to cater to our heroes and acknowledge them, but if you ask me, Troy is a local hero himself.

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Video Coming Soon!

Hero Name: Robert Baxter

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Robert Baxter is the driving force promoting art and a culture of art in Crowley. He is active in the Art Society, and also works with the elderly, bringing art to life in the lives of so many. Every year he donates some of his works to charity auctions, specifically in the past 2 years he has donated painted fleur-de-lis to be auctioned off during the Christmas holiday season, to benefit the ASSIST Agency, which serves homeless and abused women and children. He teaches art to children and works with them to help them discover and foster their own creativity. He also works with the elderly to encourage their participation and spark their interest, renewing their enthusiasm and daily purpose. I ask that you consider rewarding his efforts to promote the culture of art in Crowley. Robert Baxter IS Art.

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Hero Name: Shanese Lewis

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I would like to to submit Shanese Lewis as Acadiana's Local Hero for this month. Ms. Lewis Is currently employed at the Lafayette Council on Aging in the position of the Director of the Foster Grandparent program.She is very dedicated to her job and always goes above and beyond the call of duty organizing special activities, group trips and exciting fund raising activities for her foster grandparents. She is constantly scheduling and organizing the foster grandparents in order to pair them with the children in the various schools around Acadiana so that they can properly perform their job of mentoring and guiding these children into model citizens. Ms. Lewis also keeps the grandparents current in all their mandatory training that is required by the grant in order to meet the requirements set forth by the federal government to properly train the children and mold them into model citizens of Acadiana.

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Hero Name: Tiger Touchet

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Tiger gives so much to help kids stay off the streets. He gives them hope and makes them feel important. He is the head coach of Frog Capital Boxing Club in Rayne Louisiana. He doesnt charge anything for what he does for the kids the boxing club he runs. He needs help to get these kids to events out of state and out of town also to buy supplys needed for the kids. If anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated. Tiger has been almost doing it alone. He will not give up. He stands tall for the kids. He says if he can save one child from the streets its all worth it to him. On top of all that hes a great father and grandfather. Tiger is a hero not only for what he's doing with the kids but he's a war hero. He's very respected in the community.If anyone can help him please do. Thank you.

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Hero Name: Michael DuPont

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Michael DuPont better known to me as DAD, and to others as Mr. Mike has been an angel to many for over 10 years. I have seen him on countless occasions get out of his bed while ill to get families in need food. He works a full time job, yet he is up at 3 am on distribution day to make sure everything is prepared and ready for food to be distributed to the community, only to have to go to work after distribution has ended to fulfill his 12 hour shift. This is far from the end of his story. On weekdays he gets off work in the morning, get 2-3 hours sleep and gets right back up to go to work at CII's Blessing Store which is a 100% volunteer base 501 c3 non profit store in Church Point with 100% net proceeds going to purchase food and support other projects to assist communities. You may think this is the end, However it is not. In addition to all of this when he is not at Blessings he is collecting donations from anyone who is willing to give, so when families in need come for assistance, they will not have to hear I am sorry we can not help you because we do not have it. My father does not believe in not assisting someone in need even if he has to take money out of his own pocket, I have witnessed this on so many occasions it has come to a point where it is a way of life for him. My father never ask for anything even at Christmas time when my brother and I have a list of my own. Yet you best believe every year he finds families in need and makes sure they have gifts under the tree, and if they don't have a tree he makes sure they have that as well. Over the years he has helped thousands. Many times people come back and tell him the impact he made on their life. His response to them "when you are fully on your feet and someone needs help, do what you can to help them, it's all about paying it forward. This is why i feel My Father, My Dad, Mr. Mike, Mine as well as many other people's role model more than deserves to be recognized as a Acadiana Hero.

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Hero Name: Lori McGrew

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Lori and husband Travis, found out halfway into the pregnancy of their first child that she had Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disease that is not compatible with life. Lori carried Maddie full term and delivered her still, she had died during labor. Lori and Travis were then faced with funeral arrangements for Maddie which also came with a large bill. Fortunately they had generous family and friends to help, but this is what gave Lori the idea, and Maddie's Footprints was created! Maddie's Footprints provides financial support to help cover burial and funeral expenses for families who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. In the 5 years of exaiatence, Maddie's has helped 520 families to date and paid $271,000 of burial and funeral expenses, within 10 parishes of Acadiana. Lori started Maddie's Footprints to honor her daughter, however she has done so much more by helping so many in our community!

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Hero Name: Joan Guidry-Robin

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Joan Guidry Robin is a loyal dedicated Christian soul Who has spent many hours going to Nursing homes and homes spending time with families and patients going home to the Lord in their final days.She has also donated her time to help out with benefits for people with cancer and other ailments to raise money for medical expenses. She is an administrator as well as a teacher for the Smile Action Agency and considers her children her first Priority.She is constantly seeking new ways to teach children and show them the Lord in her teaching. Joan is a True Blessing to all.Joan gives Her time singing To her Church Emanuel church in Lafayette on Johnston on a full time basis as well.

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Hero Name: Matthew Green

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Juice for Troops was started by Matthew Green after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. At the young age of 4, Matt had the idea to sell lemonade in an effort to raise funds for the soldiers. 13 years later, Matthew's efforts have grown and is now known as Juice for Troops. Matthew donates 100% of funds to the local 256 National Guard Infantry Brigade raised by selling $1 glasses of lemonade. In the early years, a few hundred dollars were raised each year. Now donations exceed $1000 each year. The monies are used by the 256 for various things such as their family fund which helps soldiers and their families with unforeseen bills and expenses. A few years ago, Billy Mick, manager of Raising Cane's heard about Matt's efforts and wanted to become involved. Each year now he generously donates all of the lemonade, ice, cups, lids, and straws for the event. Members of the local 256 also come out to assist. In addition, Sugar Mill Pond now hosts Matthew's event each year at their Independence Day Celebration. This past year, Matthew was honored by the 256 at their annual Dining Out event and was recognized by the general for his efforts. It was something Matthew will never forget. When asked why Juice for Troops is so important to him, Matthew commented "We have so much. We need to give back to the soldiers and their families who sacrifice so much so that we can be comfortable. As long as we are helping, we are going to continue Juice for Troops." Matthew also has plans to expand Juice for Troops in the future so that even more funds can be raised. At just 17, Matthew has the heart of a true servant - wanting to give back to the soldiers that sacrifice so much for us. Thank you for your consideration in nominating him as a local Acadiana Hero.

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Hero Name: Jan Hamilton

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jan is the most dedicated person I know - she does so much for her community and church. She helped to found the Hemophilia Federation of America and serves on the board of the Louisiana Hemophilia Foundation. 3 years ago she discovered that there were individuals in need that had no means to get a bed or furniture on their own. She started collecting used/donated beds and furniture to give to those in need. The need started to grow so she formed an outreach committee named SOFA (Service, Outreach, Furniture, Acadiana) ministry via The Episcopal Church of the Ascension - however, the donors and receivers are not necessarily church members. She receives no pay for her hard work - as a matter of fact, I know she uses her own money to pay for items. She will meet with individuals/families/agencies to determine their level of need and then find them furniture at no cost. The organization must cover the cost of renting a warehouse and the utilities - also so funds to print flyers, etc. Jan will drive to the warehouse met the individuals/family, interview and give them the needed bedding/chairs, etc. It is a win-win situation -instead of people putting their old/used furniture in the trash they can give to SOFA and SOFA gives to those in need. Also furniture companies appreciate and use SOFA when they deliver new furniture and do not know what to do with the used furniture.

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Hero Name: Gary Edmomdson

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Gary was born in August of 1934 in Brooklyn N.Y. After joining the Boy Scouts at age 10, Gary played TAPS at his first military funeral at age 12. He has been playing TAPS at military funerals for nearly 7 decades. At the age of 21, he joined the Army. After serving as a draftsman for one year, Gary earned a position in the US Army band in Louisville, Ky. Following discharge from the US Army, Gary began a career as an insurance salesman. In Nov 1959, Gary was transferred to Lafayette La. He settled into life in Acadiana, where he continued his lifelong dedication to provide the final tribute at veteran funerals. He notified all 6 of the local funeral homes that he was available to play TAPS at no cost to the family. In May of 1963, Gary played his 1st Memorial Day Service at Lafayette Memorial Park. In 1964 he played his 1st Memorial Day Service at Green Lawn, and continues to do so at both locations today. Gary considers this his calling in life; to provide these fallen heroes the final tribute as their families lay them to rest. In 1990, Gary joined the local VFW 9822 as an honorary member, and continues as their bugler today. In 2000, the VFW added Fountain Memorial to their Memorial Day service events, and Gary has continued to play TAPS there as well. In 1995, Gary helped organize a celebration for local veterans on the national 50th anniversary of the end of WW II that honored over 200 local WW II veterans. In 2014, Gary Edmondson fulfilled a decade of dreams and created the Acadiana Veterans Honor Guard. Gary was instrumental in securing over $6000.00 in funding and support to accomplish his goal to ensure that every local veteran will receive full military funeral honors. Donations included 2 electronic bugles, which will be utilized when Gary can no longer play his beloved TAPS, Call to Colors, and the 5 military service branch songs.

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Hero Name: Nathaniel Mitchell

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Nathaniel was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 3 years ago and since then developed and organized a support group called The Diabetic Kitchen where monthly meetings are held with health professionals giving information on various areas such as menu planning, exercising, medication, dental and foot care. The meetings are very informative and we'll attended. One local restaurant would prepare healthy meals for the attendees of the meeting and local restaurants, such as Quizno's provide healthy sandwiches for the meeting. The Diabetic Kitchen has made a tremendous impact on the people of New Iberia. Several Community Walks in City Park have taken place as well as health fairs in conjunction with local agencies. In addition, walks have been held in surrounding communities such as Breaux Bridge and Jeanerette. Nathaniel has also gotten youths who suffer from juvenile diabetes to attend the health walks and assist in any way that they can.

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Hero Name: Jill Meaux

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Ms. Meaux is the director and CEO of the Outreach Center for Women and Children. She has helped my son and I as well as hundreds of other women and children in the area. She runs the center which is a shelter and also a drug addiction treatment program. She wants to help families stay together. She is connected with other local agencies in the area and helps the women with resources. She helps women find work, homes, and while doing treats you with respect and never makes you feel like less of a women. Her non-profit organization has helped hundreds of women and families. I look up to this women and strive to be like her. Her compassion for others is heartwarming.

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Hero Name: John "JayCee" Falcon

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
John is involved in The American Lung Associations annual Jeep Jaunt. Each year he is able to round up area Jeep owners that take a drive in recognition of those that have suffered with Lung disabilites. In addition to the Jeep Jaunt, he has rounded up teams for walks to raise money for the organization and encourages community awareness and participation. There is so much more I could say about this generous and thoughtful human being. A kind, gentle soul who concerns himself with the world becoming a better place, whether it be through the organization like the American Lung Association, but also in support of the American Military Troops. My words are not big enough or educated enough to stress to you all what an impact this man has made and is making on this community. He is humble about his efforts and never takes full credit for the growing number of people each year that participate in his volunteering. John thinks before he speaks, gives consideration to those that he may not be on the same page with, leaves an open door to those that have a desire to better themselves and is great at rounding up an interest in being active in the community. Having lost both his parents, he understands the value of time, family, devotion, discipline and dedication. I know you will not regret giving this money to a man that will see to it that the use is distributed properly to the organizations he is so passionate about.

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Hero Name: John Sutton

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
John Sutton founded We Heart Veterans to help active duty service Veterans who served in WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf War Veterans and their Widows. He is very compassionate about what he does, and as owner pledges not to take a salary since that is money which would take away needed assistance from a deserving Veteran. His mission is to make sure that "We Never Forget" those that fought for our Freedom, and with care, respect and honor bring a higher quality of life to our Veterans and their Widows. WHVs provides non-medical homecare (ADL - Activities of Daily Living) to those in need, such as: Cooking a meal, change their clothes, give them a bath, take them to the grocery, or take them to doctor appointments. Once a month WHVs sends out a nurse to perform a head to toe assessment for a continuum of health for each Veteran. They also try to provide essential transportation to our wheelchair bound Veterans that need special lifts to get into vehicles. To me, however, one of the most important services they offer is providing wheelchair ramps, scooters, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and other essential medical equipment. Hearing of a Veteran who has been homebound for several years due to not having funds for a wheelchair and then receiving one, watching them go outside and "drive" around in the chair is priceless. They smile from ear to ear, cry and laugh. Words cannot explain changing someone's life in that way.

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Hero Name: Carolyn French

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Carolyn French has been actively involved in a broad range of non-profit organizations that benefit our community and has been instrumental in the origin of several non-profit groups. Her scope of influence includes education, the arts, human services (women and children, homeless, hungry, and otherwise abused or disadvantaged). Through the years, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Fine Arts Society, the Acadiana Symphony, Friends of Music, FoodNet, Lafayette Education Foundation and many other organizations. She has been actively involved with Faith House, United Way, the Rape Crisis Center, Stuller Foundation, St. Joseph’s Diner and numerous other groups. I am nominating Dr. French for this award primarily for her support of education for underprivileged children in Lafayette Parish. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children have been enriched by her efforts. She has single-handedly (or, as she would say, “with a lot of help from her friends”) created a novel approach to increasing the likelihood of academic success for children in Lafayette Parish schools. No other organization addresses the needs of individual students, and no other comparable organization is known to exist nationwide. In 1997, Dr. French formed The Shining Light Foundation to respond to the needs of children in grades k-6 in Lafayette Parish, so that “every child’s light might shine.” She formed a 501 © 3 organization that accepts applications from teachers, counselors, and principals for funds so that children can participate more fully in their school activities. The Shining Light Foundation responds to requests for funds to rent instruments for students to be in their school bands, go on field trips with their classmates, replace lost books, provide clothing for Physical Education classes, tutoring, and other activities. Even though The Shining Light Foundation is intended as an “agency of last resort.” Several hundred requests are received each year. The amount of funds requested ranges from just a few dollars to several hundred dollars. No application, properly completed, is ever denied. The organization is run entirely by volunteers and is funded with a combination of personal donations and grants (Junior League of Lafayette, Gannett, Board of Realtors, Kiwanis). Based on the vision, foresight, energy, efforts and funding from Dr. Carolyn French, numerous children have had increased participation and chances of success in Lafayette schools. The benefits include not only their increased knowledge, but also increased bonding with classmates through shared experiences, increased peer group identification and acceptance, increased access to positive role models, and the potential for cultivation of interests and talents. Both the children and their families have experienced affirmation of community awareness and support. I believe, based on the information above, we can designate Dr. Carolyn French as an Acadiana Hero.

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Hero Name: Crystal Lanclos

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I am Vanessa Linkhart, Special Olympics volunteer and mother of another athlete. Ed has asked me to help him with this nomination. "Coach Crystal is the sweetest person you will know and without her I would be lost. She is my VIP. When I am down she knows how to put a smile on my face. When she became our coach it was a blessing from up above. No matter what color you are she will treat you all the same. I wish everyone was like her. No matter what is going on in your life she will try to help you out, no matter if you are rich or poor. She knows what is best for us. If I have a problem and I need advice she always helps me. Her passion is working with special needs people. And she wants the world to know about special needs people."

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Hero Name: Rachel Patin

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Heartstrings and Angel Wings was inspired by the birth of Heath Logan, a Breaux Bridge native to our founding members, born 15 weeks too soon. At birth, Heath weighed 1 pound 7 ounces and remained in the NICU for over 3 months. during his extended stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Heath was eventually healthy enough to be bathed and dressed in clothing. At around two pounds or less in weight, where do you find clothing for a baby so small?(Preemie clothing at retail stores fits babies that are 5 to 7 pounds.) With nowhere to turn to clothe their baby, Heath's family searched the internet and found some clothing for Heath at a cost of about $100 for 3 or 4 outfits. A very hard price to pay for a family in stress. After another premature baby was born in the same family, the thought of starting a group which would give babies in the NICU clothing so that the family can be relieved of this simple stress began. Heartstrings & Angel Wings was formed in 2008, by Rachel Patin, and is proud to have donated to hunger of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units all over the state of Louisiana. Our service provides comfort for families because the can view their loved one in everyday clothing, making things seem at a little more "normal." The premature babies we provide clothing for range from 1 pound or less to 5 pounds in weight and most stay for weeks or months in Intensive Care. The items we provide are NICU-friendly shirts, wraps. and gowns, receiving blankets, crocheted hats, bereavement gowns, incubator covers, frogs & snakes(used for positioning the baby). NICU-friendly clothing allows openings for minimal disturbance to the baby and allows openings for leads and IVs helping in the prevention of infection. Regular donations are made to Louisiana hospitals: Lafayette General Women and Childrens Woman's Hospital Opelousas General Medical Center Terrebonne General Hospital Donations are often made by request of family members for babies in hospitals across Louisiana.

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Hero Name: Johnny Carriere, Jr.

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Johnny is an amazing man with a heart for the community. He is the executive director of the Opelousas Lighthouse Mission, the men's homeless shelter in Opelousas. Because of the work that God has called him to, he helps so many men who have nowhere else to turn. He helps these men find jobs, counsels them, gets them to addiction recovery centers, and helps them become self-sufficient once again so that they can be helpful members of society. Since Johnny became director over 6 years ago, the mission has turned from an eye-sore in the community (many people saw it as a flop house) to a beacon of hope for so many men and their families. Without the mission and where it is today, due largely in part to the work of Johnny, men in the Acadiana area would have nowhere to turn that could offer true hope.

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Hero Name: Pamela Kay Connery

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Pamela Kay Connery is not only an Acadiana Hero, she is a Louisiana Hero. What she has worked from 2010 to present to save, should be important to all conservationists. If you want your grandchildren to grow up seeing Louisiana's bobcats in nature, not only in photos on the internet, then my wish would be for you to consider Pam a hero, too. Pam recognized that our state cat was being euthanized, neglected and discarded for the most part. There was no place for them to go when hunters would find abandoned kittens, some would be hit by cars, others would be seized by owner's who had them as illegal pets, and some were nuisance trapped by individuals or animal control. Pam took out her early teacher's retirement, determined to make a difference in the lives of these animals, rehabilitate them, release those that could go back into the wild and give them hope. It's not easy being on call 24/7, pro bono, statewide, in the rain, in the cold or heat, bottle feeding kittens on the side of the road or a gas station, while texting her veterinarian after hours or calming an adult nuisance trapped bobcat that pooped in his coyote trap at the vet's office and is now riding inside the vehicle with her. That's courage, determination & character. Caging that meets or goes above standard requirements, proper nutritional needs and even discounted veterinary expenses are incredibly high. Her monthly food budget requirements are $500 per month, at present. I'm sure it's certainly not easy showing up at places with kevlar gloves and coyote traps as a woman in a stereotypical world, but she does it for the bobcats. It's not glamorous trekking through woods, feeding and cutting raw meat and changing out poop and water pans, but she does it daily with always a smile. No one knows about what she really does, because the refuge is not open to the public, so the bobcats stay wild or the zoo retired cats finally have a peaceful place to live out the remainder of their lives. However, I can be your eyes and I can tell you that they hide from me, they hide from our vets and permit officer, but these wild cats trust her. People need to know this. It's a beautiful magical thing, like the bobcat whisperer. There's a calmness about her that they sense, even the wild nuisance trapped ones she can calm with her voice. Some allow her to touch them for comfort and will lightly bite her finger or lick her hand, but not break the skin. I've never witnessed anything like it. Someone should write a book about it. It's bewildering. Yet, when the time comes, (sometimes a year later) for a kitten to be released back into the wild, they've learned to kill live prey, they've learned to be wild and free, as Mother Nature intended. That's the giving back...that's what makes it all worthwhile..that's what makes her a hero.

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Hero Name: Carol Trosclair

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
It is said that one can easily judge the character of a person by what they do for others ho can do nothing for them. This summarizes my candidate Carol Trosclair greatly. She is the most selfless person I have ever come in contact with in my life. As a professor at UL School of Kinesiology, I have crossed paths with many students. One in particular was Ms. Carol's son David. A 3.9 GPA student with a realistic goal of becoming a physical therapist. Helping others was his ambition. This trait was demonstrated many occasions as he was the most active volunteer in our Kinesiology majors club (KPA). When David passed away I requested a scholarship be started in his name to keep his memory and legacy alive in our future generations of students. Though he wasn't able to fulfill his ambition, others sharing similar traits would be assisted in fulfilling theirs, and in such his as well. Carol Trosclair (his Mother) has made it her personal mission to help as many students as possible in reaching their dreams. She has been solely responsible for over $150,000 brought into the UL Foundation for scholarships in David's name. Eleven students a year receive $20,000 in scholarships because of Ms. Carol. And a little bit of David lives in each recipient. This would be more than enough for most, however it is not enough for Ms. Carol. She years to help as many students as she can. She partnered with Todd's Car Wash, Travel Machine, and Indulge for a yearly fundraiser for the active members of the student club (David's Club). She sells tickets with passion and with a fierce purpose. In just 2 years, over 50 deserving students have received various levels of support through her individual efforts. She knows that students need additional funds to attend conferences, conventions, obtain certifications, and apply to graduate schools. Who else if not here would have the confidence and selflessness to invest in these kids so they may have a greater chance of being productive members of society? Carol is setting an example for the entire community of Acadiana to emulate. I know first hand of countless other people and causes she has given to behind the scenes while adding "Please don't tell them I am doing this for them." To Carol Trosclair, it is not about being recognized as much as it is doing what her heart and God drives her to do....for others.

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Hero Name: Kyle Potier

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Kyle Potier, well known by local police for his repeated criminal behavior, has spent 5 years in prison and while incarcerated he decided that upon his release he would bring his vision to life. In doing so, he and his team has since recruited and serviced 134 kids from the very same community he nearly destroyed. “Kyle’s Promise” offers social skills activities daily, on August 2, 2015 the group surprised the kids with a back to school party where school supplies were handed out to the kids, they were able to participate in water baseball, there was a water slide and slip and slide just so the kids could get wet, he’s also formed a teen leadership group that was committed to cleaning and painting the basketball court in the Carl Williams Park in Breaux Bridge. At the request of some of the male participants he will be offering a community basketball tournament for kids 10-14 years of age. He has volunteers that are also concerned about the past behavior of the kids in the community which lead to them escorting the kids to and from the Jr High School on a daily basis just to divert their possible intentions of causing disturbances. September 13, 2015 Kyle's Promise offered "Sunday Funday" so the the parents of the kids that participated could see what the kids do when they are with the group. The kids were separated by groups of cheerleaders, dancers and basketball players and each group got to sleep over with one leader so that the team shirts Kyle provided (out of pocket) were prepared for the tournament . Over 150 kids and parents participated and there was not one incident that occurred. This type of program has never been offered to this community before and with continued support we hope to divert the juvenile justice system statistics in the community.

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Hero Name: Jason Broussard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jason Broussard is a selfless person who put others needs before his own. The way Jason shares his in helping kids with Muscular Dystrophy really affects these children in a positive way. Every year in June, Jason host a Kids camp. This camp is located at camp grant walker. This is called the MDA camp for kids. Jason goes above and beyond to ensure the kids are able to take part in activities most kids take for granted . He has special horses brought in that are trained to be extra gentle . He may have special flotation devises so these kids and enjoy some time in the swimming pool . His efforts allow these kids to canoe and play softball. Thing that if he would not put on this camp these kids would likely never have the chance to participate in.

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Hero Name: Terrance Morgan

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Working with nonprofit organization Acadiana Center for the Arts, Terrance developed an antibullying, drug free and positive thinking programs that were brought into and performed in schools, after school programs, libraries , churches and detention centers throughout Acadiana starting in 2005.In 2007, Terrance was the first performer allowed to perform in the lower 9th ward after Hurricane Katrina at The Martin Luther King School of the Arts. In 2008-2009, he was a mentor and dance instructor at The Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana. In 2010, he inspired the first ever All Boys Dance Team at Abney Elementary School in Slidell, La. In 2011-2013, Terrance was a performer for the Youth Empowerment Program for At Risk Kids at the New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Terrance founded the Parc de Lafayette Jam for Festival International, which is an all ages free to the community event. Starting in 2004 and still going strong today. In 2012, he was voted, one of the Most Interesting People in Acadiana, featured in The Acadiana Lifestyle Magazine, voted by the community. In 2013, Terrance was a dance instructor for the Health and Fitness Expo held at Girouard Park, which is another free to the public all ages event. Also in 2013, he coordinated a dance competition at Acadiana Crossfit, to promote The Apollo Theatre Presents James Brown Get on the Good Foot, A celebration in dance (another free to the public all ages event.

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Hero Name: Donielle Watkins

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Donielle has a special needs son with spina bifada who is confined to a wheelchair who is now becoming a young adult. When he was younger he wanted to be involved in sports activities and she found there were none for special needs children. She created D.R.E.A.M.S Foundation which provides numerous activities for special needs children and young adults of all ages. Several hundred children participate in the activities ranging from bowling, theater, self defense, softball, soccer, art, cheerleading, yoga etc. This has lead to her to the vision of D.R.E.A.M.S. to build Unity Village which will be a safe haven for special needs adults to live somewhat independently, work and play in a safe, happy environment. The thought of many parents of special needs young adults is who will take care and love my child when I am no longer here. Who does that task fall to? She is working on this dream through meeting with potential investors and fundraising for this village. She has created this wonderful organization where all of these children, including mine, feel loved, needed and that they important human beings. They are doing things that maybe they and surely their parents didn't think they could do. The Unity Village will be a place where the young adults can live with roommates and be supervised by trusted adults. They will have onsite places to work and shop. There will be a gym, theater and other activities so that they can lead a full, productive life.

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Hero Name: Ryane Broussard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Ryane has always represented a charity or cause that she is passionate about. Since an early age she has had a passion for those less fortunate and those who have a disability and helping them overcome adversity. She has served overseas at many different orphanages multiple times, run local non-profits, help grow local non-profits, fundraised and planned events for organizations both at the national level and local levels, raised funds for and competed in 7 marathons, 4 MS150 rides, 100 mile races, served on numerous boards and completed hundreds of hours of volunteerism. Her most recent accomplishment is helping to bring Ainsley's Angels to South Central Louisiana, more specifically, Lafayette and its surrounding areas. The mission of Ainsley's Angels is in addition to ensuring everyone can experience endurance events, Ainsley's Angels of America aims to build awareness about America's special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Serving as advocates to providing education and participating as active members in local communities, we believe everyone deserves to be included. As an athlete, Ryane has always strived to "compete for a reason" and with Ainsley's Angels she has been able to give these people with disabilities the ability through her ability.

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Hero Name: Mrs.Linda Lanclos

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My hero is Mrs. Lanclos was working at Bridge Ministry of Acadian working children in the community with homework and personal need in family. She is now doing Escape from Poverty working with families in need. After spending 30 years serving the poor and cofounding three charities, she realized she wasn't helping but rather enabling the same people to remain comfortable in poverty. Nobody was getting out. Relief services have their place but over time can create unwanted dependency. Even children's tutoring program strengthen the children's ability to pass a grade , but the fact remains that 24% of children raised in poverty turn to violence and drug dealing. What if we could help families get out of poverty, especially while the children are still young? So she started this development organization to help families transform. I am one of the people helped by Escape from Poverty. There's a saying; give a person a fish and feed him for a day, but teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. But we take it a step further and say if you help our families own the pond , you can help them care for their families and communities. We partner with churches, businesses and non-profit organizations to provide life skills classes to families who wish to improve their financial, organizational, or personal skills. We help build supportive, encourage relationships between our participating adult students and professional volunteers as students and their mentors attend classes weekly for 12 months and along with their mentors and budgets counselors, apply lessons learned through planned activities and exercise . The Escape from Poverty network helps our students solve real-life problems as they occur. After a year of learning within the network, student are equipped with skills in life.

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Hero Name: Al Daspit

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Al Daspit is the heart and soul of LARC. His commitment to LARC far exceeds any expectations that a non-profit organization could hope for in volunteerism. Al Daspit is the most self-less person you will ever meet. Al is retired from Bellsouth and has used his retirement time to do anything but that. Al takes the concept of volunteering to a new extreme. During Noel Acadien au Village, Al is our key volunteer for Santa's Kitchen. Al begins preparations and planning in early October for the 26 day fundraiser. Each year Al builds mock walls, installs doors, and wraps the entire pavilion to shield our guests from the cold winter air. Al also creates a multi function kitchen that resembles that of a well-run restaurant. Al arrives early each day to plan and prepare the menu for the evening. Al is the first one on site and the last one to leave each evening. Al recruits fellow volunteers to work in the kitchen with food preparations, serving, and cleanup. Al's routine continues each day, 26 days total, until the close of Noel Acadien au Village. All proceeds from Santa's Kitchen directly support LARC. LARC's mission is to support individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. In addition to Santa's Kitchen, Al can be seen on LARC grounds on a regular basis cutting grass. We never have to call or ask Al for help, he always seem to be here before the need arises, always one step ahead. Al is also our "go-to" cook for a multitude of fundraisers held at Acadian Village. Al works relentlessly to get food and other items that are beneficial to LARC donated. Over the years, Al has secured many donated items for LARC such as furniture, books, pots, dishes, office furniture and countless items for Santa's Kitchen. On many occasions, Al has managed to provide meals for our cafeteria and homes through donations from other fundraisers. Al inspires many of us; from his fellow volunteers to LARC Employees. The name Al Daspit is synonymous with Noel Acadien. In the hearts of many, Al is a true hero.

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Hero Name: Jill Howell Dugas

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jill has been passionate about giving back for as long as I've known her. If you ask her about herself, she tends to always turn the conversation back to others. She loves life, her family and friends and has been involved with this community since the second she moved back to Lafayette. She has been fighting to end sexual violence for almost 18 years with Hearts of Hope, a local nonprofit dedicated to serving survivors of this horrific crime. She started with the agency in 1998 as a therapist, started their fund development program, became the Program Director and served as its Executive Director for the past 6 years. Her humility, loyalty and dedication to the cause and the agency have been extremely admirable. She has stuck with the agency through troubled times and has navigated its growth over the years. Anyone who knows Jill, knows she was passionate and proud to be a part of such an incredible organization. She has recently retired from her position at Hearts of Hope but plans to stay involved even after all of these years she has already committed to the cause. On many occasions I have heard her say, "This has been my ministry for almost 18 years. How can I ever give up on this fight. When you have so much knowledge about something that could help others, you just can't just stop and do nothing'. She has been so passionate about the cause, she has rallied several friends and family to get involved. Her daughter even wrote a song in 2009 for the agency called 'Heart of Hope' that still helps to raise funds for the agency. Jill has a heart for giving and serving others in this community and it shows.

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Hero Name: Paula Alesi

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
It all started with a box turtle named Bernard. He wasn’t anything special, just a box turtle that needed saving. Thankfully for Bernard though, he would cross paths with Paula Jo and his life would never be the same. This little girl had a passion for doing what was right by the animals, and that’s just what she did. From finding homes for the kittens the neighborhood cat had, to saving injured turtles from beneath the Terrytown bridge, Paula was always busy trying to help the animals. After finishing at USL in fine arts she married Tommy Alesi and settled in Acadiana. Paula is a very talented silversmith that made her living building beautiful custom design jewelry for many years. In the late nineties while still working full time, she co founded Wildcat Foundation (the first TNR group in Lafayette). In the beginning is was about trapping cats, and hauling them to clinics as far as New Orleans to get them fixed. When she wasn’t trapping, and hauling them down the interstate, she was negotiating lower prices with area vets for large numbers of cats to be fixed locally. As the numbers grew and more folks enlisted her help, she began writing grants to secure more money to help more people get more animals fixed. She was instrumental in bringing the Big Fix Rig to Lafayette that did low cost spay & neuter of area cats. Within Wildcat’s first decade, it mushroomed into SpayNation…the first low cost spay neuter clinic in our community Today not much has changed in the way Paula does business. She is the executive director of SpayNation and continues doing what she has done since she was a child. Doing what’s right by the animals is still her mode of operation. Providing our neighbors with low cost spay neuter services, Spaynation has fixed over 35,000 animals since opening. From helping the women at the Faith House to keep their pets while going thru troubles, or doing TNR for an aged woman to get her cats fixed and healthy, the lessons Bernard taught her about kindness and empathy for animals lives on in our community. She has a strong work ethic and deep love for animals that allows her to be our “superhero” ! Thankfully for us she married a native and did all these great things in our backyard😊Thanks Paula Jo Alesi…we appreciate you!

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Hero Name: Elijah Evans

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Elijah Evans deserves this recognition because of his bravery of sharing with so many people, at such a young age, of what his biological mother done to him. He shares his story and have overcome adversity in his life which is child abuse. His biological mother place him in a tub of hot water at the age of 2 and form that Elijah is burned from waist down, have no toes on his right foot and the toes on his left foot are webbed together. Elijah has spent 3 years in foster care and then adopted. Elijah had a dream to give a party for children in foster care at 8 years old but his mother said she couldn't afford it but that didn't stop him 4 years later Elijah was in a school organization called Family CAreer Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and he did a project involving child abuse awareness. Elijah named his project 'No Use For Abuse" that was the start of Elijah's advocacy against child abuse. Elijah had to go in the community and make awareness about child abuse. He went to different settings telling his story and educating the community about child abuse. During that time he was able to fulfill his dream. He raised nearly $5,000 and host a Christmas party for children in foster care. Elijah's purpose for hosting the party was to have the children fill out a wish list and Elijah and FCCLA members along with volunteers went shopping for 72 children. At the chhristmas party they had a Santa, entertainment, games, food, door prizes, and fun for the children. Elijah liked that the children was so happy with their gifts and that they had a good time at the party that a few months later he started his organization "No Use For Abuse". Elijah has been hosting Christmas of Hope party for the last 5 years. He also host a back to school event for the last 3 years. Elijah named it 'Ohana Bash' which means family no one left behind. At the event the children shop for book sacks and school supplies. Each child leaves with a book sack filled with their school supplies. At the event there is a motivational speakers, games, crafts, food, fun, it's a big family fun day for the children so that they know that they are not the only one going through what they are going through. They could related to each other. It let's them know that there is still hope for them. The Christmas parties are held ever December and the back to school events are held in July. This year will be the first year NUFA will give a scholarship for a graduating Senior that have been in foster care or that is presently in foster care. Elijah has tangible helped almost 800 children and intangible helped thousands through the community, the State, and national through being an advocate and sharing his story through social media, news paper, and magazines.

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Hero Name: Angela Lege

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Angela Lege is a true hero in Acadiana. As a lover of people, Angie has geared herself to make our area better for all people. When Angie was around 15 years old, she felt that she was called to a certain underserved population that has now become an issue internationally, with Lafayette as a hub. Angie is focused on eradicating modern slavery, Human Trafficking. Upon the emergence of Angie’s calling, she focused all of her future plans to the development of an organization she now calls C.R.O.W.N.E.D. (Covered and Renewed Offering Women New Education and Development), for which she has recently submitted her paperwork to be a 501(c)3. Angie achieved her Bachelor’s degree in sociology from ULL in 2012 studying under Dr. Huang, an author and expert on international human traffic, she obtained a minor in public relations in 2012 in order to learn to market and expand the knowledge of C.R.O.W.N.E.D., post graduate in 2015, Angie was awarded her Master’s in Counseling Education from the prestigious counseling program at ULL believing that as a counselor, she would be able to work with the women and girls who have been trafficked and progress them toward reintegration with common society. Angela is a visionary. She is currently promoting C.R.O.W.N.E.D. through educational seminars with church groups, civil groups, and other community organizations. Her big plan is to develop a multi-disciplinary facility dedicated to the holistic healing of the survivors. She recognizes that this is a large feat, and is taking it one step at a time. Angela’s focus has never veered from the goal. Although she has had some setbacks with family, health, and other circumstances, she has never looked away from the ultimate goal – eradicating human traffic. Angie’s unending passion for others is evident by the steps she takes to increase awareness, establish the credentials necessary to be credible to her listeners, and establishing relationships both nationally and internationally to understand the processes necessary to make her vision a reality while she works as a full-time therapist for a local agency. Defining Angie as Acadiana’s Community Hero for May will give her the ability to attend the National Conference on Human Traffic in Maryland in November, as well as to receive more training to begin the development of the facility and rescues of our girls. Angie states, “We are all royalty, and we need to know it! C.R.O.W.N.E.D. will make our princesses know that they are as valuable as they were intended” she quotes Isaiah 62:3 You Shall be a Crown of Beauty in the Hand of Your God.

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Hero Name: Sarah Broussard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
This woman deserves becoming Acadiana's next Hero because in her community she works with a large population of individuals who rely on her for a variety of needs. She has many roles when it comes to being a servant in her community. From a young woman she began a coat drive from within her family that has now spawned into one of the largest coat drives in St. Landry Parish. She teaches a reading program for children in her community during the summer, in July she does a back to school drive, in December she does a coat, and toy drive.

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Hero Name: 360 Collective

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Three Sixty Collective is a grass roots civic organization that has been working for positive change in the Lafayette area for two years. In the last six months 360 has hosted a monthly youth enrichment program Chess & Chat, where youth have an opportunity to develop their chess skills and spend positive interaction with community members. 360 hosted the first of a series of town hall meetings on February 24th at Clifton Chenier Center entitled LafayetteNext. In March 360 hosted a tour for youth to a state prison the goal is to show kids some realities of prison life and emphasis the consequences of poor choices, and encouraging positive ones. In January 360 hosted a Walk for Peace as part of their ongoing campaign for crime and violence reduction. Last December, 360 handed out toiletry items to homeless people in Lafayette.

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Hero Name: Jo Anne Miller

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Jo Anne is the leader of the Breast Cancer Survivors at Miles Perret Cancer Services. She has been in charge of this group for over 15 years (the original leader stepped down and picked Jo Anne to serve). She is a friend to all of us, going far beyond the leader role. I have seen her more than once spend the last few days of a survivor's life making sure the patient is kept comfortable and preparing the family for the end of life. This was done while she was employed by Lourdes - all after work hours and off the clock. She cared about the individual. After being laid off by Lourdes, she went back to school and got her N.P. degree, never telling anyone she did not have time to help them with the financial "maze" of paying for treatment, never giving up the support group, nor giving up helping families and survivors with end of life care. Jo Anne was the person who started the Breast Health Symposium over twenty-three years ago - doing the work necessary(many times alone) to insure the survivors would enjoy their day. She recruited the first volunteers to help with this event, that is still held today. Each year in October this event is held at the Convention Center with over six hundred people attending. To think it started at Hotel Acadiana and has grown this much. Family is most important to her. She raised two girls as a single Mom, cares for aging parents and has cared for any family member that needed her help. She unselfishly drives them to Houston to see a specialists, and guides them through the maze of chemo. Her dedication to others can not be measured!!! Her unselfishness is demonstrated to survivors constantly - it can be felt by individuals and families that has ever needed her - she is always ready to help. It is with great pride I submit her name for consideration. I have seen many benefit from her medical knowledge but many more benefit from her kindness.

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Hero Name: Linda Hebert

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Linda Herbert has always taken it upon herself to help others. Linda is a owner of La Pay E Bas RV Campground, located on highway 91, near Eunice, LA. Over the years she has helped numerous organizations. Three years ago the Barksdale Wounded Warriors Association (BWWA) caught her attention and she immediately began organizing fundraising events to help our heroes. Beginning Memorial Day 2012, Linda has hosted an annual auction raising from $10,000 to $35,000. She has motivated many people, at the campground and in the surrounding community to help raise money for BWWA. She, along with volunteers, hosts numerous fund-raising events. They conduct bake sales, plate lunch sales, raffles and work with local businesses to donate items for silent and live auctions. Each year her efforts result in a significant amount of funds benefitting our warriors. Donated funds go a long way to aid our heroes with most of the funds targeted for needs not covered by other programs. Here are a few examples of what Linda's efforts have accomplished over the past 10 months: When an airman was injured by a bomb, breaking both his arms and shattering his leg, funds were used to take care of this family. Christmas was provided for 4 Warriors' families going through difficult times. $7,500 in Scholarships were afforded to Wounded Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warriors' children. Donations were used to pay bills and keep 4 families from losing their homes when backlogs with the VA caused delays in assistance. Six Service Dogs were purchased, significantly improving quality of life for warriors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Numerous Wounded Warrior hunting trips were fully funded allowing these heroes a chance to get back to the outdoors and enjoy a therapeutic, exciting experience. Linda welcomes Wounded Warriors, service members and their families form Barksdale AFB to stay, at no charge, at the camp each Memorial Day Weekend. During this time, she hosts a Jambalaya cook-off, bingo, an auction and a parade where residents of the campground loan their golf carts to the guests to ride through the camp where they are cheered and acknowledged for their sacrifices. There is always lots of food, entertainment and comradery. The main even (the auction) day starts with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. Then each veteran is called up to receive a flag to honor all military veterans and soldiers. Last year, Linda led construction of a Wounded Warrior EOD memorial in the campground. Many of the campers were involved in the construction and are always proud that it has such a significant and central location in the park. What is so inspirational about Linda is that everything, every business opportunity, every event, that goes on at La Pay E Bas, she sees as an opportunity to raise money for the BWWA and to support veterans in need.

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Hero Name: Linda Plowden

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
The first time I met Linda was at her home, shortly after her son Brice Romero died. He was only 18 years old and drowned at a graduation party just two weeks after graduating high school. Together Linda and I have turned this tragedy into something special. It began when my daughter Katie informed me that Ms. Linda would need assistance with funeral expenses for Brice. Any parent who has a positive outcome from the death of their child deserves recognition. Our first fundraiser for funeral expenses turned into continuing the effort but to provide swimming lessons for children whose parents cannot afford them. Linda has since then stepped up as a leader and organizes our fundraising efforts. It has not been easy, as many of us have shed many tears as we tell the story of this young man with a very bright future. Linda goes from business to business around Vermilion Parish picking up donations and putting out flyers announcing our upcoming fundraisers. She is also active with the lessons by having her daughter and grandchildren involved also. She organizes the lessons with the instructor and the parents. The Brice Romero Memorial Fund has provided free swimming lessons for over 100 children and 20 or more adults. Our group began in 2009 and is still going strong today.

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Hero Name: Joseph Carnell

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Joseph Carnell Jr. better known as "Choc" deserves to be an Acadiana Hero because there's nothing that he won't do to better our community and the people in it. It is not just because he is my father. I believe many people can agree that Joseph has impact their lives or their families lives in one way or another. He is a member and great leader of Park Community Support Services. Which is a non- profit organization that helps people and their families in our community. He is also a member of Kights Of Peter Claver and an active member in the church. Joseph is the leader of Parks Community Support Services Focus group which also allows him to mentor kids arround our community. He gets the children involved in the community and show them ways to better themselves in life. My father mentors for Lousiana Youth Challenge for at risks kids as well. He is a Synar Coordinator of Dept of Health & Hospital for region IV which prep store not to sell tobacco to under age kids. Joseph also helps men and women in our community find jobs not matter what their background is. He is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.

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Hero Name: Brian Stevens

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My nominee, Bishop BK Stevens deserves to be recognized as a Acadiana Hero because he gives unselfishly to the Abbeville Community and he realizes the roots and the growth of the Abbeville community lies in the future of this community, the youth. While he works to empower the youth of the community to be leaders for tomorrow he also seek and provide for those with great needs such as adopting several families for various holidays. Bishop Stevens with the help of his sole mate. his wife Yulanda Stevens he has obtained the old Herod School Building from the City of Abbeville and during the summer of 2014 he invested in the renovation of the building to provide a place for the youth of community to called their own. He has painted, built where needed, torn down, fixed up, landscaped, and whatever needed to make this building a place for the youth to call their own. The summer of 2015 he opened the center for the first time as a community center for the first Youth summer camp which provided academics, breakfast, lunch, and activities to include games, sports, and other structured activities staffed with volunteers from the community. He works with others to show a movie to the youth on Friday evenings on a local community lot to give those youth something positive and fulfilling to do. During the summer of 2014 Bishop Stevens gathered community members and started a youth softball/baseball team for ages 3-teenagers. Every Year during the Christmas Holiday and the Easter Holiday he provides with the help of other agencies movies and seasonal activities to include toys, Christmas activities, and a community movie free to all in the Abbeville community. During Easter activities include a community wide Easter egg hunt for youth throughout the community. My nominee works with others to improve the quality of living for those throughout the community through the provision of resources to include food for the elderly and sick, helping families in need, serving on various community committees such as the Martin L KIng Jr Holiday Planning Committee, the Vermilion Parish Ministerial Alliance, Youth Planning Board, and where ever he is needed. Even though resources are limited he works to enlist the help of community agencies to fulfill the need of the Abbeville Community. He is dedicated to this community and motivated with the belief that nothing is impossible. When the answer is why? He response with much wisdom and says why not??

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Hero Name: Dean Simon

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
In many companies, employees come together at Christmas time to buy their boss a gift; however, at Universal ComOne, Dean never desired such attention. In fact, he has always requested that a donation be made in lieu of any gifts. Then, in 2014, Dean decided to create an organized effort (later termed FOSTER FRIENDS) to specifically bless the foster children in the Acadiana area. He met with the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) to determine the greatest needs. His heart ached for the children who currently have no identifiable adoption placement, so he immediately decided to focus his time and money on blessing those children. He partnered with Community Foundation of Acadiana to begin a fund. He started the fund with $5 of his own money, and then quickly began raising money and asking friends, family, and business contacts to support the cause. FOSTER FRIENDS evolved into a community-wide effort where local organizations and individuals can now donate and contribute their time to help bless the foster children in Acadiana. Dean is passionate about raising public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children, and he is incredibly dedicated to making foster children feel extra special at Christmas time, for their birthday and throughout the year. Dean never had any children of his own, but it is obvious that his heart is full of love for the children in our community. He also enjoys mentoring older children/ teens to help them reach their potential career goals.

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Hero Name: Annette Fruge'

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I nominate an Opelousas native, Ms. Annette Fruge’—an awe-inspiring community advocate of all children’s success—especially those children with disabilities and impairments that hinders their aptitude of accelerating in academic growth-and-development (physical, social, mental, and emotional), to receive an acclaimed award such as this! I have known Ms. Annette for six years now in the St. Landry Parish Public School System; she and I met through her daughter (a former student of mine) at Creswell Elementary School. During the time she and I worked together, I have seen this phenomenal woman multi-tasking by maintaining two part-time jobs, being a full-time parent and care-giver to her daughter Bethaney (who has unfortunately dealt with a lot of medical dilemmas that often prevented her from attending class consistently), and allotting all other time she had to serve as: the President of the Parent-Teacher-Organization, volunteer as a stand-in school librarian (after the district stripped all schools of the parish of a librarian), a Parental-Involvement Organization member, an Advisory member on the Creswell Elementary Faculty, Staff, and Parent Support Team, a B.U.G. (Bringing Up Grades) founder at our school site...to then, becoming a long-term substitute teacher for groups of under-privileged/at-risk students—which were, all-in-all, the makings of a truly selfless individual who was a life-changer to the urban youth, as she, opened students’ minds to what attaining an education can do—transforming circumstances into better and more prosperous ones. Not only did she make profound differences among the youth, faculty, and staff by sharing her support and resources, but she impressed upon her daughter Bethaney those stellar character traits: someone of integrity, someone dependable, a person exhibiting great work-ethic, dedication, commitment, self-motivation and initiative is what makes a person the best he/she can be for themselves, loved ones, and their community. Ms. Annette did not cease her involvement with school after the closing of Creswell Elementary. Ms. Annette devoted her time to creating a Parish Face Book website that would CONNECT all families and teachers of St. Landry with the on-goings and happenings in the current developments of the parish’s education system: it provided links to helpful resource websites, promoted the parish schools and their efforts to educate the children of the parish, and gave a platform where networking could flourish, on the grounds of learning and discussing topics of education. She then went to South Street Elementary and Opelousas Junior High (as those were the other schools her daughter was enrolled in at the time) putting forth efforts to be of assistance wherever she was needed and could fill-in to promote positive change and difference. She even works with LaTEACH as a representative to help other families and children with giving them an opportunity for their voices to be heard at the state level, in order to garner the support needed for them at the school level in the district of St. Landry Parish. In the middle of June, she started working with the organization Families Helping Families in Lafayette to continue to help aid others.

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Hero Name: Wilfred Johnson

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
During the recent flooding in Acadiana over the weekend of July 10-12, Wilfred Johnson put both his life and his livelihood in jeopardy by driving his work vehicles through the flooding and terrible weather in order to get people to shelters and higher ground. Wilfred owns a transportation company that sponsors trips to various cities and events via bus or van. He built this company up from nothing but hard work and sacrifice. Once he saw the plight that people were in because of the weather, he took it upon himself to take his bus out and brave the high waters to help others. After countless trips thorough out Acadia, lafayette, vermillion & jeff davis parishes over the weekend his bus is no longer working, but Wilfred was still working even harder delivering water and other necessities to those he could reach. Wilfred Johnson has proven himself to be a true Acadiana Hero.

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Hero Name: Joe Todd

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Joe Todd has been the volunteer coordinator for the Natire Conservancy's Cypress Island Preserve at Lake Martin since 2010. Not only does he schedule volunteers for the Visitors Center, he volunteers there nearly every Saturday and has since the volunteer group was initiated. He is also a photographer and has produced a book for visitors to share his love for the Preserve. He volunteers every weekend and coordinates volunteers all while caring for a family member He is kind and generous and does everything he can to protect and promote the Preserve for all to enjoy. He is a joy to work with and a joy to speak with about the Preserve.

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Hero Name: Robert Gautreaux

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Robert is an At teacher/FFA Advisor at Comeaux High School who has nonstop helped victims of the recent flood, in all parishes most in need, by amassing a support system to secure donations for people and animals from all over the country, deliver supplies, and provided thousands of meals to those in need with a zero budget. He has adopted Denham Springs high school as well, delivering school necessities, while continuing to help our own student population who were affected and in need. He touches the lives of our the youth in our school and community daily while fulfilling his role as a family man.

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Hero Name: Amy Meadows

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Amy works at Live Oak Elementary as a Reading Interventionist. This job pays minimum wage, but she works as tirelessly, and with equal efforts as any teacher in the school system. She does this knowing she could easily work in other jobs, making far more, but does so because so many of these children are at risk. She takes such pride and joy in seeing these young minds succeed. Just the other day she learned that one of her students had finally passed a vocabulary test, and she almost broke into tears. Furthermore, she volunteers her free time to being the Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 896, raising it from a defunct group, to a successful and prosperous group of 18 boys, and active parents. This Cub Scout Pack has folded three prior times, but thanks to her efforts it has become a true success story. The first year she had 8 active scouts, but this year it has more than doubled, and they are still growing. This takes up another ten to fifteen hours a week of her time, but you won't hear her complain one bit.

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Hero Name: Bernadette Castille

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Bernadette Joseph Castille is a resident of Lafayette, LA.rnShe was a medical nurse for 20 years.The mother of three amazing children, A happily married wife that was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July 2014. And it is because of her diagnosis she started the Bernadette Castille Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation to advocate and educate society on the dangers of ovarian cancer. Through the Bernadette Castille Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation, offers a diverse range of services to people who have been affected with Ovarian Cancer.Bernadette is dedicated to this cause to finding a cure for ovarian cancer and for this cause I think she is an Acadiana Hero.rnrnrnrn​

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Hero Name: Lydia Fontenot

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Lydia is a dedicated volunteer at Acadiana Animal Aid and has been for 20 years. She has facilitated the growth of this organization and plays an integral role in our lifesaving efforts. When AAA was primarily ran by volunteers years ago, she worked multiple days a week and rotated the weekend night shifts with other volunteers. Now, she volunteers two full days a week and focuses on our dogs that need the most socialization, enrichment, and spends time reminding each dog that enters our rescue that humans can be good and builds relationships based on trust. Many of the dogs that come to AAA come with unknown histories, sometimes we know little bits of what they went through and often times they need to recover from medical obstacles and overcome fears that other humans created in them. Lydia is patient and has a special way in working with the animals; she can build relationships with any dog that enters AAA- no matter what they went through in the past. Lydia works just as hard as any of the staff- going above and beyond in cleaning the facilities, keeping their areas clean and fulfilled with fun enrichment, grooming and bathing the dogs, helping us to train new volunteers and new staff, even coming in every holiday to provide extra help for our caregivers so they can get home earlier and spend time with their families- she also believes that the dogs should enjoy the holidays just as much and brings them special treats! Lydia has a way to inspire everyone around her and is observant when staff members might be getting tired and finds ways to pick them up in reminding them why we are all here- to save the homeless animals of Acadiana and encourages them to take one of their favorite dogs for a walk to get a break. Lydia is a hero for hundreds of dogs and cats that have crossed her path both within and outside AAA. But not only is she a hero to the rescued animals, she is a hero to everyone she encounters. She is a wise woman with a big heart who helps each of our staff members and volunteers grow both personally and professionally.

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Hero Name: Cynthia Elmer

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Cynthia Elmer's dedication and mission of bringing awareness to the community of suicide prevention. Her time, energy and hard work to this mission has produced much lasting fruit and probably saved lives. Cynthia lost her own son, Kevin, to suicide in 2004. With little support for those who have lost loved ones to suicide in the state, Cynthia began to travel a new road in her life as she shared her story and her loss. Cynthia and her husband have been married for 50 years. She is a retired Iberia Parish Family Support employee and a volunteer for CERT! (Community Emergency Reponse Volunteer). She also works with Community Mental Health Services.

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Hero Name: Carleen Belllard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Carleen worked through the ranks of Headstart in Ville platte she's put in countless ours working with the kids in their development, she's worked side by side with the director of the office she worked in with Mrs Bonnie Guillory learning everything that she good carleen also worked/trained under longtime executive executive director Gervis Lafleur/when he passed away she became Headstart Executive Director/picked up right where Mr Gervis left off/she's bringing great things to the program.She is a great asset to the Headstart program/also to the community of Ville Platte, la/I'M proud to say that she's also a loving mother/my beautiful wife,that me and my boys always had to share with the City of Ville Platte

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Hero Name: Debra Savoie

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Debra Savoie embodies the very definition of selflessness. With a heart of gold and a spirit of giving, Debra has and continues to touch countless lives in the Acadiana area. Debra has served several years as a board member of the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce, volunteers readily for people and her community, is a steadfast supporter and fund raiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and visits the children yearly. Debra's most recent and current endeavor is the co-founding and establishment of Acadiana's Hope For A Cure Society. A non-profit, volunteer organization focused on supporting and empowering women and children of the acadiana area surviving and/or fighting cancer.

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Hero Name: Jillian Defils

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Ms. Jill is a special education teacher at Teche Elementary in Cecilia, La. She is responsible for the growth and knowledge of at least 8 special needs children in our area. She has over and over gone above and beyond her duties as an educator. She gets involved in each of her students personal success. These students in particular learns in their own way. She will take them on many field trips to accommodate that need. Bowling-fractions, Lake Martin-animal life, etc. This woman will take all nessassary steps to make sure ALL of her students gets the hands on experience they need to succeed. She will forever be my hero! One more thing I'd like to mention, her fiance and her donate each of her students at minimum $20 each and takes them to Walmart to get their own Christmas gift, also allowing them to manage that money and create a learning experience from it. No student is treating differently and all feel apart of a greater society!

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Hero Name: Erica Williams

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Erica Williams has taken Lafayette Parish by storm and single-handedly taken on the mission of making today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders. In 2015, she began New Vision Leadership with 5 church youth and has quickly taken that number to 50 youth served by the organization. The youth engage in monthly leadership workshops where Erica brings in professional across the parish to share their skillset with the youth. Over the past two years the youth have traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for college visits, Washington, DC for governmental tours, Shreveport, Louisiana to spend time with children in Shriner's Children's’ Hospital and Barksdale Air Force Base tours. Erica strongly believes that showing youth the many possibilities for their future is the #1 teacher of future success.

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Hero Name: Jenee Broussard

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Healing House deserves recognition as an Acadiana Hero because of what they do for the whole Acadiana area. Healing House is the only non profit organization within 200 miles that provides a safe place where children who have experienced a death of a parent or sibling to come together and express their feelings with other children that have gone through the same traumatic experience. Healing House does not provide counseling or therapy but a support system for children to express their grief.rnHealing House deserves to be recognized because they provided such vital resources to the community. Death is something that a lot of adults don't know how to deal with, and when you have to explain and help a child deal with death is a whole different situation. Healing House does a wonderful job at providing services at no charge to help children heal from this pain. I would know because I was one of those children. I went to Healing House when I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer 18 years ago. It meant so much to me that someone would take their time and want to be with me and help me through this difficult time in my life. It has such a lasting impression on me that as an adult I became a volunteer at Healing House to help children that have experienced what I experienced. As a child dealing with grief, the most important thing to me was to know that I wasn't alone and other children my age where going through the same tough time.

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Hero Name: Hollie Citron

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Hollie works tirelessly each year directing and leading fund raising events for St Jude's. Fundraisers are held locally with skeet tournaments in this area and nationally with skeet tournaments in San Antonio and golf events in New York State. Through the years she has been integral in raising millions of dollars for them. She annually makes trips to the St Jude's hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to visit and cheer up patients.

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Hero Name: Rusty Noel

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
I've nominated Rusty Noel before, but what I believe I may have failed to convey is the passion within this man and the Lafayette Youth Football Team the SwampCats. He even has a SwampCat Logo tattooed on his leg, that's a huge display of his belief in an organization that benefits so many youth, as well as the community. Rusty is also a member of the Cajun Navy and was on the front lines giving a hand at rescue and supply distributions to those affected by the hurricane after effects in Texas and Louisiana.rnRusty has 'dad'ed' children that have lost a parent due to death as well as those that have an absent or disinterested parent. rnWhat is critical for me to convey to you is the story of one of the players named Stephen. Stephen is truly a child with a Michael Ohr personality. His mother never attends the practices or games. Economically I'm sure she is unable to pay the fees, but Rusty and the other parents have seen to it that Stephen has seen places with mountains and oceans. He's been to Disney World and places that exposes him to various demographics and cultures. A lot of travel ball requires Stephen to pack, have food money as well as lodging. Rusty keeps up with everything from his uniforms and shoes, to his travel clothing and expenses. Stephen has a true talent and gift and surrounded by the right people and influences, that we all as a SwampCat family PRAY Stephen will break the cycle from where he began. His support system is from the entire coaching and parenting team. He's picked up for each practice and game. Given snacks and meals and feels part of a family that he doesn't get in his conventional life. I cannot stress to you what a pleasant, polite child Stephen is. He is also an incredible player and team member. A lot of times the parents/Rusty buy this child cleats and uniforms, socks, underwear, and many of times those items NEVER make it back in his gym bag for future games. Rather than shame the player, Stephen has his things kept with Rusty and his family. Rusty has made promises to family's that have suffered a family member passing, by seeing to it that he support their child and see them on thru to college and has kept that promise time and time again. I truly beg you to shadow Rusty, his blood and SwampCat Family to get a true sense of dedication and love.

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Hero Name: Sally Ranton

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Sally is a Social Worker with the Lafayette Regional Council on Aging/Beau Sejour Estates of Carencro. I was able to meet Sally thru a very random event that too place about four years ago and when she introduced herself, her heart and face registered the pride she took in her job and the love she had for each one of her 'children'. Quitting a six-figure income career in the banking industry, Sally felt lead to do work within the community that she loves so much and wanted to give back. But my most favorite about Sally is that each Christmas they have a party where residents receive a wrapped shoe box filled with items donated from anonymous people throughout the area. The items range from but not limited to, socks and handkerchiefs for the men and lotions and puzzle books for the ladies. Sadly there may not be enough donations for all of the residents and many times, out of Sally's own pocket and the generosity of the other staff, they make sure everyone gets a holiday blessing. Sally then takes the time to create a video to share via social media of the faces while opening their gifts of unconditional love. Sally practices a judgment free zone type thinking and is a great example of how we should all stop and realize there are plenty of reasons to do good things without the expectation of a reward. Keeping the residents active and involved, feeling loved and a loving touch is never in short supply. Her smile is contagious, her aura is welcoming and reassuring. Visiting their website, you can see the interactions that take place. The money, should this person and her non profit organization would be used to do so many wonderful things for people that may have lost their way at some time in their life. The money would be used toward giving people hope. I could go on and on, but my prayer and hope is that you will consider Sally's nomination and once you meet her, and find her to be as interesting and warm as I do, you too will want to shine a light on the human being and her love of the elderly and the community for which we all exist in. When you meet someone who not only listens but also hears, you feel inspired to want to be a part of that energy. You will love Sally as much as those residents and I do, and hopefully will be lead to be an active part in making this world a better place.

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Hero Name: Angela Leblanc

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
She has done many different volunteer programs in our town. She is currently the president of a ladies organization named The LasDames De Gueydan. As the president she has organized a effort recognizing the month of April as child abuse awareness month. She also for Memorial Day , ordered and led other ladies in putting out flags at verterens graves.rnShe is also the librarian in town and has helped make the library a place where kids have enjoyed to come to during her 17 years there. This year as a part of the summer reading program, she has started a effort to have participating children began a Pay It Forward program. The kids are asked to do three nice things for anyone they shall meet or a family member. Once done they are asked to tell who ever they helped to also pay it forward.rn She is always willing and ready to help make the community a better place to live ... that has always been on the top of her list. She heads the Halloween in the park.

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Hero Name: Phyllis Berberich

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Mrs. Phyllis Berberich deserves to be an Acadiana Hero for many different reasons. I have been a coworker and friend of Mrs. Phyllis for over 20 years. Mrs. Phyllis gave 33 years to teaching students. After retiring from teaching, Mrs. Phyllis looked for something to do that would feel like she was still giving back. Many retirees, after teaching that many years, are ready to relax and do something for themselves—NOT Mrs. Phyllis. She began volunteering one day a week in the LeBlanc Elementary Library as a library clerk. This kept Mrs. Phyllis still interacting with children and providing assistance in a large school library. rnMrs. Phyllis’ faith has always been a HUGE part of her life. In 2015 “something” called her to take on a mission that not too many people would want to tackle. She was told of an idea to take old wedding dresses and create burial gowns and support for families who have lost an infant. She interviewed hospitals and did research to see if this type of service was readily available in our area—it was NOT, so Mrs. Phyllis began providing this service to these families in crisis. Since its creation this idea has grown to have a website, Facebook account, and a non-profit organization status in which is called Steps to Heaven. Even in Mrs. Phyllis’ personal life, when her house flooded in August 2016, she had wedding dresses safe and secure ready to be worked on. rnVolunteering at the library and creating infant burial gowns were still not enough. Mrs. Phyllis heard of a need that local hospitals had for “Cuddlers”. Hospitals needed people to rock babies in the NICU because of drug addiction, lack of families, families not able to visit for one reason or another, etc. Mrs. Phyllis felt the desire to add this to her already busy “retired” life. So each week she visits the NICU at Women’s and Children’s to cuddle and rock babies in need of LOVE. She has told me many times that this is her favorite part of her week. Just to rock and cuddle these innocent babies puts everything into perspective. During her time in the NICU, Mrs. Phyllis noticed that some tiny babies didn’t have baby gowns to fit them. She brought this idea to her Steps to Heaven ladies, and they decided to sew gowns for premature babies that cannot fit in items purchased in retail. All a family has to do is ask for assistance and Mrs. Phyllis and her ladies step into action to try and ease the challenges that these families are going through. rnA hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Mrs. Phyllis is definitely someone who has courage to accept a challenging mission and make the BEST out of it. Without Mrs. Phyllis and her outstanding achievements many families would not know where to turn when they are faced with tragedy. Mrs. Phyllis deserves to be an Acadian Hero!

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Hero Name: Edna Robinson

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
My grandmother workef hard to keep the crowley cemetery looking good for msny years and use a lot of her own money

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Hero Name: Brian Campbell

Why this finalist deserves the title "Acadiana Hero"? 
Dr Brian Campbell is the head of the Kinesiology department at ULL, not only instructing students but helping them achieve their career goals by spending time with them, listening to them, counseling them, guiding them, training them, and mentoring them. Kinesiology is a career dedicated to helping people and no one displays this better than the "Doc". His time is not only spent helping individuals but He is the director of Impact Acadiana, which is a non-profit organization that significantly impacts higher education, community outreach, and cancer research. He donates his time and services to this group, which not only helps hundred of people but provides scholarships for many students at ULL. He also coordinates an auction consignment program that allow charities and organizations, from around Acadiana, to use this storehouse of goods to make a significant impact on their organization from their unique supply of memorabilia. rnrn If that were not enough already, he also helps other charities donating his time and expertise as a consultant helping them raise money for their causes. He then volunteers his services for them by emceeing their benefits, as well as being an auctioneer at the events raising thousands and thousands of dollars for other charities. Some of these charities are: Faith House, Big Brothers and Big rnSisters, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Special Olympics, Jimmy Rane Foundation, Kevin Faulk Foundation, Tri DeltarnSaint Judes Auction, Cajun Comedy for a Cause, Driven to Give, 337 Families Helping Families, Bowling for Causes, and Granger Memorial Scholarship Fund.rnrnHe also has a love and passion for the people of Acadiana donating his time emceeing sporting events snd sport programs such as announcing Delcambre High School football games, The baseball banquet at LSU, Dining on the Diamond for Ross, Lafayette Little League, Ragin Cajun Athletic Celebration, Chitimacha Louisiana Open, and Opelousas Sports and Fitness Expo.rnrnHis volunteering extends to schools around Acadiana helping with events at Grand Coteau, Sacred Heart Academy, Southside High School, Backers clubs for Erath, Kaplan, and Delcambre, as well as the ULL School of Kinesiology Awards, Banquet, and Auction and even helping in the arts department at ULL for their Beau Arts Ball.rnrnrn His involvement with the people of the surrounding areas of our community continues aa he also volunteers his time and energy to Abbeville Rotary, Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, Heart of Atchafalaya Spring Fest, El Festival Espanol in New Iberia, Iberia Chamber of Commerce, and emceeing for Krewes of De Mystical Waters and De La Renascence Mardi Gras Balls.rnrn His over the top generous donation of his self-sacrifing time reflects a heart and soul that is committed to serving others. He takes every opportunity to bless, help, encourage, and raise money for the less fortunate at every possible place. This quote from one of the founding fathers of religious faith, John Wesley, sums up Brian Campbells life well: rnDo all the good you canrnBy all the means you canrnIn all the ways you canrnAt all the times you canrnAs long as ever you can

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