Thrive April 2018 Issue

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April 2018


March 2018

Thrive Magazine for Better Living


Rehabilitation Hospital

of Jennings


• Brain Injury

• Hip Fractures

• Strokes

• Osteoarthritis/DJD

• Amputations

• Neurological Disorders

• Burns

• Spinal Cord Injury

• Major Multiple Trauma

• Congenital Deformities

• Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Systemic Vasculidities

• Joint Replacements

Others who can benefit from inpatient rehabilitation are postoperative patients, accident victims and cancer patients. 24 Hour Nursing Care • Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy • Nutritional Counseling and Monitoring Case Management Call for a free assessment today. One Hospital Drive, Ste. 101 • Jennings, LA 70546 • Phone: (337) 821-5353 • Fax: (337) 821-5355 or 5366 • 2

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April 2018

March 2018

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Contents In This Issue

tyle &Beauty S 6 Teen Guide to Killer Spring Style 8 Nail Trends 10 Waxing the City

Wining &Dining 12 The Plaid Pig Café 8 Zoodling

Regular Features 35 SWLA By the Numbers 42 Who’s News 74 Happenings 82 Solutions for Life! 83 McNeese Corral


swla NG


Places &Faces 16 – 34 Cover Story: 3 0 - T H R I V I N GH I 36 On the Tourist’s Map S O M E T 38 Erin Entrada Kelly wins Newbery Medal 39 Taja V. Simpson 40 National Volunteer Week oney &Career M 44 Smart Moves for Your Tax Return 46 May the Workforce Be With You HR Conference 48 Protect Your Brand in the Workplace


Home &Family Homebuyer’s 50 – 62 Special Section: Handbook 64 – 69 Special Feature: NEWCOMER’S GUIDE 70 Easy Ways to Go Green 71 The Little Gym 72 Celebrate Screen-Free Week

Mind &Body

76 Decoding Your Doctor’s Language 78 What to Expect From a Personal Trainer 80 Gilette Named Director of Tennis at Gray Plantation

78 Managing Editor


Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives – family, health, home and career. 4

Angie Kay Dilmore

Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director

Barbara VanGossen

Design and Layout

Mandy Gilmore

Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions

Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions.

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April 2018

Your Community. Your Hospital. Your Health.

Scott Law EnSpell, forcem ent


Kathy H elmer,




Dr. Ro Pediatrger Grimball , ic Den tist

Dr. Jody PhysicianGeorge, J. Garre tt Caraw Business Owner ay, Jr.,

Wards 4 and 7 of West Calcasieu Ward 6 of Cameron Parish

Marie & Mich Business Ow ael Hollier, ners

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital is requesting a millage renewal for the purpose of maintaining, operating, supporting and improving hospital buildings, infrastructure and equipment. Your community hospital serves Sulphur, Carlyss, Westlake, Vinton and Hackberry. This millage also assists in supporting the Vinton Medical Clinic, Hackberry Rural Health Clinic, and Genesis Therapeutic Riding Center.

Our hospital needs our continued support! We ask that you please join us in Voting Yes on April 28.

Tim Stine, Business Owner

Lance Wal dmeier, Nurse Prac titioner Dick Kennison, Business Owner




Up to $ 75,000

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 100,000

$ 17.38

$ 1.45

$ 150,000

$ 52.13

$ 4.34



$ 7.24






$ 18.82



$ 24.61

To learn more information on the tax millage renewal, visit, search WCCH Supporters on Facebook, or call (337) 527-4241.

701 Cypress Street, Sulphur (337) 527-7034 March 2018

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Style & Beauty

TEEN GUIDE to Killer Spring Style by Emily Alford | photos by Shonda Manuel


Thrive Magazine for Better Living

Fast fashion doesn’t have to mean frivolous, and even though most teens are working on a tight clothing budget, there are plenty of stylish pieces out there that only look like a million bucks. The best spring pieces are versatile enough to be layered for chillier mornings but light enough to transition into summer. Here are some tips for picking on-trend spring styles that can be worn in a variety of ways.

April 2018


One of the biggest trends for guys this spring is an update on a tried and true classic: the hoodie. This spring’s most fashion-forward hoodies lose the sleeves for a look that’s both stylish and practical for the often stifling late spring and summer temperatures.


Florals have been in for a couple of years now, but this spring’s florals are bolder than ever before. 90s-inspired spaghetti strap maxi dresses with bright, bold patterns look great layered over a turtleneck for cooler spring days, but they look just as chic with no undershirt when the summer weather sets in. Floral rompers are still hot this spring. Look for V-neck styles in lightweight fabrics.


Solid white sneakers for guys make for a hardto-miss statement piece this spring. While it may take a little effort to keep them clean, white sneakers can really dress up a causal look. This year’s hottest styles are throwbacks, like Vans or Air Force Ones. Some guys are even taking it one step further with all-white ensembles: white tee shirt, white jeans or track pants, and white sneakers make for a clean, retro look.


Crop tops and crisscross necklines have ruled the teen fashion scene for the past few years, but this spring is all about the tee shirt. The best tees this season are fitted, solid color tops with a simple message written in bold, black font. Such simple tops are the perfect counterparts to sheer maxi-skirts, flouncy tulle, or high-waisted paper bag pants.


This year, sequins make their bold transition from special occasion formalwear to daywear staple. Some of the most stylish looks this year feature unexpected sequins: on denim, adding an extra touch of romance to flouncy dresses, and even making casual skirts a little bit cooler. Pair a sequin skirt with a graphic tee for a look that’s runway ready.

One of the best parts of being young is experimenting with different styles. Mixing and matching ofthe-moment pieces with wardrobe staples is a great way to figure out what clothes make you feel best. Teens are natural trendsetters, so next year’s runways might be based on your interpretation of this year’s best looks!


2018’s Pantone Color of the Year is called Ultra Violet, a rich, romantic purple; but pink is demanding just as much attention . . . and not just your everyday pinks and purples. Shades range from crepe to flamingo, and periwinkle to wine. Pair any of these shades with black or white for a stunning contrast.

March 2018

Be sure to visit our local shops such as Mimosa Boutique at 3101 Ernest Street for these great teen fashions and more.

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& Beauty

Celebrate Spring with These

Nail Trends by Emily Alford

Cold winter temperatures mean bundling up and battling dry skin, especially raw, cracked cuticles; but spring weather is all about renewal -- shedding layers, brightening your wardrobe, and refreshing your nails and toes with a revitalizing mani/pedi. If you’re ready for warmer weather but your nails aren’t, here are some of the season’s most exciting trends in nail art and polish colors to get you beach vacation-ready.

Minimalist Manis

After years of long, talon-like nails and over-the-top nail art trends, 2018 offers a return to simplicity -- with a twist. Some of the spring 2018 runways’ most beautiful manicures featured short, square nails painted in soft, barely there colors, like pale pink or pearl. But these simple manis stood out with the cool, abstract addition of a thin rim of bright white polish in a square pattern around the nail (think French manicure, but encircling the entire nail).

Mirror-Finish Metallic

If lighter-than-air colors aren’t your style, take a cue from another element: heavy metals. Another huge trend this year is metallic shades like silver, gold, or even chrome. But the current set of stylish, metallic polishes feature a mirror finish, so you can see your sassy summer self in the reflection of your manicure.


Graceful Gradient

The ombre hair trend was all the rage a few years ago, and now it’s back, but this time, for nails. Some of the year’s most intricate mani/pedis feature a light color at the base of the nail that blends into a deeper shade at the tip. You can graduate bright yellow to fiery orange or sky blue to deep, mermaid green: the possibilities are endless. However, this look entails blending two or three separate nail polish colors with a sponge, so it’s probably best to take your favorite Pinterest photos of gradient nails to a professional and have this look done in a salon if you’re not a next-level nail art guru.

Floral Finish

Florals are ubiquitous this spring. From flower-print dresses to full on floral-print suits, you’ll probably be hard pressed to walk into a clothing store any time soon and not feel like you’re stepping into a flower shop. And if flower power is your passion, you’re in luck because floral prints are just as in for nails as they are for fabric. The key to a great floral manicure is subtlety. Paint your nails a low-key color, like millennial pink or even solid white, and then complete the look with a few complimentary floral nail stickers on one or two nails per hand or one or two toes per foot. File off any excess bits of sticker and finish with a topcoat of shiny, clear polish. Voila! You’ve got a stunning manicure that only looks like you spent hours in the salon!

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April 2018

Do your legs suffer from:

Aching Swelling Heaviness Visible Varicose or Spider Veins?

Many people mistakenly think their leg pain and varicose veins are just a normal part of aging, or a simple cosmetic problem, but they may be signs of a more serious venous condition. You can find out with a simple screening.

FREE Healthy Vein Screenings

Wednesday, April 16 | 3:30 – 6 pm Call (337) 312-VEIN for an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome. Refreshments will be served. Dr. Carl Fastabend, founder and medical director of the Vein Center of SWLA, is Louisiana’s Only Full-Time, Comprehensive Vein Specialist.

Carl Fastabend, MD,

Medical Director

711 Dr. Michael DeBakey Dr., Ste. 100 March 2018

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& Beauty

WaxingtheCity story and photos by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

The objective of any beauty routine is to help people be their best selves, improve their appearance, and feel beautiful. Removing excess hair from one’s body can contribute to the overall look a person is trying to achieve, but it can also benefit their skin in ways they may not realize. Not only does waxing remove unwanted body hair, it can also remove dead skin cells, leaving skin more radiant. If you’re in search of a place to achieve your hair removal beauty goals, check out a new addition to Lake Charles -- Waxing the City. Cindy and Claiborne Self, owners of Waxing the City, say, “We chose to come to Lake Charles because we saw the need for this service. People were driving an hour out of town to take care of their waxing needs. We have owned various businesses in Lake Charles and are excited to open this one!” Cindy says many people have misconceptions about waxing, often from watching terrifying waxing videos on YouTube. She loves that her clients leave her business with a smile on their face because they realize their experience was nothing like the video! The special wax this salon uses makes them stand out. It is a proprietary-blend


comfort wax specially formulated in Spain and is available only at Waxing the City. Clients say it truly makes all the difference. Their services are tailored to everyone: men, women, teens and tweens. They wax from head to toe and everything in between, including brow shaping and a men’s facial grooming package. In addition to waxing services, they also offer popular services like brow and lash tinting. All new clients receive 50% off their first wax service. If you plan on being a repeat customer, inquire about their Blackbook member perks. The more you wax, the more you save! “Our vision and hope are to provide and support all the waxing needs of the community with great customer service that will wow you and have you coming back for more!” Cindy says. Waxing the City, 4740 Nelson Rd Suite 180, is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. No need for an appointment. They offer walk-in service. However, if you don’t want to chance waiting, you can book an appointment via their website;, Facebook, or give Cindy and her team a call at 337-508-2222.

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April 2018

GET SWIMSUIT READY BY SUMMER ....AND STAY THAT WAY! Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program

Weight loss and maintenance through education, diet, and support using the Ideal Protein weight loss method. Educational seminars every Tuesday at 5:45 pm. *Food samples and door prizes provided

Call (337) 526-7376 Brandi Duhon (Coach) to register.

March 2018

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Wining & Dining

The Plaid Pig Café by Angie Kay Dilmore | photos by Shonda Manuel

The Plaid Pig Café, one of Lake Charles newest eateries, opened early February in the Lake Charles Transit and Customer Service building. Not surprisingly, owner Denise Bertrand furnished her establishment with a bounty of whimsical pigs. The theme is a tribute to her grandmother, Lessie Landry. “My grandmother collected pigs,” says Bertrand. “When she died, my sister, cousins and I all got to pick a pig. I chose one with a plaid kerchief. After I got married, my husband had a Harley Davidson, and I started giving him pig figurines. Then people started giving us pigs.” And that is how a large collection gets started.


After a gander around the charming café, peruse the menu. Bertrand offers a handful of specialty sandwiches, all available on your choice of croissant, jalapeno, and artisan breads. Best-sellers include the Frenchie (shaved steak, caramelized onions, Swiss and American cheeses all toasted until melted), Gingham Girl (homemade chicken salad, arugula, and toasted pecans), and Ben’s Best (grilled chicken breast, goat cheese, mozzarella, and garlic aioli). Ben, if you are curious, is Bertrand’s 11-year-old son and those sandwich ingredients were his idea. Caesar and house salads are on the menu. And her gumbo (another best-seller) is offered

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April 2018

every day, as well as a different soup each day. “I love making soup,” says Bertrand. “I could eat soup all the time. It doesn’t matter the weather.” The Plaid Pig also offers muffins and breakfast sandwiches in the mornings. Do save some room and check out Bertrand’s dessert case! Many of the tempting items there were treats she and her sister grew up with, such as haystacks. You’ll also find brownies, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolatecovered Oreos, and more. The popular piggy patties -- double chocolate chip cookies halfdipped in dark chocolate -- are something new and named by her mother DeDe Benoit, who works in the café alongside Bertrand, as does her friend Denise Caraway. “I owe all this to my mom,” Bertrand says. “She always loved cooking. I got that from her, and now we’re doing it together. I’m very happy that she’s here with me. I couldn’t do it without her.” Born and raised in Lake Charles, Bertrand is no newbie to the Lake Area restaurant scene. She worked at the City Club as a hostess in high school. At age 20, they had an opening in the kitchen and that’s when she began her career as a cook. A decade or so later, she opened Renee’s Café in what was then the Hibernia Building (now Capital One Tower). When her son was born, she sold that business. Recently, when the space in the Transit Building became available for rent, Bertrand checked it out and was soon back in business. “It must have been meant to be because it all fell into place.”


The Plaid Pig is located at 1155 Ryan St., Lake Charles. Call 337-600-2088 for more information or find them on Facebook.

Sulphur  Westlake  Lake Charles 337-533-1808  Federally Insured by NCUA

March 2018

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Wining & Dining

Mastering the Art of Zoodling by Keaghan P. Wier

Imagine your favorite plate of pasta – covered in marinara, alfredo, or a sharp cheddar cheese sauce. Whatever your preferred topping, they all share one thing: a carb-loaded base. Whether you’re cutting back on carbohydrates, need to avoid them for health reasons, or simply want a lighter dinner for the coming summer months, we have an answer – zoodles.

What are Zoodles?

In short, zoodles are zucchini that have been spiralized or julienned into long, narrow, noodle-like strips. They can be served cold or warm, raw or cooked. Zoodles offer a low-calorie, low-carb alternative to traditional pasta. Want to get even more adventurous? Try the same technique on carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, even apples! Some fruits and veggies are best for cold meals, while others can be steamed, roasted, or fried.

Tips and Techniques for Successful Zoodling

To ensure your zoodling success, here are a few tips and methods you can use.

Preventing Soggy Zoodles: Soggy zoodles can make for a disappointing dish, so try these methods to keep them crisp.

• Make the zoodles the day before you plan to use them and place them in a covered container lined with paper towels in the refrigerator. • If you need to cut down on prep ahead time, place your zoodles on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and lightly sprinkle them with salt. Allow them to sit for about 30 minutes, then gently press them with a clean tea towel or paper towel. 14

Zoodling Methods

A spiralizer is the most common way to create zoodles, but you don’t have to have a specialized tool to enjoy this meal. • Use a julienne peeler to create thin, long noodles. They won’t be as long or curly as ones made with a spiralizer, but they’ll do the trick. • A vegetable peeler creates flat, thin zoodles more like fettuccini or lasagna noodles. • Grate your zucchini on a box grater to create short, rice-like zoodles. For any of these methods, be sure to discard the seeds and wet core of the vegetable and remove excess moisture before serving.

Cooking Your Zoodles

Once you have your zoodles prepped, there are a few ways to cook them. • Raw: Serve them raw for a crispy, refreshing meal. Raw zoodles can be consumed cold or toss them with your prepared sauce to warm them up a bit. • Microwaved: Place zoodles in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for one minute. • Sautéed: Heat olive oil in a skillet, then toss zoodles in and cook for one to two minutes. • Boiled: Bring a pot of water to boil. Add zoodles and cook for one minute. Drain and serve!

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April 2018

Zoodle Recipes

The options for serving your zoodles are limitless! Use them cold or hot as a substitute for any pasta. Here are a few ideas to get you started. • Stir-Fried Zoodles: Sauté a chopped onion and a few cloves of minced garlic until tender. Add your zoodles, then toss in some teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Dress it up with other steamed vegetables, chopped peanuts, or hot sauce. • Zoodles and Meatballs: You can’t go wrong with a classic! Prepare your zoodles

and serve topped with your favorite marinara sauce and a few meatballs. For a vegan option, use veggie or lentilbased “meat” balls. • Zoodle “Pasta” Salad: Toss your raw zoodles with vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or other pasta salad dressing. Add fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes or avocado chunks. Top with grated Parmesan. Another twist? Zoodle caprese salad – tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and vinaigrette.

Happy zoodling!

With knowledge, we can help turn off the burn once and for all.

Whether you call it heartburn, acid reflux or GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease can spell misery for the 1 in 5 U.S. adults who suffer with it. Do you have symptoms? I get a burning feeling in the middle of my chest.

Yes | No

I often have this feeling after a meal or at night.

Yes | No

This burning feeling gets worse when I lie down or bend over.

Yes | No

Over-the-counter medicines, such as acid reducers or antacids, help the burning go away.

Yes | No

I frequently regurgitate (burp up) my food.

Yes | No

There is a bitter or sour tasthe back of my throat

Yes | No

I have a chronic cough and/or hoarseness.

Yes | No

If you answered YES to one or more of these statements, we can help.

To eliminate GERD once and for all, call the specialists at The Heartburn Center 337.475.4086

200 Nelson Road Lake Charles, LA 70505

March 2018

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a l w s 30




ocal 30-somethings are passionate about Southwest Louisiana, and that fact is evident in the way many of them spend their time, whether at home, work, or play. They enjoy the regional culture, the food, the music, and the natural beauty of the Lake Area. They show up for fundraisers and other civic events. They take their families to our many local festivals and parades, and pass on their love of SWLA to their children. No matter what their activities, they strive to make our corner of the world a better place to live. They are high achievers in their workplaces. They volunteer their time and resources to worthy causes. In short, they care deeply about their community. Each year, we celebrate this youthful exuberance by hosting our 13 Thriving 30-Somethings contest. Read on to learn about this year’s winners.


Places & Faces

| 30 Somethings

-SO METHI photos by Shonda Manuel

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April 2018

| 30 Somethings

Top to bottom: Amy Peck, Blake Brignac, Devin Morgan, Elizabeth Eustis, Graham Martin, Jessica McBride, John Reddin, Kari Hankins, Krystle Blue, Dr. Laurie Baynard, Ronaldo Hardy, Sarah Beth Kennison, Selena Cisneros

March 2018

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| 30 Somethings

Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

n i d d e R n h







ohn has been a public servant his entire adult life. He joined the United States Marines immediately after high school in 1999. He served our country until 2005 when he was honorably discharged. During his time in the Marines, he was deployed to Iraq to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there, he was wounded in an ambush and was awarded the Purple Heart medal. From the day he was hired by the Sheriff’s office, John has been a volunteer, no matter how minimal or time consuming the task. He took charge of the Sheriff’s honor guard and transformed them into one of the most elite honor guards in the nation. Because of his stellar reputation, John has been asked to help coordinate funerals for fallen officers all over our parish and state. He

PINTAIL WILDLIFE DRIVE ON THE CREOLE NATURE TRAIL While waiting for John, we counted 27 gators sunning on the trail. Three of which swam up to the bank to watch John get his picture taken.


does this without hesitation and without any expectations of compensation because he loves his community and loves the profession he chose. John is currently assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Anti-Crime and Tactics Unit (SWAT team) where he is the team leader. He is a firearms, defensive tactics, and active shooter instructor. He is always striving to better himself so he in turn can be an effective trainer. John has volunteered countless hours teaching women self-defense and gun safety. He is one of the main instructors of Sheriff Mancuso’s “Together We Can” program and teaches citizens how to respond to an active shooter situation. “I enjoy public service because not everyone can do it and I know that I am the kind of person who will do it to the best of my ability. The harder I work, the safer this community is for my family.”

Favorite thing about SWLA: The people. Favorite place to go: The lake. Favorite thing to do: Check out the local food scene. Favorite SWLA food: Calla restaurant Favorite festival: The Bon Ton Festival

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April 2018

| 30 Somethings

Sarah Beth Kennison OWNER, BAUHAUS SALON


ven as a child, Sarah Kennison wanted to be a hair dresser. She worked in a salon during high school and cut her friends’ hair in her bathroom. After graduation from Stage One, she attended Vidal Sassoon Academy for Advanced Training. At the young age of 22 and fresh out of cosmetology school, Sarah opened her own hair salon. With a strong work ethic and perseverance, she sought to provide stellar service to her customers. In June 2017, she opened a brand-new location for her full-service Bauhaus Salon. Her adjacent Haus Spa and Wellness Suite is slated to open this spring. Sarah has been active with the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology and has been involved in legislation and policies that remain today. She currently serves on the

MARDI GRAS MUSEUM OF IMPERIAL CALCASIEU Using her dad’s gumbo pot has been the key to Sarah’s success as her cooking krewe continues to dominate at the Mardi Gras Gumbo Cook Off.

March 2018


Louisiana Cosmetology Board. She has worked as a consultant for Masterpiece Consulting Group since 2011, implementing employee procedure manuals for salons. Sarah says her parents taught her the importance of good leadership. “I am the youngest of five children. All five of us are successful entrepreneurs. My parents always told us we are only as good as the people who work for us, so always treat them with respect and take care of them.” Her community service includes volunteering at her church and the school at Our Lady Queen of Heaven. She’s an active member of Krewe du Sauvage. She is also a member of Phi Mu Sorority Alumni Association and National Panhellenic Council.

Favorite thing about SWLA: The people and sense of community. Favorite place to go: Mass at OLQH. “It’s my peace every week.” Favorite thing to do: Workouts every morning with Cedric at Project Fit. Favorite SWLA food: ALL food and great wine . . . I love all the local chefs and restaurants. Favorite festival: Mardi Gras, of course!

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| 30 Somethings

Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

JOE MILLER BALLPARK AT MCNEESE STATE UNIVERSITY Jessica is one of McNeese’s biggest supporters. She came to the shoot with three different themed shoe options. Go Pokes!




Favorite thing about SWLA: The people. “The people here are just nicer and more likely to chat with people randomly. I can’t tell you how many friends I make waiting to check out at the grocery store.” Favorite place to go: Crying Eagle Brewery Favorite thing to do: Hang out with friends at local restaurants. Favorite SWLA food: Crawfish . . . as if it could be anything else.


hrough her hardworking dedication and “can-do” attitude, Jessica McBride has succeeded both professionally and as a committed community volunteer. She was named a “Top Ten Mortgage Originator,” and was one of only six employees chosen from a national team to be on a “Leadership and Advisory Committee.” This wife and mom of two daughters says her husband inspires her to be successful. “He has always allowed me to pursue my passions in my career and beyond. He worked a steady job while I went back to school and chased my dreams. He pushes me to be ‘me’ and not shy away from opportunities to serve.” Jessica is a Fusion Five board member, currently serving as the co-chair of

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the events committee, and has also been a part of the membership committee as Communications Chair. She’s a founding member of the Moss Bluff Women’s League, a new organization that focuses on the community to provide scholarships for local teens. She’s a member of the McNeese Quarterback Club, a member of CASA Advisory board, active in Krewe de la Famille, and volunteers for “Truth Facts & Lies” where she visits local high schools and presents guided discussions about social issues facing teens. She also is currently hosting a foreign exchange student from China. It sounds like a lot, but Jessica loves this community and strives to make it a better place. “I cannot do that if I just do my day job and go home. I have to get involved.”

April 2018

| 30 Somethings


4212 Lake Street Lake Charles 70605 (337) 474-4000

Sr. Sgt. John Reddin

2018 Thriving 30-Something

March 2018

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| 30 Somethings

Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

e u l B e l t s y







rystle attended LSU and earned a degree in Mass Communications. She is currently the executive officer of the Home Builders Association SWLA, and says she loves every minute of it. “I think it’s important to love what you do and have fun doing it.” Prior to this position, she was the marketing coordinator for Lake Area Medical and was the lead for the Healthy Women’s Program that grew to 5,000 members. Krystle shares her time, talents, and treasures for a variety of causes. She’s a member of Fusion Five, the 2018 Chair of the Women in Business Network for the

SWLA Chamber, a CHRISTUS LiveWell Women’s Network Council Member, 2017 Graduate of Leadership Southwest and a current member of the Leadership Southwest Council. She can often be found behind the scenes working events to help better our community. She left Lake Charles and moved out of state for a few years but returned home when she realized she could be a part of meaningful impact and change. “This community will always hold a special part of my heart as a place where my family grew up for many generations, the place I grew up, and the place I am raising my son. I love that the culture and goodness of people in SWLA doesn’t change, even though the landscape does.”

Favorite thing about SWLA: The people that make up our community and the unique culture they have created. Favorite place to go and thing to do: We are lucky in the sense that there is ALWAYS something to do in SWLA. I love going on adventures with my family. Sometimes that’s jumping in the car, checking out a festival, seeing what animals are stirring on the nature trail, or heading out to the farm. Favorite SWLA food: If it’s from SWLA, I’m going to love it . . . especially when paired with a glass of wine. Favorite festival: The International Rice Festival in Crowley, LA.


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WELSH Krystle’s rice farm has been in her family for five generations. She is also a past Rice Festival Queen.

April 2018

| 30 Somethings

Kari Hankins




Favorite thing about SWLA: Kari loves the sense of community here in Southwest Louisiana, and how everyone is quick to help friends and strangers alike. She says she volunteers in this great community as a way to earn her keep and make sure her life has counted in some way. Favorite SWLA food: Boiled crabs.

March 2018

ari grew up in Lake Charles and works as a nurse practitioner at Imperial Urgent Care and as the executive director of the Southwest Louisiana Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization that implements Truth, Facts & Lies in SWLA high schools. This program empowers teens to deal with the issues they face, from social media to bigger topics like abuse and addiction. They have served over 300 youth in our community and will be expanding to surrounding parishes in the fall. In April, the curriculum team will be presenting at the Junior Women’s

Favorite place: Locally, she loves spending the day on the boat, watching her children tube and learn to ski, or watching her husband wakeboard, but in general, she loves the beach! Favorite thing to do: Going out to dinner with friends and family or listening to live music. Favorite festival: Beer Fest!

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Conference on the portrayal of women in media and how that affects young women. In addition to Truth, Facts & Lies, Kari serves on the Business and Industry Insider advisory board for Family & Youth, is the president of the Lake Area Ballet Theatre, has assisted the St. Nicholas Center with fundraising, and is active in her church and children’s school. Kari will be joining the Calcasieu Parish Sex Trafficking Community Response Team this spring. She, and her husband Michael, have three young children who they are teaching to give back to their community.

BORD DU LAC MARINA Spending time on the water has a special place in Kari’s heart. Her kids still use the same wakeboard that their dad, her high school sweetheart, used to use.


Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

| 30 Somethings

Graham Martin OWNER,



s a lifelong resident of Lake Charles, Graham has always been a part of the Southwest Louisiana community. After graduating from McNeese State University, Graham set out to open his business, Martin Insulation and Coating. Each year, Graham compiles a list all of the customers who used Martin Insulation that year and draws a name randomly. That person gets a check back for the amount they spent with him. In addition to opening his business, Graham was selected to be a member of Louisiana State Code Council for Spray Polyurethane Plastic Insulation, which allows him to assist in creating standards for all insulators to follow.

IOWA RABBIT FESTIVAL While on the shoot, Graham was a natural at being a carnie. He even hopped behind the booth and tried to persuade festival goers to put their skill to the test.



An active member in our community, Graham has spent many years volunteering as a coach for various sports teams and he is an avid donor of Catholic Charities, the St. Nicholas Center, and the Autism Society. In addition, each year Graham donates a sports board for each senior football player of A.M. Barbe High School, his alma mater. Graham is passionate about making a difference, providing for his family, and supporting his community. He believes in supporting local businesses and says that recognition means nothing if he isn’t helping others and making our community a better place.

Favorite thing about SWLA: The people! He says that although our area is constantly growing, it still has a small town feel to it. Favorite places: Local events like Chuck Fest and Rouge et Blanc, and any place that involves hanging out with his family or friends. Favorite thing to do: Spending time in his back yard with friends and family, grilling steaks and enjoying the pool. Favorite SWLA food: Botsky’s, Sloppy’s, and of course, Darrell’s. He also says that the many great local seafood restaurants in town should be honorably mentioned, as well as the Harlequin. Favorite festival: Local events like Autism Goes Country and Chuck Fest.

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April 2018

| 30 Somethings


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Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

RIKENJAK’S Now a pescatarian (no meat, just fish diet) Ronaldo even has a burger named after him at Rikenjak’s. Ask for the Ronaldo!


Favorite thing about SWLA: The food! Favorite place to go: Rikenjaks. Favorite thing to do: Spend time with his wife and four kids. Favorite SWLA food: The Ronaldo at Rikenjaks (It’s the Baja Burger with grilled fish instead of beef.) Favorite festival: Crawfish Festival.



onaldo worked at McDonald’s his senior year of high school. Because of his commitment to excellent service, he says he was recruited by a local bank as a teller. “I had no idea it would lead to a career in financial services.” Ronaldo came to SWLA Credit Union in 2016. He brought 15 years of banking industry experience with him. Under Ronaldo’s leadership, Southwest Louisiana Credit Union has engaged underserved families across the region and inspired them to rethink managing their finances. Ronaldo and his team are ambitious and creative with their strategies to address issues of poverty and teach financial independence. Recently, the credit union gave $20,000 in gifts to the underserved in the community, including a breast cancer survivor, a Sowela student whose family was rescued from Hurricane Harvey, and a family who was living in a condemned trailer.

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Ronaldo earned a BA degree in business administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a master’s degree in human resource education from LSU. He serves as the Founder and Chairman of the Louisiana Credit Union League’s Young Professionals Network, Chairman of Credit Union National Association’s Young Professionals Committee, and is also a member of Filene’s Research Council. “My drive for success comes from both a desire to help people and leave a legacy for my family. My personal mission statement for my life is to change the world by building people who will change the world.” The son of pastor parents, and also a pastor himself, Ronaldo says, “From an early age my life has been grounded in church. At the core of my heart, people have always been my priority. I can’t imagine doing anything not centered on improving the lives of others.”

April 2018

| 30 Somethings

Elizabeth Eustis 32 DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER,



aised in the small town of Elmer, La., near Alexandria, Elizabeth Eustis studied broadcast journalism at McNeese State University. She worked as a reporter for KLAX-TV in Alexandria, where she covered crime, human interest, and a weekly medical segment. “I loved being in television. That fast-paced atmosphere taught me to be quick on my feet and to be authentic - really just to be myself!” Elizabeth began her career at the CVB in 2014 in public relations. With her vivacious personality and quick wit, she was ideally suited to interact with travel media. In the summer of 2015, Elizabeth was promoted to the position of digital media manager. She has a natural passion for promoting all things Louisiana. She interacts with the public via the

CHARLESTON FARMER’S MARKET Elizabeth doesn’t just dress the hipster lifestyle…she lives it. She frequents the farmer’s market with her dog, Ellie Mae. Her shopping bag was a gift from her sister.

March 2018

VisitLakeCharles website, blog, and social media platforms and keeps both locals and potential visitors up-to-date with the latest happenings in Southwest Louisiana. Elizabeth has served on the board of directors of the Arts & Humanities Council for over two years. She volunteers for arts events and assists anyone who would like to learn more about social media. She has worked with other CVB staffers to create professional development/social media training seminars. Elizabeth coined the term “YOUniversity,” the name of the CVB’s annual professional development program. She earned her Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) certification and will be recognized at the TMP graduation ceremony during the Southeast Tourism Society’s Spring Symposium this month.

Favorite thing about SWLA: The easy, laid back vibes of our area. Favorite places: The Bekery, farmers markets, and at home with my husband and new baby, Phineas! Favorite thing to do: Gardening and cooking. Even better, cooking with something I’ve grown! Favorite SWLA food: Boudin Favorite festival: Boudin Wars!

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| 30 Somethings

Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

POOL & LAZY RIVER AT L’AUBERGE CASINO RESORT LAKE CHARLES A sunny locale for her sunny personality. Laurie loves traveling, relaxing with healthy foods and fabulous friends.


Favorite thing about SWLA: The culture and food. Favorite place to go: Church. Favorite thing to do: Walk her dog on Shell Beach Drive and along the lake. Favorite SWLA food: Crawfish! Favorite festival: Live at the Lakefront.




r. Laurie Baynard is a chiropractor and owner of Lake Charles Chiropractic and Functional Medicine. She also recently opened L Bridal Couture. Though vastly different, both businesses are long-time passions for Laurie. In her chiropractic office, Laurie is passionate about women’s health, especially pregnant women. “Prior to me focusing my practice on pregnancy chiropractic in Lake Charles, there weren’t many resources for pregnant women in our area with back pain. It was just labeled as “part of pregnancy” and it’s not. I hate to see women suffer and not enjoy their pregnancy or motherhood.” Laurie enjoys helping people feel their best, whether in her chiropractic office or in her bridal salon. “That started from a love of people that came from my

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parents and God’s love for us. Church, faith, and my family have always been a huge part of my life. I feel like the luckiest girl alive when I go to work. I help people feel better so they can make a difference in their families and in the community. When you feel like you have a calling and impact like that, it compels you to be your best every day.” Laurie has made it her mission to offer her support, time, and funding to programs such as Family and Youth Counseling, ABC Pregnancy Resource Center, and Hand-to-Hold. By shining a light on the needs in our community she has inspired many of her patients, friends, and colleagues to go out into our community, find what is lacking, and offer their own help. She lives her faith daily and is passionately dedicated to this community.

April 2018

| 30 Somethings

March 2018

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| 30 Somethings

Places & Faces | 30-Somethings

o J a n e l e S eros 38 iC sn




elena Cisneros came to SWLA in 2008 when she joined Hoffpauir Architects. She had first met James Hoffpauir in 2006, while working on various flooding disasters in Northern California. She was hired as the Lead Project Manager of a government contract to manage the recovery of Cameron Parish School Board facilities following Hurricane Rita. Next came a contract for Hurricane Ike recovery. Soon, what began initially as a temporary assignment led Selena to make Lake Charles her home. Selena grew up in Wyoming and Colorado and earned a degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Wyoming. Once settled in Lake Charles, she earned a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from McNeese State University. She joined AECOM, a global network of experts developing solutions to complex challenges throughout the world.

Her highly-specialized skill set places her in high demand whenever and wherever disasters strike. Currently, she serves as Project Manager and Disaster Recovery Consultant for ongoing recovery efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as flooding disasters in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Missouri, and North Dakota. In an effort to grow roots in her new community, Selena has immersed herself in volunteer work. She has served in numerous capacities with the Women’s Commission, Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, and as a volunteer judge for several scholarship organizations. “My Catholic faith drives me to share my time, talents, and treasures. I have been very fortunate to have positive, professional, and influential mentors that have shared their education, experiences, and time with me and encouraged me to always be the best person possible, in all situations.”


Favorite thing about SWLA: Southern hospitality and sunny days! Favorite place to go: The downtown dog park or any downtown restaurant. Favorite thing to do: Attend concerts and events downtown and at the casinos. Favorite SWLA food: Boiled shrimp and crawfish. Favorite festival: Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana.


Selena loves making things that were once old new again. She has renovated her home in the historic district and given her rescue dog, Hunter, a new lease on life.

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April 2018

| 30 Somethings

SLOPPY’S DOWNTOWN Lover of the dance, Amy was a participant in the Whistle Stop’s 2017 Mad Hot Ballroom where she won the People’s Choice Award by raising $29,000 for The Whistle Stop.


Favorite thing about SWLA: The people! Her Southwest Louisiana friends have become a family, and are a wonderful, eclectic group who range in age from 20-70, from all races and religions.

March 2018



my, a Southeast Texas transplant who has called Lake Charles home for many years, has been promoted throughout Cheniere Energy, Inc. and currently works with Engineering and Production teams as well as External Communications. Formerly, she was an English teacher and graduated with her degree in English Education from McNeese State University. When she left the teaching field, she knew she wanted something to fill the void that teaching brought, as it enabled her to make a

Favorite place to go: Gigi’s Downtown. She loves a great workout in the cool, downtown atmosphere—not to mention the food at Fitness One Stop!

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difference. She now serves on various community boards within Cheniere Energy, Inc. She also loves to participate in community activities. Amy was named Philanthropist of the Year in 2017 by the Family and Youth Counseling Agency. She frequently volunteers with Abraham’s Tent, The Literacy Council, and The Oasis Women’s Shelter. Amy’s faith drives her to succeed. There have been times when just doing enough to get by has been really tempting, but the work of the cross and the hope that Christ is glorified through her drives her to do her best.

Favorite thing to do: She loves to go to Saturday Brunch and spend the rest of the afternoon working in her yard. Favorite SWLA food: Blue Dog Café’s Crawfish Enchiladas. Favorite festival: Arts and Crabs Festival.


Places & Faces | 30-Somethings



aving only lived in Southwest Louisiana for five years, Blake Brignac is a relative newcomer to the area, but he’s hit the ground running and fully immersed himself in work, community service, and leadership in his new home. Originally from Ascension Parish, Blake attended LSU where he studied dairy foods and human resource education and met his future wife Kelli, a Lake Charles native. After college Blake worked for Kraft Foods in Chicago and supported new product development. In 2013, Blake married Kelli, made Lake Charles his home, and began working for Merrill Lynch. Blake surged in his new career, earning numerous accolades and his Certified Financial Planner Designation, one of the industry’s highest honors, in only two years. “The skill

CRYING EAGLE BREWING COMPANY Blake loves a good beer. Crying Eagle is basically his home away from home. Blake also encourages people to drink responsibly.


| 30 Somethings


set I developed interfacing with clients at Kraft, coupled with my background in analytics, made financial advising a natural fit for me,” Blake said. He has quickly risen to the top at Merrill Lynch, becoming one of the top performers in the State of Louisiana in his new advisor class. After joining Fusion Five, Blake helped grow membership beyond 230 members, served on the Executive Committee, and currently serves as President of Fusion Five. He is also very active in his church, St. Martin de Porres. Blake is dedicated to his family. He and his wife have a daughter and a baby on the way. “I want this community to make them proud. I want them to have the opportunity to do whatever makes them happy, without limits, in our area.”

Favorite thing about SWLA: The close-knit community. Favorite place to go: The Children’s Museum with his daughter. Favorite thing to do: “Anything that I can do with my whole family - whether that’s staying in and cooking dinner or going to a community event.” Favorite SWLA food: Crying Eagle’s new IPA and Tony’s Special from Tony’s Pizza. Favorite festival: Winter Beer Fest and Mardi Gras. His daughter loves parades!

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April 2018

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IMPERIAL CALCASIEU MUSEUM A few of the works featured on the wall are Devin’s creations. He is a recipient of the Nowell Daste Award and the blue sculpture (far left) is actually by Nowell Daste himself.

Devin Morgan




Favorite thing about SWLA: Festivals & Mardi Gras. Favorite place to go: Crying Eagle Brewery. Favorite thing to do: Hanging out downtown. Favorite SWLA food: Gumbo. Favorite festival: Chuck Fest.

March 2018

evin Morgan’s love for the arts and a desire to see a thriving cultural scene in Southwest Louisiana keep him charging forward with an unmatched work ethic that can only be described as “ferocious.” He was born in Lake Charles, attended St. Louis Catholic High School, and enrolled at McNeese State University to study print making. Devin’s education in the arts at McNeese far exceeded a training in his chosen craft. He also became well-versed in community building and volunteerism when he became involved in the McNeese Student Art Association. “At the time, the arts community seemed small, and as an artist I experienced firsthand the difficulty of promoting and selling your artwork and making art events successful and sustainable,” Devin said. Devin began promoting exhibit openings and sharing tips and resources with budding and student artists in the community to help grow events

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and connect artists to patrons. While other college students spent their free time socializing, Devin spent his helping fellow artists create their work. “I was always volunteering to help fellow students matte, frame, or prepare artwork to sell and present at events.” Devin followed his passion for the arts and community development with an internship in the Abercrombie Gallery at McNeese and later as the Gallery Coordinator at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, where he works today. He is a recipient of the Nowell Daste Award. In 2017, Devin was awarded the prestigious Mayor’s Arts Awards Keystone Award for his dedication to building a strong arts and cultural community. “We should all do our part by volunteering a bit of our time and money, if we are able, and support organizations, small businesses, and artists in our area. Our diverse community here in SWLA makes us a truly unique location, and if we support one another we will thrive and prosper.”


Places & Faces


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April 2018

SWLA By the Numbers


The number of parishes that make up what is known as Southwest Louisiana. Those parishes are: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis



11 60+

24 400+

The number of fairs, festivals and events in SWLA annually.

Number of Mardi Gras parades in SWLA each year.

Number of Mardi Gras krewes in SWLA.


Number of stops along the SWLA Boudin Trail

The number of miles the Creole Nature Trail spans.

The number of parks in Calcasieu Parish.

The number of bird species a birder can expect to spot in Louisiana annually

38,278 7, 500

The number of visitors SWLA saw last year, according to CVB data.

The number of hotel rooms in Calcasieu Parish

Source: SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau.

March 2018

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Places & Faces

On the Tourist’s Map Southwest Louisiana’s Tourism Industry Riding High in the Wave of Expansion by Victoria Hartley-Ellender

Many businesses in Southwest Louisiana are flourishing with the ongoing industrial expansion, and tourism is no exception. With new hotels going up in nearly every corner of the region, the experts whose job it is to attract visitors to the region have been seizing every opportunity to share what Southwest Louisiana has to offer. Throughout the year, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) promotes Southwest Louisiana through various means of communication including printed materials, digital communication, and social media. Recently, the CVB has worked strategically to harness the market of the industrial expansion by showcasing all of the fun, exciting, family-friendly activities


for people who are temporarily housed in the region for work. “The workers have been effectively a mouthpiece for promotion of our region throughout the United States and even the world,” said Kyle Edmiston, Chief Operating Officer, CVB. “They are telling their friends and family what Southwest Louisiana has to offer, and they are bringing more visitors here to enjoy our festivals, restaurants, and casinos.” The increasing number of new hotels is another sign that tourism is expanding rapidly in Southwest Louisiana. According to Edmiston, there are now more than 7,500 hotel rooms in the region -- all rooms that need to be filled. “That just means we have to work that much harder to share what we have to offer to the travelers,” he said.

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That may not be difficult, according to the latest statistics. In 2017, visitors to Southwest Louisiana had a $650 million economic impact. According to Bureau statistics, 2016 was a recordbreaking year for tourism in Louisiana. The state welcomed a record high number of 46.7 million visitors in 2016, representing an increase of 2.57 percent over the 45.1 million visitors reported in 2015. The travel and tourism industry generated $1.04 billion in state tax revenue, an increase of 23.4 percent over the $843 million generated in 2015. Summers in Southwest Louisiana are the peak time for visitors. People come to enjoy birding, fishing, ecotourism, and fresh seafood. The CVB has worked hard alongside area leaders to establish Southwest

April 2018

Louisiana as the “Youth Sports Capital of Louisiana.” The state girls’ softball and boys’ baseball tournaments meet at Sulphur Parks and Recreation. Those events alone draw more than 30,000 people to Southwest Louisiana. In addition to sporting events, Southwest Louisiana is well positioned to host business meetings, conferences, and group reunions. “Being halfway between Houston and New Orleans, we have the perfect geographic location and some of the best conference rooms at our brand new, state-of-the-art hotels and facilities,” said Edmiston. The Bureau works diligently to provide up-to-date calendars with information about upcoming events and activities in Southwest Louisiana. They maintain open lines of communication with hotels, and provide up-to-date brochures about upcoming events at hotels, lodges and gathering spots. In addition, they maintain a free Lake Charles events app that provides information and alerts about current events. “There is an abundance of fun, family-friendly things to do every weekend in Southwest Louisiana,” Edmiston said. “Visitors and local residents alike are welcome to check out our website or download our app to see what’s happening in our area.” The CVB will be offering a brand new virtual reality video program beginning sometime this upcoming summer. The virtual reality experience will allow CVB visitors to see the sights and sounds of Southwest Louisiana with a headset. From Southwest Louisiana festivals to the Creole Nature Trail, visitors will experience what it’s like to be a part of Southwest Louisiana. As National Tourism Week approaches May 5-13, the CVB is gearing up to sponsor a variety of events in the community to help create awareness of tourism’s impact. The Bureau will host events throughout the week and will give away fun prizes to visitors at both locations.

Aye, Matey Lake Charles Prepares for a Pirate Invasion

The CVB has two locations; their main office, 1205 N. Lakeshore Drive, right off Interstate 10, and the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point on Highway 27 in Sulphur.

For more information on the entertainment line-up, contests, activities or to sign up for the parade, contact the Louisiana Pirate Festival office at (337) 436-5508, send an e-mail to or visit for participation forms or to purchase Pirate Festival Ball tickets.

For more information, visit the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website, Dylan Scott

March 2018

The Louisiana Pirate Festival will be kicking off on the Lakefront, May 3-13. Festival organizers have planned many new events this year to celebrate Louisiana’s culture, but some things remain the same -- food, music, carnival rides, pirates, and fun! The festivities open with the pirate landing, Friday, May 4. Mayor Nic Hunter will walk the plank, and he admits, “We’re going to make a bigger splash this year!” Here’s what’s new at this year’s pirate party. • FREE Festival admission and parking. • The Louisiana Pirate Festival Street Parade will take place Sunday, May 6, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. as pirates, community organizations, businesses, and participants enjoy a festive Louisiana street parade! • Be transported into the land of the islands for the Louisiana Pirate Festival Costume Ball, benefitting St. Nicholas Center, from 8:30 -11:30 p.m. on Friday, May 11, with entertainment provided by Mixed Nuts. There will be an opening reception with hors d’oeuvres for this event from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. The ticketed costume ball is sponsored in part by Bayou Rum, and it will take place at the Lake Charles Civic Center, Buccaneer Room. Tickets for the Louisiana Pirate Festival Ball are $45 for a single entry, $75 for a couple, and $400 for a reserved table of eight. Pirate attire is requested for the costume ball, and you must be at least 21 years old to attend. • All music will take place at the outdoor amphitheater this year. The packed entertainment line-up consists of all Louisiana musicians such as Amanda Shaw, Sean Ardoin & Zydecool, Rusty Metoyer & the Zydeco Krush, and the Flamethrowers with genres such as swamp pop, Cajun, Zydeco, R&B, country, and rock. Headliner and country music star Dylan Scott of Bastrop, La., will close out the entertainment line-up for the festival, featuring songs including his #1 hit “My Girl” which topped the Country charts last year. • Other activities include the American Cornhole Organization Regional Competition, costume contests, Gator Grand Prix Go-Kart Races, Pirogue Building and Racing, Rain Gutter Pirate Ship Building and Racing, cannon demonstrations, Spittin’ Image Look-alike Contest, the Barbecue Competitors Alliance (BCA) Cajun Pirate Cook-off, Buccaneers Costume Contest for Children, fireworks over the lake, and more.

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Places & Faces

Erin Entrada Kelly Wins Prestigious Newbery Medal by Angie Kay Dilmore

Lake Charles native Erin Entrada Kelly won the 2018 John Newbery Medal -- the award for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children -- for her third middle grade novel, Hello, Universe. The American Library Association (ALA) made the announcement mid-February. For those unfamiliar with this respected recognition, the Newbery is a children’s writer’s equivalent of winning Olympic Gold. And Erin’s life will never be the same. In the past two months since receiving the phone call from the ALA that informed her of the award, Erin has granted more interviews than she can count. Her story and photo has appeared in most every newspaper across the country, not to mention journals, magazines, and online news sources. Within a week of the announcement, she was able to quit her full-time job. Her email, social media, and inboxes flooded with requests for interviews, school visits, and conference invites from around the country. Hello, Universe debuted on The New York Times bestseller list at number four and at the time of this writing was at number two. It will likely never go out of print and is already considered a classic. “That phone call was life-changing in every way,” says


Erin. “Practical things, like the trajectory of my career and earning potential, but also emotionally and mentally.” The daughter of a Filipina mother and an American father, Erin graduated from LaGrange High in 1995 and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and women’s studies from McNeese State University in 2006. After high school, she worked at the American Press for 10 years. She was editor here at Thrive magazine from 2008 – 2016. After moving to a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa. in 2012, she earned an MFA in creating writing from Rosemont College, where she recently taught contemporary issues in children’s literature in the graduate publishing program. By winning this award, Erin made history and broke literary boundaries. She is the first Filipina-American to win the Newbery, and only the fourth AsianAmerican to receive the award since the honor’s inception in 1922. She is the first Louisiana native to win the award. For Erin, winning the Newbery was a life-long dream come true, but she was nonetheless caught off-guard when she received that life-changing phone call. “I’ve spent my whole life daydreaming about being on the New York Times

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bestseller list, winning the Newbery, and being a full-time author, all of which has happened. Yet, I still was not -- and am not! -- prepared.” In Erin’s novels, she tackles difficult issues faced by middle-schoolers, such as bullying, insecurity, racism, and the need for kindness, empathy, and acceptance. She’s a champion for middle-grade underdogs and her books beautifully weave in elements of Filipino folklore. Hello, Universe is about Virgil, who is shy and quiet, a deaf girl named Valencia, selfproclaimed psychic Kaori and her little sister Gen, and Chet, the neighborhood bully. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig Gulliver become trapped in an abandoned well, the girls embark on a courageous adventure to find him. Erin’s first and second books, Blackbird Fly (2015) and The Land of Forgotten Girls (2016) respectively, were award winners in their own right. Erin’s fourth book, You Go First, will release April 10. She’s currently in revisions for her first fantasy, as yet untitled, which will release in summer of 2019. Keep your eyes open for many more exciting things to come from Erin Entrada Kelly!

April 2018

Taja V. Simpson

Empowering Young Women through Life Experience by Angie Kay Dilmore

Hollywood leading lady and Lake Charles native Taja V. Simpson returns home this month to speak at the Women’s Commission Junior Conference taking place April 21 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Her goal as keynote speaker is to empower young women and boost their self-esteem. “I’m truly passionate about helping young women and encouraging them to learn from my experiences.” Life experience is a topic Taja can speak about authentically. This actress, director, and author says she enjoyed growing up in Lake Charles. She was active in sports, cheerleading, and dance, but it wasn’t always easy. “I experienced a lot of discrimination and was bullied. Even though I participated in many activities, my self-esteem was under my shoe. My mom taught me positive comebacks to say in response, and over time, my self-esteem improved. I didn’t mind being in the forefront. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change anything about my childhood because it made me who I am.” In response to her childhood experiences, Taja is active in the nonprofit anti-bullying organization Team Bully Busters, a group that teaches self-defense to women and children by giving bullied kids and their families practical tools to get out of those situations and build confidence. “I’ve always been passionate about anti-bullying, but now it is part of my platform.” Taja graduated at age 16 from LaGrange High and majored in mass communication/journalism at McNeese State University, but even as a child, she loved films and acting. “When I was a kid, I watched a lot of movies. My favorite was The Last Dragon. I would act out every scene. I still know every word in the movie. But at the time, I didn’t realize that acting was something I could pursue. After college, Taja moved to Houston. She signed up for an acting class and discovered she had a knack for it. So she stepped out in faith, moved to

March 2018

Los Angeles, and pursued it. She had several bit parts in television shows, but her first big break was acting the part of Adele on the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful from 2012-2014. “Soap operas are a great training ground for actors because they move so fast and you have to memorize so much copy.” Last year, Taja played the role of Debrah in her first major film, Tyler Perry’s Boo 2 – A Madea Halloween. She recently starred in Lethal Weapon on FOX with Damon Wayans. And she will appear in a made-for-television Christmas movie, London Mitchell’s Christmas, which films this month in Chicago. She is excited about the latter. “I get to use my British accent!” Taja’s first book hit the shelves late last year. She co-authored Cracking the Acting Code, a Practical

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Professional Actor with fellow actor Sabrina M. Revelle. Taja says, “The book is a culmination of all the things we’ve learned along the way, all the tricks of the industry that we wish someone would have shared with us prior to us moving to LA.” Taja encourages young women to follow their dreams. “I believe if you speak life over your life, you can manifest positive things in your life. Believe you can achieve whatever it is you want to do. Speak it, believe it, receive it. There’s something about the spoken word.” Go to www.crackingtheactingcode. com to learn more about Taja’s book. For more information or to register for the Women’s Commission Junior Conference, go to www.

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Places & Faces

Collecting Supplies for the Little Free Pantry

Celebrating Volunteers During National Volunteer Week by Stephanie Karpovs

“The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”

—DeAnn Hollis April is National Volunteer Month and is a dedicated time to celebrate the cheerful service and phenomenal work done year-round by volunteers. The continued desire to enhance the lives of others and fill the needs in our community results in an amazing team effort by our various non-profit organizations. Look around and you’ll see the fruits of their labor, transforming SWLA into a vibrant, thriving community for all ages and interests. National Volunteer Week was originally established in 1974 with an executive order from President Richard Nixon. It serves as a nation wide call to foster a culture of service and community impact. It is also an opportunity for organizations to recognize their volunteers for helping them achieve their mission, bring a voice to the cause, and act as change-agents for their corner of the world. The Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. (JLLC) is an organization of women who have been serving, strengthening, and sustaining the community for more than 80 years. They 40

leave a legacy of leadership throughout the community, establishing new programs, and turning them over when they are ready to thrive as a stand-alone non-profit. You may have heard of a few: Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, Calcasieu Community Clinic, The Children’s Museum, Family & Youth Counseling Agency, Imperial Calcasieu Historical Museum, Literacy Council of SWLA, Lake Charles Symphony, etc. Think of the thousands of volunteers that have served and continue to serve our community through these organizations, all of which got their start with the JLLC! This spring, JLLC volunteers are showering the city with love, promoting volunteerism, planting the seeds of leadership, and improving our community through collaborative events focused in the areas of healthy families, literacy, and leadership development. One of the highlights of being a first-year member of the JLLC is the Provisional Class project. They are given an initial budget of $1000, and must work together to plan, promote, and execute a Thrive Magazine for Better Living

project that will benefit our local community. Along the way, they learn about fundraising, marketing, group dynamics, other organizations in SWLA, and how to network with them for a greater impact. This year, they’ve planned a dual project and will complete it by the end of April. First, they’re collaborating with Healthier Southwest Louisiana to implement an educational community garden at F.K. White Middle School. They’re also supplying seating for an outdoor classroom focused around the garden. Second, and with the help of the Happy Hour Rotary Club of Lake Charles, they’re providing free, 24hour access to basic necessities (toiletries, socks, feminine hygiene products, canned goods, etc.) with the Little Free Pantry sites around the city. For more information about how you can help provide supplies for these projects in April, contact the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. at 337.436.4025 or visit

April 2018

JLLC’s Literacy Committee handed out over 300 free truck-related books at Truck Fest; photo by Eric Broussard-Bueno JLLC University Graduates--League members completed a full-day training on leadership, community impact and team-building

JLLC’s Truck Fest Fun; photo by Eric Broussard-Bueno

March 2018

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Places & Faces

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana...

Who’s News? You tell us! Send press releases to with the subject line “Who’s News.”

Healthy Image Expands Website Services Healthy Image has announced the promotion of Kris Roy to graphic and web designer. Roy, who has been with the company for seven Kris Roy years as a graphic designer, will have an expanded role in creating, designing, and maintaining websites for clients while continuing to produce award-winning graphic design. Roy is a graduate of Northwestern State University with a bachelor of science in computer information systems and bachelor and a master of art in graphic communication. He also holds a master of fine arts degree in communication design from Louisiana Tech University. For more information, call (337) 312-0972.

John W. Fear Opens Second Allstate Insurance Agency Office in Iowa John Fear, local Allstate insurance agent, has opened a second agency location in Iowa at 601 N. Thomson Ave., Suite John W. Fear C. He opened his first Allstate office in Westlake in 2015. Fear is a licensed agent in property and casualty, life and health and series 6, specializing in auto, home and life insurance. He is committed to helping area residents assess their immediate and long-term insurance needs and choose the best options to achieve their goals.

Dr. Craig Morton Received State and National “Top Doctor” Recognition Craig G. Morton, MD, FAAPMR, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist with Center Dr. Craig Morton for Orthopaedics, was among a select group of physicians honored with 2017 Top Doctor awards from Healthtap, the world’s leading interactive health network. Dr. Morton was named top Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician in Louisiana and Nationally. Winners were selected based on feedback and surveys of physicians and consumers. Dr. Morton has been a part of the Healthtap network since it was developed in 2010. The site has grown tremendously in popularity since then, with over 100,000 physicians now participating. Healthtap provides people with expert answers to medical questions in an open forum that incorporates peer review by allowing other doctors to comment on answers and post additional information. The site has been featured in numerous national media outlets, including NBC, CNN, FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Time Magazine, among others. Dr. Morton has built a reputation for credibility and responsiveness on the site, which led to his “Top Doctor” recognition. Dr. Morton is Board Certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, a Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a member of the International Spinal Intervention Society. Dr. Morton is also the co-founder of RehabZone, an exercise program designed specifically to address the needs of people who suffer with back pain. More recently, he developed AcuPlus, an all-natural, topical product for pain relief.

For more information or to request a quote, call (337) 582-1555 in Iowa, or (337) 419-0755 in Westlake.


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Imperial Health Names New Chief Executive Officer Lee Holmes, MHA, FACHE, CMPE, has been named Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Health, the largest multi-specialty, physician-owned group Lee Holmes in Southwest Louisiana. Originally from Texas, Holmes brings 25 years of experience in healthcare leadership to Lake Charles. He has held senior leadership positions with healthcare organizations across the country, including Chief Operating Officer for Access Physicians, a 200 physician multispecialty group serving seven states; Service Line Vice President for HCA-Gulf Coast Division where he oversaw cardiovascular services at nine hospitals; Director of Clinic Operations for Baylor, Scott & White Health; Practice Administrator for CTVS Surgery of Metairie, LA; and Administrator/Senior Contract Management Officer for the University of Texas Health Science Centers in Houston and Galveston.

Dr. Timothy Gilbert Serves as Faculty Member at National Conference Dr. Timothy Gilbert, board certified endocrinologist and chairman of Imperial Health, recently Dr. Timothy Gilbert served as one of five faculty members at a national diabetes update in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was attended by approximately 500 physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and served as an update on the latest research and clinical data available on diabetes and the drug class of SGLT-2 inhibitors. Dr. Gilbert has 15 years’ experience in the management of patients with diabetes and associated complications. He is the founder and medical director of the Endocrinology Center of Southwest Louisiana and its associated

April 2018

POSITIVE Manuel Joins Staff of Solutions Counseling & EAP

Diabetes Education Center, which are both divisions of Imperial Health. Dr. Gilbert routinely educates healthcare professionals on the subject of diabetes management in both the continuing medical education format, as well as promotional programs around the country. The Endocrinology Center is located at 1727 Imperial Blvd., Lake Charles. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (337) 3103670.

Memorial Welcomes New Community Outreach Specialist Lake Charles Memorial Health System welcomes Sally Brockman as the new Community Outreach Specialist in the Sally Brockman marketing department. Brockman coordinates monthly seminars for the public, represents the hospital at community health fairs and outreach events, develops hospital events, works with local elementary schools through the Young at Art Program, and coordinates community sponsorship events and collaterals for outreach efforts, as well as the employee newsletter.

Quinton Manuel, MA, PLPC, has joined the professional staff of Solutions Counseling & EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Quinton Manuel

Originally from Lake Charles, Manuel earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in counseling from McNeese State University. Manuel brings over six years of experience in the counseling field to his new position. Prior to joining Solutions, he worked at the Educational and Treatment Council (ETC), holding various positions in multiple programs involving functional family therapy, community treatment, transitional living, mental health and juvenile drug court. For more information, call (337) 310-2822.

Apply Today! Now accepting applications. Deadline is June 1, 2018 at 4:00 PM. Projects must be located within the five-parish Imperial Calcasieu region. Applications available at There are several categories, with winning projects demonstrating one or more of the following attributes: • A developer’s vision for filling a market niche or bringing a new and innovative product to market • Has curb appeal that enhances an area • Incorporates innovative design and/or construction techniques (technology, energy, environment) • Applies Smart Growth principles

Project/Award categories are:

Sally can be reached at (337) 494-2935 or

• Subdivision

• Industrial

• Multi-Family

• Institutional

• Mixed-Use Development

• Rehabilitation

• Commercial

Brian Harrell, MD Joins Memorial Medical Group

• Landscape • Public Servant

AWARD EVENT Thursday, August 2, 2018

Memorial Medical Group Welcomes Brian Harrell, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP, a board-certified Family Medicine Specialist to its staff as part of the Memorial/LSUHSC Family Medicine Center. He is also fellowship-trained in sports medicine. In addition to treating patients of all ages, Dr. Harrell serves on the full-time faculty of the Memorial/LSUHSC Family Medicine Residency Program with fellow faculty members Bryan Barootes, MD, Caroline Courville, MD, Brian Gamborg, MD, Alan LeBato, MD, Bradley Loewer, MD, Danette Null, MD, Tuananh Pham, MD, and E.J. Soileau, MD. Dr. Harrell sees patients at his office located at 1525 Oak Park Boulevard. Most insurances are accepted. For more information contact, (337) 494-6767 or go to March 2018

GROWTH - Awards -

337-602-6788 | Thrive Magazine for Better Living


Money & Career

SMART MOVES for Your Tax Return


Not many people get excited when tax season arrives, but the end result of a mind-numbing day of entering W2s and itemizing deductions can be a hefty tax return in your pocket. When that return hits your bank account, no one has to tell you twice to start spending it, but there are better ways to invest, save, and responsibly splurge when you have a few extra dollar bills. Chad Miller, COO of Southwest Louisiana Credit Union, suggests following the 50-25-25 plan for your tax return. “When you have a good-sized tax return, or if you suddenly come into any extra cash, it’s always a good rule of thumb to put half of it toward reducing your debt,” said Miller. “The average household in America with credit card debt has a balance of over $8,000, and that can quickly get out of hand with high interest rates that stack up an enormous amount of interest over time if you don’t get serious about reducing your debt.” If you have more than one credit card with a balance, start paying off the one with the highest interest rate, like retail credit cards. If you

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can use half your tax return to entirely pay off one card, that’s even better. If you only pay the minimum balance due on credit cards or if you are hit with late fees, you can find yourself barely keeping your head above water. When tackling credit card debt, it’s best to really dedicate time and money toward reducing it so that you don’t end up paying more in the long run. “Debt consolidation can also be the key to managing debt across multiple credit cards,” said Miller. “It allows you to put all of your credit card debt under one roof, and you’ll pay only one monthly payment instead of several. Many debt consolidation loans come with a lower interest rate to help you save money.” A good quarter of your tax return should also go toward starting or growing an emergency fund. Nearly 57 million Americans have no emergency savings, which puts them at risk for a financial crisis if large, sudden expenses pop up, such as a medical expense or damage to your home.

April 2018

“It’s ideal to have a few months of expenses put aside in an emergency fund, but something is always better than nothing,” said Miller. “We never know when a hurricane will hit or when your kid breaks an arm, so we need to be as prepared as possible for the unknown.” Growing an emergency fund is also a good habit to keep in place throughout the year. Even just putting aside $25 a paycheck can help build up savings. “Of course we don’t expect everyone to invest 100% of their tax return,” said Miller. “Splurging responsibly on that handbag you’ve had your eye on or a family vacation you’ve been dreaming about can do wonders for your mental well-being.” The last 25 percent of your tax return should be for you. Keeping yourself happy is a big part of staying healthy, so take a look at your Amazon Wish List and treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally buy on a regular day. You deserve it.

Butch Ferdinandsen

For more tips and ideas on how to reduce debt or make a budget, visit or call Southwest Louisiana Credit Union at 337-477-9190.

CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPS, CRPC Investment Advisor Representative Ferdinandsen Financial Group is a marketing name. Securities and Investment Advisory services offered throughout Woodbury Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SPIC.

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Money & Career

May The Workforce Be With You 25th Annual Human Resources Conference to Host Workforce Development Panel by Victoria Hartley-Ellender

The Imperial Calcasieu Human Resources Management Association (ICHRMA), an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), will host its 25th annual conference on Friday, May 4 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The conference theme, “May the Workforce Be With You,” will include a legal update to address current issues and a workforce development panel to provide an open dialogue for discussion. Panel members include Michelle McGinnis, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance; R.B. Smith, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance; and Dr. William Mayo, Dean of Workforce Solutions, Sowela Technical College. The keynote speaker for the event will be Robin Schooling on “How to Be a Ferociously Awesome HR Pro.” Midmorning speaker will be Mechelle Roberthon, “Resolving Conflict: When the Dark Side Struggles to See the Light.” In between sessions, attendees will receive bonus social media training, focusing on the pros and cons of


social media within the workplace. The Imperial Calcasieu chapter of SHRM was founded in 1983 and includes HR professionals from throughout the five-parish region. Currently, there are more than 200 members. The chapter began primarily with human resources representatives from area industries, but has since expanded to include professionals from nearly every sector including retail, entertainment, real estate, and businesses large and small. Today, ICHRMA exists to promote human resources as a profession and to provide essential resources and assist with challenges facing human resources professionals in Southwest Louisiana. The group aims to cover topics in a timely manner to provide useful tips and fruitful discussion for area human resource professionals. They meet on the second Thursday of each month. “We want people whose jobs include various aspects of HR to know that they can reach out to us if they have questions or need guidance on various HR-related issues,” said Janell

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Johnson, past president, ICHRMA. “We want to be a resource for networking, information, professional development and continued effectiveness in human resources.” Johnson first became affiliated with the ICHRMA in 1989 as a member of the McNeese student chapter of SHRM. Since then, the organization has been a valuable resource for her. “Over the years, my affiliation with ICHRMA has also given me the opportunity to meet HR professionals throughout the country. I stay in touch with many of them and we are able to advise each other on different HR-related topics. That’s our mission: To develop and expand essential partnerships with human resource professionals, our communities, and the organizations we serve, to address the evolving workplace, social trends, and human resource management.” The conference is open to the public. Registration is available now at

April 2018

Mayor Hunter Encourages Youth and Promotes Entrepreneurship by Kimberly Dellafosse

Throughout the country, small businesses serve as catalysts for economic growth. Locally, the same concept holds true. The impact of small businesses on the economy in Southwest Louisiana is evident in the number of jobs and services they provide to residents. The fuel that drives small businesses in Southwest Louisiana and throughout the nation is without a doubt the small business owner. This critical facet of the local economy is on the radar of Mayor Nicholas Hunter. Mayor Hunter’s focus on the future of small businesses in this community is greatly due to the fact that he, too, is a business owner. This first-hand experience has prompted the Mayor to examine what can be done to ensure that this community has a new crop of individuals willing to embrace business ownership as a career path. As a result, Mayor Hunter has decided to share his experiences and what he has learned as both a young entrepreneur and a restauranteur with young people in the community. During the City of Lake Charles’ bi-monthly Teen Connection seminar scheduled on Thursday, May 3, Mayor Hunter will present a session entitled, “So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur.” When asked why teaching young people about entrepreneurship is important, he said,“Entrepreneurship is a driver of innovation and

March 2018

social development in a community, and innovation and social development are what I desire to see in the City of Lake Charles.” Mayor Hunter believes that children are never too young to learn about the steps required to launch a business and the benefits and challenges associated with being your own boss. “I began working in my grandparents’ restaurant when I was 12 years old, and over time, the experience prepared me to assume the role as owner when I was only 17 years old. Unfortunately, not all children have that same opportunity.That’s why this class is so important.” Teen Connection was launched in October 2017 and since that time, Hunter and his staff have worked diligently to develop the initiative into one that offers quality programming for students in middle school and high school. Through Teen Connection, Hunter aspires to redefine afterschool programs. To this he states, “Research has proven that if you introduce the kind of information to young people on a regular basis that we are presenting in Teen Connection, you can improve a young person’s academic and career outcomes.” Previous Teen Connection sessions have covered a variety of topics ranging from ACT prep to resume writing, but with the May 3 session, Hunter has an even bigger goal in mind. “Imagine what can become of the City of Lake Charles if we train our

young people to channel their creativity and dreams into ideas that ultimately become fully functioning business enterprises; this would change the landscape of our economy and propel our City into another stratosphere.” While some may question how a class on entrepreneurship can have this effect on a city, Hunter believes that it is possible. “The origin of every great business is an idea, and if we are successful at teaching young people the fundamentals of launching and operating a business, and they are able to

combine this knowledge with their vision, then this will only serve as a boost for the City of Lake Charles’ economy and Southwest Louisiana as a whole.” Teen Connection—So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur will take place Thursday, May 3, at the Donald Ray Stevens Recreation Center located at 1619 Cessford Street. The session begins at 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information about Teen Connection, contact Kimberly Dellafosse, the City of Lake Charles’ Assistant City Administrator at 337-491-1388.


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Three Steps to Protect Your Brand in the Workplace Gender discrimination and bias in the workplace has a national stage right now. Many women have a story about a negative experience in her workplace, regardless of industry. It is prevalent, it is common, and it is nothing new.

A study conducted by Investors in People found that eight in ten women in full time employment believe gender discrimination is still present in the workplace. The study also revealed that almost half of women think they have personally experienced discrimination in the workplace because of their gender. As the conversation continues to evolve, there are things women can do now to protect themselves and help change behavior patterns that have occurred in the workplace for years. Both men and women will need to contribute ideas and actions to move through these uncharted waters. Author Holly Caplan identifies three actions women can do immediately to help to protect their brand. By creating boundaries and structure, women provide themselves strength and security in moving forward in their careers and lives.

Seek Out Coworker Support

Coworker support means watching out for each other, recognizing sexual harassment, bullying, or gender discrimination, and taking action if it is observed. Coworkers can support each other and take grievances to human resources. This support can remove the element of fear.

Keep Social Media Clean

It’s very easy to get the scoop on someone nowadays via social media. Businesses are hyper-aware of this, too. Before an employer meets a potential employee for an interview, they will look that person up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Companies seek employees who will represent them. Do not take this for granted. Making social media pages “private,� is not enough. Personal social media branding has ruined job opportunities and current positions. The best choice is to keep social media profiles clean.

Create Boundaries at Work

Maintaining professionalism and setting boundaries at work are key to protecting your brand. Attire, personal life, and interactions with others all come into play. Getting too comfortable with coworkers can blur the lines. Be cautious about sharing personal information. Dress appropriately, even on casual Fridays. Office mates do watch and listen. How you act in the work place defines your brand.

It is more important than ever to be responsible, aware, and protective of yourself and your coworkers. You have the opportunity to pave the way for other women and create a better workplace. Remember, you are your brand. For more information, visit,


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April 2018

Home & Family

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ssful e stre ere r o m n be t. Th use ca reavemen ings o h a be any th ng i n m y e u o v s b e hat , or and . how t ivorce lming sions, Polls s kruptcy, d many deci y overwhe i ed ted l an so be tru Bacon is cr than b any steps, n a it is c m ocess le Frances r.’ And re r e p w e o are so h p o t b sider, dge is ying, the m re e nota to con enaissanc se, ‘Knowle u ha b s , we ome ra hR Englis ning the ph ow about h ocess. Here to assist pr oi kn cs with c more you th the uying topi ur dreams. i w e b e b l l h yo i e true: t able you w ad of hom me of o h e i t h r r t y comfo ion on a m and secure t r a o f m arch infor you se s a u yo

March 2018

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Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Saving for a New Home:

MISSION POSSIBLE by Pamela S. Thibodeaux


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April 2018

Many people today want to own their home, but lack confidence that they can save enough money for such a large purchase. The reality is, with time and patience, most people can indeed save and achieve home ownership. One of the first priorities when getting ready to buy a home is to be pre-approved for a loan. Talk with a mortgage broker and determine exactly where you stand credit-wise. These folks are experts in their field and know how to guide you when it comes to the right credit score, how much borrowing power you have, and what your down payment and closing costs would total. They can also estimate interest rates, monthly payments, etc. Even if you’re looking to buy in the future, it’s never too early to get some numbers together and start preparing and saving. Next, set up a budget and save for those costs mentioned above. “My biggest advice I give to my clients in regard to saving for the home they want is to start pretending they have a house note immediately,” says Alana Mears, Vice President and Mortgage Executive at Iberia Bank.

March 2018

“If they are preapproved for $1,000 monthly note, I suggest putting exactly that amount (or more if possible) into a savings account. It is important that they “feel” how this mortgage payment will affect their monthly budget.” Whether it takes you months or a year or two, all extra funds (raises, bonuses, tax refunds, monetary gifts received, money left over at the end of the month) should go into a special account labeled HOME. It is not uncommon to set aside several thousand dollars in a few years. Compare banks, credit unions, and online banks to see which kind of account will pay you the most interest on your savings. Watch for hidden fees and early withdrawal penalties. Do you have an IRA? Using funds from your IRA can mean taxes and penalties–unless it’s used to buy a home. IRS rules change, so ask if this is a possible option for you. While setting up that budget, add in ways to pay off existing debt. As one bill is eliminated, double up on other bills, or add that payment into your savings account.

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Here are some other credits and/or special financing options you may qualify for:

First Time Home Buyer

Many finance companies give special rates and discounts for first time home owners.

Rural Development Financing Depending on where your dream home is located, the house may be eligible for special funding, which means better rates and sometimes even 100% financing for the buyer.

Are you an HGTV fan?

Consider purchasing a fixer-upper for far less than a ready-to-move-into home and save hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars.

Foreclosures and Sheriff Sales

People have found incredible deals on homes by checking into these options. Some potential homebuyers begin the process with a firm plan but eventually get off track or lose enthusiasm. Don’t despair. Saving takes determination and dedication but owning your own home is indeed a possible dream.


Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Welcome to the Neighborhood by Austin Price

It’s easy to forget when you’re house hunting that you’re not only looking for the perfect home, but for the perfect neighborhood. Most of your attention when searching for a new place to live is so focused on the most obvious elements -- the price of the home, its appearance, the square footage, how it feels -- it’s easy to dismiss the rest as details to be sorted out later. But in terms of the where, there is more to consider.

First, determine the needs of your family.

If you’re a parent with children, you’ll want to know what school district the home is in, as well as the generational make-up of your neighbors. Are the neighbors young couples with children, or are they mostly emptynesters or elderly? You’ll likely want your children to have friends in the neighborhood. If you’re a young couple or single, consider your preferences in a neighborhood. Are the neighbors people you would feel comfortable asking for help or inviting over for a visit?


Think about what you want from your location.

Do you want to live in the city, where you can easily walk or bike to parks, restaurants, and entertainment? How far are you willing to commute to work? Do you prefer the peace and quiet of a rural or suburban area? Do you want to use public transportation? These are all important questions to answer before you begin house hunting.

Finally, study the long-term Financial aspects of the neighborhood you are considering.

Housing is an investment, after all. Will your new home maintain, or even better, increase in value? Is the neighborhood growing rapidly, is it stagnate, or in decline? Has there been a recent revitalization in the downtown historic district that you’ve fallen in

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love with? Some of these questions are easy to answer. A walk through the location and conversation with nearby businesses and neighbors about the history of the area can give you a nice overview; but you’ll want to research other elements more thoroughly. Use a brokerage website to look at the pricing trends in the area over the past two or three years. Study the absorption rate to see if properties in the area are frequently flipped. Your real estate agent should be a good resource, as well. There’s no one way to hunt for the best neighborhood for you. We all have different needs and desires and ideas about what we want from the place we live. These are but a few guidelines to keep in mind when searching not only for the perfect home, but the perfect neighborhood.

April 2018

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Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Find the Mortgage That’s Right for You by Keaghan P. Wier

Congratulations! You’re ready to begin looking for a new home. It’s an exciting process, but there are stressful elements, too. Perhaps the most stressful? A mortgage. If you’re in the market for a new home, it’s important to know what to expect when applying for a mortgage. We asked Jessica McBride, Branch Manager for Assurance Financial, what you should know before getting started. “Many homeowners really don’t know how many programs are available to them,” McBride says. “And not all lenders are created equal.” She encourages buyers to shop around and find a lender that best fits their unique needs. Here are a few common questions asked by home buyers about mortgages, and McBride’s professional advice.


What Are the Major Factors that Impact Mortgage Options?

When it comes to getting a loan for your new home, we all know the most important factor: credit score. However, McBride is quick to point out there is more to it than that. Programs typically consider the amount you have saved for a down payment and your total budget, while others may take factors such as your job history and marital status into consideration. Worried about your down payment? Some programs allow for little to no down payment. Others offer grants to assist with down payment and closing costs.

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What If I Have Poor or No Credit?

So, if credit is the most important factor, what about home buyers who have poor or no credit? According to McBride, “There is always an option for buyers with limited or blemished credit; it just might not be immediate.” Many professionals are ready to work with clients to build and repair their credit. If you are concerned that your poor or limited credit will work against you when applying for a mortgage, McBride recommends you reach out sooner rather than later. Many things you may think will help your credit could actually only waste your time and hurt you in the long run. Instead, consult with professionals who can help you find the best path forward – and the best program to fit your needs.

April 2018

FayeKadd Should I Get PreApproved?

The biggest reason to seek pre-approval, according to McBride? One word: budget. Knowing upfront what you are comfortable spending monthly on your house note is crucial to this whole process. McBride explains, “The last thing you want is for me to tell you that you can afford a $300,000 home you have fallen in love with, only to find out that you are not comfortable with the monthly payment it comes with.”

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By getting pre-approved for your loan, you’ll have the ability to work backwards, starting with your comfort zone for monthly payments and ending up at the potential price range for your new home. Not to mention the fact that prequalification and pre-approval can show that you are serious and trustworthy, while offering you the chance to find your dream home within your budget.

April is National Clone Month, so come check out my special deals!

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Spring is here, and it’s time to begin planning for your beautiful yard. We can help. We’ll create a plan, help you choose the plants from our huge retail yard, lay out your beds and guide you as you create the yard of your dreams.

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March 2018

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Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Negotiating the Best Price for Your Home by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

Home buying can be stressful even at the best of times. There are so many moving parts to keep track of, and getting the best deal on the home of your dreams should not be one of them. Once you’ve found your soon-to-be sanctuary, consider these negotiation strategies to make sure you get your home at the best possible price.


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April 2018

Get your ducks in a row before you make an offer.

The Real Deal

Any offer you make on a house will be a lot more persuasive if you don’t have to wait for a loan to be pre-approved. Meet with your lending institution and complete this task first. Next, make sure you’ve got a realtor you trust who fits your needs. They can help you use their finely tuned negotiating strategies to come up with the strongest possible offer for the home you’re interested in. Joshua Floyd, top realtor with Ingle Safari, advises, “Your lender will order an appraisal to determine market value. Your realtor can negotiate based on those findings should it come in lower than our offer price. If it comes in higher you have instant equity.”

JOSHUA FLOYD Licensed & Insured Realtor Cell: 337.263.5954

Base your offer on the value of the home, not the list price. Take a look at the recent sales in the neighborhood you are interested in. This will give you the information you need when negotiating with the seller or their agent. If the home is listed far above what other homes around it are selling for, you may be more successful in making a lower offer. If the home is listed for less than market value, you probably will not be able to get it for much less than it is listed for. Josh reminds that your realtor will already be running the numbers to make sure you don’t overpay for the home.

Office 337.478.1601 765 Bayou Pines East | Lake Charles, La 70601

Be creative when negotiating. “Everything can be negotiated,” Josh explains, “including but not limited to price, closing costs, home warranties, and repairs.” When a seller does not come down on their price enough, there are several ways you might be able to save yourself some money. Ask for repairs that the home needs, or if the seller is willing to make other concessions like paying the closing costs. Understand that you likely will not get everything you ask for. The seller can always say no, but it never hurts to ask.

Add a personal touch. Buying a home is emotional for you, but understand that the process can be just as emotional for the seller. They are selling the place they made memories in, and they likely want their home to go to someone who will appreciate it as much as they did. Consider submitting a personal letter or photographs of you and your family to the seller explaining why you love their home. This personal touch may mean more to the seller than an anonymous offer.

March 2018

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Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Insuring Your New Home by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Purchasing a new home can be fun and exciting. It can also be fraught with fears, insecurities, and too many things on your ‘to do’ list. Many people get caught up in the excitement and forget one of the most important aspects of buying a new home–insuring it! Then, in a panic, they accept the first quote they receive, not understanding the basics of a home insurance policy.


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April 2018

Several things factor into insurance rates (age of home, location, fire protection class, distance from water, flood zones, etc.) so the day you start looking at homes, get a couple insurance quotes on those homes on your short list. Before we get into the specifics of insuring your new home, consider some factors that may cause you problems in obtaining insurance.

A Federal Pacific Electrical (FPE) box Many companies will not insure a home with a FPE breaker box so be aware if the home you’re interested in has one of these. Make replacing it part of your negotiations.

Outdated wiring, plumbing, AC & heating Older homes are required to have wiring, plumbing, and central air & heating units updated within the last 10-20 years depending on the company. Some companies will not insure a home with window units and space heaters.




In need of repairs Some home buyers love a fixer-upper, but these can be difficult to insure or may need to be insured differently than with a traditional homeowner policy. Now that you have an idea of what to look for when purchasing your home, look for discounts available to help ensure you get the best possible rates on your home insurance. These include New Home discounts, Hip or Partial Hip Roof discounts, Security System discounts, Home/Auto Bundle discounts. Some companies even offer a Non-Smoker discount, so keep these in mind and ask your agent questions when you’re getting quotes. Knowing and understanding what a home or mobile home policy covers is an asset to new home buyers. A standard insurance policy covers Dwelling, Contents, Other Structures, Loss of Use, and Property Liability.

March 2018

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Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

What Millennials Look for in a New Home by Christine Fisher

A new wave of homebuyers is hitting the real estate market – Millennials. Born between 1980 and the late 90s, this tech-savvy generation is changing the way homes are built, bought, and sold.


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April 2018

Ever-increasing rent and the desire to start a family are driving them toward buying a home. “This age range is from 20 to 37 years old. It’s been the typical first-time buyer demographic for years, but many young adults chose to rent apartments or homes,” said Jennifer Sproles, realtor with Century 21 Bessette Realty. “They might have wanted to stay mobile for their career, or in some cases, the difficulty in qualifying for or affording a mortgage was a deterrent. Now that the real estate market has stabilized, Millennials are interested.” Sproles says that while this trend is especially apparent nationwide, here in Southwest Louisiana, young adults are increasingly part of the homebuying demographic. “We’re seeing an increase in this age group. Our area has a lot to offer thanks to the economic growth happening. We’ve always been a family-friendly area and now we have great opportunities that are enticing families to choose Southwest Louisiana over other regions.” One of the features many Millennials enjoy about our area is the small town feel with proximity to larger cities. “With Houston, Baton Rouge and New Orleans nearby, a lot of up-and-coming

March 2018

professionals are easily settling into Southwest Louisiana. Great schools, job growth, entertainment, and quality of life are all here, while big-city opportunities are within an easy drive,” she said. In the past, first-time homebuyers gravitated toward the biggest house they could afford. That’s not the way Millennials think. They’re willing to sacrifice square footage for high-end finishes and energy-efficient components. Most do not want to spend their weekends doing repairs and improvements. They will choose a smaller home that’s in great condition over a home that has a lot of square footage but comes with a long to-do list. “New construction homes with low maintenance, upscale condos, and fullyrenovated homes with character are their go-to choice of styles,” Sproles said. “While fixer-uppers aren’t as appealing to most Millennials, they can be a great investment to those who are willing and able to put in sweat equity.” An open floor plan continues to appeal to these buyers. In most cases, they do not want a formal living room or dedicated dining room. “They look for homes that can be adjusted to fit their needs rather than

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having wasted space,” she explained. “They want flexibility to turn a dining room into an office or a playroom for the children.” Entertaining, even if it’s low-key, is a priority for this age group. An outdoor space and a great flow between the kitchen and living area can entice them to choose one house over another. They enjoy spending time with friends and family and they’re looking for a home that will enhance these experiences. “I’ve found that this demographic has done their homework. They usually have a list of homes that they want to see. What they need from me is interpreting the information; guiding them through the home buying process and providing accurate information,” said Sproles. Even though they are super techsavvy, nothing replaces the value of a good relationship with a qualified realtor. “They’re looking for guidance so that their experience is efficient and smooth, because they’re ready to begin enjoying their home and making memories,” she said. Millennials know that information can be found anywhere; navigating through it with accuracy and ease is best done with help from a realtor who knows the area, the process, and the potential pitfalls.


Home & Family | Homebuyer’s Handbook

Ease your Children’s Transition During a Move by Julie Etter

Moving can be hectic. It’s physically and emotionally demanding at a time when you are supposed to continue with the rest of life . . . jobs, dinner, rides to soccer. It’s a full-time job on top of a schedule that doesn’t have room for “another” job. In all of that, it’s easy to make mistakes with the kids and their involvement (or often lack-thereof ) in the move. Dealing with temper tantrums, outbursts, and sometimes intangible ways of fearful expressions by kids in the middle of a move only adds to parental stress. Read on for some straightforward suggestions that parents can follow while moving children from one home to another. It all comes down to one fundamental component: involvement. 62

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April 2018

Take their wishes into consideration. Allow your kids to identify what they love most about their current home and what they most want to see in a new home. Although this won’t erase all anxiety, there are often simple things that can be created to help with the child’s transition (e.g., a room color, a swing set, furniture you are moving with you anyway).


Bring the kids to see the new property. Children are often left with babysitters while parents view homes. Although this is logical, once a property is under agreement and you know where exactly you are moving, set a time to go to the house with the kids and let them check it out. At a minimum, this will allow their anxiety to be focused and hopefully more specifically identified than that of the unknown. This is also a good idea in respect to visiting a new school, if applicable.


We don’t serve meals. . . We serve samples!

Let them pack. Putting all the kids’ stuff in a box and telling them it will be at the next mysterious place creates uneasiness over what’s happening with their stuff. Allow them to pack their own toys into boxes. This will give them a sense of responsibility and control. In Lily and Andrew are Moving, a children’s book designed to identify and work with kids’ moving anxieties, each family member gets a “color.” The color-coded stickers are then placed on that member’s belongings/boxes. That same color is placed on that family member’s bedroom door for ease of identification.


Prepare yourself for extra emotional outbursts and use them as a foundation for conversation. One of the biggest complaints I get from parents is that the kids’ behavior is very poor and it’s yet another stressor during a hectic time. Try to remember that everything going on and the stress you are feeling is undoubtedly affecting them, as well. They may not know how to articulate why. Use these situations to talk about the move with your child.

Most of all, understand that the kids are moving, too. Regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative move for the family, work through their reactions just as you do in your role as parent in any other life event. Julie Etter is a professional, national award-winning realtor and former middle-school teacher based in Wrentham, MA. She is the author of Lily and Andrew Are Moving, published by JT Publications, LLC. For more information, visit

March 2018

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Home & Family


Tips for Transitioning to SWLA by Andrea Mongler

Moving is hard. You leave behind family and friends, often to move to a place you’re unfamiliar with — not to mention the logistical headaches related to packing up and transporting all of your physical possessions. But a smooth transition to your new city is the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re new to Southwest Louisiana, read on for tips to help you make friends, have fun, and experience the local culture.



You don’t have to go far to spend some time with nature. Located just north of Lake Charles, the 1,087-acre Sam Houston Jones State Park offers hiking/biking trails, campsites, picnic areas, a boat launch, and fishing along the West Fork of the Calcasieu River. And within city limits is the 24acre Tuten Park, which is in the midst of a restoration after Hurricane Rita caused major damage in 2005.


Yes, summer is long and hot here, but that doesn’t mean you should spend all your time in the AC. Some local parks — such as Millennium Park downtown and Pinederosa Park in Westlake — offer splash pads for kids that are open for much of the year. Sulphur Parks & Recreation (SPAR) has a water park with slides, a lazy river, and a “raging river” for the whole family to enjoy.

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The Calcasieu Parish Public Library has branches in DeQuincy, downtown Lake Charles, Hayes, Iowa, Moss Bluff, North Lake Charles, South Lake Charles, Starks, Sulphur, Vinton, and Westlake. You can check out books, movies, and music, and the library also offers free events and programs for adults, teens, and young children.


Crying Eagle, Lake Charles’ very own brewery, has a taproom that opens at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, a large variety of beers on tap, and an on-site bistro serving pizzas and po’boys. You can also buy Crying Eagle brews at many restaurants and retail establishments.

April 2018

March 2018

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Home & Family SEE A PLAY (OR ACT IN ONE).

The local theater scene is thriving, with many groups putting on shows for adults and children. They include ACTS Theatre, the Children’s Theatre Co., Christian Youth Theater, Itinerant Theatre, Lake Charles Little Theatre, McNeese Theatre, The Mines Theatre in Sulphur, and The Impromptu Players Theatre in DeRidder.


Boudin, made with rice, pork and a blend of spices, is a local favorite that you’re not likely to find many other places. You can buy it in numerous locations, but Market Basket is a good place to start, with a variety of options for you to sample. It also happens to be crawfish season, evident by the many drive-through crawfish stands open this time of year. If you haven’t tried “mudbugs” yet, give them a shot — and remember, if you’re not getting messy, you’re doing it wrong.


If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover that McNeese football is a big deal around here. Buy tickets to a game and see what all the fuss is about. Or go watch some of the many other sports played at McNeese.


If you’re a runner, check out Lake Area Runners, which hosts weekly runs on Wednesday evenings, races, and other events throughout the year. There are two kayak clubs – the Lake Charles Kayak Fishing Club and the Pelican Paddlers. The Lake Charles Yacht Club meets Wednesdays and many weekends for sailing enthusiasts. For women who enjoy a good walk now and then, check out the Number 1 Ladies Hiking Society. Various local gyms also offer a variety of fitness classes to help you get or stay fit and meet others doing the same.


Home to over 70 festivals each year, Lake Charles is the Festival Capital of the state. Among the many offerings are Arts and Crabs Fest, the Black Heritage Festival, the Pirate Festival, Culture Fest Louisiana, Downtown at Sundown, Live at the Lakefront, the Louisiana Railroad Days Festival, and the Louisiana Winter Beer Festival. No matter your interests, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest. Most importantly, have fun in your new hometown. Get out and explore. There’s so much to do in Southwest Louisiana!


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April 2018

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Home & Family


–There’s No Need to Be New The Newcomers Club of the Lake Area isn’t exactly what it seems. It’s for newcomers to the Lake Charles metro area, sure, but it also counts longerterm residents among its members. Its purpose, in part, is to help new residents make connections, and it also aims to foster friendships among new and established residents alike. Judi Weinfurtner joined the organization after moving to Lake Charles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago. Today she’s president. “I have made lifelong friends here,” Weinfurtner says. The group holds a monthly luncheon at the Pioneer Club atop the Chase

Building in downtown Lake Charles. It conducts general club business during the luncheon and also hosts a guest speaker. The cost for attendees is $17. One or two additional events are also held each month. These range from a coffee group or dinner out to a museum visit or a trip to the movies. In addition, the Newcomers Club is expanding its focus to emphasize community service. “Ever since I’ve been in Newcomers Club, I’ve wanted us to do something for the community,” Weinfurtner says. “We are in the process of getting that started.” For their service project, members are making trauma dolls to be given for free to


children at local emergency departments who have experienced traumatic events. Weinfurtner says the group would love to grow its membership, and she stressed that everyone — newcomer or not — is welcome. Whether you are a newcomer to the area, a lifelong resident, or somewhere in between, if you are interested in joining the Newcomers Club of the Lake Area or attending one of its events, here’s how to contact the organization: • Call Weinfurtner at 337-436-7731. • Email • Visit the club’s website at • Find the organization on Facebook.

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Home & Family

Team Green Station Drop-Off Centers Team Green Station No. 1 4331 E. Broad Street-8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday (Closed on Sat & Sun)

Team Green Station No. 2

Nelson Ball Field-Alma Lane-8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday-Saturday (Closed on Sunday)

Team Green Truck Recycling Schedule M Wal-Mart North Hwy 171 W K-Mart Ryan & Sale Rd THU Wal-Mart HWY 14 SAT Kroger 12th St. Prien Lake Mall

Easy Ways to

Go Green Spring is here, and with the season comes dreams of a greener life. This month, we celebrate our commitment to our planet with Earth Day, April 22 and Arbor Day, April 27. If you need ideas to get involved, try these six easy ways to go green.

Hydroponic gardening is a sustainable

method to grow produce without using soil. Instead, mineral nutrient solutions in water grow plants 30-50% faster than traditional gardening. This benefits the environment in many ways. It uses 90% less water than a traditional garden. There’s no need to use pesticides and herbicides, especially if you grow your garden indoors, which in turn provides you more oxygen. You lower your carbon footprint by not traveling to purchase your produce, and it requires less fuel and energy to grow. Hydroponic and indoor gardening options are available at stores such as Home Depot and Lowes.

Planting trees can improve both

our neighborhoods as well as the environment. Trees provide habitats and food for animals and birds. Trees filter our air, taking in harmful gases and releasing oxygen. One large tree can supply a day’s worth of oxygen for four people.

9AM- 3:45PM 9AM- 3:45PM 9AM- 3:45PM 8AM- 9:30AM 10AM- 3:45PM

by Sylvia Ney

Clean up the beach. Friends of Laguna

Atascosa is just one of many groups along the coast that manage the volunteer Adopt-A-Beach clean-up programs. On April 14, in honor of Earth Day, the organization invites volunteers to come out and help clean Holly Beach. Contact Nicole at to register. Volunteers are advised to dress comfortably, wear closed-toed shoes, and bring sunscreen, hats, and bug repellant, as well as drinking water and a small snack.

plastics, paper, and aluminum at daily drop off locations – see above for locations, days, and times.

Proper disposal of harmful products such as electronics, mercury (think old thermometers), used batteries, old chemistry sets, and fluorescent light tubes and bulbs is important. These items can be dropped off at 1132 West 18th St., Lake Charles every Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Shop at your local farmer’s market

Drive your car less to use less energy

Recycling is key to protecting our

If every citizen makes an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle, we can collectively make positive changes in our environment.

to reduce your carbon footprint, give you access to farm fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as put money back into your local economy. Bring your own recyclable grocery bags to eliminate the waste of plastic bags. Southwest Louisiana boasts a proud community of local farmers bearing produce, honey, jams, spices, wood works, soaps, and other commodities. Two of the most popular local markets are Charlestown behind 1911 Historic City Hall, 1001 Ryan St, Lake Charles, every Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the Cash and Carry, 801 Enterprise Blvd., Tuesdays 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

and protect and conserve the planet’s resources. Other transportation options include walking, bike riding, and public transportation. Adjust your home thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter – even a degree or two makes a difference. Find ways to create less waste. Use both sides of a sheet of paper. Drink filtered tap water from reusable containers instead of disposable cups and bottles of water. Use cloth towels and napkins instead of paper.

environment. Team Green of SWLA collects


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April 2018

THE LITTLE GYM OPENS ITS DOORS IN LAKE CHARLES Curriculum-Based Program Helps Children Build Motor Skills and Confidence

The Little Gym, a childhood development franchise known for its progressively structured classes for children ages four months to 12 years, opened its doors for area families earlier this year. The Little Gym’s program includes a variety of fun, non-competitive classes that implement physical activity to enhance coordination, listening, and intellectual skills. Popular options include parent/child courses, which allow mom and dad to help their child explore basic motor and social-skill development, and gymnastics lessons that teach students basic tumbling and apparatus techniques while using positive motivation as a learning tool. The Little Gym of Lake Charles also offers Awesome Birthday Bashes in a variety of themes that feature instructor-led games, music, and LEGO Juniors or LEGO DUPLO building activities. Setup and cleanup for birthday parties are taken care of by The Little Gym staff, so parents can have just as much fun as their little ones. “Programs at The Little Gym are curriculumbased and make skill building fun for students and parents alike,” said Nichole Berza, franchisee of The Little Gym Lake Charles. “Our philosophy is to introduce kids to the world of fitness in a caring and non-competitive way. Rather than be the best, students are encouraged to try their best.”

March 2018

“Our goal at The Little Gym is to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world by being that first step for families,” said Alex Bingham, CEO of The Little Gym. “Our team of passionate teachers and staff at the new Lake Charles gym are dedicated to providing the community with classes that nurture students’ development into happy and healthy kids.” The Little Gym is an internationally recognized program that helps children build the developmental skills and confidence needed at each stage of childhood. The very first location was established in 1976 by Robin

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Wes, an innovative educator with a genuine love for children. The Little Gym International, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., was formed in 1992 to franchise The Little Gym concept. Today, The Little Gym International has over 350 locations in 30 countries. The Little Gym of Lake Charles is located at 1301 E McNeese St Suite 201, Lake Charles. For more information and a list of classes offered, please visit, or call (337) 419-1903.


Home & Family

Celebrate Screen-Free Week and Take a Break from Technology Screen Free Week takes place April 30 – May 6 this year. During that time, children, families, schools, and communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen. Plan to unplug from digital entertainment and instead, play, read, daydream, create, explore, and reconnect with family, friends and nature.


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April 2018

Rearrange the living room so that the television isn’t the center of attention.

Eliminate automatic screen times.

Sure, watching TV together is fun, but if all the furniture faces the TV, not only is the natural tendency to turn it on when you sit down, but the message is that it’s what the living room is for — rather than talking to each other, playing a game, or doing anything else but watching TV.

Keep electronics out of bedrooms. Once it’s bedtime, televisions, laptops, and phones should be out of the bedroom. Increasingly, screens interfere with sleep, especially for teens.

Turn off the TV during meals and put cell phones aside.

Talk to each other instead. Family dinners have all sorts of benefits for children -- increasing their vocabulary, improving their nutrition, building better bonds between children and parents, and helping keep teens out of trouble, to name a few.

Many families have the habit of turning on screens in the morning, after school, or during dinner prep. It’s not always terrible to have a child watch an age-appropriate program while you do a few chores or simply relax. But be thoughtful about it. Does this really help? Is there an alternative, like engaging the child in cooking, or having them get homework done? Ensure it’s the best choice for the moment.

Stock up on supplies for creativity, such as paper, crayons, markers, and paints.

Head to a craft store. Bring your kids and allow them some input. Buy toys that encourage creativity and imagination, like building blocks, cars, or dollhouses. There should be plenty to reach for when you are tempted to reach for a screen.

Pack books, small toys, playing cards, or paper and crayons whenever you go anywhere you may need to wait with your child. There are so many alternatives. Help your child learn them.

Go outside.

In general, children spend much more time indoors than they used to (we all do.) Whether it’s a trip to the park, a bike ride, a walk around the block, or kicking a soccer ball in the back yard, make a concerted effort to incorporate some outdoor time at least every week (every day is even better). It naturally disengages you from screens and engages your children with the world.

Make a family media plan.

Take stock of and plan how and when your children and family use media. Ultimately, that’s the point. Be in charge of media, not the other way around. For more information, go to

Enhancing your face requires the skill of a surgeon and the eye of an artist. Making skin smooth and tight again is only a part of facial plastic surgery. Also, consider the balance and proportions of your face – the relationship of your chin, nose, eyes and ears to your total appearance. Adjusting this balance creates a face that is more youthful, more delicately shaped, more gently perfected. You want to look better, not different.

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board-certified & fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon jeffrey j. joseph, md, facs March 2018

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Home & Family


Relay For Life Event Set for May 18 at the Lake Charles Civic Center, businesses, families and friends will join forces to celebrate and raise funds toward the American Cancer Society’s mission to end every type of cancer. Entertainment by the Flamethrowers will begin at pm., a Survivor Celebration lap and opening at 7pm and a Luminaria ceremony to honor and remember loved ones who have battled cancer at 9pm. There is no fee to attend or participate. Food and activities available for donations throughout the night. To register or donate, visit!

EcoFest 2018 Announced Each year in April, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature


Center celebrates Earth Day with an Eco-Fest celebration and Butterfly Release. In celebration of ongoing progress in the rebuilding of Shangri La Gardens, a 3-day long Earth Day celebration that signifies what Shangri La is all about. Family friendly activities and games will take place on April 19-21 culminating with an inspirational Butterfly Release at 3:30pm on Saturday.

crawfish, Zydeco and Cajun music, a parade, and a midway carnival. The DownTown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival also promotes awareness of crawfish season, the history of it, and how the seafood industry has benefited Louisiana over the past 200 years. Admission at the door is $10 and kids 10 and under are free. Crawfish, as well as other food and beverage items are sold at additional cost.

For more information, visit Shangri La Gardens Facebook page.

Presale tickets are available online at

2018 DownTown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival

Gibbstown Bridge 5K

The Original DownTown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival returns April 13-15 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Held each April during Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the festival hosts clean, family fun with great food, including over 10,000 pounds of boiled

The Gibbstown Bridge 5K will be held on April 28 from 8-9:30am with the start/finish line at 101 Old Ferry Road in Creole, Louisiana. Participants will start adjacent to the south end of the bridge and travel over the Gibbstown Bridge for 1.55 miles and then return to the finish.

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The event is hosted by the Cameron Preservation Alliance and raises funds for the Sabine Pass Lighthouse. For more information, visit gibbstownbridge5k.

2018 Southwest Louisiana Heart Ball The American Heart Association will host the Southwest Louisiana Heart Ball on April 14 at Burton Coliseum. The gala will generate funds to support education, research and awareness to prevent heart disease and stroke in Southwest Louisiana. Doors will open at 6pm and the evening will feature elegant dining, a live auction, a local survivor’s story and education about cardiovascular disease and stroke research. It will be an unforgettable mix of friends, fun, entertainment and

April 2018

food, all while raising much needed funds for research and heart disease awareness in the Southwest Louisiana Community. For information about tickets or sponsorships, (337) 540-4773

Cameron Prairie Wildlife Refuge Hosts 4th Annual Family Fishing Festival The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Friends of the Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex and Wetlands are working with numerous partners and volunteers to host our 3rd Annual Family Fishing Festival on April

7 from 9am-1pm at Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. All participants 16 years of age and older will require a Basic Louisiana Fishing license to participate. All state fishing regulations will apply. Participants will have an opportunity to fish for bass and/or catfish from three ponds covering 6.5 acres which are only open to fishing during this event. There will also be numerous activities and demonstrations throughout the morning. The first 200 registered guests will receive gift bags, including a commemorative Festival golf towel with the event logo. Food and drinks will be provided.

New Life Counseling Presents

Building to Better

Leaving a Lasting Imprint on our Community

Historic Cash & Carry Building Friday, April 27th | 7:00 - 11:00 pm Cocktail Attire Hors D’Oeuvres | Cash Bar Live Entertainment by Gyth Rigdon For tickets, visit /events

March 2018

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Mind & Body


Your Doctor’s Language by Andrea Mongler

Doctors have a reputation for having horrible handwriting. But whether there’s any truth to that old stereotype may not matter much, as the large majority of prescriptions these days are electronic rather than handwritten. Doctors’ oral communication skills, on the other hand, are terribly important. Day in and day out, they communicate with patients, explaining diagnoses, treatment options, and potential side effects. Many doctors are great at this. Others, though, go heavy on the medical terminology and light on the plain language. For patients who are up to speed on medical terms — those who work in the health care field themselves, for example — this is probably no big deal. But for everyone else, doctor speak can be confusing and even scary. In addition, research has shown that a large proportion of people have limited health literacy, which means their ability to read and understand health information is low. This is associated with worse health outcomes and decreased use of health care services. That makes doctors’ ability to explain things in terms their patients can understand even more critical.


If you’ve ever had trouble decoding your doctor’s language, here are some tips to help:

Ask questions. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know or understand something. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your doctor to clarify or repeat things or to explain something differently. You might find it helpful to tell the doctor, in your words, your interpretation of what he or she has told you. “So, what you’re saying is . . . ”

Take notes. Bring a pen and paper with you or use your smartphone. Write down what your doctor tells you so that you can review the information later. Have your doctor spell out terms you’re unfamiliar with so you can record the names correctly. If your doctor is talking too fast for you to take decent

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notes, ask him or her to pause or slow down. Review your notes after you leave the office; if you’re confused about anything or think of questions, you can call. In addition, if you take good notes, you won’t have to worry about forgetting everything your doctor said. If possible, take someone along with you who can take notes for you and help you remember what the doctor said. Even better, bring along someone who has a healthcare background and understands medical jargon.

Look up medical terms on your own. The MedlinePlus website from the U.S. National Library of Medicine is a great place to start. It contains comprehensive, easyto-understand information about diseases, conditions, medications, surgeries, and other health topics. Simply use the search bar at the top of the page. If you use other sites, though, be sure they are credible. Government agencies, universities, national medical groups such as the American Medical Association, and well-known organizations like the American Heart Association are good options. But do be careful: A simple Google search can pull up sites from groups with credible-sounding names that are actually spreading false information. No matter what steps you take to decode your doctor’s language, remember that your health — and your family’s — is worth the effort.

April 2018

Care That Makes You SMILE

Little people can have big sleep problems. Your smile is your trademark; it lights up your face and expresses your joy and friendliness. Put your smile in safe, experienced hands:

the hands of the team at Lake Area Dentistry.

From sleep walking to night terrors, we can diagnose and treat pediatric sleep disorders. Call us today so your little one can rest easy.

We offer all aspects of

General Dentistry including: Family | Preventive | Restorative | Sedation Implant | Emergency | Minor Orthodontics Same Day Procedures


Ashley Moffett Azevedo, DDS Peter T. Bayles, DDS Nathan Bray, DDS Jeffery Hennigan, DDS LAKE CHARLES 700 W. McNeese St. (337) 478-8470

DEQUINCY 824 W. 4th St. (337) 786-6221 March 2018

Phillip Conner, MD | Michelle Zimmerman, NP

4820 Lake St., Lake Charles (337) 310-REST

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& Body

What to Expect From a Personal Trainer by Andrea Mongler

If you’ve ever considered hiring a personal trainer but you aren’t sure what to expect if you do, the answer, in part, is up to you. That’s because personal trainers don’t use a one-size-fits-all exercise plan. Instead, your trainer will develop an individualized plan to help you achieve your unique fitness goals. During your initial session, your trainer will likely ask you about not only your goals but also your health, exercise history, and exercise preferences. Cheyanna Glyenn, manager of Christus Louisiana Athletic Club-Lake Charles, says the first session also may include tests to measure your physical fitness in five different areas: cardio-respiratory fitness; flexibility; muscular strength; muscular endurance; and body composition, which is the relative proportions of fat mass and lean mass (bones, tissues, organs, and muscles) in the body. This assessment helps your trainer understand your current fitness level and then customize a plan for you. Glyenn says clients’ goals vary widely. Some want to strengthen their muscles, for example; others hope to increase their flexibility or lose


weight. No matter your goal, your trainer should help you achieve it — with a couple of caveats. First, your goal or goals must be realistic. “If you want to lose 10 pounds in two to three months, we will come up with a plan to help you do that safely — one to two pounds a week,” Glyenn says. “But we are not like a ‘get-rich-quick’ diet that helps you lose 10 pounds in one week.” Second, personal trainers aren’t magicians. Translation: You have to put in the work. And if you’re only meeting with your trainer, say, once or twice a week, you’ll have to work hard on your own time, too. “If you are willing to work out, I will help you accomplish your goals,” Glyenn says. “I will work you out during our sessions, but I will also give you exercises to do outside of your time with me. I don’t want to set you up to fail. I am here to help you.” In fact, part of a trainer’s role is to educate you about why you’re doing particular exercises, how to do them safely, and how to stay motivated and make progress. As the American Council on Exercise explains: “Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a quality personal

Thrive Magazine for Better Living

April 2018

trainer is to promote self-efficacy within the client, enabling them to take ownership of their exercise experience.” How often you meet with your trainer is up to you and may depend on your budget and your time constraints. Costs vary, of course, but at Christus, prices are $32, $40 and $50 for sessions that last 30, 45, and 60 minutes, respectively. Also keep in mind that what you can expect from a personal trainer may depend on the trainer. Unlike your doctor, who you know graduated from medical school, your personal trainer may — or may not — have received any of a large number of certifications or degrees in order to be designated as a personal trainer. Glyenn recommends choosing a trainer who has a bachelor’s degree in a field such as kinesiology, health and exercise science, or health and human performance and/or is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, or the Athletics and Fitness Association of America. Above all, Glyenn describes a good personal trainer as “a motivational trainer and an accountability partner.” “You don’t want to fail, and I don’t want to fail you as a trainer,” she says. “You do your part; I do mine.”

March 2018

Over 50 Group Fitness Classes • BodyPump • CX-Worx • GRIT • Spin • And so much more

FREE Childcare Personal Training 24/7 Club Access Specialty Classes for All Ages • Kids A.C.T. • >50 (Senior) Classes

4429 Nelson Road • (337) 474-6601

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& Body

Gillette Named Director of Tennis

at Gray Plantation


Kevin Gillette is the new Director of Tennis at Gray Plantation Sports Club. He will head up the tennis program at the club’s 10-court facility in the Graywood area of Lake Charles. “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Kevin to Lake Charles,” said Billy Rase, general manager of Gray Plantation. “He brings great experience and success in developing first-class tennis programs and providing exceptional customer service. He’ll be a great asset to the players at Gray Plantation -- and to the sport of tennis in Southwest Louisiana. In fact, we’re resurfacing all the courts at Gray Plantation to give Kevin the very best facility for his program.” Before working up the ranks as a USPTAcertified Club Tennis Professional, Gillette competed successfully at the collegiate level as an All-American at Long Beach State. In college, he scored wins over future tennis pros Patrick McEnroe and Luke Jensen. He won the 1987 Fiesta Bowl doubles title with partner Pete Sampras and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. During his college years, he spent time on the court with another famous name in tennis, Bobby Riggs. Gillette has been Tennis Director at Northwood Country Club in Meridian, Mississippi for the past 14 years, where he significantly increased tennis participation among their members and community. In 2017, he was named Tennis Director of the Year for the state of Mississippi, USTA Boys 18’s National Team Coach for the Southern Section, and USTA National Boys and Girls Intersectional Coach. He coached junior tennis player Stevie Johnson, who went on to play on the U.S. Davis Cup team. Gray Plantation Sports Club is at 3860 Gray Market Drive in Lake Charles, phone 337-562-1206. Kevin Gillette can be contacted at

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April 2018

The Sneeze & Wheeze.

It’s a classic move, and one that could be a sign of allergies, a cold, sinus problems or even an infection.

Specialized treatment for little ears, noses and throats. It’s the season for sneezing and wheezing, and when you notice these symptoms in your child, that’s your signal to see an experienced ENT specialist. Dr. Bridget Loehn offers advanced diagnostic and treatment options for a wide range of pediatric ear, nose and throat problems, along with comprehensive allergy testing and treatment.

Call Dr. Bridget Loehn

ENT & Allergy Specialist

1747 Imperial Blvd., Lake Charles (inside CFO) • (337) 419-1960

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March 2018

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Solutions for Life

from Solutions Counseling & EAP by Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, LPC, LMFT, CEAP

Don’t Go Changing . . . “The only kind of change people like is the kind that jingles in their pocket.” How do you feel about change? If you’re like most people, you don’t like it. At all. While I don’t love change, I have learned not to hate it or be afraid of it. It is, after all, the one thing we can count on in life – things will always be changing. Why do most people not like change? Fear is the number one factor: fear of the unknown. Even if the current situation isn’t the healthiest, at least we know how it works. If we leave this current situation, who knows what will happen! This thought process has kept people in unhealthy relationships, jobs, and other situations far too long. I feel like I have had a lot of change in my life in the last couple of years. It seems I am destined not to have a “coasting” period for now. Do you ever feel like just as you figure out one area, another area comes undone? Good, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Part of my job is managing change, as well as helping my team manage change, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. I do a lot of work with supervisors of the companies for which I have contracts. We spend a lot of time on dealing effectively with change. I have to get those supervisors to a place of comfort with change before they can roll out a change to their employees. The same thing holds


true for you. Whether you are a manager/supervisor at work, a parent, or an adult child with aging parents, you are going to have to convince people of the need for change at times. Consider these points the next time the change initiative falls on you: Be a role model. The way you present the change will greatly affect how others receive it. Are you excited? Or are you grumbling even as you are telling those employees about the new change? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen supervisors say things like, “This wasn’t my bright idea, but we have to do it.” All that does is guarantee the employees will grumble and take much longer to get on board. The same thing happens with changes in families. If we have to move because of someone’s job, will it be posed as an adventure or a hardship? Pace the process. Processing change takes time. Don’t make the announcement and expect everyone to be ready to move forward. They will need some time to wrap their heads around things. They will need to grieve. They may have to grieve the fact they are giving up doing things the way they have always done them. They may have to grieve relationships if they are physically

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moving. Give them some space to accommodate the emotional impact of the situation. Explain the reason. Always start with the “why.” It does no good to jump into the “what” and “how.” Trust me, they are stuck on the “why,” and until you address that, they cannot move forward. Focus on how it will benefit them, even if the benefit is more stability within the organization or family unit. People want to know you took their feelings into account as decisions were made. Communicate. It is really important that you check in frequently with the people who are dealing with change. Don’t make your announcement, expect them to get on board immediately, then disappear. I see this happen in organizations and families. Change involves a series of conversations. Very often, people are in a state of shock or denial when change is introduced. As people process, new things come to their minds. As they accept the changes, they will want to communicate. Whether forced upon you or chosen, change is never easy. Even when you know things will be better in the long run. I encourage you to examine your own thoughts about change because one day, I promise, you will have to convince someone else that change is good!

April 2018

McNeese Dietetics Program and Internship Accreditation Continues

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics announced that accreditation for McNeese State University’s Didactic Program in Dietetics and its Dietetic Internship has been extended through June 2019. Both programs are offered through the Harold and Pearl Dripps School of Agricultural Sciences. ACEND is the accrediting agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitians or dietetic technicians. The McNeese program has been accredited since 1993. Students who graduate from McNeese’s program receive a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences with a concentration in nutrition and dietetics. These graduates are then eligible to apply for acceptance into supervised dietetic internship programs like the one at McNeese or at other universities across the country. Upon completion of the internship, students are then ready to take the national registration examination for dieticians.

Dr. Mitchell Adrian Selected McNeese Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management

is pending approval by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. In 2007, Adrian joined McNeese as dean of the College of Business. During his tenure as business dean, Adrian raised over $340,000 in grants, gifts and student scholarships. He is also a professor of management in the college, where he has held the J.P. Morgan Chase Bank Endowed Professor of Business Research. Adrian has received numerous other university awards for research, leadership, teaching and student advising. During his years as a faculty member, Adrian wrote numerous articles for publication in refereed journals and proceedings, was a frequent presenter at national conferences and served as a reviewer of journal articles and papers, co-editor of the Journal of Global Good Governance, Ethics and Leadership and an editorial board member of the Journal of Internet Commerce. He is a graduate of the Master Teacher Program at Georgia State University and has accreditation experience with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. He has served as a member or chairman of numerous academic, professional and community boards and committees and as a management consultant for local, state and international businesses.

Dr. Mitchell Adrian has been selected to serve as provost and vice Dr. Mitchell Adrian president for academic affairs and enrollment management at McNeese State University. Adrian has been serving in the interim role since August 2017. His appointment

March 2018

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McNeese Radiologic Sciences Program Reaccredited

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) announced that McNeese State University’s Radiologic Sciences Program has been reaccredited for an additional eight years, which is the maximum length of accreditation that can be awarded, following a comprehensive review of the baccalaureate degree program offered through the College of Nursing and Health Professions. JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for the accreditation of traditional and distance delivery educational programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance and medical dosimetry. JRCERT accreditation standards review a program’s integrity, resources, curriculum and academic practices that prepare students for professional careers, promotion of health and safety, assessment of student learning and institutional compliance. McNeese’s radiologic sciences program has been accredited by JRCERT since 1979. To learn more about the program, call 337-475-5653.



Thrive Magazine for Better Living

April 2018