Volume 2, Edition 1
A Word from the First Lady of Louisiana
November – Happy Fall, Y’all!
This is my 12th blog post and the one year anniversary of my Loving Louisiana blog! It has been both exciting and enlightening to share with you all the amazing men and women serving in our communities who are doing such amazing work across our great state. Last month’s blog highlighted these areas and my initiatives with Louisiana First Foundation. It has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase their hard work and to share opportunities to become involved with these initiatives.
We have had guest writers, recently addressed women’s health issues, and have been increasing our blog readers each month. So, make sure you encourage others to read the blog or share it with friends and family.
This month’s special guests were quite a surprise. A special note from our pastor, Father Mark Beard who has been our friend, mentor and prayer warrior over these last few years was truly a treat. I was also surprised and honored to have a wonderful addition to the blog about the Mansion Foundation from former First Lady Alice Foster, whom I am blessed to call my friend.
So, I have contemplated what to write this month being that this is the month of the final election for governor. Over the last couple of weeks, I received emails and articles in regard to bipartisanship. I also started my own personal Facebook page, Donna H. Edwards. Facebook gives me the opportunity to talk to people about political issues and concerns, and to talk about what bipartisanship means and how important it is to the success of our state and country. Follow and like my Facebook page to stay informed about the issues.
John Bel and I have tried to raise our children knowing and understanding the premise behind being a public servant. Our beliefs tell us it is important that all people be treated fairly and all people have an opportunity to share their points of view and ideas, regardless of a political party, socioeconomic background, race or gender. It is important to treat each other with respect and dignity.
We grew up in a very small community where pretty much everyone knew one another. You wave to everyone you pass on the street because you either knew them, or because you were raised to always be friendly to everyone. We worked alongside our friends in the community, in our church, and in our schools. I do not remember ever wondering or even asking if they were Republicans or Democrats. It seems like things have really taken a sharp turn in regards to what political affiliation we belong and the way we treat each other once we know.
Somehow my small-town mind did not get caught up in much of this type of behavior. Maybe it was my parents that shielded me from bigotry and racism. I cannot remember my parents ever using ugly words or derogatory comments towards someone of another race or political party. So I would like to thank my parents for teaching me to have a heart for people. I want to also thank my husband’s parents for giving him a heart and service for people. We are both so very blessed and very grateful to have been raised by such good and Godly people.
The division that is happening in our country brings tears to my eyes. What happened to civility? What happened to treating one another with kindness even when we disagree? What happened to compromise and finding common ground to work for a common goal? I do believe it’s still there. We must do our part to encourage the flame of justice and goodness to prevail.
All of us should aspire to want people to come together at the table – including people with different life experiences – so they can learn from each other and expand their thinking.
My husband, as a State Representative, and now as the Governor, has always worked with all people regardless of party. He has worked with Republicans, Democrats and Independents in passing legislation that impacts millions of people. They are able to do so because they worked across the aisle to forge friendships based on mutual respect, love of family, love of their state, and the ultimate desire to do all they can to improve the lives of others. Isn’t that what we all should want from those we have elected to serve us in public office?
Working together has also been how our country has been successful and moved forward through the years. Looking back, we see how President Ronald Reagan had a great friendship with Democratic speaker Tip O’Neill and how it enabled them both to get real work accomplished. Senator Ted Kennedy was a friend to Senator John McCain and they respected each other and laughed with each other. Those are just a few of the many that share a love of people, not party.
“We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK”, said a very famous comedian and Louisianian. As I watched an excerpt from her show I realized her words were perfect. Click on the link at the end of this post to see the video.
We are currently in the throes of a heated campaign. It is both mentally and physically exhausting. I always said that if it is hard work and a never-giving-up attitude that gets you to the victory line, then we will win once again. This hard work and the almighty hand of God is how we won in 2015, so I am praying that the truth will rise to the top and justice will prevail and we will once again be victorious.
Lastly, let us not forget during this month of Veterans and Thanksgiving Day how much we have to be grateful for and those to whom we are grateful. We are thankful for our families, our safe homes and jobs, our many friends, and our freedom of religion and speech. We are especially thankful to those who choose to serve and have served in our military so that we can have these freedoms each and every day.
These are some quotes to remember as we move forward.
Help me to always be thankful for all the blessings in my life. Although there are times when I may feel sad, overwhelmed and sometimes even lonely, let me remember that my life is full. Allow me to also be a light and support to those who may need encouragement themselves. Allow me to be your vessel that I may share myself with others in order to be your light in this world.
Click here for the video:
Fr. Mark Beard Pastor, St. Helena Catholic Church - Amite, LA
I remember it as if it were yesterday! The Bishop’s office called, informing me that I was to move to Amite, La., as pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church. I wasn’t even sure where Amite was located, much less the Church itself. And if that wasn’t enough to add to one’s plate, I knew not one soul. I arrived early one day to visit with the outgoing pastor. We spent the day going through the ins and outs, as well as on goings of the Church parish and the City itself. He could probably feel that since this would be my first pastorate, and I was only two years into my ordination, I was becoming somewhat overwhelmed. So, when it was time for us to set the time and dates for changing over, he said: “Before you go, I want you to meet this couple.” The reason I want you to meet them is that “if there is one couple that will be at your side, make things happen and be a wonderful sounding board it will be Donna & John Bel Edwards”! Those words were prophetic. From the very outset, Donna & John Bel were involved in everything from PSR, Vacation Bible School, the Choir at Mass, and Finance/Parish Council Meetings, to K/C & Catholic Daughter Meetings. I’m not sure St. Helena would be where it is today, had they not been so involved, so vested in our little Church and to me as well. I could call at any hour, on any issue, regardless of the ongoings of their world and they took time for our Church and me as well. Well, it’s been almost ten years now since I have arrived in Amite, and the Good Lord’s promise continues to echo in my thoughts each day; I will never leave you, so he sent me a Simon, yet, this time he sent me two! Thanks, Donna & John Bel.
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
Yes Mam, No Mam, Thank you Mam = Teach MAM!
Alice Foster The Evolution of the Governor's Mansion Preservation Foundation
When I was contacted to post an article on Donna’s blog, I was happy to have that opportunity. I’m equally excited about the subject because it’s a story I’ve always loved telling. It’s been quite a while since I have thought about how the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Foundation came about, but in doing so, it certainly has brought back great memories.
When Mike and I walked into the Governor’s Mansion, it was with a heavy heart that I beheld this beautiful, stately building so lacking in the grandeur of what my perception of a Governor’s Mansion should reflect and represent. I asked Mike, “Can you afford to redo this place?” The Governor laughed and said, “No, I can’t, and neither can the state of Louisiana. I agree the work is necessary and I agree it needs a lot of work, but we don’t have the money in the state budget. You’ll have to find it yourself.”
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA Making a Difference
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital
The highly anticipated new children’s hospital in Baton Rouge officially opened its doors in October! Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, located at 8300 Constantin Boulevard, currently treats more than 100,000 patients annually from all 64 parishes, as well as children from Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas.
I was humbled in July to take on the responsibilities of Louisiana Principal of Year. What an honor. Now more than ever I’ve been wrestling with what it will take for our city to close the opportunity gap for so many of our students in New Orleans. I know there is not one easy, straightforward answer.
Desley Washington is a Christian, married, mother of three, earned a master’s degree in Nursing and works full time. She also spent ten years of her life serving in the military and now organizes the Women Veteran Day Celebration in Louisiana.
Meet Christina Pappion, an artist from New Orleans, LA, who paints live at events. An artist since childhood, Christina began painting professionally in 2013. Christina always had a gift for drawing. She loved to draw people and families that she would see in her neighborhood.
Chef Alison Vega-Knoll’s
6 Seafood Salad
Born and raised in New Orleans, Chef Alison Vega-Knoll was naturally drawn to cooking from a young age, when her French grandmother taught her to appreciate the art of blending traditional French cooking with the rich, Creole flavors of the Crescent City. As her palate matured Alison gained an appreciation for Mediterranean flavors, marrying them with Louisiana’s indigenous foods, including soft shell crabs, crawfish, shrimp, Gulf fish and regional sausages.