HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I can’t believe another year has arrived! This year, I learned not to look backward but keep my eyes on the road ahead. I have become even more appreciative of my health, my husband of 33 years, my precious children, family and my dear friends that I treasure beyond belief and, of course, my team that is beyond amazing.
We at Loving Louisiana Blog try to share stories of Louisiana people doing the good and sometimes challenging work in our communities and around the state. We try to educate, inspire, and introduce our followers to understand better the initiatives we support and to share information that helps us all be better neighbors.
If you know of someone in your community that deserves some special recognition, has a fantastic business, or does excellent work as a community leader, please write and let us know. We would love to share their work with others. It’s when we share, network, listen and learn that we grow in our minds and our spirits.
This month is Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. This month, Dr. Dana Hunter provides information about a new app created for students. You can read about this new app in our feature story. Be sure to read it and urge schools to participate.
Our Louisiana Fosters section revisits our resource map, housed on the Louisiana First Foundation website. This map is interactive and lists agencies in your area. Seek one out in your community and offer your support. Louisiana’s children have better outcomes with proper support and services.
My team and I plan to participate in the “Own Your Own Health” Challenge through the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Be on the lookout for social media posts on my accounts and join the fun. We may even challenge the Governor’s Office to a friendly competition!
Also, encourage your schools to support and provide TeachMAM to all our children, Music-Art-Movement. It’s important to teach in ways that teach the whole child.
The people I surround myself with always give me the energy, excitement, and encouragement to do more and to be more. I plan to walk into 2022 with hopes, goals, energy, and a faith that can move mountains. We have to move one foot forward, and the other foot will follow. Keep walking, trusting, and believing in a better tomorrow.
So thank you to all that read and follow my blog and encourage me with your emails, texts, and calls. You are our inspiration. Thank you, and God Bless you as we welcome 2022 with new hope and positivity for beautiful and blessed days ahead as we move forward into this year.
Love to all,
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43:19
Legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr., Day a federal holiday was passed in 1983, and the first nationwide observance took place in 1986.
All 50 states made it a state government holiday by 2000. Officially, King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta.
But the King holiday is marked every year on the third Monday in January.
FEATURE January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Dr. Dana R. Hunter
Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Human Trafficking Prevention
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. I could not be prouder to live and do business in a state that has made the prevention of human trafficking a priority. Prevention is a proactive step in protecting our children and adults from predators seeking to enslave them into commercial sex or labor against their will. We must prioritize children and adults’ mental, physical, and emotional health as we take preventative measures. Human trafficking can happen to anyone in any community. Still, we know that some individuals—such as system-involved youth, individuals with disabilities, and those with past histories of trauma and abuse— are more vulnerable to the recruitment tactics of traffickers. Simply put, we protect our vulnerable children and adults by intervening before victimization occurs.
The countless stories shared by victims and survivors of their trauma and abuse are the driving force behind our commitment to prevention. The stories that they are brave enough to share tell us of the brutal beatings with objects such as pipes or the butt of a gun, threats of harm to siblings and other family members, and even isolation of victims’ children, dictating how often (if at all) a mother can see her child. They often discuss the inability to eat or do simple things like use the restroom without the permission of their trafficker. These lived experiences often wreak havoc in the lives of victims even after the recovery from the trafficking situation. The trauma continues to plague their lives for years, even decades. We can never underestimate the complex trauma and harm that human trafficking victims experience. This is why prevention is paramount.
The Governor’s Office of Human Trafficking Prevention (OHTP), the state’s first entity solely dedicated to preventing and combatting human trafficking, has taken a lead role in partnering with public and private agencies and in implementing prevention efforts across the state of Louisiana. The OHTP has been honored to work with the Office of First Lady Donna Edwards in their efforts to launch Louisiana’s first statewide public awareness anti-trafficking campaign. The campaign seeks to educate the public on human trafficking and the role we all can play in preventing and combatting this crime in our communities. The OHTP is also pleased to announce a new partnership with Louisiana State Police and Greater New Orleans Crime Stoppers to support a statewide rollout of the Safe Schools Louisiana App. The Safe Schools Louisiana App is an anonymous and preventive intervention tool that students in Louisiana schools can use to protect themselves from threats of violence! The free Safe Schools Louisiana App allows students to report on threats of school violence or suspected crime such as bullying, harassment, threats of bodily harm, suicide, robbery, assault, sexual assault, and even human trafficking. Crime Stoppers has received over 1,000 student tips since this new Safe School App launched last year! The app is live in 415 Louisiana schools across 13 parishes. We encourage every school in Louisiana that does not have a safety mechanism for students to consider participating in the Louisiana Safe Schools App. Signing up for the app is free for schools. For more information, please contact Darlene Cusanza at Darlene@crimestoppersgno.org.
See the article in the Human Trafficking section below to learn more about human trafficking prevention activities happening across the state in January. You may also contact the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention at email@example.com.
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
On January 24 – April 25, 2022, the Louisiana Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports will host its annual Own Your Health (OYOH) Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenges! First Lady Edwards and her Teach MAM team will join the Challenges with the “First Lady’s Steps To A Healthier Lifestyle”, so be on the lookout for posts on social media and join the fun! Get your team together and give it a name of your choosing. Just set up the Challenge so everyone in your group can track their steps and miles! We have team and individual competitions for fitness enthusiasts and casual strollers.
Registration is now open for the annual Open Challenges. Please visit www.oyohla.com for more information and to register.
As we enter the new year, we reflect on how challenging the last two years have been and the impact COVID-19 has made on many of us. The pandemic has been especially challenging to the foster youth population. Often, youth in foster care lack someone they trust and use their schools as an outlet to escape the realities of their worlds. Consequently, COVID-19 played a role in taking away a safe and supportive space that many of these youth need. Since the beginning of COVID, foster youth and other students have had inconsistencies with in-person school attendance. Additionally, it has been increasingly difficult to access resources, such as technology, that may be needed when school close, corresponding to the rise and fall of COVID outbreaks.
ANTI HUMAN TRAFFICKING
View the article enclosed to learn more about human trafficking prevention activities happening across the state in January. You may also contact the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOVERNOR'S MANSION The Mansion Mardi Gras Tree
Every year, after Three Kings Day, the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion replaces their holiday décor with Mardi Gras decorations! Click through the photos to see this magnificent transformation, all thanks to our designer and dear friend of the First Family, Audry Hendry.
WOMEN'S HEALTH New Year New Mood – Considerations and Strategies to Improve Your Mood
Women often juggle many roles like wife, mother, caretaker, student, worker, and leader. A 2021 Cleveland Clinic article notes that in our society women tend to put the needs of others before their own. Managing multiple roles coupled with triggers like living in a pandemic, severe weather events, loss, and relationship challenges can cause women to feel overwhelmed and unhappy most of the time.
It is normal to feel “down” occasionally in response to change or problems but having a consistently low mood is a signal that you may need support. Women that are consistently unhappy might be tearful, desire to spend large amounts of time alone, and lack the usual energy or motivation to initiate tasks. For many women, feelings of unhappiness typically do not disrupt daily life. Women can successfully handle responsibilities which often gives an illusion that life is in order. Yet, the ability to accomplish responsibilities and goals can cause confusion about why we feel “down.”
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 1. Community
The annual Champions of Service Award recognizes outstanding volunteers from seven geographic regions across the state, plus outstanding AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Corporate volunteer programs. Nominations close on January 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Find guidelines for the awards here and a see a sample nomination form here. To nominate a volunteer, fill out the form here. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Lori Pilley at email@example.com.
Louisiana Volunteer Service Award
The Louisiana Volunteer Service Award recognizes groups and individuals who serve with distinction and demonstrate excellence. Volunteers who have contributed 150 or more hours of service in a calendar year can recieve this award along with a volunteer service lapel pin. To nominate a volunteer or for more information, contact Lori Pilley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Service Diploma Endorsement
The Community Service Diploma Endorsement is a diploma endorsement that Louisiana high school students may earn upon graduation for volunteering a cumulative 80 or more hours. To learn more about this award, click here.
Additional Volunteer Awards
In addition to the Volunteer Louisiana awards listed above, there are various other national volunteer service awards available to recognize individuals and groups:
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 2. Schools
What We Learned From Mrs. Landry
Our schools have persevered through one of the most challenging school years. We have worked together to teach our students in person, virtually, or even both at the same time. We have covered grade level content standards while also working to grow each child, regardless of where they started the school year. This all culminated in the publication of our simulated school scores for the 2020-2021 school year, and we saw what we have always known – the more time students have with a teacher, the better they perform. As we begin this new calendar year, we have the opportunity to improve our student achievement like never before.
Throughout our careers, educators have administered standardized assessments. While these have informed us about some of the progress our students are making, there are many things that these assessments simply cannot capture. Our teachers have a tremendous impact on the futures of our students by also teaching invaluable lessons. One of those exemplary teachers who taught her students more than could ever be assessed was my high school band director, Mrs. Claudia Landry.
Even though I graduated from Walker High School twenty-five years ago, the respect all of her students have for Mrs. Landry prevents us from calling her by any other name. She embodied so much that was right in education and is still located in our great state. Below are some of the lessons that I learned from Mrs. Landry and while they cannot be found on any assessment, mastering them made them who I am.
Be smooth through rough times.
The reason a marching band has a steady sound and doesn’t make music that jumps with every step is because of the way they are taught to walk. The musicians “roll heel to toe” with each step to even out their movement. During one practice Mrs. Landry told us over her bullhorn that, just like the field we were practicing on, life would not always be perfectly smooth. It is how we respond that matters. Paul Landry, Mrs. Landry’s husband, recently told me that nothing really ruffled her feathers. If it did, it never showed and was just temporary.
With that attitude, you are right.
One morning Mrs. Landry asked me if I was going to try out for an honor band, and I replied, “No, I probably wouldn’t make it anyway.” Her response has resonated with me ever since: “Well, with that attitude you won’t make it. You have already decided if you are going to make it or not; it’s always been up to you.” How profound is that? When we decide that something can be done and we will not stop for any reason, we find a way to make it happen. Whether it is through personal or professional goals, we often decide our own success before we begin. Can I really reach that student or lead a school to grow all of the students – yes, I can, because I have already decided.
Do it right.
As we froze during 6am practice or melted during after school rehearsal, our best was expected at all times. If it was worth being there in those conditions, it was worth doing it right. Mrs. Landry would inform us when something was not to her expectations. I can’t say we always appreciated that feedback, but we would do it again, over and over, until we were out of time or we met her expectations. That constant work is what our educators do across our state. We give our best to our students and colleagues, reflect on how it went (usually a bit too overcritical of ourselves), and then come back for more the next day. The magic that happens in education is not by accident, it is the result of our focus to get it right.
Leave things better than you found them.
Each of us will leave a legacy with people and places. Our interactions with students, coworkers, and colleagues shape everyone involved. As educators and people who care about other people, our responsibility is to leave things better than we found it. We work together to lift up our kids, coworkers, and community. No matter where we go or how long we are there, we are impacting the lives of those around us, especially in education. What an amazing privilege it is to be in this profession.
We lost Mrs. Landry on October 2, 2021. When I made it to the front of the line at her funeral, I wanted to tell her husband that his wife meant the world to me, that my life would be less if I had never met her, that I learned so much from her, and that she was the educator I strived to be. But all I could get out was that I was a former student. Mr. Landry gratefully pat me on the back and said that many students had come by, and she would have been so happy to be with us. In truth, she has been with us and will forever be as we carry out the lessons she taught us.
Dr. Jeremy Muse
2022 Louisiana Middle School Principal of the Year
Lake Elementary School, Ascension Parish
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 3. Military
Lawrence Brooks, Oldest Living Veteran in Louisiana,
Dies at the Age of 112
Governor and First Lady Edwards were sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan. Lawrence Brooks, the nation’s oldest living World War II veteran, died January 4, 2022 in New Orleans at the age of 112. Mr. Brooks’ service to our country and his infectious energy will be remembered throughout Louisiana.
2 pounds beef short ribs
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3 cups water
1 medium onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp oil or shortening
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Original recipe published from:
Salt and pepper the beef ribs. Then roll and coat the beef ribs in flour. Place the oil in a heavy roaster and brown the ribs. Add the onions, water, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. As an option add 1 chopped bell pepper, 2 stalks chopped celery, red pepper and garlic. There should be enough water to cover the ribs. As the Cajuns would say at this point, “you let the meat cook down”; actually it is the water that will evaporate and the meat cooks in the process.
Simmer, covered just at boiling for 2 to 3 hours or until ribs are tender. Watch it and stir and skim off the fat as needed. You may need to add a little water towards the end to prevent sticking or burning. Cover the pot at the beginning of the cooking cycle and then in the last half hour of cooking, remove the lid and get the ribs brown again. Add water as needed.
Method 2 – Baking the ribs – Preheat oven 350 degrees – In a Magnalite roaster brown ribs add onions, water, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and bake until tender approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours until fork tender adding water if needed.
As another option, you could add 1 small can tomato paste, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons yellow mustard.
MEMORABLE VERSE January 2022
THE FIRST DOGS Wishing everyone a happy and safe 2022!
MEET OUR EDITOR Delery Rice
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Delery has lived there all of her life except during undergraduate school and a brief stint in Seattle, WA. She is a mother to four boys, ranging in ages from 21 to 16, and they are the heart and soul of her life.
Delery earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and Master’s Degree from Louisiana State University. She completed a fellowship at Loyola University, New Orleans Institute of Politics, and currently attends Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy. Her volunteer work has mostly evolved from issues that have affected her personally. Actively engaged in disability rights advocacy, Delery has testified numerous times in the Louisiana Legislature regarding issues that affect persons with developmental disabilities. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, worked for seven years directing regional advocacy efforts and is a graduate of Louisiana’s Partners In Policymaking.