NEW ORLEANS – The community action agencies that serve low-income individuals in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. James, St. John and St. Tammany parishes honored those making a difference in their communities at a special event Tuesday morning (Sept. 28) at the Port of New Orleans Auditorium.
Honored at the Community Action Hero Awards and Showcase were Judge Robin D. Pittman and Brian Washington, both of New Orleans; Jaime Johnson of Violet; Ingrid Bergeron-LeBlanc of Convent; Diane Morris of Covington; and the staffs of the Plaquemines Parish Community Action Agency and St. John Department of Health and Human Services. 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).
Total Community Action, Inc. (TCA), which serves Orleans Parish, selected Robin D. Pittman, judge of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, Section F, as its Community Action Hero. “She has been the No. 1 cheerleader and volunteer for TCA youth programs,” wrote Thelma Harris French, president/CEO of TCA in her nomination of Pittman. Among her efforts, the judge served as a volunteer facilitator at the Summer Youth Works summer employment program and invited participants in TCA’s Young Executives youth enrichment program to participate in a CSI workshop and Mock Court. “Most notable has been the sincere and supportive nature of her interaction with every youth participant and agency staff member,” French said.
Jefferson Community Action Programs (JeffCAP), which serves Jefferson Parish, named Brian Washington, customer service manager with Entergy Louisiana LLC, as its Community Action Hero. “He works daily – often with little recognition – to alleviate the struggles experienced by the impoverished and working poor,” said Nicole Ferrier, JeffCAP executive director, in her nomination. Washington’s efforts in promoting JeffCAP and its work “have provided JeffCAP with the invaluable resources necessary to fulfill our agency’s mission of empowering the families of Jefferson Parish, including our elderly, disabled, economically disadvantaged and youth, through our various programs. JeffCAP is proud to honor Brian Washington for his professionalism and for exemplifying a higher calling to help those in need,” Ferrier said.
St. Bernard Parish Government named Jaime Johnson, who serves as housing and redevelopment program manager for the St. Bernard Parish Government, as its Community Action Hero. “She is the definition of multi task. The word ‘no’ is not in Jaime’s vocabulary, especially when it comes to helping others,” said Lorie Zylicz, assistant director of housing for St. Bernard, in her nomination of Johnson. Johnson organized two successful community outreach events in the parish this year that assisted 250 low-income families with energy bills, college tuition, school supplies and school uniforms. “Jaime displays constant care and concern with everyone she comes in contact with, often giving the discouraged a sense of hope,” said Zylicz.
St. James Parish Department of Human Resources (DHR) selected Ingrid Bergeron-LeBlanc as its Community Action Hero. As a young single mother, Bergeron-LeBlanc enrolled her daughter in the parish agency’s Head Start program, only to return in 2001 with a master’s degree to work for four years as a social worker in the program, said St. James DHR Director Faye J. Washington in her nomination. In 2008, Bergeron-LeBlanc returned to the Head Start program as supervisor of the program that was going through major transitions. “Despite all the challenges, she stepped in and quickly and deftly handled everything thrown her way,” said Washington. “Now, two years later, the program is running smoothly.”
St. Tammany Parish Department of Community Action named Diane Morris, who serves as outreach worker for the agency, as its Community Action Hero. “For the past four years, she has assisted clients to alleviate their needs. Despite her own personal hardships, she has managed to come into work smiling with a positive attitude every day,” said Manager Tanja Hill in her nomination of Morris.
The staff of Plaquemines Parish Community Action Agency (CAA) was selected by agency Executive Director Othella W. Hughes for its Community Action Hero Award. “Plaquemines Parish CAA staffers have worked tirelessly, even though the circumstances were at times difficult,” Hughes said in her nomination, pointing out the agency’s efforts to assist 232 clients with utility assistance and 15 clients with rental/mortgage assistance. The agency also was able to hire 12 summer youth employees who worked in the Plaquemines Parish Government. “The staffers of the Plaquemines Parish Community Action Agency are more than employees; they are called to serve the residents of Plaquemines Parish,” Hughes said.
The staff of the St. John Department of Health and Human Resources was selected for the agency’s Community Action Hero Award for its collective effort in assisting the clients of St. John the Baptist Parish. The staff assisted local clients with food, medicine, rental/mortgage assistance, computer classes, post-secondary degree books, transportation vouchers, low-cost/no-cost weatherization, and staged a Homebuyers Fair and Wellness Fair, said Executive Director Elois Joseph in her nomination. Assistant Director Angela Aubert accepted the award on behalf of the staff.
Also recognized at the event was the St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services.
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.
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