Nine men and women from around the state have been chosen winners of the 2013 Angel Award presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The award is given annually to outstanding volunteers who give of their time and talents for Louisiana’s children.
This year’s honorees, who will be recognized at a presentation ceremony by invitation only Oct. 14 at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel, are:
- Jacob Nichols, of Baton Rouge. Nichols started Live 2 Serve when he was in high school. The Live 2 Serve program has engaged 40 to 80 children in active play every week since 2011. Jacob and his volunteers have helped repair and maintain numerous homes and engaged 10 or more local volunteers every week since Live 2 Serve started.
- John Smith, of Baton Rouge. Smith is the vice president for programs at 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge. In that capacity, he serves more than 500 youth annually through after-school tutoring, ACT prep, in-school workshops, small group mentoring and as a sought-after public speaker, among other programs designed to recognize academic achievements of area youth as examples of what can be accomplished.
- Beth Clark, of Denham Springs. Clark helped found Mighty Moms, an organization dedicated to feeding children both physically and spiritually during visits to low-income neighborhoods. She and the Mighty Moms developed the Full Tummy Project, which works with the Livingston Parish school system to purchase and deliver food for children who would otherwise spend their weekends hungry.
- Jamie Tindle, of Denham Springs. Tindle is the executive director of Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge. In addition to her duties, Tindle works with parents, community leaders, public and private agencies, and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Behavioral Health to implement a coordinated system of care that serves children with severe behavioral health issues.
- Pam Frey, of Lafayette. With the Hearts for Hope program, Frey uses her voice to speak for the youngest victims of abuse. She assists with the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraising walk, helps implement new programs and advocates for victims in the community. Frey also helped initiate a court monitoring program, Public Awareness of the Legal System, or PALS, where volunteers attend hearings and collaborate with court staff to recommend improvements.
- Paula LaCour, of Kenner. LaCour is vice president of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans and a fierce advocate for the inclusion and ability of individuals with special needs. Among her many efforts, LaCour helped start the Buddy Walk in New Orleans to fund research, education and resources that improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and other special needs.
- Carlos Naranjo, of Marrero. Naranjo is a case manager for the New Orleans Children’s Health Project’s Hispanic Outreach Initiative, which he helped design. Since 2008, the Initiative has provided more than 6,800 high-quality medical, case management and mental health visits to Spanish-speaking children. In 2012, the program staff cared for 575 patients through 1,800 health care visits. Naranjo provides more than 800 case management visits each year, linking children and families to medical specialty care, social and community services.
- Babs Johnson, of New Orleans. Johnson founded Voices for Children, which provides a court-mandated seminar for divorcing couples and their children to guide them through the emotional and psychological needs divorce or separation can cause. She works with juvenile justice projects, acts as a consultant to educators, youth organizations and families, and serves on the board of the Young Aspirations/Young Artists Inc. program.
- Also being recognized is Blue Cross vice president of enterprise infrastructure Charles Landreneau as the 2013 Blue Angel. Landreneau and his wife, Kary, are working with trained professionals at Healing Place Serve and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services to ensure that boys aging out of the foster system will be given a home and the life skills they need to succeed as adults.
A committee of past recipients considered 98 nominations before selecting this year’s winners, each of whom will receive a $20,000 grant for his or her charitable organization.
For more information about the Angel Award program, visit the Blue Cross website at www.bcbsla.com/angelaward.