LAFAYETTE – The community action agencies that serve low-income individuals in Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette. St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes honored those making a difference in their communities at a special event Friday morning in Lafayette.
Honored at the Community Action Hero Awards and Showcase were Bank of Commerce & Trust Company of Crowley, the Rev. Darwan Lazard, Brenda Foulcard of Lafayette, Margaret James of Opelousas, and Jeffery G. Beverly of St. Mary Parish. The event also included a showcase of the services the agencies offer to area residents through Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding administered by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC).
ASSIST Agency, Inc., which serves Acadia and Vermilion parishes, selected the Bank of Commerce & Trust Company for its Community Action Hero Award for the bank’s role in providing for uninterrupted paychecks for 139 youth served in the agency’s summer youth employment program despite funding processing delays. “With temperatures and tempers rising, there was the possibility of unhappy youth facing a late payday,” said ASSIST Executive Director Sharon Clement in her nomination. Bank Vice-President Jack Lambert of Crowley, who accepted the award, “cleared the way and arranged for all of the payroll checks to be paid without delay. This courtesy meant very much to our agency and even more to the young people in our summer work program,” Clement said.
Evangeline Community Action Agency, Inc. selected the Rev. Darwan Lazard as its Community Action Hero. Lazard, whose association with the agency began as a Head Start participant, rose through the ranks to become a teacher, principal, Evangeline Parish School Board supervisor, pastor, and currently serves as the agency’s chairman of the Board of Directors. “We can truly say our agency would not function as smoothly as it does without the Rev. Lazard’s tireless efforts and innumerable contributions. Anytime we need him, he drops whatever he’s doing and will respond immediately,” said Orlandar D. Jack, Evangeline CAA community resource representative, in his nomination of Lazard.
SMILE Community Action Agency, which serves Iberia, Lafayette, and St. Martin parishes, selected its director of finance, Brenda Foulcard, for its Community Action Hero Award. Foulcard, who created the agency’s Business CORP and health and wellness program, has played integral roles in the agency’s success for more than a decade. When federal stimulus funds provided the agency the opportunity to respond to more community needs, Foulcard “led colleagues in thinking out of the box
and used exuberance, energy and empathy to make a difference,” wrote ASSIST Director of Grants Ruth Foote in her nomination of Foulcard. “It wasn’t the first time, either. A few years ago, she took the initiative and pulled together non-profit organizations to showcase their services one Saturday in the park. Today, she heads one of the agency’s most important departments,” Foote said.
St. Landry Parish Community Action Agency named M. Margaret James as its Community Action Hero. James, who serves as executive assistant at the agency, has more than 30 years’ experience as a human services professional and has also worked as a trainer, senior companion program field supervisor, receptionist and secretary. As a Special Projects Department administrator, James is second to the agency’s executive director in administration of the federally funded Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) programs, which include housing preservation repairs, summer youth work program, community nutrition education, public transportation assistance and weatherization assistance program. “A consummate, compassionate, human services professional, James is modest, dedicated and competent,” wrote St. Landry CAA Executive Director Donald Robinson, Sr. in his nomination.
St. Mary Parish Community Action Agency named Jeffery G. Beverly, described as the backbone of the agency’s nationally recognized housing department, as its Community Action Hero. “A self-motivated man, Jeff epitomizes the phrase ‘beating the odds, ‘” said St. Mary CAA chief executive officer Almetra J. Franklin in her nomination of Beverly. He has been instrumental in the development of much-needed housing in St. Mary Parish by directly supervising several housing projects, including Faith Place, a single-family subdivision in Patterson; Sparrow Gardens, a multi-family townhouse complex in Centerville, which was also the first CHDO project in the state; Morgan City Heights mini subdivision in Morgan City; and Isaiah’s Houses in Franklin. He also oversaw the design and development of four state-of-the-art, new Head Start Centers: Baby Bear in Morgan City, Little Einstein in Erath, Precious Moments in Abbeville, and Country Bears in Cow Island.
Beverly began his career at St. Mary CAA as a transportation driver and quickly moved up the employment hierarchy to his present position of housing director, where he supervises the Housing and Transportation departments. “Above all else, he dedicates his efforts to assist families during extremely difficult times, such as when Hurricanes Katrina/Rita and Gustav/Ike caused unimaginable devastation,” said Franklin.
The awards were presented as part of the LWC’s promotion of community action agencies that provide supportive services to help low-income individuals become or remain self-sufficient.
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