Community column for Feb. 25, 2014

BR General recognizes its first black nurses

Baton Rouge General gave special recognition to Lucinda Clark, Catherine Jackson, Earl Dean Joseph, Gwendolyn Miller and Ethel Rucker, who were among the first African-American nurses to work at the hospital, at a Jan. 23 service honoring the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Baton Rouge General President and CEO Mark F. Slyter referred to these nurses as a shining light in a dark and difficult time when the nation struggled to embrace diversity in communities, schools and hospitals.

The service also featured Dr. Ernest Mencer, Baton Rouge General’s Regional Burn Center medical director, who spoke about being one of the first African-American surgeons at Baton Rouge General. Other speakers included volunteer chaplain Johnette Davis, the Rev. Ruth Brown, chaplain Pat Davis, Senior Vice President of Community Relations George Bell and the Rev. Charles Chukwuani.

Ikebana arrangements topic for Reflections

Diane Saye and Judy Nielson of Ikebana International spoke on the Japanese art of flower arrangement at the Burden Horticulture Society’s Reflections in the Garden monthly lunch speakers series on Feb. 3 at the LSU AgCenter’s Ione Burden Conference Center.

Saye and Nelson showed how to arrange dried materials, fruits, vegetables and fresh flowers. Saye said Ikebana is more than simply putting flowers in a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing where nature and humanity are brought together.

Reflections in the Garden is held by the Burden Horticulture Society at noon on the first Monday of each month. Members attend free, and others pay only $10. Attendees are encouraged to bring a bag lunch. The next Reflections will be held March 3, when LSU AgCenter horticulturist Daniel Wells will speak on “New Super Plants for 2014”.

The society works to enhance and promote the Botanic Gardens. For information, call (225) 763-3990, email or visit or

Nu Gamma Omega celebrates 34th year

Nu Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority celebrated its 34th year on Feb. 10. The official charter date is Feb. 16, 1980.

More than 100 members attended, and most wore hats as they saluted charter members with a Hats Off Affair. State Rep. Patricia Smith, a sorority member, issued a commendation to the charter members and chapter.

President Linda Early Brown, a charter member, thanked members for carrying out the mission of service. Charter members also participating were Bridgett Brister, Pamela R. Ginn, Vanessa Green, Joycelyn Green, Stella Jackson, Eileen Kennedy, Gloria London, Rochelle Machen, Jewel Payne, Mary Toaston and Roena Wilford.

On Feb. 7, members wore red in support of American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day. As part of the chapter’s Health and Wellness Initiative, chaired by Khelsea Conley, members led sessions at Glen Oaks Park Elementary and Mentorship Academy, emphasizing heart disease and prevention. Latrice Richard and Christine Williams gave information on heart disease. Brown and Wilford attended the session at Mentorship Academy.

Conley provided tips on heart healthy eating and signs of a heart attack during halftime of the freshman, junior varsity and varsity basketball games at McKinley High School. Attending were Alexis Alexander, Letondra Barton, Brittany Bryant, Toyia Charles-Comminey, Jillian Gautier, Venise Johnson, Veronica Matthews, Chandra Stacie, Danielle Staten, Adrianne Williams, Brown, Jackson and Richard.

On Jan. 29, members prepared more than 80 care packages for distribution to military service men and women stationed in Afghanistan. Funding came from sorority members and a Points of Light grant.

Hurst KC honors Thomases, Connors

Cheryll and Steve Thomas were named January Family of the Month and Michael Connors was named as the Knight of the Month by the Father Maynard Hurst Knights of Columbus Council 9016 on Feb. 13.

The Thomases along with 20 other members helped organize and prepare sandwiches and lunches for 500 students and seminarians who traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the annual March For Life on Jan. 22. They are Eucharistic ministers and commentators for St. Louis King of France Catholic Church.

Connors was honored for his extensive work with the youth. He conducted free throw contests, substance abuse posters and essay contests on Catholic citizenship for the youth of St. Louis King of France Parish.

Alzheimer’s Services topic for Altrusa of BR

Barbara W. Auten, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area executive director, spoke about services her organization offers when the Altrusa Club of Baton Rouge met Feb. 17 at Drusilla Seafood Restaurant.

A local non-profit organization not affiliated with any national organization, Alzheimer’s Services serves 10 parishes. Services include teaching, caregiver network groups, help line, Charlie’s Place Respite Center and caregiver respite program. For information, contact Auten, (225) 334-7494.

Amy Drago reported that representatives of the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s shelters requested socks for children entering their programs be included in the “Bags of Hope” that Altrusa provides to the shelters. The club voted to buy socks and include them in the “Bags of Hope.” The club appointed Jane Favrot, Laura Rhorer and President Jackie Robbins to shop for these items.

Donna Embree, Alice Carroll, Mary Eleanor Cole, Carmel Streater, Marti Didier and Drago gave committee reports.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, March 17. Casey Phillips will talk on the Baton Rouge Walls project.

Veillon, Easley perform for Music Club of BR

Soprano Celeste Angelle Veillon, with piano accompaniment by David Easley, performed the Music Club of Baton Rouge’s recital, “Affairs of the Heart,” Feb. 11 at the Woman’s Club.

Selections included “Storybook” by Wildhorn and Knighton, “Simple Little Things” by Jones and Schmidt, “Someone to Watch Over Me” by George Gershwin, “When I Fall in Love” by Young and Heyman, “Love Changes Everything” by Andrew Lloyd Weber, “He’s a Tramp” by Lee and Burke, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Styne and Merrill. Easley played own arrangement of music from “Les Miserables.”

Rita Lovett was program chairman. Helene Irvin, Barrow Leake and Susan Leake chairing the refreshments committee, assisted by David Brown, Helen Daigle, Barbara Dodge, Roland Glover, Evelyn LeJeune, Betty McCallum, Elizabeth Spanhoff and Edna Wilson.

Follow this link to see the photos.

Compiled by Advocate staff writer George Morris. The “Community” column runs every Tuesday and Friday in The Advocate. Items should be submitted to “Community,” Advocate eatplaylive section, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, or emailed to Events should be submitted in a timely fashion. By submitting photos to The Advocate, you agree that they can be published in any of The Advocate’s print or digital publications.