The Voice of Southwest Louisiana - Local News, Events, Stories and People

May 2017 Vol 4 No 8




Q&A with Linda

Simien, Mother,

Educator, Tutor...






Congratulations to the

Elected Officials

Unconditional Love

Easter's Tips

for Mothering

Easter Belizare - Foster Mom




With Special

Olympic Athletes

SWLA Holidays


Memoral Day

and Veterans Day

I-10 Bridge

What's Taking So Long?

DOTD & DEQ Answers Part I I

1 Year Celebration Coupon

This coupon entitles you to 10% off (1) item


This coupon must be presented at the time of purchase

Mon. & Tue. - 7 - 5:30, Wed. - Fri. 9 - 5:30 & Sat. 9 - 12 noon

1540 N. MLK Hwy, Suite B. Lake Charles, LA. 70601 (337) 437-4237

Come Celebrate with us on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Yes, it’s our birthday, but we want to

give gifts you, because of you we are celebrating. There will be activities all day long,

such as Yoga Classes, Massages, Wellness Screenings, Adult & Kids Activities, Door Prizes

and much more!!


(See store for details)

At VBS, Hero Central, kids are taken on an awesome adventure alongside

favorite Bible heroes to discover the qualities that make us truly heroic in

God. They will become Heroes themselves and learn through unforgettable

Bible teaching, fun skits, games and craft projects that God’s Heroes have:

Looking beyond


Using knowledge

with wisdom to

do great things

Realizing better

things are coming

Being a


Sharing the good

news of Jesus

9:00am –12:30pm

(Lunch provided)

PreK – 5th Grade

Register at

or call the church office at

(337) 439-9761

2 May 2017 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM Volume 4 • Number 8

editor’s PEN By Brenda Hill

Mercy Matters

The city of Lake Charles is quiet and finally

peaceful once again from all of the busy

energy from campaigning, voting and

elections. Important leadership positions are

are now filled for a season.

I was always taught, by my parents, that I should

go to school, get an education, work hard and

doors will open to me. I guess that was an 'Expected

Favor' that I looked forward to when I pursued my

'American Dreams.' I even heard and continue to

hear other individuals with different skin tones and

various backgrounds speak about this same type of

'Expected Favor,' that unlocks opportunity to their

hopes and dreams too.

But what happens to 'Expected Favor' in a society

when it perceives that its beliefs, preferences and

comforts are threatened?

How do we teach that same 'Expected Favor' to

"our" children when an older black male with

multiple levels of education, depths of experience,

questionable character and temperament compete

in a mayoral campaign, but the younger white

male with education and less experience wins the


that 'Expected Favor' when an older white male

with business education and experience, but no

political experience and questionable character with

temperament wins the electoral vote for the top

leadership position in America but the white female

with multiple levels of education, depths of political

experience, questionable integrity and the majority

vote in america loose the campaign?

Neither individual with multiple levels of education

and depths of experience victoriously walked

through the doors that opened to them.

Does 'Expected Favor' cease because White vote

White and Black vote Black? Or, Male vote Male and

Female vote Female? Or, Black is Divided and Do Not


Has 'Expected Favor' really come down to race and

gender preference in America?

Well, America is embarking on new endeavors

and foreign territories and the 'law of harvest' still


Favor is Mercy and Mercy is Favor.

What do we learn and teach "our" children about

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 3

May 2017

The Voice's Choice will spotlight groups,

individuals or topics that spread love, joy

and peace throughout SWLA.








































24 Q&A




Cindy Mathieu

Development Director

Boys Village

My journey at Boys Village began 14 years

ago as the Development Director. There

was no way to know the profound impact

Boys Village would have in my life. I love

everything about this program and the

children it has helped. Our children are

precious cargo and Boys Village is restoring

hope in their futures. Today, I cannot image

working anywhere else.

“Responsibility is the common thread

in many important life lessons. It

defiantly requires honesty and it instills

independence, accountability, and builds

self-esteem. It generally requires one to

be a leader not a follower. If our young

men don’t learn to be responsible, it can

make it difficult for them to be successful as

they transition into adulthood. Instruction

must be loving and nurturing. We must be

willing to hold them accountable by being

firm, but fair as we prepare each of them

to succeed in life. Someday, they will be

responsible for the future of our community

and country,” said Cindy.



ART DIRECTOR | Vinh Alexander



Shawdashian Group


Gene R. Hill, Sr., Reginald Clark


Brenda Hill, Tori Hebert,

Ronald J. Blanchard, Joyce R. Kebodeaux,

Levert Blount, Jessica Hunt, Angie Thorne


Acrylic Painting By Vinh Alexander

Published and distributed by


4310 Ryan St. Ste. 134

Lake Charles, LA. 70605

In the McNeese SEED Center


DISCLOSURE: All materials contained in the publication are copyrighted

and may not be reproduced or reprinted in part or its entirety without

the expressed written permission of The Voice of SWLA. The views expressed in

articles of The Voice of SWLA are not necessarily the views of the ownership or

sponsors in this publication. The Voice of SWLA assumes no liability for errors

or omissions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all content.

4 May 2017 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM Volume 4 • Number 8

SWLA news

I-10 Bridge


What’s Taking

So Long? Part II

By Levert Blount

The Louisiana Section of American

Society of Civil Engineers’

(ASCE) 2017 report card is finally here and

it is not pretty.

The ASCE gave

the nations’


a grade of D.

Louisiana got a D+.

Embarrassing. Let’s just say that if I got

grades like this when I was in grade

school I would have been severely

punished and apparently, Dr. Shawn

Wilson Secretary of the DOTD shares a

similar sentiment. In a recent Facebook

post, Dr Wilson stated, “We earned the

grade. As a parent, my kids would have

had consequences for bringing home a

D+. When infrastructure fails, we all have

consequences. Texas knows, Their reward,

our consequence [sic], was a major 10!

billion dollar investment by Exxon.”

According to the report, “11 major

components of Louisiana’s infrastructure

including bridges, drinking water,

and roads are, poorly maintained,

inadequately funded, and not designed

to meet tomorrows demands.” Yikes!

Because of this, “the state is at a

disadvantage and will continue to lose its

economic competitiveness.”

The report also

states that, “14.7% of

Louisiana’s bridges

(1,898) are classified

as functionally

obsolete.” That

includes our I-10


Louisiana is ranked second in the nation

when it comes to structurally deficient

bridges. Keep in mind that we have

12,915 bridges and is home to 5 of the 8

longest bridges in America. According to

the report, “13.5% of bridges in Louisiana

are structurally deficient, which means

they have been rated as being in poor

condition due to structural flaws that

affect the load carrying capacities or the

waterways that frequently overtop the

bridges during floods.”

It took a team of more than 50 civil

engineers 18 months to study, evaluate,

and grade the 11 components of

Louisiana’s infrastructure. Those 11

components and grades are:

Aviation - C

Bridges - D+

Coastal - D+

Dams - C+

Drinking Water – D-

Inland Waterways – D-

Levees – C

Ports – C-

Roads – D

Solid Waste – C+

Waste Water – C-

Follow the link below if you would like to

read the full ASCE report.



Shawn Wilson, In Facebook [personal

communication]. Retrieved April 28,

2017, from

Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series

of stories that will focus on the Interstate

10 Bridge replacement project.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 5

SWLA news

2017 Election Results!

Congratulations to the Elected Officials

Calcasieu Parish

City of Lake Charles


Nicholas ‘Nic” Hunter Republican 56%

Councilman District A

Mary Morris Democrat Unopposed

Councilman District B

Luvertha August Democrat 50%

Councilman District C

Rodney Geyen Democrat 55%

Councilman District F

Johnnie Thibodeaux No Party 74%

Jefferson Davis Parish

City of Jennings


Henry Guinn Republican 52%

Village of Fenton


Ollie Clophus Democrat 51%

Allen Parish

3rd District, Division B

Judge, Court of Appeal 3rd Circuit

Candyce Perret Republican 54%

At time of print, results were complete but unofficial and not verified by the Louisiana

Secretary of State's Office

The April 29th election saw 12 percent of voters hit the polls early. City officials were

hopeful that voter turnout would rise with voters having fewer candidates to choose

from. In March, polls only saw 5 percent of voters cast their votes early.

The next voting period will happen this Fall.




SWLA non-profit

The First



Delta and Diamonds

Scholarship Gala

Contributed Article

The Lake Charles Alumnae Chapter of Delta

Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. along with the Lake

Charles Alumnae Foundation hosted their first

“Delta and Diamonds Scholarship Gala” Saturday, April

22nd in the Coliseum at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

Carla Clark, Delta President, delivers opening remarks at the Gala,

and is pictured with Dolores Hicks, Foundation President and Ethel

Fields, Gala Chair.

Adorned in RED, the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta made a grand

and graceful entrance at the opening of the event into an

elegantly decorated ballroom. Guests entered an environment

of grandeur filled with soft lighting of red, white and glistening

décor. Massive flower bouquets with photogenic backdrops

and buffet tables lined with appetizing hors d’oeuvres were in

abundance. They participated in a silent auction and personal

photo sessions outside the ballroom.

Music entertainment was provided by Troy Laz and 2 Hipnotic

Band from New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. Laz was the opening

performance for the Bruno Mars Show in Las Vegas, Nevada just

one month ago.

During the event, the Lake Charles Alumnae Foundation

President, Mrs. Delores Hicks presented its Torch Bearer Award

to Mayor Randy Roach. Mr. Roach was recognized by both the

sorority and the foundation for his participation and support

of community-based events and activities sponsored by the


Mayor Randy Roach is honored with the Torch Bearer Award.

All proceeds from the gala will help fund academic scholarships

and various services provided to the community throughout

the year by the members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The Delta and Diamonds Scholarship Gala was chaired by Ms.

Ethel Fields and the chapter president is Mrs. Carla Clark.

The sorority extends a heartfelt thanks to all who

attended the gala!

Lake Charles Alumnae Chapter Members

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 7

SWLA parish connections



‘Before I knew it, I was crying

tears of joy,’ says Moussignac.


Guardian staff writer

FORT POLK, La. — Some

adults can be quick to

make light of teens by

failing to understand their

untapped potential. That’s a

disservice that Fort Polk’s Child

and Youth Services Middle

School and Teen program,

with the help of the Boys and

Girls Club of America, hopes

to change. The fact is, youth

can accomplish some pretty

amazing things on their journey

to adulthood.

For example, Markleen

Moussignac, 15, a Fort Polk

Child and Youth Services Middle

School and Teen program youth,

exemplifies accomplishment.

Moussignac participated in

the Louisiana Boys and Girls

Club Military Youth of the Year

competition held March 30-31,

and walked away the winner.

The Boys and Girls Club of

America is a program for teens

and adults which helps develop

leadership skills and applies

those skills to personal and

community issues, according to

Loretta McGowan, CYS workforce

preparation specialist.

“The ultimate goal is for youth

to be regarded as valuable

resources to the community and

the Military Youth of the Year

competition is an informative

and uplifting competition that

helps accomplish that goal,” she


Competitors wrote and

presented a three-minute speech

and then engaged in a panel

discussion about their speech.

As a state-level winner,

Moussignac received a $5,000

scholarship and earned the right

to compete at the regional level.

If she wins regionals, she receives

a $10,000 scholarship. The

winner at the national level wins

a $50,000 scholarship.

Moussignac said she was

nervous about competing. “I had

to write and perform a speech

in under 3 minutes and then

conduct an interview with a fiveperson

panel. I was most nervous

about the interview because I

had to get across my ideas for

my speech and communicate

my answers in a way they would

understand,” she said.

Everyone has the same topic and

parameters for the speech, but

each individual takes that theme

and makes it uniquely their own,

according to Moussignac.

“I talked about my life as a

military child, how being part

of the Middle School and Teen

program affected my life, and

Markleen Moussignac, 15, a Leesvile High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training

Corpscadet, shows off her plaque for winning the 2017 Boys and Girls Club of

America Military Youth of the Year competition.

my personal brand or definition

about how I want to live my

life — which is vibrant —

meaning living your life as a

lively and energetic person,” said


A Fort Polk youth has won this

award at the state level for three

years in a row, said McGowan.

“Fort Polk is clearly the Army’s

leader for innovative teen

programs. We are blessed to

be a part of such a professional

and dynamic team that

teaches, supports, mentors and

implements throughout the

event. That hard work came to

fruition and it was amazing to

see what can happen when the

village steps up to help raise the

child to unimaginable heights,”

said McGowan. “The teens use

the skills they learn to develop

and implement an action

plan with ongoing advice and


When Moussignac found out she

won, she said she was shocked

and then happy. “I started getting

emotional and before I knew it, I

was crying tears of joy,” she said.

“I’m so happy I won and all the

hard work I put into this process

has paid off. Though there were

many challenges to prepare for

the competition, the hardest

part was getting all I wanted to

say in my speech in under three


Confidence in her abilities is

important as she moves on

to the regional competition.

Moussignac said with a lot of

hard work and by refining her

speech even more, she can

visualize herself winning. She

said that makes the reality of

what she has to accomplish a

little less intimidating. But it’s not

all about the competition for her.

“I also see myself

meeting new

friends, enhancing

my leadership and

communication skills

and just having fun,”

she said.

8 May 2017 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM Volume 4 • Number 8


SWLA Contact: health Lisa Guerrero, & hospitals

Director of Marketing

Lake Area Medical Center

(337) 475-4102,

Heather Hidalgo, Director of Marketing and Communications

CHRISTUS St. Patrick Health System

(337) 842-7301,


Affiliation Will Develop Regional Healthcare Network to Coordinate Resources for Southwest Louisiana



Contact: Lisa Guerrero, Lisa Director Guerrero, ofDirector Marketing of Marketing

LAKE CHARLES, La., May 1, 2017 – Lake Area Medical Center announced today it will soon become




Medical LakeHealth Area Center

through Medical an acquisition Center agreement that includes the sale of the hospital

and its associated (337) 475-4102, assets.

(337) 475-4102,

Heather Hidalgo, Director of Marketing and Communications

CHRISTUS Health alsoHeather operatesHidalgo, CHRISTUS St.


Patrick Health

of Marketing

System inand LakeCommunications

Charles. “Our mission for the

last 150CHRISTUS years has been St. to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, and with the announcement of

CHRISTUS Patrick Health St. Patrick System Health System

this agreement, we are continuing to build upon and strengthen our mission for years to come,” said

(337) 842-7301,

Ernie Sadau, president (337) and chief 842-7301,


officer for CHRISTUS Health. “CHRISTUS is committed to

ensuring Lake Charles residents continue to have access to compassionate care of the highest quality.

This AGREEMENT agreement will SIGNED ensure the TOcontinued SELL LAKE availability AREA MEDICAL of high quality CENTER care close TOto CHRISTUS home.” HEALTH


Affiliation Will Affiliation Develop Will Regional DevelopHealthcare Regional Healthcare Network toNetwork Coordinate to Coordinate Resources for Resources Southwest for Southwest Louisiana

“Lake Area Medical Center will continue to play an important role in providing quality health care for

Lake Charles,” said Bryan Bateman, chief executive officer of Lake Area Medical Center. “Affiliating with

CHRISTUS Health will enhance the health services and resources our organizations offer our


AKE CHARLES, LAKE La., CHARLES, May 1, La., 2017 May – Lake 1, 2017 Area– Medical Lake Area Center Medical announced Center announced today it will today soonitbecome

will soon bec

ffiliated with affiliated CHRISTUS with Health CHRISTUS through Health anthrough acquisition an acquisition agreement agreement that includes that the includes sale of thesale hospital of the

nd its associated and its associated assets. assets.

The purchase agreement includes a commitment from CHRISTUS Health to offer employment to active

employees in good standing when the transaction is complete. Privileges will continue for all physicians

in good standing on the medical staff.

HRISTUS Health CHRISTUS alsoHealth operates alsoCHRISTUS operates St. CHRISTUS Patrick Health St. Patrick System Health in Lake System Charles. in Lake “Our Charles. mission “Our formissi


ast 150 years lasthas 150been yearsto has extend beenthe to extend healingthe ministry healing ofministry Jesus Christ, of Jesus andChrist, with the andannouncement with the announcem of

his agreement, this agreement, we are continuing we are continuing to build upon to build and strengthen upon and strengthen our missionour formission years tofor come,” years said to come

rnie Sadau, Ernie president Sadau, and president chief executive and chiefofficer executive for CHRISTUS officer for Health. CHRISTUS “CHRISTUS Health. “CHRISTUS is committed is committ to

nsuring Lake ensuring Charles Lake residents Charlescontinue residentsto continue have access to have to compassionate access to compassionate care of thecare highest of the quality. highest

his agreement This agreement will ensurewill theensure continued the continued availability availability of high quality of high carequality close to care home.” close to home.”

“As one organization, the talented physicians and Associates of Lake Area Medical Center and CHRISTUS

St. Patrick will work together as the region’s premier healthcare provider,” said Stephen Wright, senior

vice president of Group Operations for CHRISTUS Health in Louisiana. “We look forward to continuing to

serve southwest Louisiana for many years to come.”

Lake AreaThe “Lake Medical transaction Area Center Medical is expected willCenter continue to close will into the continue play second an quarter important to playof this important role year, insubject providing role to customary inquality providing regulatory health quality carehealth for c

ake Charles,” approvals

Lakesaid Charles,”

and Bryan closing

said Bateman, conditions.

Bryanchief Bateman,

Untilexecutive the transaction

chiefofficer executive

is complete, of Lake officer

current Area ofownership Medical Lake Area Center. remains


in“Affiliating place.

Center. “Affilia with

HRISTUS Health CHRISTUS willHealth enhance will the enhance healththe services health and services resources and resources organizations our organizations offer our offer our


ommunity.” community.”

Lisa A. Guerrero | Marketing Director | Lake Area Medical Center

4200 Nelson Road | Lake Charles, LA 70605

337.475.4102 Office | 337-475-4045 Fax | 660-676-9857 Mobile |

he purchase Theagreement purchase agreement includes a commitment includes a commitment from CHRISTUS from Health CHRISTUS to offer Health employment to offer employment to active

mployeesemployees in good standing goodwhen standing the transaction when the transaction is complete. is complete. Privileges will Privileges continue will for continue all physicians for all p


n good standing


goodon standing the medical on the staff. medical staff.

SWLAfashion week

Fashion Week

2017 Recap

FWLC 2017 Highlights

By Tori Hebert

Fashion Week Lake Charles 2017 Runway.

Photo credit: Carl Hubert

“Beautiful ones…Let Purple

Reign!” As a tribute to the late

Prince, Julie Branden did it

again this year and put on an

amazing Fashion Week. Four

nights of parties, music, and

shopping all to benefit Juvenile

Diabetes Research Fund. It was

a fast paced weekend but once

the party started time simply

didn’t matter.

Jeanne-Claire Benton, Fashion Designer

Competition Winner/2017 Designer of

the Year

The first night of runway shows featured

five designers. After each designer

had presented their collection, the

anticipation to know who won the

designer competition grew. The crowd

was focused on the runway to see which

piece model and actress Ania Spiering

would be wearing as she strutted down

the catwalk. Finally, Spiering came out

wearing a red high/low gown by Jeanne-


Claire Benton, a freshman at University of

Louisiana-Lafayette. Benton’s collection

included a number of evening gowns

and party outfits. Saturday was night two

of the runway and Benton’s top three

designs were shown. Benton then took

a walk down the runway herself as the

emcee announced she was the 2017

Fashion Week Lake Charles Designer of

the Year.

Tracee Dundas, Style Icon of the Year

Saturday night was the pinnacle of

Fashion Week. With over 10 runway

shows and two award presentations,

it was a night like no other. Each year

Fashion Week spotlights one individual

with noticeable style. This year’s winner,

Tracee Dundas, is the Founder and

Executive Producer of New Orleans

Fashion Week. Dundas received

her degree in fashion and apparel

from the University of Southwestern

Louisiana and has been a stronghold in

building the Gulf Coast Region fashion

industry. Prior to running Fashion

Week New Orleans, Dundas owned and

operated ABOUTFACES Model & Talent

Management. Ania Spiering presented

a glass award to Dundas and Dundas

addressed the crowd about the success of

Fashion Week Lake Charles. Previous icon

winners include Ann Monlezun, owner

of Sassy Royals. Monlezun was a Fashion

Week 2017 judge.

Runway shows included individual

designers as well as notable retail shops

like Charming Charlie, GAP, and Buckle.

Runway pieces were available for sale

on the Fashion Avenue, and a number of

make up, clothing, shoes, and accessory

vendors were on hand.

To finish off Saturday night, Branden’s

grandchildren walked together down

the runway as the emcee said “now

ladies and gentlemen, the reason behind

Fashion Week”. Branden’s granddaughter

Gabrielle has diabetes and is the

inspiration behind Fashion Week Lake

Charles. Volunteers, make-up artist, and

hair stylist took a walk together followed

by a final strut by Julie Branden.

Fashion Week is bringing a new family

fun event to Lake Charles and the party

gets bigger every year. Be sure to start

planning now to attend Fashion Week

Lake Charles 2018!


Photos by Tori Hebert

Tori Hebert

Photo credit: Carl Hubert

Ania Spiering presents Tracee Dundas with the

Style Icon of the year award.​

Kenya Gradnigo wearing One of

three featured pieces by Jean-Clair


Rosa Herrara's designs included multiple

green fashions.

Model and actress Ania Spiering

wearing a red dress by Jean-Claire


The men's freestyle show allowed

male models to let their personal

style and personalities show. ​

Fashion designer of the year Jean-

Claire Benton.

The grandchildren of Julie Branden.

Fashion Week Founder Julie


​Tyler Broussard modeling for GAP.

​Noah Bellard walking in the mens

freestyle show.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 11

Team Publications Presents Poet Ashley J.

Poet Ashley J autographs a book for Kenneth Magee, her uncle, as

Andrea Thompson, her aunt, stands by.

Poet Ashley J is pictured with Carl & Chelsea Boudreaux, owners of

Stellar Beans.

Poet Ashley J

Inspirational/Christian Poet

Visit and order your hard cover or soft

cover copy today!

Email for more information!

Call & Book Poet Ashley J - 337-499-4910 for Entertainment!



Saturday book signing at Stellar Beans. 4/22/17

Chloe Pugliese says, “It is Raw &


Gerald Fuselier supports

reading good books.

Linda Weston says, “Poet

Ashley J is here to stay.”

A packed house of guests

described Poet Ashley

J as “Inspirational,

Encouraging, Supportive,

Builds Faith, Strength to

Come out of Hiding and a

Good Work.”

Lucretia Ballou & Henry Buck says, “It inspires

you to walk in your created self and to come

out of hiding.”

L-R Chris Gonzalez, Lily Echavarria and

Amanda Clark says, “Chains are Broken is

inspirational and it builds your faith."

Karen Collins says, “I love the

realness of the book.”

Wendy Broussard reads


L-R Jackie Green, Gerald Fuselier, Karen “Nikki”

Green and Ida Green brings love, support and cash!

Louis Magee, her grandfather,

says, “Family support brings

more support to a good work.”

Poet Ashley J delivers a powerful

performance from her poem Trapped.

Poet Ashley J pictured with her Publisher,


Yolanda Davis says, "I enjoyed

the event."

Michael Kittling, Saxophonist, entertained

everyone with jazz, rhythm, and blues.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 13

Reflective Light


Going On?

Considering the reality

that life lessons have not

been learned...

Recognizing the

oneness of purpose

and the commonality

of humankind

reveals that there are

always answers.

By Ronald J. Blanchard

Nearly a half century ago, the

state of the nation evoked the

question--what’s going on?

Inspired by the state of the world and

the inability to successfully address

civil unrest fueled by police brutality,

poverty, gang violence, drugs, and the

dysfunctional family, America became a

part of an emotional outcry as it shared

the pain and anguish of mothers and

fathers attending their children’s funerals.

Hopelessly lost generations experiencing

a nightmare with no possibilities of

accomplishing the American dream. Fifty

years later, ignorance causes blindness in

those that refuse to see as the suffering

has intensified. Therefore, the question

continues--what’s going on?

Considering the reality that life lessons

have not been learned, questions must

be answered. The answers are often

very clear, but clouded by apathy and

indecision. Now is the time for more

action and less talking. The primary

solutions must come from the family.

There needs to be a new commitment

to the responsibilities of educating

children from within each and every

home. There are a number of resources

available to assist those inexperienced

and overwhelmed parents. Grandparents

and great grand parents have shouldered

this responsibility for nearly two

generations. Brothers, sisters, cousins,

uncles, and aunts must become viable

positive influences within the growth

and development of children. The

African proverb— “it takes a village”—is

amazingly true. Ultimately, the family is

essential to effective change and is the

primary focus.

Educational institutions are also critical to

creating solutions that can be beneficial.

School systems must ensure that all

schools have capable instructional

leadership that establish winning

relations with the communities served.

Strong, safe learning environments

that offer ‘no place for hate’ can address

the diversity of children that seek

answers to social as well as professional

challenges. Principals, teachers, parents,

and students must come together to

establish non-negotiable rules that

simulate the realities of the real world

and real world issues. No child should be

left behind as steps are taken to elevate

the expectations of all stakeholders.

Schools will never take the place of great

parenting, but through commitment and

partnership, there is reinforcement of

character traits that transform children

into human contributions to society.

Quality education creates citizens that

work together to build communities

that demonstrate incredible respect and

empathy for all residents. The governing

body reflects and represents diversity

(ethnicity, culture, religion, etc.). A

people that can identify with the judicial

process and law enforcement have

no reason for fear and doubt. Unified

thoughts and views of justice erase

any potential for hate and prejudice.

Love and understanding nurture a

desire to maintain healthy and helpful

relationships throughout the community.

Opening one’s mind to the potentials

and possibilities of positive change

can initiate a process that involves

a universal collaborative effort. A

prophetic vision that elevates and

educates the levels of acceptance from

generation to generation is a necessity

in seeking solutions to a multiplicity of

problems. Together and only together

can a nation of people hope to make a

difference. Segregation of thoughts and

ideas prevent growth as one people.

Recognizing the oneness of purpose and

the commonality of humankind reveals

that there are always answers. However,

the question must be clear—what’s

going on?



Reflective Light

A Cowboy’s

Deliberate Act

of Kindness

Cowboy Britt Buller

Britt Buller

By Ronald J. Blanchard

Most dictionaries and

encyclopedias would define

cowboy as “an animal

herder who tends cattle on

ranches in North America,

traditionally on horseback”.

There may be some other 19 th century

references to the Mexican vaqueros. A

powerful part of the American legend

of a man challenging nature riding tall in the

saddle, the universal appeal of the American

cowboy has created discussions of fact and

fantasy. Whether reading a novel, watching a

motion picture, or listening to a folktale, his

story has always intrigued and fascinated.

Questioning the authenticity of the mythical

cowboy ended abruptly through the chance

meeting of a real American cowboy.

Driving north on Hwy 165 to Kinder,

Louisiana, a motorist front tire exploded,

leaving him stranded. Countless automobiles

would pass the disabled vehicle without

considering assistance. After 15 minutes,

the motorist decided to look through the

car’s trunk for a jack and spare tire. He was

suddenly distracted by a south bound pickup

truck which appeared to be in a hurry as

it accelerated. To his surprise, the motorist

watched the truck suddenly make a U-turn at

an intersection about 200 yards from his car.

As the truck approached, the driver appeared

to be a young teen-age boy. He would later

share that he was 17. Before his engine could

stop running, he jumped out of the truck

and offered to assist. He introduced himself

as Britt Buller, roping competitor with the

United States Team Roping Championships

(USTRC) and most importantly the proud son

of Brad and Brooke Buller. After assessing

the situation, Britt didn’t hesitate as he drove

home to get the proper tools. He returned

within 5 minutes on a four-wheeler with a

jack and changed the flat faster than a pit

crew at the Daytona International Speedway.

The conversation was easy as Britt and

the motorist talked briefly about one

another’s backgrounds and ambitions.

Britt emphasized the significant role that

his family played within his growth and

development into a young man. It was

evident that Britt had learned valued lessons

of sacrifice and hard work. His commitment

to his home and to rodeo was admirable.

It was clear that his future would be filled

with success. After packing his tools, Britt

mounted his four-wheeler and offered his

cell number for any additional assistance. He

asked for nothing in exchange for his time

and work. However, the invaluable gift of

friendship was established.

Watching Britt drive away, the motorist

stood motionless as an image entered his

mind. He had met an American cowboy. It

didn’t matter that Britt drove off on a fourwheeler

and not a horse. Through their

momentary encounter, two individuals

had the opportunity to experience the rare

unconditional bond of human commonality.

It was clear that substance supersedes

surface when there is a oneness of purpose.

Britt demonstrated character and integrity

that is so lacking within today’s culture.

The American cowboy is so mythologized

that the reality and the legend are almost

inseparable. Yet the reality is that the cowboy

still exists and that cowboy is Britt Buller.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 15

City of Lake Charles


Parish Police

Jury Human



2017 Summer Food

Service Program

Beginning June 5, 2017 and continuing

through July 28, 2017, the City of Lake

Charles will sponsor a Summer Food

Service Program to provide free breakfast

and lunch to all children eighteen years

of age or younger. The program is also

open to any person over 18 who has been

determined by a state education agency or

local public educational agency of a state

to be mentally or physically handicapped

and is enrolled in a public or private

nonprofit school program.

Here is a list of serving sites and times for

your convenience. For more information,

call Johnnie A. Mouton, Asst. Director,

Summer Food Service Program, City

of Lake Charles, 337.491.1270, email, or Fax: 337.491.1437

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of

Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA,

its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating

in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from

discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability,

age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any

program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of

communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print,

audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the

Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals

who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may

contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

Additionally, program information may be made available in

languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA

Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online

at:, and at

any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide

in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request

a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your

completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) Email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Sites & Addresses Operating Dates & Days Meals & Times Served

Carver Court

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017 Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

1409 St Mary Dr.

Monday - Friday

Lunch 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Closed on 7/4/2017

Christian Baptist Church

4460 5th Avenue

Lake Charles, LA 70605

College Oaks Recreation Center

3518 Ernest Street

Lake Charles, LA 70605

Columbus Circle Recreation Center

3520 Greinwich Boulevard

Lake Charles, LA 70601

F. K. White Middle School

1000 E. McNeese Street

Lake Charles, LA 70607

Fairview Elementary School

3955 Gerstner Memorial Dr.

Lake Charles, LA 70605

Foreman Community Center

215 Albert St.

Lake Charles, LA 70601

For His Grace Baptist Church

1070 Deesport Street

Lake Charles,LA 70601

Goosport Community Center

1619 Cessford Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Henry Heights Recreation Center

801 East School Street

Lake Charles, LA 70605

Hillcrest Recreation Center

2808 Hillcrest Drive

Lake Charles, LA 70605

Jesse D. Clifton Recreation Center

2415 East Gieffers Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Lloyd Oaks Community Center

661 Dixy Dr.

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Martin L. King Center

2009 Simmons St.

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Meadow Park Housing

2400 Anita Dr.

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Mike Lanza Community Center

609 Sycamore Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Oak Park Middle School

2200 Oak Park Blvd.

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Washington Marion High School

2802 Pineview Street

Lake Charles, LA 70615

Wiley B. McMillan Comm. Rec. Ctr.

343 Goos Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Woodberry Church of Fellowship

417 N. Prater Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Zion Tabernacle Baptist Church

910 N. Shattuck Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

Serving Times 2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday - Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

6/5/2017 to 7/28/2017

Monday – Friday

Closed on 7/4/2017

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Breakfast 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Breakfast 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Lunch 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Breakfast 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Lunch 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM



SWLAUnconditional Love

Easter's Tips

for Mothering

By Joyce R. Kebodeaux

Easter Belizare lost her mother to

death when she was four years

old. Her Father, unable to care

for his large family while he worked,

gave his children to different families

to insure they each would have good

homes. He kept Easter, the youngest.

She waited at home alone for him

while he worked. There was no food in

the house so each day after he left, Little

Easter went in search of something to eat.

Alberta Hackett, a kind young teacher

at the Elton School began feeding

Easter. Her home was in Lake Charles

with her mother. She didn’t have a car

so she stayed in Elton all week and

returned home by train on weekends.

After a while she approached Easter’s

father and asked him to have Easter.

Easter said “I got a loving mother and

grandmother at that time. My adoption

was completed at age seven. We came

home on weekends and lived in Elton

during the week. After Mama got a car

we traveled back and forth every day.

Eventually she got a teaching job and I

finished school here in Lake Charles. My

life was good with my new family. There

was never any criticism of me or my

father and siblings. They even allowed

me to return to my relatives in Eunice

when I asked. My mama said nothing

to me about why she would purchase

two tickets for me to ride the train. But,

I would stay one week then took the

second ticket and come back home to

stay. I really experienced a different way

of life.”

When Easter met and married Joseph

Belizare he had three little girls. She

happily raised them as her own. As the

girls grew up, the couple began taking

in foster children. They began taking

in four boys at a time. Their house

was in what was quickly becoming a

dangerous neighborhood. The Belizares

found a home on a quiet street near a

park. With their new big yard, there was

plenty of room for the children to grow

and play.

Easter’s philosophy to foster children

is simple. She says, “Most foster

children will eventually return to their

parents so I do not judge or criticize

their parents. They love their parents

regardless to what has happened. It is

easier for them to make the adjustment

and understand if I don’t add to their

problems. I take them to church, school,

sports and other activities. I even invite

the parents to participate with their

children’s activities. If the parents do

Bottom L-R: Andre Frank, Jody Babineaux, Joseph

Williams and Patrick Frank pictured with Easter Belizare.

not have transportation, I will pick them

up and bring them to activities. I listen

to children experiencing outbursts

because I understand their frustrations.

Patience is important. It helps the child

understand better when you ‘sit them

down to talk’ about what they are

feeling and they will listen to you later.

Around the holidays and vacations,

they all come back to visit me.”

Easter has fostered more than 100

children in over 32 years. The people

she blessed are now returning to bless

her. It is heartwarming to know Easter

and her story because she is the mother

she didn’t have. Or maybe she is just

doing what she was called to do. Happy

Mother’s Day to Easter and all our


Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 17

SWLA sports

Members of McNeese Athletics take some time to smile with Special Olympic athletes.

Photo credit: Tori Hebert

The Unity of Athletics

By Tori Hebert


remember walking

across the McNeese

campus on my way

to class and losing count

of how many sorority and

fraternity t-shirts I saw. Bid

days, retreats, social events,

you name it and these

people had it on a shirt.

These Greek organizations

and the screen printing

business are a match made

in Heaven. Like an invitation

to a member only club,

these shirts are cherished by

those who wear them and

raise curiosity to those on

the outside. When I arrived

at the McNeese Recreational

Complex on a warm April

Sunday, the members of Pi

Kappa Alpha Alpha (PIKE)

donned matching t-shirts in

true Greek fashion; however,

these shirts represented

something much larger than

an exclusive society.

Starting at the front door,

the PIKE Slamma Jamma

Basketball Tournament

offered a welcoming

atmosphere, warm smiles,

and joyful hearts. I walked in

to the Rec with a chorus of

“Hi, good morning! Thanks

for coming”. Following the

linoleum path to the court

was energized by the sounds

of the DJ who kept the party

going all morning. Final set

up touches, group photos,

and soaring basketballs

were a visual representation


of the excitement in the air.

I didn’t know much about

this basketball tournament,

but as I switched gears from

journalist to photographer,

I quickly became aware

that this event was

something special. The

basketball tournament

was a collaboration

between the McNeese

PIKE’s and the Special

Olympics of Louisiana. A

long time volunteer with

Special Olympics and PIKE

president, Keifer Ackley,

explains his vision for

the tournament. “Since

I became president, I

wanted to establish an

annual philanthropy event.

Throughout my high school

years and beyond I’ve been

able to see the beauty of


Ackley lights up as he

talks about working with

Special Olympics and the

extraordinary love of every

athlete. “It’s one thing to

play basketball for a good

cause, but an event has a

totally different aspect when

you’re playing alongside

the people you’re donating

to” Ackley says. Colin

Laborde, Special Olympics

Louisiana Director of Health

and Unified Strategies,

reverberates, “The athletes

get to participate in more

activities and interact with

people they never would

have gotten a chance to

meet and have a great

time doing it. The students

involved get to see what

unified sports is all about

and walk away with better

understanding of the

capabilities of people with

intellectual disabilities.”

The Slamma Jamma

tournament aspired to

bring together McNeese

students, PIKE members,

Special Olympic athletes,

and the Southwest Louisiana

community. Sixteen

teams competed in the

tournament, Alpha Delta

Pi Sorority created colorful

flowers and butterflies on

Love, encouragement, athletics, and

unity, Languages we all can speak.

faces, McNeese Basketball

players signed autographs,

and Miss Louisiana USA,

Bethany Trahan never

denied a hug or a photo

request. For those few hours,

there were no barriers but

only a gymnasium full of


Every Special Olympic

athlete had a beaming smile

and when Bethany Trahan

McNeese PIKE members present a check to Special Olympics

Louisiana. Photo credit: Courtesy of PIKE McNeese

Special Olympic athletes and PIKE members enjoy the United

Basketball Game. Photo credit: Tori Hebert

PIKE members, Special Olympic athletes, and volunteers enjoy a

game of Toss Across. Photo Credit: Tori Hebert

walked pass they couldn’t

help but ask for a hug

every time. With so much

affection and pure emotion,

even the pageant winning

McNeese student couldn’t

hide her own feelings.

Trahan says, “I love being

here and hanging out with

all of these amazing people.

They have the best attitudes

and I’ve really enjoyed

being here.” As Trahan

made her way around the

court, every athlete found

an activity to patriciate in.

Crafts, toss across, whiffle

ball, and dancing kept

every attendee entertained.

Just before lunch, Special

Olympic athletes showed

off their talents against

PIKE members in the

unified basketball game.


Spectators were entranced

as they watched the game

move across the court and

baskets were made one

after another. No one was

alone and everywhere you

looked smiles, laughter, and

happiness were visible.

Ackley hopes to make this

event an annual fundraiser.

Even with short notice

marketing, PIKE Slamma

Jamma raised $4,500 for

Special Olympics Louisiana;

but that Sunday morning

was much more than a

simple fundraiser. Unity is

the only appropriate word to

describe the true meaning

of Slamma Jamma. Love,

encouragement, athletics,

and unity, Languages we all

can speak.

SWLA women's health



{Hormone replacement coupled

with exercise, a balanced diet,

and enjoying life as normal

can make experiencing the

stages of menopause easier as

well as prevent Osteoporosis.

Tori Hebert

Women are always changing.

We change our hair, our style,

and even our bodies change as

we grow. As children our bodies develop

and make us ask questions about what’s

happening. Once we become young

women, we learn about menses and

reproduction; and finally in our middle age

some of us experience perimenopause

before entering menopause and post

menopause. Each of these phases

bring their own symptoms that can be

uncomfortable to experience. Each phase

is also a result of hormone changes. Dr.

Lee Monlezun, OBGYN, and his team

understand the complex nature of the

woman’s body and strive “to make women

normal”. No two patients are the same, but

by understanding a patient’s family history

and individual needs, Dr. Monlezun’s office

has helped women for over 40 years live

comfortably with menopause.

The most notable hormone women

produce is Estrogen. This hormone

affects many parts of the body such as:

the menstrual cycle, muscle strength,

vaginal health, and skin tone. Dr. Monlezun

discusses the processes of releasing

Estrogen, “First you make an egg and then

you release the hormone. It’s all in the verbs

not the nouns.” This fundamental act of the

body makes understanding perimenopause

and menopause a little easier.

Women are born with a certain number

of eggs in the ovaries. “Menstruation

begins when a girl reaches 100 pounds.

This is usually around the age of 12 or 13.

We average that a woman has about 28

years of reproduction, so when you do the

math for 12 months a year and one egg a

month for 28 years, God gave you more

than enough eggs” says Dr. Monlezun.

As the ovaries begin to use the last eggs,

hormone levels drop. At this point, women

are considered to be in perimenopause.

“Perimenopause is when a woman is

almost in menopause but is not quite

there just yet. Menopause begins when

a woman has not had a period for 12

months. In the U.S., the average age for

menopause is 52.” explains Constance

Darbonne, APRN, FNP-C. Some women

may immediately experience symptoms as

their hormone levels decrease, and some

women notice changes over a period of

time. Mrs. Darbonne says, “I always ask my

patients how their cycles are going. As they

become older, my patients begin to tell me

they experience mild hot flashes and other

menopause like symptoms and they don’t

understand why. So, I say have your periods

been irregular, any vaginal dryness? And

they say ‘you know, now that you mention

it yes’ and then I begin to talk with them

about entering perimenopause.”

Many symptoms of perimenopause

and menopause are the same, but

once Estrogen levels are at the lowest,

symptoms intensify. After twelve months

without a period, a woman is considered to

be in postmenopause. As these symptoms

persist, hormone replacements become

a discussion topic. Dr. Monlezun restates,

“Other doctors often say that we ‘make

women normal’. Being normal is good.

It helps women feel good even as they

experience all of these changes.” Megan

McAtee, APRN, FNP-C follows up this

comment with, “We help women through

every phase. We have patients who see us

as young women and keep coming to us

throughout their lifespan.” Postmenopause

also raises concerns for Osteoporosis.

Estrogen helps keep your bones strong and

healthy, but as this hormone is produced

less calcium is lost from bones. Hormone

replacement coupled with exercise, a

balanced diet, and enjoying life as normal

can make experiencing the stages of

menopause easier as well as prevent


Though Dr. Monlezun, Mrs. Darbonne,

and Mrs. McAtee spend time getting to

know their patients, they recommend

that women have a primary care doctor.

“It’s important to have a primary care

doctor because that person really knows

who you are. You see them on a regular

basis unlike our office that you probably

visit once a year” says Mrs. Darbonne “Both

Megan and I have backgrounds in family

practice, but ultimately what we are doing

here is focused on the women’s health.”

It’s important to keep in mind that all of

your healthcare providers communicate

about your needs, but each office has

a specialized field. Your primary care

physician can give you referrals, keep

records on your overall health, and acts as a

home base for all of your other healthcare


Dr. Monlezun’s office offers Gynecology,

Infertility, procedures, and skin care

and weight loss programs. Everything

this team does is specifically designed for

you. Like you reach out to friends for help,

consider getting a wellness exam each year

and discuss your health questions with your

OBGYN. Women often forget to take care

of themselves, but as we age it becomes a

necessity to have a place to go to help us

continue living life to the fullest.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 19

SWLA education

Ms. Davis' Fifth-Grade Class Reads The Voice of SWLA for English/Language Arts

By Joyce R. Kebodeaux

When Ellaweena G.

Woods, retired

principal, substituted

for teacher Deborah Davis

in the fifth-grade class at

John F Kennedy Elementary

the students were hearing

about Mardi Gras and Black

History Month. Mrs. Woods

gathered copies of The Voice

of Southwest Louisiana for

each student to have their

own copy. There were stories

in The Voice of Southwest

Louisiana about how Mardi

began and a lot of information

about Black History. She said,

“I pick up The Voice because

it has all of the subjects that

we teach in school like history,

reading, social studies, politics

and even math.” These local

stories inspired the children

and it kept their attention.

Many of the students took

their copy home and their

parents were unaware that

the publication was blackowned

and operated by two

minority women. When Ms.

Davis returned, the children

wanted to continue using The

Voice of Southwest Louisiana

as their reading choice.

After she saw the class’

enthusiasm, she said, “I will

continue to use this free

publication to teach. It is

a good tool for teaching

English/Language Arts.”

With The Voice of Southwest

Louisiana, students are

exposed to real life things

like street names in their

own neighborhoods and it

is more personal than when

they study about other places

that they only hear or read

about. Throughout this school

year there has been the

2017 Election Results in the

magazine with all those that

campaigned. The students

see some of these people

campaigning for office in

church, the work place and in

business places. The crowning

of Maaliyah Papillion, Miss

Louisiana USA 2016, is a girl

that grew up and went to

school in the local area and

that gives a living hope to

local girls to reach high and

achieve their goals. Dilmore,

A.K. (2015, December) Lake

Charles Native Maaliyah

Papillion Brings Home the

Miss Louisiana USA 2016

Crown, 3(4), In fact, a future

Miss America or our next

president of the United States

may have been in our midst.

As we visited with Ms.

Davis ‘class we asked the

students to tell what was

most interesting to them



about reading The Voice of

Southwest Louisiana and

we heard these comments.

Kiarro Cormier said he enjoys

The Voice because he gains

new information. Leroy Morris

especially likes the pictures

that helps to tell the stories.

Damien Batiste talked about

how The Voice is just like a

phone book with numbers

to call and places to visit. “My

favorite is Sonnier’s because

it tells about the sausage and

boudin,” he said.

Before we left the school,

we were delighted to

speak with Dr. Dinah M.

Robinson, Principal, who is

a great leader that knows

how to separate friendship

from leadership. She said,

“Our children come from

challenging backgrounds and

I will not permit them to be

treated in any way other than

excellent at John F. Kennedy

because I expect excellence

from my professionals.” Dr.

Robinson, Mrs. Woods and

Ms. Davis all share the desire

to make their school a happy

learning place. The Voice of

Southwest Louisiana is proud

to be chosen by educators

with ‘thinking out of the box

teaching,” that are dedicated

to real life learning.

Mrs. Ellaweena G. Woods explains why she chose The Voice of SWLA for the

students to read.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 21

SWLA holidays


Memorial Day

and Veterans Day

By Tori Hebert

MEMORIAL DAY usually brings up fun memories of

weekends on the lake or backyard barbequing with

family. For some it’s even the first big event of the

summer. VETERANS DAY may not have consecutive memories

depending on what day of the week November 11 is. Both of

these days are set aside to reflect on the work of our service

men and women, but they ask us to remember and say thank

you for different reasons. These days also find their roots in very

different eras in American History.

When is it celebrated?

Memorial Day

We celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May every


Has Memorial Day always been in May?

No. Memorial Day became a federal holiday on August 1, 1888.

Prior to this, Memorial Day was celebrated between April-June

in the South and on May 30 in the North.

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?

This holiday dates back to the Civil War. “Decoration Day” as

it was known, began while many Civil War soldiers were still

alive. This was a day to specifically remember the soldiers who

died during the Civil War. The North and South had different

battles and soldiers who were important to their causes,

and celebrations were held at different times in the year. In

Louisiana, Decoration Day was held in early April.

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day to remember all of the men

and women service members and veterans who have died.

When is it celebrated?

Veterans Day

We celebrate Veterans Day every year on November 11.

Has Veterans Day always been in November?

Yes. The first observance of this holiday was on November

11, 1919. At the time is was called “Armistice Day”. It became

a federal holiday on May 13, 1938. On June 1, 1954 President

Eisenhower signed public law and changed “Armistice Day” to

Veterans Day.

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?

This holiday started as a one-time celebration to commemorate

the Armistice agreement between Germany, the allied

Governments, and the United States. This agreement ended the

first World War. In subsequent years, “Armistice Day” was a day

to remember those who died in World War I. By 1926, 27 states

had already declared November 11 a legal holiday.

Today, we celebrate Veterans Day to honor and show

appreciation for all of our active duty service members and

veterans who continue to preserve peace.

To learn more about the history of Memorial Day and Veterans Day, visit







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Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 23

Q&Awith Linda Simien - Educator

{Linda Simien is a divorced mother, grandmother, educator and

tutor that taught in Calcasieu Parish for 38 years. She has three

successful children: Jamar Simien, LSU Graduate, Nominated

2016 Texas High School Outstanding Art Educator and also painted a

portrait of Louisiana’s first lady Donna Edwards. Two daughters, Lori

Ross, MSU Graduate-The Voice of SWLA-Marketing, (Jonathan Ross

and three sons). Jene’ Smith, MSU Graduate-Clear Creek Houston

Independent School District, (Sean Smith and a daughter and son).


Mother' s Day

By Jessica Hunt and Brenda Hill

QHow important is it to recognize God-given

talents/gifts in a child?

ALinda: It is of great importance that a parent

is aware of their child’s interests and natural

abilities. Once there is a clear understanding of

what their child seems to gravitate towards, it is

up to the parent to create a safe environment for

those traits to be cultivated into meaningful skills

that the child will carry for a lifetime.

QHow do you recognize a child’s talents/gifts?

ALinda: It’s important to carefully observe your

child and have a good understanding of what

truly makes them happy and what holds their

interest. Every child is different. What makes them

happy and hold their attention is usually what

enables them to deal with stressful situations,

even as a child.

QHow do you nurture a child’s talents/gifts?

ALinda: You nurture by genuinely encouraging

your child and give them permission to be

confident and pursue their interests. Instilling

confidence fosters the child’s passion and enables

them to explore who they are, and who they want

to be.

QWhat do you wish you would have known

as a young mother that you learned while

rearing your children?

ALinda: While rearing my children I learned

that the single most important thing that I

could teach them was to be confident. Instilling

confidence in a child teaches them to try their

hardest and never give up. Once the child gains

confidence, faith in God and faith in self, they

will get through adversities in their life. The “can’t

never could” philosophy is a good one to instill

in a child because they grow to realize that if

at first you don’t succeed, try again, no one is

perfect and it is ok to make a mistake. A child who

lacks confidence in today’s world could become

discouraged and stop trying to reach his or her

goals in life. Just as the old saying, “You can lead a

horse to water, but can’t make it drink unless you

feed it lots of salt,” so giving a large amount of love

and praise for big and little achievements will go a

long way on a child’s journey in life. You are what

you think you are and our tongue can be used to

either bless or curse. The book, The Little Engine

that Could is a good book to read to a young child

when trying to instill confidence.

QWhat significant changes have you observed

in students from the first start of your

teaching career to now?

ALinda: I find that students today do not come

as prepared and ready for learning as in my

beginning teaching phase. Many times because

of parents’ work schedules children are released

from school to go home to a grandmother

or sitter, older kids or just to an empty home.

Include the many challenges in this world today

and it can be quite difficult for parents to

work and meet all of a child’s needs.

Students are given a lot more

responsibilities today



and there's a lot more pressure for them too.

QPlease share some key tips for mother/son


ALinda: Mothers should teach their sons

about love and how to love. Women have

sensibilities that men don’t have, so teaching

proper communication skills is key. It’s also

important for a mother to teach her son that

setting high expectations can encourage the

people around them to reach higher. Respect,

trust and support must be taught in order for

her son to approach his future relationships with

women in the same way.

QPlease share some key tips for mother/

daughter relationships?

ALinda: It is important for a mother to model

positive female traits to her daughter. Similar

to a son, respect, trust and support must be

taught in order for her daughter to approach her

future relationships with men in the same way.

Even though some girls seem to stray away while

they are young, as they mature they typically

grow closer to their mother and respect her in a

different manner, and with more appreciation.

QHow involved should grandmothers be in

parenting grandchildren

ALinda: It takes a village to raise a child. As a

grandmother, my grandchildren will look to

me for guidance and encouragement in their lives

and I should always try to point them in the right

direction. The birth of a grandchild is one of life’s

greatest joys. Grandmothers usually have time

to devote to their grandchildren because most

mothers work. Wisdom is a gift that grandmothers

can share which will allow grandchildren to

perhaps live a better life and not make the same

mistakes as we have made in the past.

QWhen I first heard about you, I was told

that you are very spiritual. How has your

spirituality influenced your various roles?

AMy faith is of vast importance, especially

when it comes to rearing a child. Without

it, it is very difficult to solve situations that we

encounter on our journey. Teaching our children

how to develop a relationship with God during

good times and bad times allow the child to know

that through God all things are possible. God says

yes, no, wait, or, my strength in you is sufficient.

QI was really blown away by how your children

are coming back to you and saying that this

taught them many things. Can you tell me about


AAs a parent I wanted better for my children

not worse. I felt that I had let them down and

I had to pray about that. My children understood.

They said to me, “Mom, we can do this. We will

all pull together.” So my children and I came

up with a plan, and that plan was, ‘everybody’s

gonna go to work.’ I worked two jobs, and that

was through a lot of prayer. In my prayer I said to

God, “I can't do this.” But you can. I had a can and

on it was written “I Can God Can.” So I would put

my petitions in there and prayed. My children

tell me now how pulling together taught them

responsibility, how to save and how to get along

with other people. So if you take a bad situation

and look at it in a positive manner, it can turn into

something a lot better than you expected.

QWhat are some helpful tips for divorced

parents with children?

ALinda: It is important for parents of children

involved in divorce to help the child

understand that it is not their fault. Many children

try to bear the weight of an adult problem that

they will never be able to solve. Instead of putting

the child in the middle of the problem, the parent

should take the opportunity to make parental

conflict a formative experience for the child.

Divorce can be a teachable moment in a child’s

life. It builds character and gives ability to deal

with adversity and learn from it, instead of running

from it. The child can also use what they learned

from the experience to teach others and let them

know that divorce is not an excuse for failure.

Also, a child who is a product of a divorce should

be given counseling. This will help the child

understand that they are loved by both

parents even though they do not live

together in the same house.

QAs an educator and tutor, how do you handle

kids who are struggling?

AChildren struggle with reading. I tell them it

is okay. You are going to get there. Practice

makes perfect. You may not read like your mama

but you are going to read better than you were

reading when you first started. It's going to click.

It may not happen right now. It's going to take a

lot of time, a lot of work on your part, my part and

your parent, but one day you're going to be able

to read and that's going to be awesome. But we

must go back and learn those letters and sounds

first because we put them together to make

words. Reading is a process. They get happy and

after that it only gets better.

QIn your experience of working with at risk

students, how do you manage their unique


ALinda: I have a minor in Special Education and

my heart has always gone out to children and

people who struggle. First, I pray and ask the Lord

to show me how to work with them. It makes me

feel good to see them get out of a bad situation.

It's a big reward for me if I can help turn it around.

They don't care how much you know until they

know how much you care. Once they know you

care about them, they tend to want to work to

make you happy, in most cases. Children have to

know that you see them, you hear them, you feel

them and you got them.

QWhat advice can you give to parents and

teachers about finding that 'Good Place'

where you are pushing the child enough but not

too much so that you are lowering the standard?

AWell, I start at the higher level at the

beginning because I expect the best and the

most for each child. I tell the parents “Look, if you

see any signs of frustration get with me and we

can make some adjustments. I want children to

like school, like learning, and like me.”

QHow can a mother help her child(ren) cope

with death? (father, grandparent, sibling, etc.)


Linda: She can pray with them, cry with them,

go to the grave with them and encourage

them. Most of all teach them humility by letting

them know that God gave His Son for the world.

Tell them it is ok for us to give up our loved ones,

because dying is part of the life process. If it is

death of the father, link the son with a strong

family role model because I could only be my son’s

mother, not his father. Daughters tend to lean on

the mother.

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 25

Friends and Family of the Lake area

The Vineyard Moss Bluff exist to Love God, love people

and live it out. Our goal is to bring a little of Heaven here on Earth.

As a means of extending the kingdom of God, we will be hosting our

first foreign missions trip - Bohol, Philippines, off the island of

Saygabyan. We will be supporting the Esteban’s, a local family in

the area. In the last seven years they have gone through many trials and


They have built a church only to watch it be destroyed by a tsunami.

However, they did not let that stop them, they rebuilt it and started a sister

church in a nearby village, where they currently meet under a tent, very

inconvenient during inclement weather patterns.

We would like to bless them by helping to build a fellowship home. We

will also host a marriage conference for the adults, and a ministry to feed

the children. We would like to show our love by supplying them with small

gifts, and most importantly, the Gospel.

The trip is scheduled for May 2018. Below you will find details

for our Area wide garage sale to help raise funds to complete the mission:

Area wide garage sale Saturday June 3rd, 6am to 4 pm

at the Moss Bluff Vineyard...all proceeds go to fund the mission

and the trip. Items can be dropped off Friday from 4-6 at the church.

Church Location: 3300 hwy N. 171

Pass the word!


Black Business Award


Medical Health, Home Care

Medical & Chiropractic Center

Medical & Chiropractic Center

Dr. Joshua Thomas

Dr. Katrina Rankin

Dr. Larry LeVigne

Lake Charles

2121 Lake Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

(337) 433-1919


724 N. Market Street

Opelousas, LA 70750

(337) 678-0963



SWLA entertainment




Contributed Article

(Left to right) Evelyn White, Mayhaw Festival secretary and Willard White, president, receive the Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event award from Lauren Cooper,

member of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors.

Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event

The Southeast Tourism Society (STS) recently honored the Starks Mayhaw Festival as a

2017 Top 20 Event for the month of May.

Celebrating 25 years, the festival features carnival rides, arts & crafts, live music, delicious

Southern food and enough berries and jelly for the whole family. Festival grounds are located

at the corners of Highways 109 and 12. The festival kicks off on Thursday, May 18 with a pirate

theme costume contest at 6 p.m., followed by the talent show at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, May 19,

the bike parade rolls at 3 p.m. and local gospel performers, including the Ball Brothers, will take

the stage at 7:30 p.m. Get your fill of biscuits, jelly and home-churned butter on Saturday, May

20 at 8:30 a.m., followed by the highlight of the festival, the Mayhaw Jelly Contest at 10 a.m.

Closing out the festival is the Cypress Band, featuring Warren Storm and Willie T, at 7:30 p.m.

The Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau is a member of STS, an organization

that promotes travel to and within the southeastern part of the United States. The bureau

nominates all area fairs, festivals and events quarterly. The STS Top 20 Events marketing

program highlights the “best of the best” from submitted entries.

Events are selected from each of the following STS member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia,

Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West

Virginia. The Top 20 Events publication is sent to over 1,600 newspapers, magazines, radio

stations, TV stations, AAA publications and others. The combined circulation of organizations

using the publication is well into the millions. Therefore, the potential media coverage of these

events has made the Top 20 Events list a coveted honor.

For more information, contact the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors

Bureau at (337) 436-9588, or visit

Volume 4 • Number 8 WWW.THEVOICEOFSOUTHWESTLA.COM May 2017 27

Pick up your copy of The

Voice of SWLA while you’re

out and about.


West Cal-Cam Hospital


Pitt Grill




Dairy Barn


Pujo St. Cafe

Chase (Downtown)

Steamboat Bill's

Civic Center

Carnegie Library

Luna Bar & Grill



Market Basket

Southern Spice


Post Office

Market Basket

Love's Truck Stop


Brookshires Bros.

City Hall

DeRidder Hospital

Post Office

Steamboat Bill's

Lunch Special Menu

Mon-Sat 10:30am-4pm


1850 N. Martin Luther King Hwy.

Walk In

Take Out


Vietnamese Restaurant


Mon. - Sat. 10:30am - 9pm

Sunday 11:30am - 8pm

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