Blog – February 2019

Blog – February 2019

FEBRUARY 2019


Volume 1, Edition 4
Blog – February 2019

2019

A word from the First Lady of Louisiana
Blog – February 2019

It’s February, my birth month and the month of all things red — Valentine’s Day and National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about women and heart disease, American Heart month and many other celebrations and awareness days.

I was asked to write about my love story. We all have one. Since I happen to be married to my high school sweetheart, this is an easy one for me.  John Bel and I met in junior high. I had moved to Amite when I was in 6th Grade.  John Bel was always active throughout our school. I noticed him at recess and of course, as a junior high cheerleader, watched him play football. He asked me out when I was a freshman in high school, and he was a sophomore. We dated all through high school.  John Bel was a star athlete and student. 

It wasn’t until high school that I really began to develop a fondness for him. He was shy at times but always had a smile that made butterflies in my stomach, love.  Although I probably didn’t know what that was at the age of 15, I knew I liked being around him and laughing at his jokes and his comments. I’m sure I hung on to his every word.

During school, John Bel would often have others deliver me notes wrapped around candy bars between classes.  He was old fashioned in many ways, and he wrote the sweetest notes.  John Bel had seven siblings and six were brothers.  His brothers always teased him whenever I would visit his house.   I had older brothers too so I was familiar with the teasing.

John Bel graduated from high school and went on the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point in New York.  I was a grade younger and after graduation went on to the University of Southern Mississippi. We stayed in touch through letters and calls on Sundays.  We both had limited access to phones. There was one phone in his company, at the barracks, where there was always a waiting line.  My dorm room phone didn’t have long distance calling, so there were limited opportunities to talk. I took advantage of the wonderful dances and special events that were celebrated at West Point such as 500th Night, 100th Night, Ring Night and others.  I could always find a sorority friend or two to join me on those trips.

He graduated from USMA and then went straight to Fort Benning, Georgia for the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School. After he completed Ranger School, we married in March of 1989.  Then we went on a three year honeymoon to the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii as we were stationed at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu.  This year, on March 4, we will celebrate our 30th Anniversary.  While there have been some tough times and challenges, our marriage just gets stronger with each passing year.  What a blessing!

I sometimes hear my daughter say, “Goals.”  One day, John Bel and I were sitting together and holding hands. She walked in the room and said, “Goals.”  I asked what that meant.  She said, “What you want to reach in a relationship or life or anything.  Something you want to have in your life.”  As she left the room I pondered what she had said.  Yes, we all have goals we want to achieve in many areas of our lives – family, profession, spiritual, marriage, etc.  However, we don’t reach our major goals overnight.  Nor does it happen over days or weeks.  When we work to reach our most important goals, there will always be challenges and difficulties.   Lots of laughs, tears, joys, and headaches.  It’s just plain hard work.  

So as John Bel and I approach our anniversary, I appreciate more than ever the long marriages of our parents.  They set great examples for us.  And like them, we have had to work hard and occasionally renew our commitment to each other.  Each day we pray that God will increase our love for Him and for one another.  That prayer has been answered.

We have reached our goal of having a wonderful marriage.  Now my goal for us is also to enjoy the glory days.   In my mind, the glory days are what our parents have demonstrated and told us about: when you’ve overcome the challenges and obstacles and enter into a phase when you fully accept and love one another and are secure in the knowledge that it will last forever.  I am so blessed to have such a marriage.  And it is because I have a loving husband who, like me, is more committed to our marriage than ever and honors the vows we exchanged thirty years ago.    

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone

God Bless,

Blog – February 2019

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Shauna Sanford

Communications Director
Office of the Governor


As we celebrate Black History Month, there are countless Louisianans who have contributed significantly to our state and nation’s history.  They are the trailblazers and pioneers who have left an indelible imprint that continues to inspire.  This month, we share the story of the African-American female Louisiana State Police Troopers. Among the most well trained law enforcement officers in the country, these troopers are proudly and courageously paving the way for others to follow.  We salute them for their service and for inspiring all women to never give up on their dreams.

According to the most recent data, there are 1063 Louisiana State Police troopers, out of which 45 are women and of that number, 8 current female troopers are African-American.  Women were allowed to join the force in 1974.  Tpr. Joyce Stephanie Isaac Thibodeaux, now deceased, started her career with the Lafayette City Police Department and in 1976 she became the first Black woman to join the Louisiana State Police Dept. She retired after 21 years of service.  

“I was fortunate to work with her,” says Lt. Charron Thomas who joined in 1992. “She faced a lot of struggles being the first one, and she gave me a lot of advice that helped me.”  

Click for more…

Blog – February 2019

Louisiana First Foundation

Yes Mam, No Mam, Thank you Mam = Teach MAM!

Mickey Smith, Jr. has many titles but his heart is helping others discover their “sound” (their unique personal-significance). Mickey is the head band director of Maplewood Middle School, president of Musicmakers2U, and board member of Jazz in the Arts. He has also authored a new children’s book entitled “Keep On Going”. 
Smith has won dozens of awards, including KPLC’s Class Act Award, the Mayor’s 2018 Arts Educator of the Year. He has also been a National Semi-Finalist for the Grammy Music Educator of the Year award in 2015, 2018, and again this year, where he is a top ten finalist!

TEACH MAM

Mickey Smith, Jr. has many titles but his heart is helping others discover their “sound” (their unique personal-significance). Mickey is the head band director of Maplewood Middle School, president of Musicmakers2U, and board member of Jazz in the Arts. He has also authored a new children’s book entitled “Keep On Going”. Smith has won dozens of awards, including KPLC’s Class Act Award, the Mayor’s 2018 Arts Educator of the Year. He has also been a National Semi-Finalist for the Grammy Music Educator of the Year award in 2015, 2018, and again this year, where he is a top ten finalist!
Blog – February 2019
“Home is where one starts from.” These are simple words from a poem by T.S. Eliot. Home is not only where we start from, but also where we go throughout our lives – for comfort in times of sadness, for celebration in times of joy and for daily support and love. Unfortunately, home and family are much more elusive and complicated for the tens of thousands of children in foster care across the United States waiting to be adopted. The hard reality is that too many children linger in care for years and age out of the foster care system without an adoptive family, which places them at an elevated risk of negative outcomes, including homelessness, unemployment, early parenting and substance abuse.

LOUISIANA FOSTERS

“Home is where one starts from.” These are simple words from a poem by T.S. Eliot. Home is not only where we start from, but also where we go throughout our lives – for comfort in times of sadness, for celebration in times of joy and for daily support and love. Unfortunately, home and family are much more elusive and complicated for the tens of thousands of children in foster care across the United States waiting to be adopted. The hard reality is that too many children linger in care for years and age out of the foster care system without an adoptive family, which places them at an elevated risk of negative outcomes, including homelessness, unemployment, early parenting and substance abuse.
Blog – February 2019
The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) entered the fight against Human Trafficking in late 2017.  The Agency got involved because we received numerous complaints about illegal activities and suspected trafficking in the French Quarter. After learning of the amount of illegal activities and suspected trafficking in French Quarter clubs and clubs throughout the state, I had a conversation with the Governor and we exchanged concerns over the fact that Louisiana has become a corridor for human trafficking.  The Governor’s Office, the Administration as a whole and ATC are greatly concerned about the impact that human trafficking can have on the lives of innocent victims, their families and citizens in the state.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) entered the fight against Human Trafficking in late 2017. The Agency got involved because we received numerous complaints about illegal activities and suspected trafficking in the French Quarter. After learning of the amount of illegal activities and suspected trafficking in French Quarter clubs and clubs throughout the state, I had a conversation with the Governor and we exchanged concerns over the fact that Louisiana has become a corridor for human trafficking. The Governor’s Office, the Administration as a whole and ATC are greatly concerned about the impact that human trafficking can have on the lives of innocent victims, their families and citizens in the state.
Blog – February 2019

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR’S
MANSION MURAL

The entrance to the Governor’s Mansion opens on a beautiful Louisiana setting captured on canvas in an original mural painted by Auseklis Ozols.  Mr. Ozols is the founder and director of the Fine Arts Museum in New Orleans. Depicting scenery from the four corners or the state, this work of art took the artist six months to complete, working only on weekends. Former governors who have called the mansion “home,” including Jimmie Davis, John McKeithen, Dave Treen, Buddy Roemer, Edwin Edwards, Mike Foster, Kathleen Blanco, Bobby Jindal and currently Governor John Bel Edwards, are all represented within the mural. The mural was donated to the Foundation by Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Canizaro of New Orleans.

 

Click here to read more…

WE ARE OPEN

Please click the link for ways to support the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation

Ladies of Louisiana Making a Difference

Essence Harris Banks celebrates fifteen years as a heart disease survivor and recent Founder of Heart N Hands, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness and educating young girls about heart disease prevention in the community. For the past fifteen years, Essence has been featured in The Times Picayune/NOLA.com (New Orleans), Woman’s Day Magazine, SELF Magazine, Shape Magazine, Today Show, WWL TV, several Clear Channel Radio Stations, American Heart Association National Awareness Campaigns, WomenHeart Champion & Spokeswoman, just to name a few.

COMMUNITY

Essence Harris Banks celebrates fifteen years as a heart disease survivor and recent Founder of Heart N Hands, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness and educating young girls about heart disease prevention in the community. For the past fifteen years, Essence has been featured in The Times Picayune/NOLA.com (New Orleans), Woman’s Day Magazine, SELF Magazine, Shape Magazine, Today Show, WWL TV, several Clear Channel Radio Stations, American Heart Association National Awareness Campaigns, WomenHeart Champion & Spokeswoman, just to name a few.
The St. Michael School Bell Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Jill Hitchins, is comprised of teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Established in 1969 as an inspiration of Principal Sr. Lillian McCormick, they have performed for many school and community events including the Holiday Spectacular with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Anthem at Saints and Pelicans games, Roosevelt Hotel lobby lighting festivities, and an annual program for the Archbishop and his staff.  They were honored to be included in the Papal Mass for Pope John Paul II when he visited the city.

SCHOOLS

The St. Michael School Bell Choir, under the direction of Mrs. Jill Hitchins, is comprised of teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Established in 1969 as an inspiration of Principal Sr. Lillian McCormick, they have performed for many school and community events including the Holiday Spectacular with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Anthem at Saints and Pelicans games, Roosevelt Hotel lobby lighting festivities, and an annual program for the Archbishop and his staff. They were honored to be included in the Papal Mass for Pope John Paul II when he visited the city.
Alejandra “Alex” Juan joined the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs team in 2016 and serves as both Communications Director and State Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator.

Alex is devoted wife and mother, avid community volunteer, and a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran. She and her husband, Craig, met on an M-16 range when they were both members of the 159th Security Forces Squadron. They served as a dual-military couple for over a decade. They are the proud parents of two resilient young men, Nick and Noah.

MILITARY

Alejandra “Alex” Juan joined the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs team in 2016 and serves as both Communications Director and State Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator. Alex is devoted wife and mother, avid community volunteer, and a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran. She and her husband, Craig, met on an M-16 range when they were both members of the 159th Security Forces Squadron. They served as a dual-military couple for over a decade. They are the proud parents of two resilient young men, Nick and Noah.
Raeanna Blanchard Doescher is the founder and creator of WhiteBlancCanvas. Her passion for painting came later in life and it started as a way to cope with and overcome the stresses of life. It became so therapeutic that she started painting every night. Before she knew it, the paintings started piling up in what she calls her paint room. It was around that time that she decided to put her work out there for the public to see. Raeanna says that was the best decision of her life!

BUSINESS

Raeanna Blanchard Doescher is the founder and creator of WhiteBlancCanvas. Her passion for painting came later in life and it started as a way to cope with and overcome the stresses of life. It became so therapeutic that she started painting every night. Before she knew it, the paintings started piling up in what she calls her paint room. It was around that time that she decided to put her work out there for the public to see. Raeanna says that was the best decision of her life!
Blog – February 2019

Donna’s Sweet Heart Waffle Recipe

John Bel and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together as a married couple in the Army at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1990.  After work, I stopped at the PX on post and happened across the Heart Waffle Maker.  To this day, we celebrate Valentine’s Day by making heart waffles, and now we share them with our three children and son-in-law.  

 

The First Dogs

Blog – February 2019


After working hard towards our New Year’s resolutions,
it’s always good to rest your body and recharge!

Something to Discern

Let us know what you think or share your story!