LAKE CHARLES – The community action agencies that serve low-income individuals in Beauregard, Calcasieu, and Cameron parishes honored those making a difference in their communities at a special event Tuesday morning (Sept. 21).
Honored at the Community Action Hero Awards and Showcase were Sharon Bonds and Betty Williams, both of DeRidder, Charmagne Turpeau of Lake Charles, and Arlene Dartez of Grand Lake. 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).
Beauregard Community Action Association, Inc. (BCAA) selected Sharon Bonds and Betty Williams as its Community Action Heroes. The two women are employees of Michael and Co., a small, locally owned uniform shop in DeRidder. The store owners, Michael and Robin Bonds, had agreed to allow BCAA to utilize vouchers for parents to purchase school uniforms. Adding to the workload was a number of tasks required by BCAA to confirm customer eligibility, such as checking driver’s licenses and school student rosters. “All of this was asked of Sharon Bonds and Betty Williams - two ladies who have never had to deal with the immediate volume of customers this program would produce,” said BCAA Executive Director Winkie K. Branch in her nomination. “These kind, caring, articulate ladies met this challenge head on. They gave each customer special attention and made each customer aware of how much they valued their business. With their perseverance and kind ways, they were able to meet the needs of each customer in a manner that made BCAA and the store owners proud,” said Branch.
The Calcasieu Parish Office of Community Services named Charmagne Turpeau of Lake Charles, who serves as the agency’s accountant, as its Community Action Hero. “Charmagne’s professionalism, tireless work effort, kind demeanor and willingness to help lead our agency benefits our citizens and our entire organization,” said Calcasieu OCS Director Randy S. Vincent in his nomination. Turpeau, who has been the accountant for the agency for five years, takes on leadership roles and extra assignments, plays an active role in strategic planning and “constantly seeks solutions to better assist our citizens,” Vincent said. “She is truly a hero.”
Cameron Community Action Agency (CAA), Inc. named Arlene Dartez of Grand Lake as its Community Action Hero. Dartez owns and operates the only chain restaurant in Cameron Parish. “She is eager to help people by giving them job opportunities,” said Cameron CAA Executive Director Dinah Landry in her nomination, adding that Dartez provided jobs for three-fourths of the agency’s summer employment program participants. “She is concerned about the welfare of her employees and provides training and encouragement. She goes beyond the call of duty when helping those in need,” Landry said.
The awards were presented as part of the LWC’s statewide promotion of community action agencies that provide supportive services to help low-income individuals become or remain self-sufficient.
Other agencies that serve the Lake Charles area include the Allen Action Agency, Inc. in Oberlin; ASSIST Agency, Inc., with an office in Jennings serving Jefferson Davis Parish; and Vernon Community Action Council, Inc., which serves both Vernon and Beauregard parishes. The ASSIST Agency was part of a Hero Award event in Lafayette held Sept. 10, and Vernon CAC presented its Hero Award last Thursday at an event in Alexandria.
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