United Way honors Recovery Coalition
By: Paul Kedinger
The Rayne Long-Term Recovery Coalition was named the recipient of the 2011 Cornerstone Award by United Way of Acadiana for the community-based efforts to help 48 families affected by the March 5 tornado.
Several members of the Coalition were on hand to receive award plaques during United Way’s 2012 annual awards banquet held Tuesday morning in the Cajundome Convention Center.
The award recognizes individuals instrumental in establishing a community-building initiative to offer aid.
In the aftermath of the March 5 tornado several church organizations and community volunteers formed the Coalition to help those impacted by the tornado.
Two major community fund-raisers, the Musique Relief Concert envisioned by Jo-El Sonnier and organized by Knights of Columbus Council 1897 in May and a concert organized by Rayne Disaster Relief, Inc. in June, along with numerous other contributions by individuals and organizations, generated approximately $125,000, providing funds to restore the homes of 48 families.
According to Tommy Bergeron, project director, the last home has been gutted and expected to be fully restored by the end of March.
Playing a major role in overseeing the recovery work were members of Louisiana United Methodist Disaster Response, Inc. including Ronda Trahan, who served as case manager, Tommy Bergeron, Rev. Dale Tate, and Melanie Beauchamp.
Accepting their awards Tuesday during the breakfast session were Erin Winder of Community Foundation of Acadiana, Paul Kedinger of Rayne Acadian-Tribune, Cheryl Richard, former city cultural director, Albert Johnson of KC Council 1897, Case Manager Ronda Trahan, Tommy Bergeron, project manager, Byron Mouton of Rayne Disaster Relief, Inc., Police Chief Carroll Stelly, Rev. Gene Lee of First Baptist Church of Rayne, Kerry Stutes of the ASSIST Agency, and Angela Morrison and Polly Koury, both with United Way of Acadiana.
Other Coalition members and recipients are 232-HELP/LA211, Acadia Parish OHSEP, Acadia Police Jury, Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Adventist Community Services, Acadiana Family Resources, American Red Cross,Centenary United Methodist Church, Church of Christ in Crowley, First Assembly of God in Lafayette, Home Depot, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Lafayette Catholic Diocese Office of Justice and Peace, Louisiana Baptist Convention, LSU AgCenter, People’s Chamber, Rayne Chamber of Commerce, Realtors Association of Acadiana, Rebuilding Together Acadiana, Salvation Army and Second Harvest.
Other major awards were also presented, including the 2011 Team United Award to Stuller, Inc., which hosted financial literacy training for its employees and enrolled children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and the 2011 Torian Award presented to Lafayette General Medical Center for its spirit of giving through the annual fund campaign.
During the annual meeting, Isabella de la Houssaye, former mayor of Crowley, was elected to a three-year term on the United Way board of directors.
Lt. General Russel L. Honoré, commander of the Joint Task Force following Hurricane Katrina, was the keynote speaker.
“Government isn’t good enough to do” everything, he remarked, urging his audience of volunteers to shoulder the responsibility.
Explaining “Main Street, USA”, contains those who have jobs or can get jobs, and “Railroad Street” symbolizes the poor, elderly and disabled, Honoré said volunteers are needed to invest in helping the less fortunate. Citing his own experiences growing up in Pointe Coupee Parish, Honoré recounted how the community rallied to help their neighbors.