The November 2020 Blog
Volume 3, Edition 1
A Word from the
First Lady of Louisiana
Happy Anniversary to our
Loving Louisiana Blog!
Happy Anniversary to our Loving Louisiana Blog!
This month we are three years old. We are so excited that we have shared amazing stories, highlighted our initiatives and businesses around our state, and given respect to those whom have served our country. Giving positive and encouraging recognition to Louisianans for their work in our communities and state has been such a joy. I have received many encouraging emails, messages from friends, and even emails of criticism and dismay. I am appreciative of them all.
My hope…is that this blog will continue to be a place to read about the importance of the arts in our schools and the need to be aware and learn the preventive measures of human sex trafficking in our state. I hope the blog will be a place to believe and understand the value of investing in our Louisiana Foster children, our children.
My hope… is that you will continue to learn about our Louisiana businesses here in our state and frequent those businesses when possible.
My hope… it that you will continue to read about our outstanding educators, military, and people making our communities even better by what they give back.
My hope… is that you will continue to discover new recipes by our amazing Louisiana chefs and pass those along to your families.
Lastly, my hope… is that you and I can continue “Loving Louisiana” by cherishing our people and encouraging each other on this journey together. You can count on me and my team to continue advocating for our children and highlighting others who are doing the same.
On a different note, I have been troubled by several tragedies that have recently occurred with some young college students. Tears come to my eyes as I type this out. It has been a tough time for all and especially young people. Since I have a college freshman, these situations hit close to home.
I read in the news about college students that had way too much to drink, and one ended up in a coma. I immediately dropped to my knees and prayed for God to help these students and their families. Why, because that is what we do, we pray for one another. Why, because as a mother, my heart aches for this family and their child. The next report I read was about a young girl that had committed suicide that same evening. I began to pray for the family and the tragedy that had just happened in their life. I received pictures of these two people—young, beautiful, and a full life ahead. I also received a message that same week that my sorority sister, who lives in another state, had lost her son to an accidental overdose. He was a wonderful young man that made a decision that cost him his life. These events were all in one week. Now this week there has been another suicide at LSU. My heart has been so heavy for these families and these parents. I continue to pray for them all. I understand that the young man in a coma is now awake. I pray one day that he will use this crisis to help others.
This past weekend I forced myself to watch the funeral of my sorority sister’s son that was online. I have to be honest; I started and stopped it three times because I began to cry. As I watched and listened, I was looking for answers to “why”? Why are we losing our young people? We raise them in good families, love them when they are little ones, attend every activity, and cover them with all they need and want. WHY does this happen? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that we have to share, learn, and engage more about the effects of behavioral health.
Behavioral health is the study of the emotions, behaviors, and biology relating to a person’s mental well-being, ability to function in everyday life, and their concept of self. It encompasses mental health and addictive health issues. These are not always the cause, but they need to be understood and talked about out loud with the people we love. We are not perfect as parents, and I do not believe there is a perfect answer to why any of these crises I mentioned occurred.
However, we have to share and try to understand. And when we try and do not understand, we must seek help and support. Having a strong faith has always been what I lean on in times of confusion and uncertainty. Our faith gives us hope. And we must support one another through these times of hardship, even if it is praying from afar.
There was a time in my life that a close friend of mine shared that she had depression. There were days she could not get out of bed or get dressed. She had to force herself to get up and get her children ready for school and to be a Mom. I was so sad for her, but honestly, I did not understand. Then, it happened to me. I had my own experience with depression. I felt sad, confused, and even had panic attacks. Yes, I had to go to the doctor, find support, and lean on my faith. Thank goodness this worked itself out of my life, but I remember the feelings and emotions like it was yesterday.
A 2015 Mental Health America report ranked Louisiana 47th for overall mental health care, but thanks to Medicaid expansion and an increase in mental health care providers across the state Louisiana now ranks 30th. While this is great news, we can’t stop here. The need is still great and we must continue working toward meeting the needs of all those impacted by mental illness by electing leaders who value access to healthcare, advocate for legislation that increases mental health care access and funding, prioritize early intervention, improve licensed mental health professional reimbursement rates, and eliminate the stigma that’s associated with mental illness and seeking treatment.
Some quick statistics in Louisiana pre-2020:
- Every 12 hours someone in Louisiana commits suicide.
- 20% of Louisianans have a mental illness, only 60% seek treatment.
- Those who receive consistent outpatient treatment cut hospital stays by 40%.
Mental health America reports here:
Louisiana Department of Health – Mental Health resources can be found here:
As we journey together, let us lean on God and one another. We need to lift each other up. Do not avoid difficult conversations with one another, especially your children. I used these tragedies to speak to my son, to plead with him to make good decisions. EVERY decision we make, whether good or bad, affects not just ourselves but impacts others as well. Be open to your children and speak with them about the real dangers of drinking, and above all, remind them that no matter what they do in life, you will always be there to love them. We may be disappointed, mad, and upset with their choices, but we will ALWAYS love them. Remind them there is nothing they could do that is bad enough for them to take their own lives.
If you’re like me you will continue to wake up and go to sleep praying for our children. As parents, let us all continue to support each other. And let us all continue to pray for each other and for all families and their children.
May the loving arms of God hold you and give you a peace that surpasses all understanding.
This is my commandment, that you love one another,
just as I have loved you.
A Tribute to an Early Teach MAM Partner: Cheryl Castille
The Louisiana First Foundation was heartbroken to hear of the passing of Cheryl Castille, Executive Director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Cheryl was a shining light and constant advocate for the arts in Louisiana. From the very beginnings of the Teach MAM program, Cheryl was an esteemed and valued part of the implementation, design and enhancement in the early days. Constantly adding fresh and new ideas, Cheryl helped steer the direction of the partnership between the LDOA and Teach MAM. It was a blessing to know her and work with her.
“The Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, along with the entire Louisiana arts community, was fortunate to work with Cheryl. She inspired so many people through her creativity, drive, and love of the arts,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “As Executive Director of the Arts, Cheryl brought such enthusiasm to every aspect of her work. She understood how the arts affected, and enriched, so much of our lives. She was an ardent supporter of arts education and valued her opportunities to work with the Louisiana First Foundation and Teach MAM to further arts education in Louisiana’s schools. Cheryl will be remembered as a gifted leader and mentor in her promotion of arts and arts education around the state.”
03. GOVERNOR'S MANSION
The 2020 Ornament represents the Governor’s Mansion Mural. The original mural was painted in 2000 by Auseklis Ozols, which took him six months to paint. He painted the four corners of the state and often hides things in his murals. Auseklis painted something for each Governor in service since 1963, which marks the year of the construction of the Mansion. There are also many other historical facts, flowers of the state, produce of the state, different areas of the state highlighted in each corner of the mural.
The Foyer has become the focal point of the Governor’s Mansion. School children enjoy it, tourists from other parts of the country and international visitors. It is unique in that it is a one of a kind piece of history. Auseklis has returned during each new administration to add items to the Mansion that are significant to the particular First Family holding office at the time.
At the end of the Foyer, in the Rotunda area, hangs a beautiful Baccarat chandelier that was donated by the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation during Governor John Bel Edwards’ Administration. Its beauty adorns the Rotunda area and completes the historical significance of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion.
During a Pandemic
by Katie Corkern
Executive Director of Louisiana
Rural Mental Health Alliance
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA
Making A Difference
04. FEATURED RECIPE
Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
One of my favorite holiday traditions is taking the time to make homemade Gumbo with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. It gives me time in the kitchen and fills the house with amazing smells! I hope you enjoy this traditional recipe, or one from your own family. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
SOMETHING TO DISCERN
05. PAST QUOTES
THE FIRST DOGS
06. THE FIRST DOGS
07. OUR EDITOR
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.
After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications, she went on to receive a Masters in Non-Profit Management from Louisiana State University. 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.