LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU ANNOUNCES LOUISIANA VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARDS -- 08/22/2007
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2007
LT. GOVERNOR MITCH LANDRIEU ANNOUNCES LOUISIANA VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARDS
Shreveport's Frances Livington Honored at Changing Louisiana Seminar
Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu announced six honorees of the Louisiana Volunteer Service Awards to recognize and thank volunteers for their service to the state. Recognized for their service are: Mark T. Ott, Baton Rouge, a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA); Frances Livingston, Shreveport, a volunteer with Foster Grandparents; Paula Splane, Kentwood, for her service-learning program in Tangipahoa Schools; Shell Oil Company, Chalmette, for its employee volunteer efforts during and after Hurricane Katrina; VolunTEENs, Baton Rouge, a youth service organization; and Vans Warped Tours/Unite the United of South Pasadena, CA, the inaugural Guest Humanitarian honoree.
Determined to make a difference, retired hospital administrator Mark Ott of Baton Rouge has spent the last six years actively involved in the lives of two children. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, he works to make sure that a 14-year-old young man is getting the services he needs while in foster care. The youth has had numerous educational and behavioral struggles, which Ott has strived to help him resolve since meeting him six years ago. He has helped to ensure that the young man received tutoring, advocated to ensure he was placed at a school more appropriate to his needs, and continues to encourage and guide him through his teen years. Ott took the rare step of adding the additional second CASA case in 2005 and is now advocating for another young man. His 2,050 volunteer hours include countless visits with the children, their foster and biological families, their teachers and tutors, and their caseworkers.
For the past 13 years, Frances Livington, a Foster Grandparent in Shreveport, has been volunteering five days a week as a mentor and role model at Linear Middle School. She is a member of the Caddo Council on Aging Foster Grandparent Program and has shown her dedication to the special needs children by being present every day. She has an almost perfect attendance record, missing only one day in 2006. What is more impressive than her stellar attendance are the results her children show. Drawing on her experience as a former teacher, Frances assists the children with their math and reading skills and works with them on their behavioral problems. In fact, 90 percent of the assigned students with Frances at least 20 hours a week for 40 weeks increased their reading skills, completion of homework, improved behavioral problems, enabling the students the students to pass their LEAP and IOWA tests.
For the past eight years, middle school educator Paula Splane has coordinated CHAMPS, an intergenerational service-learning program. Sixth grade students are paired with "adopted" residents of three nursing homes: Kentwood Manor, Tangi-Pines and St. Helena Nursing Home for the school year. Students visit the nursing homes approximately 16 times per year. These students are in need of increasing their language arts skills, particularly writing skills. Students use their classroom knowledge by visiting the nursing homes where they read to and write biographies of their "adopted grandparent," write letters for the residents, perform student-led programs, plant a butterfly garden. In return, the nursing home residents who face isolation from society are visited and make a contribution to today's youth by sharing their own personal stories and discuss historical events of the past.
Shell Oil Compan in Chalmette has had a visible community presence in the New Orleans region for many years, but the company has made an investment in time and money above and beyond since the storms of 2005. Shell sustained damage from Hurricane Katrina at its Chalmette facility, but made it a priority to find its employees and to re-establish operations as quickly as possible. Their commitment to the region surpassed the business operations, as they encouraged, and continue to encourage, employees to help in the recovery of the region. In 2007 to date, its employee volunteer teams comprising 203 employees have given 1,246 hours of community service helping in recovery and other community volunteer needs. In addition, employees have donated another 4,609 hours of service working individually in the community. These activities have ranged from revitalizing schools and public spaces through landscaping and debris removal to rebuilding homes and providing new homes for those displaced by the storms. Employees are serving as client advocates for homeowners who need help navigating the myriad of regulations surrounding recovery and have lent their marketing expertise to help the Downtown Development District spread the word that New Orleans is open for business. Their commitment has touched individual lives to restore dignity and security in a chaotic time. Beyond the volunteer investment, Shell has also made a financial commitment to these volunteer efforts totaling over $600,000.
VolunTEENs in its 17th year promotes a lifetime ethic of service in young people while encouraging a broader sense of responsibility to society. It serves the needs of the Greater Baton Rouge community by effectively engaging teens in service projects that are challenging, rewarding, educational and safe. After school, weekend, holiday and summer projects are coordinated by Volunteer! Baton Rouge for students in grades 7-12. Since 1990 over 5,500 TEENs have served on over 1,100 projects for 132,000 service hours and impacting over 825,000 individuals. In 2006, the VolunTEENS program worked with 443 teens who completed 3,680 service hours. They partnered with 35 agencies on 57 projects. Together they impacted the lives of 110,545 people in East and West Baton Rouge parishes. The TEENs also have opportunities for a leadership role in the organization on the Youth Advisory Board which helps to develop the projects that the TEENS serve on.
Sitting in the southwestern-most corner of Louisiana, Cameron Parish was home to just under 10,000 residents before Hurricane Rita struck the coast on September 24, 2005. This parish played host to 400 punk rockers for one day, but the memory of their accomplishments will be long on the minds of the residents of Cameron Parish. The Vans Warped Tour, through the philanthropic foundation, Unite the United. The impact of just seven hours labor was amazing. The bands on the tour, at final count, had moved nearly seven tons of debris, worked at around 20 sites, directly affected over 80 family members and gave downtown Cameron a much needed facelift. This community impact had an equivalent value of $52,556 in donated time. In December, as part of Kevin Lyman's annual Christmas Party, they once again remembered Cameron Parish by spearheading a toy drive which sent toys to Cameron Parish. This on-going partnership between The Vans Warped Tour / Unite the United and Cameron Parish continue to this day. Using www.volunteerlouisiana.gov, these 400 punk rockers banded together, rolled up their sleeves, and changed forever the impression of the citizens of Cameron Parish towards punk rock.
" Since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina devastated our state, volunteers have shown tremendous compassion and commitment in helping to rebuild our communities," Lt. Governor Landrieu said. "Beyond the rebuilding, volunteers give daily of their time and talents to make our state a better place to live, to work and to raise our families."
The awards are given quarterly in 11 categories. The Lt. Governor and the Louisiana Serve Commission will present an annual Lifetime Achievement award and recognize all volunteers at an annual reception in April during National Volunteer Week.
Angèle Davis, Secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism said these awards recognize Louisiana citizens from all walks of life. " From the college student to the corporate volunteer, from the dedicated community worker to National Service volunteers, we will honor people for the impact they have made in responding to the critical social needs within their communities," she said.
Earlier this year, Lt. Governor Landrieu announced 2007 as the Year of Service in Louisiana. Brooke Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Serve Commission, elaborated on the Lt. Governor's intentions. "The Year of Service is about getting things done, strengthening our communities, and encouraging civic responsibility. Now is the time to recognize the tremendous contributions and accomplishments of those individuals and groups who have served tirelessly in communities across the state," she said.
Any organization may nominate an individual or group in one of the 11 categories: Youth, Youth Group, Adult, Adult Group, Family, Small Business, Large Business, National Service, Service-Learning, Volunteer Administration and Guest Humanitarian (Out-of-State), as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award. Nomination forms are available by visiting www.volunteerlouisiana.gov and clicking on the Louisiana Volunteer Service Awards link. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-286-3835.