Last night we attended the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Angel Award Banquet that honored the 8 winners of the 2009 Angel Ward. After cocktails and a delicious meal, a slideshow presentation was shown for each winner describing their organization. The Mistress of Ceremony, Supriya Jindal (wife of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal), asked each winner a question and then presented them with the $20,000 check and a trophy.
The organizations represented were awesome. The stories they told were inspiring and motivational.
Here is the list of winners from the Blue Cross Website . Check them out if you get a chance and maybe one will inspire to to contribute to them or do something in your community.
A committee of past recipients of the Angel Award, now in its 15th year, considered 62 nominations from throughout the state before selecting Betsey Baldwin of Gonzales, Vicki Ellis of Baton Rouge, Jill Rigby Garner of Baton Rouge, Lynn Hobbs-Green of New Orleans, Janet Leslie of Maurepas, Jean McManus of Eunice, Minh Nguyen of New Orleans and Philip Thomas of Monroe.
In an effort to promote diversity and inclusion, Baldwin founded the Ascension Parish Inclusion League, an outlet for children with and without disabilities to enjoy recreational activities together. The Inclusion League enhances self-esteem and promotes acceptance, understanding and friendship by creating an atmosphere that values diversity.
A visit to a Tennessee children's crisis home when she was 14 spurred Ellis to found Heritage Ranch. Heritage Ranch serves suspended and expelled youth enrolled in alternative school programs in East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes through extensive, holistic Life Skills programming developed by Ellis.
For 20 years, Garner has dedicated herself to transforming the hearts of children. Her program, Manners of the Heart, focuses on teaching children to be "self giving" instead of "self serving." The statewide program has served hundreds of children through classroom instruction, high school trainings, summer camp activities, teacher workshops and parenting seminars.
When her son's teammate was labeled incompetent, Hobbs-Green thought perhaps it was a vision problem. In helping him, the mental health social worker found her second calling. She founded The Eyes Have It, a non-profit organization that provides free eye screenings, examinations and eyeglasses for children at their schools.
Leslie's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in 1986. After a long and taxing battle with the disease, Jennifer died in 2001. The Leslies struggle provided the impetus to found The JL Foundation, an organization providing assistance to Louisiana leukemia patients and their families through plane tickets, gas cards, meals and lodging while undergoing treatment at cancer centers and hospitals across the country.
Retired 78-year-old teacher McManus was seeking a way to battle the low literacy level in Eunice. She found the answer in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a program that provides a book to each registered child monthly from birth to 5 years of age. McManus has enrolled 80 percent of the community's children in the program.
New Orleans, Nguyen founded the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO). The organization is dedicated to empowering Vietnamese Americans and other underrepresented youth through services, cultural enrichment and social change.
Thomas founded Pilots for Patients, a volunteer organization that provides free air travel for patients needing medical attention, as well as transportation for blood, tissues, organs and medical supplies. Pilots for Patients has 56 participating volunteer pilots who use privately-owned aircraft without any compensation and has just completed their 300th mission.