Thrive Magazine April 2021 Issue

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Rehabilitation Hospital

of Jennings


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• 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

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

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Contents In This Issue Wining & Dining

6 8 10

Cinco de Mayo Clean Juice The Verandah -New Team, New Menu

Regular Features


77 Solutions for Life


Mind & Body


12 National Child Abuse Prevention Month 14 Organ Donation in Louisiana 18 Women at Greater Risk from COVID-19?

Money & Career

20 Pamela Quarles-Adams, Artist 22 Financial Goals in your 30s 24 Network for Success


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Places & Faces



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Home & Family

What Will You Learn This Year?


Style & Beauty


Spring into Summer Style

@thriveswla | 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. Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. 4

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Design and Layout Shonda Manuel Sarah Bercier Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions

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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


Wining & Dining

CLEAN JUICE A Perfect Blend of Healthy Options for the Whole Family The locals are raving about Clean Juice -- a small business that packs a huge health punch for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. The menu at Clean Juice boasts a variety of items and healthy meal options, convenient store hours, a drive-thru lane, indoor seating (plus a few tables outside to soak up some sunshine), delivery options, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and an app to order ahead and earn rewards. They also offer seasonal items such as specialty soups in winter, elderberry shots, and the current açaí (pronounced “ah-sah-EE”) dragon fruit bowl topped with gluten-free granola, chia seeds, coconut chips and gogi berries. Owner Gerard Mack promotes easy access to healthy meal options in our community, stating, “It’s not fast food . . . it’s healthy food fast!” (USDA-certified organic)


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

story and photos by Stephanie Kestel Karpovs

MENU Don’t let the name fool you . . . Clean Juice has so much more than their cold-pressed juices, made fresh on-site. They offer the perfect blend of healthy choices all under one roof. Whether you crave a kid-approved meal for less than five dollars, a wrap, salad, post-work out smoothie, meal combo, or a cleanse club monthly subscription program to rid your body of toxins, you can get it all from Clean Juice! Popular menu items include the Berry Bowl (smoothie topped with granola and berries), the Yummus Bowl (mixed greens topped with hummus, quinoa, avocado, cucumber, feta, walnuts and dates), fresh juices such as “Glow” and “Immunity,” avocado or almond butter toast (gluten-free option), cold-pressed juices, and wellness shots such as the “Hot Shot” with a little extra kick. If you are new to juices, easing into the earthier flavors of beets and wheat grass is helpful. A protein smoothie (made with either hemp or whey protein) like the “Recovery,” or regular smoothies like the “Coffee” or “So Basic” are great places to begin for first-time customers. The staff can assist on selecting the perfect cleanse package and cheerfully answer any questions about the extensive menu.



Clean Juice is the first USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise in the country. Other places may use limited organic ingredients or none at all, and many of those smoothies are loaded with added sugars. But Clean Juice is committed to providing the highest quality nutrition possible, even down to the organic add-ons such as cinnamon, turmeric, maca root, and flax seeds. Farmers undergo a rigorous process to become USDA-certified. By choosing something from Clean Juice to fuel your body, you’ll reap all the health benefits of organic foods – reduced exposure to synthetic pesticides and heavy metals, and higher concentrations of antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Be sure to download the Clean Juice app! You can order ahead for indoor dining, drive-thru pick-up, or have your order delivered (through four outside services) straight to your door. Clean Juice makes healthy eating and drinking simple with so many convenient options. Bonus perk: the app earns 5% -- that’s $5 for every $100 spent, and $5 off your first visit after downloading the app! Find Clean Juice at 4503 Nelson Rd. Lake Charles. Go to www.cleanjuice. com for store hours and other information or to place your to-go order. Stephanie Kestel Karpovs is a local speech-language pathologist and feeding therapist. She enjoys helping families become healthy, happy, adventurous eaters!


4503 Nelson Rd. Lake Charles, LA 70605


3546 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy A Lafayette, LA 70503



Wining & Dining


Verandah Retirement Community New Team, New Menu

The Verandah at Graywood

is an independent living, assisted living and secured memory care community located south of Lake Charles and serves residents age 55 years and older. Before Hurricane Laura hit, residents were evacuated to sister communities in Louisiana and other communities out of state. The community sustained significant damage, with assisted living hit the hardest. The months following the storms have been a challenge, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Great strides have been made with hurricane repair, returning residents, and new faces at The Verandah family. Chef Eric Johnson is one of the latest additions. He and the residents could not be happier. “This job makes me feel so fulfilled,” he says, “I could do this for free.” The Opelousas native attended culinary school after high school, began working in the gaming industry, and then transitioned into the healthcare setting. Johnson’s years in the Casino and Healthcare industries made him the perfect candidate to serve the beautiful Verandah community. Johnson praised the team who works along aside him and said, “Without the combined strength from the culinary staff, success would just be impossible.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Johnson stated, “I have to agree with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz; there is no place like home. I look forward to coming to such a peaceful job and getting to work with my team and socialize with our amazing residents.” So does the community’s new executive director, Leslie Von Der Ahe. A registered/licensed dietitian as well as a Licensed Nursing Facility Administrator with a long-term care background, she and her dog Lola (who goes everywhere with her), have settled in comfortably to her native Lake Charles area. Von Der Ahe is thrilled with the ongoing progress and the positive changes that have come about. “We are actively recruiting a team that upholds our mission of kindness, love, and respect to each other and the residents we have the privilege to serve,” Von Der Ahe said. “This is a calling, not just a job.” Von Der Ahe said the team does it all, from serving in the dining room, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and transportation. It’s all in a day’s work. As the community reopens the memory care and assisted living neighborhoods, “all of us here have multiple roles,” she explained.

by Stefanie Powers

There is a big emphasis on the dining experience for the residents. Von Der Ahe, with her dietitian background, and Johnson work well together. Research has shown the MIND diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is low in saturated fat and sugar. The two meal plans are known to be hearthealthy and to help prevent cancer, but it has been discovered that together, they can also enhance your brainpower. Think green, leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, fish, fowl, and whole grains cooked with olive oil. “The MIND diet incorporates super foods,” says Von Der Ahe. “Our residents don’t feel like they are restricted and reap the health benefits while enjoying these options. We also offer healthy, sugar-free, and guilt-free desserts.” Chef Johnson enjoys creating tasty dishes and new menus, and he never runs out of ideas. “We haven’t served the same lunch in three months and we continue to develop new menu items every week,” said Johnson. “I love variety, and I am all about the taste and presentation. Our dishes have flair and taste delicious.” He also encourages feedback on their dining experiences.

A Place to


The independent living dining room is fully operational and offers all three meals with table service. The “Sunshine Tavern,” serves beer and wine for residents’ frequent “Happy Hours.” “We take care of your body, mind, and soul here,” Von Der Ahe said. “We treat everyone with kindness, love, and respect. We are a family.”


The Verandah Retirement Community, 5851 Gray Market Dr., Lake Charles, LA 70605, (337) 660-2725, www. lake-charles-retirement-living

Premier Senior Community & World-Class Amenities

+We’re Hiring ns Multiple Positio y! Pa ly With Dai

9 AY: (337) 549-483 D TO R U TO A LE U SCHED 5851 Gray Market Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70605

Verandah's Chef Eric Johnson, Leslie Von Der Ahe, and Lola


Straight Answers to Your Questions on Industry and the Environment


How safe is it to work at an industrial plant?


Safety is the priority at every industrial plant.

Because of the safety mindset within the plant, an employee’s risk of injury decreases significantly once he or she enters the plant. Before any job begins, multiple safety checks occur and continue throughout the job, daily. If anything seems unsafe, employees have the right and responsibility to stop the job. If an incident should occur, highly skilled and specialized emergency response teams are in place onsite and are ready to work with area first responders. Safety is our culture, and it’s built into every job we do. The goal is to protect ourselves, our co-workers, our families and our community, because this is our home too.

Greg Satterfield

senior safety engineer with area industry

Visit to learn more and submit your question about local industry and the environment.


Mind & Body


April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, an important time to start the conversation in our communities about how we can keep children safe, because every child has a right to a safe childhood.

for Children It shouldn’t hurt to be a child. by Haley Armand Tarasiewicz

The events of the last year—pandemic, hurricanes, ice storm, etc., have placed unprecedented stress on our children and families, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangement, and food insecurity. In addition, physical distancing leads to the unintended consequence of isolation. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect under ordinary conditions may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing. The risk to children for experiencing child abuse and neglect as the result of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high in our region right now. In 2020, the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a division of Family & Youth Counseling Agency, conducted 489 interviews for 461 child victims in the Southwest Louisiana region, ages 0-17, for abuse allegations as follows. Of the 461 cases, 90 percent of the child victims know their abuser. • 339 Sexual Abuse • 150 Physical Abuse • 10 Neglect • 99 Witness to Crime • 3 Human Trafficking 12

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Established in 1996, the CAC brings together local law enforcement, the Department of Children & Family Services, the District Attorney’s Office, medical professionals, victim advocates, counselors and forensic interviewers as part of a Multidisciplinary Team to confer and conclude about the investigations, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases. The primary goal is to minimize the level of trauma experienced, improve prosecution and provide efficient and thorough provision of necessary services to the child victim and their family. Interviews are initiated following referrals from area law enforcement and the Department of Children & Family Services. “When most people think about abuse, they automatically assume sexual abuse, but abuse comes in many forms—physical, neglect, mental, verbal and emotional; abandonment, sexual exploitation and a lack of adequate supervision or any act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk or serious harm are also included,” said Erika Doshier, Vice President of Family & Youth. “In today’s technology-driven world, neglect is even more prevalent in terms of children not having boundaries on their electronic devices and becoming exposed to material or a person that leads to inappropriate thoughts or behavior, or dangerous situations.

When this type of exposure happens, or any abuse for that matter, don’t pretend like it didn’t happen. It is important for parents and caregivers to address trauma to begin the healing to prevent further abuse later and generational cycles.” Child abuse is a preventable problem, and all adults play a role in building a safe, stable and nurturing home and environment needed for the healthy development of our future generation of parents, leaders and community members. As a community, let’s work together to prevent child abuse, because childhood lasts a lifetime. To file a report please contact your local law enforcement office or call the DCFS hotline at 1-855-4LA-kids if you suspect abuse in the home. To schedule a prevention presentation— for youth and adult groups, please contact Miranda Booth, Children’s Advocacy Center Coordinator at 337-436-9533 or miranda@ For more information or to make a donation to Back the Mission of the CAC and Family & Youth, please visit their website:

So, what can you do to help protect your children? Doshier offers the following advice. •

Establish an appropriate language for body parts that are recognizable. This is crucial especially for younger children who may be reaching out for help, but the adult doesn’t realize they refer to their body part as a nickname.

Encourage them to understand their body is theirs. Reinforce the importance of boundaries and communicate what to do if they ever feel unsafe. Talk to your child about what’s safe and things that may make them feel unsafe, and should they ever feel unsafe instruct them to tell a trusted adult, think “know and tell.”

Discuss who are safe people—in all situations—at home, school, a friend’s house, etc. This should be a regular conversation, especially as children get older.

Be a helicopter parent when it comes to technological devices. Look at what they are looking at, set parameters, consider a technology curfew, screen-time limit, etc. Now, with virtual learning in place, especially if you are a working parent of a teenager who is home alone, consider face-time check-ins with them to keep an open line of communication.

Review the old “hands to yourself” policy and remind them that is goes both ways. They should keep their hands to themselves, but also their friends need to keep their hands to their selves too. Your child’s body is their body and they should protect it.


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ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER The Children’s Advocacy Center is a childfriendly facility designed to coordinate services for children who have been abused. Designed and managed to reduce the effects of trauma, the CAC’s comfortable environment and welltrained staff work together with area prosecutors, law enforcement agents, social service workers, therapists, victim advocates and medical professionals to investigate child abuse allegations and reduce the number of investigative interviews typically experienced by victims.

ABOUT FAMILY & YOUTH COUNSELING AGENCY Family & Youth Counseling was established as a nonprofit organization in 1970 to provide affordable and professional support through programs and services dedicated to advocacy, counseling and education for the people of Southwest Louisiana. It is the belief of Family & Youth that all individuals possess the ability to solve their own challenges and live full and healthy lives when support is available.

The Ear Pull. It’s a classic move, and one that could be a sign of allergies, sinus problems or even an infection. Specialized treatment for little ears, noses and throats. If you notice your child pulling or rubbing their ears, that’s your signal to take them to an experienced ENT specialist. Dr. Bridget Loehn with Imperial Health offers advanced diagnostic and treatment options for a wide range of pediatric ear, nose and throat problems, along with comprehensive allergy testing and treatment.

ENT & Allergy Specialist Dr. Bridget Loehn (337) 419-1960

4150 Nelson Rd Suite, Suite C-10 Lake Charles


Mind & Body


A record number of Louisianans gave the gift of life last year through organ and tissue donation, according to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA), the federally designated Organ Procurement Organization for the state of Louisiana. In spite of the challenges of a pandemic and two devastating hurricanes, there was a 14 percent increase in tissue donors over 2019. With one tissue donor able to either restore health or enhance the lives of up to 50 people, the increase is significant: There were a total of 498 donors last year. Donated tissue is used for heart valve transplants for children born with congenital heart defects, skin grafts for burn victims, and various orthopedic rehabilitation procedures. In 2020, 211 people donated their organs, just a slight decrease from 2019. Altogether, 699 organs were donated for transplant. An additional 44 organs not suitable for transplant were earmarked for research. Kelly Ranum, LOPA CEO, is proud that her team was able to adapt and support donor families throughout such a difficult year.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

“As we strive to fulfill our core purpose of Making Life Happen, we continue to look for innovative ways to assist our healthcare and community partners and to honor our donor heroes.” Founded in April 1988, LOPA is the federally designated, not for profit organ and tissue recovery agency for the state of Louisiana. LOPA also manages the Louisiana Donor Registry, a database of individuals who have expressed their decision to become organ, tissue and eye donors. Every April, LOPA focuses statewide attention on the lifesaving gifts of organ, tissue and eye donation as part of National Donate Life Month. Established by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003, it encourages people to join the donor registry, and honors those whose selfless acts of donation helped others in need. Last year’s success story is due to LOPA’s state-of-the-art Donor Care Center. LOPA was the first organ procurement organization in the nation to utilize video visualization of recoveries for transplant surgeons who were unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. The surgeons were able to virtually enter the operating room thanks to overhead surgical lights fitted with high definition cameras, while in-house pathology services enabled them to evaluate an organ’s viability swiftly and efficiently.

by Stefanie Powers

Most of the tissue recoveries were performed at the Donor Care Center, freeing up hospital resources and allowing for greater control over sterilization practices. In fact, LOPA was recognized by LifeNet Health for achieving the lowest culture rates for heart valves for transplant. Despite the positive 2020 statistics, more donors are desperately needed. Over 2,000 people are currently waiting on a life-saving organ transplant in Louisiana. Just one organ donor can potentially save up to eight lives. People become donors through a traumatic brain injury, which is often caused by a stroke, aneurysm, or a severe head injury. Only two percent of the population will beome a candidate for organ donation, and transplants only occur at specialized facilities that perform them. Organ donation ultimately begins with the decision to donate. A family discussion is strongly encouraged so that everyone is aware of this decision. Understanding the facts of donation will make the process easier when the time comes. You can register as an organ, eye and tissue donor in the state of Louisiana by saying “YES” when getting your driver’s license or State ID, or by signing up on the Louisiana Donor Registry at


Justin Lyman M.D. Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Center - Lake Area Rheumatology 4150 Nelson Road | Bldg. G | 337.491.7577 CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana welcomes Dr. Justin Lyman. Dr. Lyman earned his medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana and completed his rheumatology fellowship at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Dr. Lyman is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been practicing in Lake Charles, Louisiana, since 2010. To schedule a consultation with Justin Lyman M.D. or another provider, visit:




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Mind & Body

The new CloseWatch app from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office provides an easy, anonymous way to report suspicious activity. Your tip could make a difference; whether it’s in the community or your local school. Use the CloseWatch app if you have information you feel could help law enforcement solve or deter crime, as well as prevent potential harm. But remember, if it’s an emergency, call 911. Download the free app from your app store and follow the simple instructions. Visit to learn more and watch a demo of how the app works.

If you see something, send something. CloseWatch Calcasieu.

Download the app today. When considering cosmetic surgery, two things are essential. An experienced, highly skilled surgeon who understands the structure of the face both inside and out is, of course, a requirement. But, making skin smooth and tight again is only a part of the process. A keen understanding of the balance and proportions of your particular face—how the chin, nose, eyes and neck work in harmony to enhance your appearance is critical. Adjusting this balance, delicately and gently, requires the experienced eye of an artist. Uncovering the beauty beneath demands a special touch.

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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

READY TO REFINANCE? There’s Never Been a Better Time. Rates are Lower than Ever! With today’s low mortgage rates, refinancing with Lakeside would save you a considerable amount of money over the life of your loan. Act now. Stop by and visit with Christa at 2132 Oak Park Boulevard or call her at 502-4836 to discuss our low-rate financing options.

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Mind & Body


COVID-19? More men than women are dying from COVID-19. Many studies suggest that hormones may give women the upper hand. But not all women seem to be equally protected. Chitra Gotluru; fourth-year medical student at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM)

Allison Roach; fourth-year medical student at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM)


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

by Ileana Varela

Two fourth-year medical students at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM), Chitra Gotluru and Allison Roach, analyzed worldwide data looking for answers. Their findings were published in the March 2021 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. They reviewed more than 100 studies and the Global Health 50/50 database, the world’s largest public source of sexdisaggregated data on COVID-19. “We found that in countries that kept male/female data, men are dying from COVID-19 at double the rate of women,” said Gotluru, the study’s first author. “We also found that certain women had higher mortality (rate of dying).” Senior author Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and executive associate dean for academic affairs at HWCOM, noted that

“women who had just given birth, menopausal women, and possibly women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) appear to be more vulnerable to infection with the novel coronavirus.”

Women may have stronger immune systems partly due to the influence of sex chromosomes. Scientists think that having two X chromosomes—men have one X and one Y—is better for fighting off infection. Sex hormones also play an essential role in immune response. “It appears that estrogen, and possibly progesterone, may have a protective effect in women, which is lost at menopause,” said Runowicz. During menopause, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. The students found that “for women, there is an initial increase in COVID-19-associated case-fatality that begins at age 50 years, notably coinciding with the age of menopause,” and a decrease in hormone levels. Some of the most severe cases of COVID-19 in women occurred post-partum, according to the study. Pregnant women have high levels of estrogen and progesterone, but progesterone drops off almost immediately after delivery. The literature review also noted that “in theory, patients with PCOS may be at greater risk of contracting the virus…” due to having a higher incidence of risk factors like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and increased androgen levels. Androgens are sex hormones that give men their male characteristics. Although more research is needed, the report suggests that women in these vulnerable groups should be more vigilant about avoiding coronavirus infection.

By the Numbers

Money & Career


Comprised of an


MEMBER COMMISSION The Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District has representation from every ward in Cameron Parish, a land area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Our port district is home to more than $35 billion in already constructed investment in recent years, more than $5 billion currently under construction and ahead of schedule, with an additional $30 billion proposed projects on the horizon.

The US is now the largest exporter of liquified natural gas in the world and with 2 export facilities located in Cameron Parish, we are the leader globally.

Port director Clair Marceaux recently received the US Coast Guard‘s Meritorious Public Service Award for her role in the SWLA region’s unprecedented growth.

The Cameron Parish Port creates opportunities for our local workforce to interface with engineering, procurement and construction contractors active in the parish.

for more information visit


Money & Career

s e l ar u Q a l e m Pa - dams A


Finds Joy in Creative Variety by Angie Kay Dilmore SINGLE LINE DRAWINGS Frida Kahlo

Jean Michel Basquait


As an artist, Lake Charles native Pamela QuarlesAdams is a master of reinvention. Much of her artistic career has taken place in classrooms and studios, teaching art to both youth and adults for 25 years. Her curiosity and love of the craft, as well as her many students, have inspired Pamela to experiment with numerous art forms and subject matter over the years; animals, portraits, acrylics, oils, paint pouring, and her unique single continuous contour line ink drawings, just to name a few. “The art forms I pursue continually change as I learn new mediums and techniques. Currently I am doing pendulum, or swing, painting with enamel paint on giant canvases,” says Pamela. “My interpretation of self-reinvention is adapting what you’re doing in life, career-wise, to where you stand regarding your location, age, abilities, and your family. Those things WILL change several times throughout your life and if you’re not reinventing or changing what you do, you will probably be unhappy or unfulfilled.” Pamela earned a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree with a concentration in photography from McNeese State University in 1986. She taught art at several local elementary schools, and later schools in Colorado, for 14 years. “As I researched new art forms to introduce to my students, I got so fired up by the information I learned that I had to first try out each art project myself.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

My genuine excitement and enthusiasm, because of my own desire to learn, rubbed off on the kids! The bases for my art curriculum were always multiculturalism, the French language, and art history.” During this time, Pamela developed her method of single continuous contour line ink drawings. Using a black and white photograph and a permanent black ink pen, she learned to create a portrait or other image by never lifting her pen from the paper until she had signed her signature. “It took extreme concentration and sometimes a couple of hours, but the reward for me was completion of a piece of art in one sitting!” Her portrait prints of Frida Khalo and Jean-Michel Basquiat continue to be her best-selling art pieces. In 2004, at age 40, she and her then-husband moved from Lake Charles to Divide, Colorado and bought the historic Starbuck Ranch, where she bred Clydesdale horses. At this stage in her career, she revived her interest in photography. “I shot photos of wildlife, wildflowers, our wild kids, and my Clydesdales as they ran through our 55 acres of paradise.” Pamela has always been fascinated by and drawn to animals as subject matter for her creativity. In her WILDlife collection, she paints animals indigenous to certain parts of the world in vibrant, sometimes unrealistic, paint hues on black backgrounds.



Blue Pelican





Rainbow Trout

Rosie the Spoonbill

After Pamela moved to Colorado Springs, she became known for her quirky pet portraiture and her gilded and bedazzled antler mounts which adorn the lobby of the iconic Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs. “I feel like I’ve done it all,” she says. But she’s not done yet. Three years ago, at age 55, Pamela remarried; she and her husband recently moved to North Carolina. She plans to pursue a master’s program in Art History. She’s collaborating with a photographer colleague to publish a coffee table book of portrait paintings depicting aboriginal people. She’s continuing her WILDlife series with upcoming shows in Denver and here in Lake Charles. Her “Louisiana WILDlife Art Show” will debut on August 26 at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and run through October. Proceeds from the event will benefit Abraham’s Tent and DeWanna’s Closet. “My heart truly aches for the devastation of my hometown due to Hurricanes Laura and Delta and COVID-19,” Pamela says. “This will be a small way for me to support my friends, family, and the city that I love.” To see more of Pamela’s artwork, visit her website,



Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


Money & Career

Professional Networking a key to career success The Chamber SWLA is the largest and only regional business organization that represents the parishes of Allen, Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard and Jeff Davis. They serve as the non-partisan “Voice For Business” at the local, state, and federal level to advocate for probusiness legislation. Members are promoted on social media and a bi-weekly e-newsletter. The Chamber hosts large annual events such as their annual banquet and “Legisgator,” Business After Hours, an annual golf tournament, as well as educational programs throughout the year. Their membership tiers are based upon the level of exposure and benefits a member wishes to receive. The Chamber offers eight levels of membership beginning with the “Basic” for $450 and going up to the “CEO” for $20,000 annually. To join: call Paula Ramsey 337-433-3632 or email Fusion Five is a Young Professional Organization (YPO) that is making a positive impact on SWLA by exchanging ideas, developing their members, leading the community, and creating a better place to live and work. As an active member, you’ll sharpen your networking skills, gain leadership experience, and have opportunities to help improve our community. You’ll also rub elbows with other young professionals at their many events, and may even receive a few mentoring opportunities with area leaders. Membership dues $100 annually.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Southwest Louisiana Public Relations Officers (SWLA PROs) is a dynamic public relations organization established in 2018 that meets monthly and generally holds 3-4 professional development opportunities throughout the year. SWLA PROs represent business and industry, independent practitioners, government, associations, hospitals, schools, professional services firms and nonprofit organizations. Members become vital to the Southwest Louisiana public relations community while developing new contacts and attending local learning events or service projects. Participants attend local seminars, conferences and meetings, network with others in the field, and take on leadership roles and advocacy initiatives. Annual Membership Dues: $125. For more information, visit SWLAPros or contact Amanda White at awhite@ Alliance for Positive Growth (APG) is a united, grassroots effort to actively support sustained, progressive growth and development in our community. APG’s 130+ members advocate for policy reforms/legislative action that encourages economic/socio-economic advancement for SWLA. Open to any business operating in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron & Jeff Davis. General Membership Luncheons and Public Servant Panel Luncheons held quarterly (as safety conditions allow), where members get direct access to local & industry leaders. Plus an Annual Awards Banquet that honors businesses and citizens that are making positive impacts in

You’ve heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While this phrase can sound negative at times, there is some truth to it. Who have you met? Who has influenced you, mentored you, recommended and promoted you? Networking is often a vital component to career development. And an excellent way to network is through a professional organization. As a member, you’re given opportunities to attend monthly meetings and gatherings, conferences, workshops, and seminars, where you’ll meet people who do what you do and make new friends, share ideas, learn new concepts, discover the latest in your field, and generally talk shop. Making connections can put your career on a fast track to success. While you gain much from networking, you also have opportunities to help others. Chances are, if you are a professional in the workforce, there’s a local or state-wide organization that represents your line of work. The following compilation of area associations are examples of the many professional organizations available in SWLA and is not a comprehensive list. Whatever it is you do, try to find others who do the same or similar work. There is power in numbers! our region. There are four different membership levels to fit any budget. For more information contact Executive Director Faith Hooks via email, phone 337-6026788 or visit www.facebook. com/AllianceForPositiveGrowthSWLA Women’s Business Network (WBN) is open to all women in business who are members of the Chamber SWLA. Events are planned by the WBN Advisory Council which is made up of long-term WBN members who are all leaders within our community. Lunches are held quarterly and cover a wide array of topics such as goal setting, networking, regional developments, financial literacy, and more. There are no additional dues to be a member of WBN. Once someone attends a luncheon – which is broadcast to the Chamber SWLA membership as a whole – attendees are the first to be invited to future events. The Women’s Business Network greatly benefits from regional partnerships and support like our annual corporate sponsor, First Federal Bank of Louisiana. Interested in joining? Contact Amanda White at Imperial Calcasieu Society of Human Resource Management (ICSHRM) is a nonprofit organization designed to serve the needs of Human Resources professionals within the Imperial Calcasieu area. ICSHRM is an affiliate of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest association devoted to the Human Resource profession. Their membership of approximately 170 members

represents over 90 organizations in the fields of manufacturing, law, healthcare, banking, communications, local government, staffing agencies, and more. Local chapter membership, in conjunction with national SHRM membership, provides the well-rounded HR professional with extensive networking, programming and learning opportunities. ICSHRM hosts monthly meetings to educate members on current HR concerns. ICSHRM also hosts an annual conference where industry leaders and HR professionals share their knowledge and proven practices with members and the community. The Southwest Louisiana Association of REALTORS® (S.W.L.A.R.) enhances individual REALTOR® members’ freedom and ability to conduct their business ethically and successfully. They provide member education classes and technology applications so they can better serve their clients while meeting the challenges of a changing industry. Training covers topics such as Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity, for examples. Members also have access to technologies and services that help ensure they get the best possible marketing exposure for each of their clients’ listings. Members of S.W.L.A.R. also give back to their community by hosting and attending events such as blood drives, coats for kids, community clean up, etc. They host a general membership meeting every other month to mingle with members and discuss topics that affect their industry. Any licensed real estate agent can join and become a REALTOR® after completing the required additional training. Those affiliated with the real estate industry, such as real estate title companies, mortgage companies, appraisal firms, inspector companies, homeowner’s insurance firms, etc. can also join as an affiliate and grow their brand. For more information, call 337-478-9717 or email april@ Among the primary goals of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association is to promote high professional and ethical standards among members of the Bar who practice law in Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen, and Jeff Davis parishes. The SWLBA strives to uphold the honor and dignity of the courts and of the legal profession, to promote the delivery of prompt, efficient, and competent professional services to the public; and to promote professional courtesy and cordiality among the members of the Bench and Bar. Four classes of membership are available. Active Members are attorneys with membership in good standing in the Louisiana State Bar Association who reside in and/or maintain a law office in the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen and Jefferson Davis.Non-Resident Members are attorneys with membership in good standing in the Louisiana State Bar Association who cannot qualify as Active Members. Emeritus Members are retired attorneys and

retired judges of the state, federal and municipal courts, who are not practicing law and who reside in the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen and Jefferson Davis. Honorary Members are all active judges, including hearing officers, of the state and federal courts who reside in the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen and Jefferson Davis and who, because of their judicial office, are prohibited from practicing law. Non-Resident, Emeritus and Honorary Members have all the privileges of Active Members, except the privilege of voting and holding office. Active and Non-Resident Members shall pay such annual dues and special assessments as determined by the Executive Council. Senior and Honorary Members shall pay no dues or assessments. The Women’s Commission of Southwest Louisiana, Inc. was organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes in 1990. With an overall mission to educate, empower, and expand the status of women living in Southwest Louisiana, their annual Women’s Fall Conference is the main tool in helping to achieve that mission. The Commission also provides their Jack V. Doland Citizen of the Year award based on an individual’s achievements and honors and making a difference in the lives of others. Multiple scholarships are awarded annually to non-traditional women attending SOWELA Technical Community College or McNeese State University. For more information on the Commission or the annual Fall Conference, visit or email Home Builders Association of Southwest Louisiana (HBA of SWLA) is a professional association for Builders and Associate members in SWLA. Their association supports the industry by representing the interests of the residential building industry on issues that affect their ability to provide housing for all citizens of SWLA. They provide members with education, lobby for legislation in favor of the industry, and create opportunities for members to grow their businesses. The HBA verifies that all their builder members are properly licensed to ensure the highest professional standards. The organization includes more than 325 members throughout our seven-parish area. If you are looking for local licensed contractors and associate members to build, renovate or remodel your home, please visit for information on how to join or a directory of members. Gallery by the Lake, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to share and inspire the esthetic power of visual arts. Their programming consists of Saturday art classes once or twice monthly and quarterly gallery exhibitions of members’ art in their gallery space in the Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center.

Full membership is available for a fee of $250 per year. Members meet monthly for business, networking opportunities, and informal art activities. For more information on classes and membership, visit, or contact Dan Plummer at Better Business Bureau Serving Southwest Louisiana. Why become accredited with BBB? Trust matters. Increase your brand’s visibility with TRUST by applying for BBB Accreditation, giving consumers confidence that they are dealing with an ethical and vetted business. BBB Accreditation gives your company greater exposure, enhanced credibility, and differentiation from the competition. BBB provides access to business tools and resources to run your company and thrive. Consumers can request a quote from BBB accredited businesses from your customizable profile on The BBB Accredited Business seal (logo) can be used on all your marketing materials. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance and for support of BBB services to the public. Apply online for BBB accreditation get-accredited or contact Liz Trahan, Operations Manager,, 337-478-6253. Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) is a professional advocacy organization for education employees of Louisiana's K-12 public schools. Members are teachers, school counselors, librarians, education support professionals, and other non-supervisory certificated personnel. For information, go to

Top 12 Benefits of Professional Networking • • • • • • • • • • • •

Build and strengthen business connections Garner fresh ideas Raise your professional profile Advance your career Obtain access to job opportunities Gain more knowledge Find career advice and support Build confidence Gain different perspectives Develop personal relationships Get answers to questions Find a job you love


Money & Career

Phillips 66 Replaces the Iconic Westlake Billboard

The "Welcome to Westlake" billboard was damaged like much of Southwest Louisiana following the devastating 2020 hurricane season. While it may not sound like a huge deal in comparison to all that is going on in the area, Phillips 66 made it their mission to restore the sign to help rebuild the city’s entrance and showcase the resiliency of the community. The replacement of the Welcome to Westlake billboard represents how we are all working together for a brighter future in Southwest Louisiana. The project was completed March 17. The sign is 17 feet tall and 124 feet long and weighs 17,900 lbs. The total cost for the refurbishment in 2021 was $80,000 and paid for by Phillips 66, which has been a pillar of the Westlake community for 80 years.


Involved! Women’s Business Network

The Southwest Louisiana Women’s Business Network recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of Women in Business and offers networking and professional development opportunities.

Our mission is to advance the Public Relations profession and Public Relations professionals by providing learning and development opportunities, setting standards of excellence, expanding our circle of colleagues and contacts, and serving our community.

Fusion Five was created of and for young professionals to change the social and economic landscape of Southwest Louisiana. Our mission is to cultivate a positive impact on Southwest Louisiana by connecting and engaging young professionals in regional opportunities for civic engagement, professional development, and personal growth.

To learn more visit • 4310 Ryan Street, Lake Charles, LA 70605 • (337) 433-3632 26

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


was created of and for young professionals to change the social and economic landscape of Southwest Louisiana. Our mission is to cultivate a positive impact on Southwest Louisiana by connecting and engaging young professionals in regional opportunities for civic engagement, professional development, and personal growth. Fusion Five is a Young Professional Organization (YPO) that is making a positive impact on SWLA by exchanging ideas, developing our members, leading the community, and creating a better place to live and work.

What started as a casual get together among friends at a coffee shop ended up becoming the newest YPO in Southwest Louisiana. In the Spring of 2007 the founders began meeting once a month to discuss ways to better improve our businesses, ourselves, and SWLA. The goal was to create a true Young Professional Organization (YPO) that would allow us to develop the next generation of SWLA’s business leaders. Taking the next step, it was agreed to have the Chamber SWLA sponsor and mentor Fusion Five. Today Fusion Five is a standalone 501C3 dedicated to the success of it’s members professionally and personally.

Fusion Five cultivates a positive impact on Southwest Louisiana by connecting and engaging young professionals in regional opportunities for growth and development. All across America, YPOs are running entrepreneurial projects, increasing awareness, and providing young professionals a voice in their community. Are you a young professional aged 21- 45 looking to accelerate your career and give back to your community? Take the first step and invest in your future. Join Fusion Five.



Are you a young professional aged 21- 45 looking to accelerate your career and give back to your community? Take the first step and invest in your future. Join Fusion Five. •


Places & Faces

Navigating through this past year posed challenges for people of every generation, but those in their thirties likely encountered a unique set of obstacles that took the concept of “thriving” to a whole new level. The decade between ages 30-39 are often a time when people connect with their community, build careers, raise children, and establish home and family. The events of 2020 altered the way 30-somethings managed each of these priorities. Our 30-Something theme this year is HOME. In response to the pandemic, 30-somethings stayed at home, possibly worked from home, helped their kids with virtual learning at home, and masked up when away from home. The 2020 hurricanes caused them to evacuate their home, return home, and deal with the destruction. This year’s class of 13 Thriving 30-Somethings is special not only for their stellar careers and commitment to community service, but for the ways they have overcome these unique obstacles, helped their neighbors, expressed gratitude for the lessons they’ve learned along the way . . . and possibly gained new perspectives on the definition of

by Angie Kay Dilmore photography by Shonda Manuel

28 28 Thrive Thrive Magazine Magazine for for Better Better Living Living • April • April 2021 2021

Top to Bottom

Ben Terry, Braylon Harris, Chavanne Stine, Holly Holland, Jessica Stewart, Jobie James, John Guidroz, Kellery Barton, Matt Koch, Michael Antoon, Scott Ogden, Dr. Stephanie Treme and Tabitha Nicholas




Meteorologist, KPLC-TV

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? I define HOME more as the friends you have rather than the structure you live in. So many of us lost our homes after Hurricane Laura, and without friends in our lives to help, where would our home be? I purchased my first home in 2017 and thought that was the biggest accomplishment of my life. Now that it's gone, I realized how much “stuff” I really don’t need. The people in my life stepped in to help. That’s the reason Lake Charles is still HOME!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

en Terry was born and raised in Kosciusko, Mississippi. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geosciences with an emphasis in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University in 2006. “Growing up, I was always interested in the weather, especially television weather, but never knew what had to be done to be a TV weatherman,” Ben says. “After discovering a program offered at Mississippi State for broadcast meteorology, I knew that was what I wanted to major in. April marks 10 years for me as a meteorologist for KPLC-TV in Lake Charles.”  Ben is driven by his passion for the weather and a duty to keep his viewers safe by conveying timely weather information in a way people can understand. “Most of the time, my job is just to tell you whether it’s going to rain or not, but when severe weather threatens, I want to continue to be a trusted source for accurate weather information in Southwest Louisiana. Not every person has the luxury of a career they love, so I don’t take that for granted!”    Ben volunteers to emcee numerous charitable events, including the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and has participated in the Ad and Press Club of Southwest Louisiana’s Gridiron Show. He is active with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and volunteers each summer at Camp Oasis in Texas for kids with Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. He’s a big brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA, and after Hurricane Laura, a viral “Change the Channel” t-shirt campaign raised over $3,000 for this organization.   “The people of Southwest Louisiana fill me with compassion and love for our community, and that never became clearer until after Hurricane Laura and my recent colon cancer diagnosis. The outpouring of love from the community through prayers and financial support for my cancer treatments was overwhelming. I will forever be grateful.”  Ben says the pandemic was only the start of the most trying time of his life. “Initially, a transition to working from home in March was a bit of a challenge but got easier as we adapted to the new normal, knowing we were going to be in this for the long haul. Being able to successfully do my job from home with full support from management made the transition easier.” “Hurricane Laura destroyed my home, and I was only able to salvage a few things like clothes and some memorabilia after the storm,” Ben adds. “Finding a new place to live was difficult, but thankfully I had a good friend whose home was spared. He offered me a room and it’s become my new home in Lake Charles! The spirit of camaraderie as neighbors helping neighbors following the storms is likely why so many, including myself, remain in Lake Charles today. Otherwise, it might have been much easier to just pack up and leave!”



raylon Harris was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma and moved to Westlake and later DeQuincy during elementary school when his parents returned to their Southwest Louisiana roots. He began studies at Xavier University of New Orleans but transferred to McNeese State University after evacuating to Westlake during Hurricane Katrina. In his junior year, he attained his real estate license while working the night shift at Motel 6. Graduating with a degree in business administration led Braylon to numerous jobs over the years, where success in one role always led to the next step – real estate agent, McNeese admissions counselor, TRIO Upward Bound Program director, pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church of Lake Charles and founding director of the Multi-Agency Positive Change Initiative, aka The Impact Agency. Braylon now serves as Coalition Coordinator of the newly formed non-profit, SWLA RESPONDS, a multidenominational, multicultural, multi-parish coalition of churches designed to synergize their response to disaster situations. He was second in a recent campaign for Louisiana

District 3 U.S. Representative. “It’s been quite an extraordinary journey.” Sharing principles he’s learned through these unique life experiences is a top priority and led Braylon to establish a consulting firm called Solutionist of SWLA, LLP. Braylon’s volunteer efforts include mayoral commissions for diversity, parish growth and opportunity task forces, LCPD Pastors on Patrol, disaster recovery teams, homeless councils, Stop the Violence Initiatives, Sober Society Conferences, mental health and wellness advocacy, educational reform, and economic development. He was influenced by several factors, including his high school Beta Club, whose motto was ‘Lead by serving others.’ Braylon’s father taught him to “dare to be different,” which served as a sort of immunization against the plague of peer pressure and a boost of confidence in the pursuit of his passions. “This may be why I began preaching at age 12, became a licensed realtor at 20, a certified church consultant at 21, and a pastor at 25.” Braylon has also been impacted by the


Coalition Coordinator, SWLA RESPONDS

vision and mission statement of his church – tenets which he helped craft. “Our mission at Mount Olive is to GO. TEACH. LOVE. And our vision is to do so, BY ALL MEANS. Sincerely seeking to exemplify the essence of these ideals has pushed me time and again well out of my comfort zone." Braylon, his wife, Jasmine, and four children were affected by the events of 2020 in lifechanging ways. Their home was completely destroyed in Hurricane Laura. His parents were one of the first local couples to contract COVID-19 (they are currently well). “Serving as senior pastor, program director, and a congressional candidate all in the midst of a global pandemic, social upheaval, and two major hurricanes has by far been the greatest challenge of my life. But I did what God instructed us to do in moments of great trial. I ‘leaned not on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledged him and allowed him to direct my path.’ I continued to preach and teach, mentor and lead, serve and campaign, and God continued to protect, provide, and promote!”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? My parents defined HOME for us at an early age. We never had the biggest, best house, but our friends would leave their bigger, better HOUSES to come hang out in our HOME. Home for me has ALWAYS been FAMILY. Home is relationships, NOT real estate.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

havanne Stine is a native of Lake Charles and studied Family & Consumer Sciences at McNeese State University. After college, she worked in medical device sales in Lafayette. Later in her career, she worked in non-profit management. She says she connected with service and the care of others through her work in the medical field, which drew her into a community development career. She is currently an event consultant and a community advocate. Many of Chavanne’s clients are in the medical field, tying her into the management of national medical conferences. “Through the scope of my work, I see how my efforts are woven into the strides being made to improve patient care, as well as advancements in medicine. In my volunteer roles, especially with Holden’s Hope, I see the impact of my efforts woven into the spreading of hope. I love bringing people together to connect and grow and building up community.” Chavanne co-created a non-profit with her husband called Holden’s Hope, in honor of their infant son who spent his entire one year of life in several different hospitals. Their organization assists other parents who face similar situations. “My faith, family and personal life experiences surrounding the loss of Holden are at the heart of my dedication to serve others and my community.” Her other current volunteer work includes the Diocese of Lake Charles, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church and Catholic School, and Lake Charles Memorial Health System Foundation. Chavanne says her Cajun Catholic upbringing and her Catholic School education fostered her love of community and call to service. “We show up for one another, we push through to overcome hard times and we pull together for the good of all.” Chavanne tackled the challenges of a global pandemic with grit and determination. “I focused on controlling what I could control and acting swiftly, swimming wave by wave and taking things one day at a time. There was a lot of learning, redirects, and redevelopment of business plans in both my work and volunteer life. But the most inspiring thing to me last year was witnessing the resilience and teamwork that took place here at home and across our country.” When Hurricane Laura was imminent, Chavanne and her family evacuated to Eunice. Her husband returned to Lake Charles the following day to work and serve others. She helped facilitate volunteer groups at the lumber yard and assisted families through Holden’s Hope while evacuated. “We were able to serve many families through our NICU travel assistance program as well as honor the memory of babies who passed away during that time, through our Bricks of HOPE program.” Chavanne says she and her husband leaned on each other’s strengths throughout the turmoil and strived to keep the fun in their lives. “Laughter is a staple in our family life – we laugh and we fish.”



Owner of C. Stine Event Management & Consulting/ co-creator of Holden’s Hope

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? Home is where I feel understood and where I am surrounded by never-ending love and support. Home is my amazing husband, my beautiful children and the people who make up our strong communities here in SWLA.



HOPE Holden’s HopeFOREVER PO Box 1511 K VIRTUAL RACE Lake Louisiana 70602 Now Charles, until – Saturday, April 10, 2021


$20 for the 1 Mile $30 for the 5K Race Shirt Included to register

HOLDEN’S HOPE VIRTUAL EDUCATION SERIES 2021 Join us! Two Part Continuing Education Series

Accredited 1 hour of CE per webinar attended AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(S)™

Caregiving & Healing in Cases of Infant Death or Stillbirth

Thursday, April 29, 2021 8-9:00am CST

The Journey, Creating Complete Family Support Processes

Thursday, May 27, 2021 8:00-9:00am CST

To Register, visit

CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana congratulates Kellery Barton, Director Garrett & Chavanne Stine of Human Resources, on being chosen Holden’s Parents | Co-Founders, as a Thriving 30 Something. ThroughoutHolden’s Hope the pandemic, two hurricanes and even the recent ice storm, Kellery has been a shining example of Holden’s leadershipHope in our is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Lake organization. We Charles, Louisiana. The Mission of Holden’s Hope is to support are so proud that families who have long extended stays in the NICU and families who she’s on our team! & miscarriages, stillbirths or the loss of an infant. areCongratulations coping with -Director of Human keep on thriving!

Kellery n, Barto

The service area for family bereavement and NICU support Resources is the parishes of SWLA. For information on how you can join the CHRISTUS Ochsner team, go to


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

KELLERY BARTON ellery Barton was born and raised in Sulphur and graduated as a Sulphur Tor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Louisiana State University and started her career as a Human Resources Specialist at Cameron Communications. “I was afforded many wonderful opportunities during my time at Cameron Communications and experienced every facet of HR. My professional journey has led me through several different industries including telecommunications, hospitality and healthcare.” Currently, Kellery works as the Human Resources Director for CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana. “Although I have great pride in my professional life, my personal life motivates me to be who I am. My husband, Zak, and I have been married for nearly 11 years and we have three beautiful kids.” Kellery says helping others and empowering people inspires her in life. “The idea that I might provide a solution to someone’s problem motivates me to do a good job whether it be in my professional or personal life. From a young age, my parents have shown me what grace, empathy and understanding look like. I believe those demonstrations have led me to value the attribute of servant leadership. I tend to focus my energy on the wellbeing of those around me and my community. That’s who I am. I

get my energy and internal motivation from serving others. If I can instill similar values into my children, I will accomplish my ultimate goal in life.” Her volunteer work includes organizations such as the Junior League of Lake Charles, Krewe of Chaos and Imperial Calcasieu Society for Human Resources (ICSHRM), with leadership positions in each. She and her family attend Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. “My life is crazy busy at times, but I am abundantly blessed.” The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Kellery to “slow down and enjoy the moment. Prior to March 2020, I was living in fast forward, constantly thinking of my to do list. When routine was thrown out the window, I was forced to rethink everything . . . school for my kindergartener, navigating Zoom meetings, providing virtual opportunities to my work team to ensure they stayed engaged and productive. Although times have been challenging, I treasure the memories and experience.” During the hurricanes, Kellery says she and her family were lucky to sustain minimal home damage. “This blessing allowed me to return to work quickly and dedicate 100% of my time to supporting my associates. I provided resources they needed both at work and home. I arranged sleep rooms for those who needed to stay at the hospitals, coordinated


Human Resources Director, CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana

donation stations and provided the associates with as many resources as I could. I am fortunate to work in an industry that literally saves lives. Although I am not a clinician, I focus my efforts on ways to make their lives a little simpler.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? Over the last year, I’ve learned that HOME is so much more than a house. Home is the laughter of my family around the dinner table, family game nights and kitchen dance parties. HOME is where my people are happy and together.


HOLLY HOLLAND olly Holland attended Henderson State University and majored in mass media with a minor in French. Her career began at KPLC, where she anchored the station’s very first HD newscast. From there, she served in Community Relations at the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office. And currently, she’s the Public Information Officer for the Calcasieu Parish School Board. A native of Southwest Louisiana, Holly and her family live in Iowa. “This community is my home. I am proud to be from the marshland – proud of my bayou roots, proud that my greatgrandmother had to learn English as a second language, following behind Cajun French. And now, I’m proud to be raising my children in the same location with the same rich heritage. Our children are young now, but they will be products of this very community. That alone makes me want to do my part to make sure SWLA is the best it can be.” Holly says she strives to leave things better than the way she finds them. “Much of my motivation is found within the four walls of my home. Family has taken on a different meaning for me over the last year, and I find myself with newfound motivation when I head to the office each morning.” Holly says her parents raised her in church, ensuring her core foundation centered around God before anything else. “It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, 36

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

especially with young children and a twoincome household. But it’s in those moments of slowness and quiet, giving to others – even my own children – that I find the most meaning in life.” Her current volunteer work includes the Women’s Ministry Team and Bible study leader at Trinity Baptist Church; Membership Chair – Southwest Louisiana PROs; Education Chair at United Way of SWLA; Calcasieu Parish’s Complete Count Committee (U.S. Census); and Member – National School Public Relations Association. In response to COVID-19, Holly transitioned to work from home and found the additional family time to be a blessing. Two months pregnant last March, she was able to spend much of her pregnancy at home with her husband and young son. Her summer was spent helping to perfect the School Board’s Return to School plan. At week 36 of her pregnancy, Hurricane Laura slammed the SWLA coast. Due to the damage in Lake Charles, Holly delivered her daughter in Baton Rouge. “She was our rainbow in such a stormy season. We were on the tail end of power restoration in Iowa, so we stayed in Baton Rouge until we could safely bring our family home.” Her house was damaged, but Holly and her husband, Michael, consider themselves lucky because it’s livable. “We’re rocking concrete


Public Information Officer, Calcasieu Parish School Board

floors, stained ceilings, and leaning bricks, but we’re inside those walls making all the memories we can.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? Answering this question brings tears to my eyes. One of the most difficult things I did in the last year was bring my newborn baby girl “home” to a house that wasn’t ours. I grieved that. But I learned that home is not a building. It’s family. My husband and our two children. They are my home.

essica Stewart says she was raised by a village, including her grandparents, mother, and various coaches, who instilled in her a drive to be her best and make the world a better place. She learned the importance of education and having agency over her life. Her childhood began in Hartford, Connecticut and later, Enterprise, Alabama. She attended Middle Tennessee State University as a student/athlete and majored in sociology, later earning a master of Education in counseling and development from Lamar University. After college, she moved from Tennessee to Lake Charles for a position as 2nd Assistant Volleyball Coach at McNeese State University. She says numerous roles helped her find her niche in the human services field – investigator at the Department of Children and Family Services; mentor for various programs; counselor for children diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities; and Wraparound Facilitator/Care Coordinator where she provided emergency and outreach services to families in crisis. Currently, Jessica is a Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Trauma Professional, and will soon be a Counselor-in-Training for Substance Abuse. “I saw a need in the community for more mental health providers that reflected the demographic of clients served. Seeking professional assistance for mental health is still taboo; however, it is changing in a positive direction. I want adults, children, couples, and families to know there are African American therapists in our community and we provide culturally responsive therapy.” Jessica says service is in her nature, having come from a long line of service-minded family members. “I want to continue to foster the village that poured so much time, love, and support into me by paying forward.” Her volunteer efforts include several committees with the Junior League of Lake Charles and SWLA's CHRISTUS LiveWell Women's Network, whose mission is to educate women on physical, mental, and spiritual health through initiatives and quarterly events. Jessica and her family periodically filled Free Little Pantries throughout the pandemic to help those in need. She also volunteered time to those in emotional distress during the pandemic and those struggling with racial injustice.  During the pandemic, Jessica says she enjoyed being at home with her husband and son. She cites several lessons learned during that time: “I realized how little I know about first and second grade education and saw firsthand how teachers do not get enough respect. Working from home has been interesting, however, I discovered I want to keep the two as separate as possible. And I learned there is a huge difference between sweatpants and regular pants!” After the hurricanes of 2020, the Stewart’s home was a 98% loss. “We stored what we could salvage from Hurricane Laura in the garage, then Delta took care of the things we had salvaged. We were supported by neighbors, friends, teammates, coaches, and family during that time. After doing all I could for our home, I called and checked in on others’ emotional and mental states."




Clinical Coordinator at AppleGate Recovery

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? Home is where you make it. For me, home is in the arms of my husband, in the sound of my son’s laughter, and the exhale of relief after catching the family dog that's been roaming the neighborhood. Home is the village of people I move through life with.


JOHN GUIDROZ life-long resident of Lake Charles, John Guidroz attended McNeese State University and graduated with a degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism. Later, he earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of IllinoisSpringfield. Early career positions include production assistant at KVHP Fox 29, and news anchor for KYKZ-FM radio. John is currently a staff writer for the American Press. Since 2010, he’s covered local government, including the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Port of Lake Charles, and has covered the spring legislative sessions in Baton Rouge for several years. “Providing the public with accurate, fair and honest information is what drives my career as a journalist. I pride myself on keeping the community informed of how local elected officials represent them,” he says. John is also a local musician. He’s a former member of the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and has volunteered at various local events, such as The Live at the Lakefront concert series, Arts and Crabs Fest, and has volunteered to play music for special events over the years. “My love for Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana comes from the people and an overwhelming sense of community,” John says. “My passion for journalism and the arts goes back to childhood. I view journalism as 38

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

an invaluable resource for any community. I work hard to inform people and provide them with a voice. A news article can help enact positive change. Working alongside the late Hector San Miguel, former American Press city editor, made me a better writer. As a musician, I strive to entertain people and help them leave behind the stresses of everyday life. My love for music stems from a family of talented musicians. A.M. Barbe High School Choir Director Chris Miller helped me find my voice as a performer. Being a musician brings me joy and hopefully does the same for the audience.” After the stay-at-home orders in March, John began working remotely. It was an adjustment, but eventually became the norm, he says. “Most interviews were done over the phone, and I was able to cover most public meetings virtually. As a musician, the COVID-19 shutdowns put my gigs on hold. I lost a huge part of my social life and spent several weeks doing live concerts on Facebook. It helped me stay connected with friends and family and kept them entertained. Recently, I’ve returned to weekend gigs, mainly at outdoor venues.” John says the one-two punch of Hurricanes Laura and Delta added insult to the injury caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Before Laura made landfall, I evacuated to Katy, Texas and stayed with my sister for several


Staff writer for the American Press and local musician

weeks. It was the only way to inform the community of vital things like where to find food and supplies, updates on debris clearing, curfew hours and federal assistance. I covered local briefings and posted information on Facebook. While not on the ground immediately after Laura or Delta, I provided up-to-date information on social media to help those who had little to no connectivity at the time.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? After COVID-19 and two hurricanes, I view home more as a state of mind. Home is about the people you surround yourself with and the joy you get from them. Be it a crawfish boil, small gathering on a porch, or talking with friends on a Zoom call, gathering with friends and family always feels like home.

att Koch was born and raised in Shreveport/ Bossier City. He attended Louisiana Tech University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2008. He earned an MBA with a concentration in accounting and finance at LSUS in 2015 and began his career as a teller at a small community bank in Shreveport. A year later, he went to ANECA Federal Credit Union as a loan processor, followed quickly by positions as Staff Accountant and Director of Accounting. Matt moved to Lake Charles in 2015 to serve as Chief Financial Officer at CSE Federal Credit Union. In 2018, he earned the designation of Certified Credit Union Executive from the Credit Union National Association Management School in Wisconsin. He was appointed to his current position as President/CEO of CSE Federal Credit Union last year amidst the mayhem. He credits his drive to succeed to his family. “I want the best for my children and hope to instill a good work ethic and a love for community.” Matt says he learned his own work ethic and passion for helping others from his parents. “Knowing that you have helped someone and put others before yourself is a very fulfilling experience.” His community involvement and memberships include Fusion Five; SWLA Economic Development Alliance Leadership Class of 2019; American Heart Association; American Cancer Society, including Real Men Wear Pink in 2018 and 2019. He has served on the Business & Industry Advisory Council for Family & Youth; the Louisiana Credit Union League Foundation Committee; and the CUNA CEO Council. As a transplant to Lake Charles, Matt was pleased to discover that our community enjoys the best Cajun food around, great festivals, and a down-to-earth atmosphere. “I have grown to love the community and just want to give back and see others experience joy.” Matt recalls his feelings from last March in response to the pandemic. “It was strange, not seeing family or sporting events and everything shutting down. I remember the initial fear factor. We installed Plexiglas shields inside our branch locations, added social distancing floor stickers, and closed our lobbies at the onset of the pandemic. And we’ve definitely saved money by not eating out as much. Conferences and meetings have been held virtually, but with the vaccines rolling out, I hope to attend conferences inperson soon.” Like most, Matt and his family evacuated for the hurricanes and dealt with the aftermath of the storms. “While I was so homesick for my own home, my oldest son, age five, said he enjoyed staying at the hotel and that it reminded him of a vacation. I learned there is something positive despite the devastation. We experienced similar damage as most area homes: missing roof shingles, blown-out bathroom window, facia ripped off, lost turbines, destroyed fence, uprooted trees, and littered yard. We take it a day at a time and continue to see the progress being made each day.”



President/CEO, CSE Federal Credit Union

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? HOME is where my family is, and that has only been reaffirmed during the pandemic and events of last year.



Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

orn in DeRidder and raised in Rosepine, Jobie James attended McNeese State University on an academic scholarship and majored in accounting. She completed her bachelor’s degree early and pursued an MBA. While completing her master’s, Jobie worked as a graduate student at W.O. Moss Regional and is currently the Chief Financial Officer for West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital (WCCH). She lives in Lake Charles with her husband Derek and three children. Jobie says helping our community gain access to healthcare has always been the reason she loves her career. “Community remains at the core of my work. Being able to play a part in addressing the health and well-being of our community is what drives me each day. WCCH remains committed to caring for our community, every moment, every day and I’m proud to be a part of our team of caring professionals.” Jobie volunteers her time supporting local fundraising activities for American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and United Way. She’s actively involved with the Louisiana Hospital Association and a member of the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. For healthcare workers like Jobie, the pandemic brought about changes that required immediate action such as increased safety precautions, monitoring ever-changing staffing and supply needs, federal and state reporting, and managing the expenses associated with their response to the pandemic. “With a first grader at home, school closings meant we had to begin virtual learning for the remainder of the year,” Jobie says. “My niece, a nursing student at McNeese, was in the same situation with school. Her availability to keep my daughter was a blessing. During the pandemic, my family and I found joy and entertainment in cooking. This activity gave us an outlet to bond and occupy our time – it gave us a sense of normalcy in the uncertainty.” Hurricane Laura brought down twelve trees around the James’ home. Jobie says their house was spared from all but one tree, and they continued living at home while repairing. “At work, WCCH was able to provide continual care for our community prior to and in the days following the storm. The ER resumed patient care at 8:30 a.m. the morning after Hurricane Laura made landfall and remained open. We were fortunate that the United States Department of Health and Human Services sent a Disaster Medical Assistance Team to assist with the increased volume of emergency medical services in our area. It has been amazing to see and be part of our team’s resiliency and spirit to carry us through one of the most challenging years in our history. Our team's commitment to care for this community when it needed us most never wavered.”



Chief Financial Officer, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? I believe home is a feeling, not a structure. The events of the past year have made this even more apparent to me. Our home is the epicenter of my family. It’s the place we share laughs, joy and create memories. It’s been our refuge, a place of solace when life seemed so uncertain over the last year. I’ve learned that my home and my family are my sources of strength.


Congratulations, Jobie! We’re proud to shine the spotlight on our own Jobie James, one of Thrive’s 13 30-Somethings for 2021. As the Chief Financial Officer for West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, Jobie’s guidance is invaluable. She has been instrumental in ensuring the financial stability of WCCH throughout the pandemic and hurricanes of 2020. Thank you, Jobie, for your visionary leadership.

701 Cypress St., Sulphur •

Amie Congratulations



on behalf of

Sanchez for being named a 2021 Thriving 30-Something!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021



Humans aren't the only ones thriving in this issue. Meet some adorable furry friends who pawed their way into our 30-Something section. Roxie, John Guidroz; Amie, Holly Holland; Vincent, Ben Terry; Sanchez and pictured to the right, Anabelle, Michael Antoon.

MICHAEL ANTOON ichael Antoon was born and raised in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He graduated from Northwestern State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and currently works as an attorney/partner at Vamvoras Antoon Law Firm. Early high school and college jobs included working at his family’s food and beverage businesses and a campus job at the NSU Alumni Center where he helped set up events. “I liked to be around people and have fun, so I looked for activities where I could do both. Those activities helped me develop the ability to build rapport with others which is invaluable to my law practice.” Michael says his parents instilled in him a love of mankind and community service. “My dad, who passed in 2015 from cancer, was everybody’s dad at NSU for over 40 years. He felt a profound responsibility to help others – he’d find odd jobs for his employees who needed extra cash and encourage kids to finish school after a bad semester. He treated everyone with respect and welcomed all. Mom, aka Mama Merle, is of the same vein – the patient, quintessential nurturer/caretaker. I believe we are stewards of God’s creation and responsible to one another. While few can drastically change the world on their own, if we each positively affect what we can within our sphere of influence, our combined efforts

will add up to monumental, positive change. As a criminal attorney, I also strive to create balance, find fairness, and set right that which is wrong.” Michael volunteers at the Lake Charles Pitbull Rescue; serves on the board of the Imperial Calcasieu Museum; and is a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Vamvoras Antoon Law Firm routinely contributes to local charities and events such as fundraisers, festivals and litter cleanups. Michael and his wife, Alyson, are incredibly social, and the 2020 pandemic radically changed their lifestyle. “We frequent restaurants, fundraisers, events, festivals and gatherings of every sort. All that came to a grinding halt. I couldn’t go to the gym, our business slowed, we dealt with office closures, and we completely adapted the way we conducted our profession. Thankfully, we didn’t lose any immediate family members. Basically, COVID-19 robbed our community of loved ones, our economic security and created a level of stress that many of us had never experienced, while simultaneously removing the ways we traditionally coped with that stress. That said, despite immense hardship, humanity adapted as it always does. Zoom and similar mediums replaced business travel and increased efficiency. We learned more about sanitizing and not spreading germs. Though the growing pains were rough, they


Attorney/partner at Vamvoras Antoon Law Firm

were necessary to realize the growth.” “If COVID-19 was the hard left jab, then the Hurricanes were the solid right hook that put SWLA on the mat,” Michael says. “We worked feverishly to prepare our home for the storms and evacuated with four dogs and two cats twice. As Laura hit, we watched live-streams from storm-chasers of familiar buildings and landmarks near our home that were shredded before our eyes. We just knew we wouldn’t have an office or home left. Luckily, we did. Though our home is still damaged, so many had it so much worse and our hearts go out to them.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? Home is that sphere of influence within which you can and should make your impact. It is where you and your friends, family and neighbors work together for a better tomorrow.




Pediatrician, The Children’s Clinic of SWLA

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? No matter where life has taken us over the last 15 years, home has always been SWLA. It may look different for now, but the feeling is the same. I can’t imagine a better place to raise our daughter and build our lives.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

orn and raised in Sulphur, Stephanie Treme graduated from McNeese State University with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. She attended medical school at LSU and completed her residency at UT Houston/Texas Medical Center. She’s currently a pediatrician at The Children’s Clinic of SWLA. Her parents spurred Stephanie to community service from a young age. Her father was always helping people and her mom served as the regional administrator for the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. Stephanie grew up volunteering at Special Olympics events and visiting group homes. In college, she participated in organizations such as Best Buddies. During medical school, she chaired the class community service committee, and organized Camp Tiger, a free week-long day camp for children with physical and developmental disabilities. “That experience solidified my goal to become a pediatrician. I love working with kids, and my patients become my babies,” she says. Stephanie is a member of the Child Death Review Committee. “I love being in a group that discusses ways to help keep the children in our community safe.” Stephanie and her husband, Joe, both worked outside the home in the early stages of COVID-19. They hired nannies to care for and tutor their fouryear-old daughter. “I created short lesson plans and activities for her to do with them during the day, and we practiced reading together at night when I got home from work (after changing clothes at the door and showering). Work was a little more stressful, as I feared I could potentially bring home a serious illness to my family. But I’m proud that our clinic provided quality care to our patients throughout the pandemic. Across the country, many primary care offices closed to in-person appointments for months, but we worked hard to keep our patients safe and healthy.” Stephanie relied on the support of her husband during the storms. Because of her commitment to newborns in the hospital, they only left town for a few hours the night of Hurricane Laura and did not evacuate during Hurricane Delta. “The morning after Delta, Joe got up early with me and packed up his chainsaw to make sure he could get me across town to see my babies. Luckily we didn’t need it.” The storms changed their lives in many ways, but Stephanie says their scare with carbon monoxide made the biggest impact. “For weeks after Laura, we lived at home on generator power. One night, though our generator was out in the open air several feet away from the house, carbon monoxide somehow seeped into our home. We never determined why. Levels apparently rose quickly, and we were symptomatic by the time our CO monitor alarmed. We escaped safely, but it became our mission to provide monitors to people who needed them. We distributed around 100 monitors over the following weeks. I still stock them in our clinics and give them to families who need them – no home should go without one.”

Jay R. Maust, II, MD Deborah M. Decker, MD Foster C. Kordisch, Jr., MD Anatole Bruce M. Thompson, MD


Serving the


J. Karpovs, MD

KippNurse B. Ardoin, MD

David R. Wallace, Sr., MD Practitioner Foster C. Kordisch, Jr., MD Susan E. Drez, MD Stuart G. Landry, MD Beth Savoie, APRN, Bruce M. Thompson, MD CPNP Byran S. Karriker, MD Stephanie M. Treme, MD David R. Wallace, Sr., MD Shannon Boudreaux, JayStuart R. Maust, II, MD G. Landry, MD Katie E.CPNP Price, MD APRN, Deborah M. Decker, MD Bryan S. Karriker, MD Megan Thibodeaux, Beth Savoie, JayJ.R.Karpovs, Maust, II, MD MD APRN, CFNP PNP Anatole

of Southwest Louisiana since 1962

Deborah M. Decker, MD Kipp B. Ardoin, MDLauren Caraway, Physician Anatole J. Karpovs, MD Susan E. Drez, MD


Shannon Boudreaux, PNP Kipp B. Ardoin, MD Lauren Caraway, PAC Stephanie M. Treme, MD Susan E. Drez, MD Megan Thibodeaux, FNP Katie E. Price, MD Dietitian Stephanie M. Treme, MD Beth Savoie, PNP Tonya McKnight, RD Katie E. Price, MD Lauren Caraway, PAC Juan M. Bossano, MD R. Borden Wilson, MD

Lake Charles Office st 2903 1Auxiliary Avenue Building Main Office 1400 Oak Park Blvd. 2903 1st Avenue 337- 478-6480

Shannon Boudreaux, PNP

Neonatology Megan Thibodeaux, FNP Juan M. Bossano, MD Juan M. Bossano, MD

Lake Charles, LA 70601 Lake Charles, LA 70601 Lake Charles Office (337) 478-6314 (337) 478-6480

Neonatology Pediatric

Jamal G. Saqer,Care MD Intensive


2903 1 Avenue

Pediatric Critical Care

Jamal G. Saqer, MD Sulphur Office Moss Bluff Office 337- 478-6480 South Lake Charles Office Moss Bluff Office Sulphur Office Charles Office 536 Cypress St. 117 Gloria Dr. 4111 Lake St Sulphur, LA Gloria 70663 Charles, LA 70611 Lake Charles, LA 70605 536 Cypress Street 117 Drive ake StreetLake (337) 528-5712 (337) 855-1386 (337) 478-0086 Moss Bluff Office Sulphur Office

h Lake Charles Office 478-0086

4111 Lake Street 337- 478-0086

337- 528-5712

536 Cypress Street 337- 528-5712

Main Office 2903 1st Avenue Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 478-6480

337- 855-1386

117 Gloria Drive 337- 855-1386

South Lake Charles Office 4111 Lake St Lake Charles, LA 70605 (337) 478-0086

Sulphur Office 536 Cypress St. Sulphur, LA 70663 (337) 528-5712


Lactation Neonatology Consultant Jamal G. Saqer, MD

Therese Deroche, Pediatric Critical RN, Care IBCLC

Counseling Services

Angela Lee, LCSW Casey Simpson, LCSW

Moss Bluff Office 117 Gloria Dr. Lake Charles, LA 70611 (337) 855-1386

Auxiliary Building 1400 Oak Park Blvd. Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 478-6314


cott Ogden is a partner at Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden law firm and FCO Properties. He’s also the founder and president of non-profit organization Hurricane Hope; a partner/investor with Imperial Fence and Deck; and a co-owner of Ogden-Carter Capital – a multipurpose LLC that manages a cryptocurrency hedge-fund, operates a skid-steer rental, and provides loans to other businesses. He enjoys woodworking and considers himself a “yet-to-be-sponsored taco enthusiast”. A Baton Rouge native, Scott studied business at LSU and graduated cum laude from the Paul M. Hebert LSU Law Center in 2015. He furthered his business education through Harvard Business School online in 2017-2018. Scott attended the Harvard program while practicing law full time, by his own account, “because I like to appear smarter in professional circles. For example, if I were ever interviewed for a local magazine or something.” Scott was a lifelong athlete, but his college baseball commitment went bust after an injury while pitching in a game his senior year. “That was rough, but it taught me how to accept things I can’t control and massively changed the trajectory of my life, and I’m thankful for that now.” Scott loves his gym family at Hurricane CrossFit and playing all sports. “Some people might say I’m ‘washed up’, but I just figured out how to win while moving slower and being fatter. We adapt or we die.” Scott studied law in France for a summer, went skydiving in Switzerland, and “very” nearly died running with the bulls in Spain. He considers himself a “mostly retired” adventurist, and would do it again, but “might socially distance from large animals next time, except for Michael Antoon.” As a lawyer, Scott specializes in divorce, custody and community property division. He’s passionate about his work, but notes it is often psychologically taxing. “In almost every case, I’m representing and opposing human beings with their own rights and difficulties. It’s not just money at stake, it’s their lives and their children’s lives. It’s delicate, and it can be difficult to manage, but that’s what makes the job special.” Scott says it comes with the job description to be threatened regularly, and notes he was even on a hit list once. “Every lawyer should strive for this achievement at least once. If nothing else, stressing about your own murder is good cardio.” In addition to Hurricane Hope, Scott is also involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters SWLA and enjoys participating in Holiday Helping Hands through his membership on the SWLA Young Lawyer’s Board. Scott credits any charitable inclinations he might have to his parents, and says his dad is his lifelong mentor. “There were big, eye-opening lessons, like going with Dad to New Orleans for relief work after Katrina; and little things, like seeing my parents buy groceries for my friends’ family or stopping to help people with broken down cars. Hundreds of these lessons shaped my understanding of what we’re supposed to do. They taught me everything I know about being kind and generous, because they just always are – without exception.” Scott lives in Lake Charles with his (much smarter, much more attractive, and all around lovely) girlfriend, Peyton, and their two Hurricane Laura-rescued kittens, Cha-Cha and Gordon.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021



Partner at Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that a house is just walls and a roof -- but “home” is the safety and security of sitting in the dark, empty abyss of a powerless city, crushing a record volume of Little Debbies while the warm breeze blowing through your roof tarp is gently cooled by your fresh new window unit, reminding you that everything is going to be just fine.

HURRICANE HURRICANE HOPE HOPE HURRICANE HOPE HURRICANE HOPE A A New New Niche Niche on on Disaster Disaster Relief Relief A New Niche on Disaster Relief A A New NewNiche NicheononDisaster DisasterRelief Relief

OnOn the the way way in,in, Scott Scott posted posted onon social social media media offering offering toto check check in in The The day day after after Hurricane Hurricane Laura Laura ravaged ravaged Southwest Southwest onon anyone’s anyone’s family family orposted or friends friends in in Lake Lake Charles. Charles. “One “One simple simple post post On the wayway in, Scott on social media offering to check in in Louisiana, Louisiana, Scott Scott Ogden Ogden and and his his dad dad loaded loaded up up their their chain chain The day after Hurricane Laura ravaged Southwest On the in, Scott posted on social media offering to check The day after Hurricane Laura ravaged Southwest connected connected me me to to dozens dozens of of people people in in really really bad bad circumstances, circumstances, on anyone’s family or friends in Lake Charles. “One simple post On the way in, Scott posted on social media offering to check in saws saws and relief relief supplies supplies and and hithit the the road road from from Baton Louisiana, Scott Ogden and his dad loaded upBaton their chain on anyone’s family or friends in Lake Charles. “One simple post Theand day after Hurricane Laura ravaged Southwest Louisiana, Scott Ogden and his dad loaded up their chain many many of of whom whom had had no no home home left, left, orin or no no roof, roof, no no supplies supplies – elderly –simple elderlypost connected me me to dozens of people really bad circumstances, on anyone’s family or friends in Lake Charles. “One Rouge. Rouge. “Lake “Lake Charles Charles is is ‘home’ ‘home’ for for me me now, now, so so we we didn’t didn’t saws and relief supplies and hit the road from Baton connected to dozens of people in really bad circumstances, Louisiana, Scott Ogdenand andhit histhe dad loaded their chain saws and relief supplies road fromup Baton couples couples people people with with young young children. children. I quickly I quickly realized realized I I many of and whom had no home left, or no no supplies –circumstances, elderly connected me to dozens of people in really bad have have a master a“Lake master plan plan - but -isbut it ‘home’ was itand was understood understood that we we were were many ofand whom had no home left, orroof, no roof, no supplies – elderly Rouge. Charles ‘home’ for me now, sothat we didn’t saws and relief supplies hit the road from Baton Rouge. “Lake Charles is for me now, so we didn’t overcommitted, overcommitted, but but saying saying nono wasn’t wasn’t really really an an option option at at that that couples and people with young children. I quickly realized I many of whom had no home left, or no roof, no supplies couples and people with young children. I quickly realized I – elderly coming. coming. We’ve We’ve worked worked hurricane hurricane and and disaster disaster relief relief have a master plan but it was understood that we were Rouge. “Lake Charles is ‘home’ for me now, so we didn’t have a master plan - but it was understood that we were overcommitted, point.” point.” butpeople saying no wasn’t really an option at that overcommitted, but saying no wasn’t really anI quickly option at that I couples and with young children. realized projects projects together together more more times times than than I remember, I remember, but but we we coming. We’ve worked hurricane and disaster relief have a master plan - but it was understood we werepoint.” coming. We’ve worked hurricane and disasterthat relief “The “The next next day, day, a friend a friend from from D.C. D.C. (Leah) (Leah) sent sent meme $100 $100 after after point.” overcommitted, but saying no wasn’t really an option at that didn’t didn’t fathom fathom the the level level of of destruction destruction we were were coming coming projects together more times than I remember, but wewe projects together more times than Iwe remember, but coming. We’ve worked hurricane and disaster relief seeing seeing Lake Lake Charles Charles in in the the news. news. I sent I sent the the $100 $100 toto another another friend friend “The next day, a friend from D.C. (Leah) sent me $100 after “The next day, a friend from D.C. (Leah) sent me $100 after point.” back back to to until until we we got got toto town.” town.” didn’t fathom the level of destruction were coming from from NOLA NOLA (Nathan) (Nathan) who who said said heIhe was was coming coming into in toanother to help, help, and and didn’t fathom the level of destruction we were coming Lake Charles in the news. sent the $100 friend projects together more times thanwe I remember, but we seeing seeing Lake Charles the news. I sent the $100 to another “The next day, ainto friend from D.C. (Leah) sent $100friend after back to until wewe got to to town.” had had him him deliver deliver supplies supplies to a family a he family that that was was sleeping sleeping inme in their their NOLA (Nathan) who said was coming in to help, and back until got didn’ttofathom the leveltown.” of destruction we were coming from from NOLA (Nathan) who saidnews. he was coming in to help, and seeing Lake Charles in the I sent the $100 to another car. car. We We got got together together after after tarped tarped 2 or 2 or 3 roofs 3 roofs that that evening. friend had him deliver supplies toand a and family that was sleeping inevening. their back to until we got to town.” had him NOLA deliver(Nathan) supplies to a family that was sleeping in their from who saidall was coming in to help, It was It We was clear clear that that Lake Lake Charles Charles needed needed all the help help we we could could get, get, and car. got together after and tarped 2he or 3the roofs that evening. car.had Wehim got deliver together after and tarped 2 that or 3 roofs that evening. supplies to a family was sleeping and and after after seeing seeing what what wewe did did with with $100 $100 and ahelp couple a couple volunteers, volunteers, I It was clear that Lake Charles needed alland the we could get,in Itheir It was clear thattogether Lake Charles needed all theor help we could car. We got 3 roofs that get, evening. figured figured weseeing we were were onto onto something.” something.” and after what we didafter withand $100tarped and a 2 couple volunteers, I and seeing what we Charles did withneeded $100 and couple volunteers, I It after was clear that Lake allathe help we Seeing Seeing opportunity, opportunity, Scott Scott started started a small a small fundraiser fundraiser with with a acould get, figured we were onto something.” figured we were onto something.” and after seeing what we did with $100 and a couple volunteers, I $5,000 $5,000 goal. goal. “We “We quickly quickly hit hit $5,000, $5,000, so so I upped I upped the the goal goal to to 10… 10… Seeing opportunity, Scott started a small fundraiser with a Seeing opportunity, Scott started a small fundraiser a top figured we were onto then then 15…then 15…then 20, 20, and and ultimately ultimately $25,000 $25,000 in the the first first week week –with on –10… on top $5,000 goal. “We quickly hit something.” $5,000, so I in upped the goal to $5,000 goal. “We in quickly hit supplies. $5,000, so I upped the goal towith 10… of of another another $10,000+ $10,000+ in donated donated supplies. We We had had contributions contributions Seeing Scott started a small fundraiser then 15…then 20,opportunity, and ultimately $25,000 in the first week – on top a then 15…then 20, and ultimately $25,000 in the first week – on top coming coming from from across across the country country and and volunteers volunteers driving driving inthe in from from $5,000 goal. “We quickly hit $5,000, I upped goal to 10… of another $10,000+ inthe donated supplies. We so had contributions of another $10,000+ in and donated supplies. We had contributions Dallas, Dallas, Houston, Houston, Alabama, Alabama, and all all over over Louisiana.” Louisiana.” coming from across 20, the and country and volunteers from then 15…then ultimately $25,000driving in the in first week – on top from across the country and volunteers driving in from “Icoming had “I of had no no idea idea what what I was I was doing, but but it was it was working working because – because Dallas, Houston, Alabama, and all over Louisiana.” another $10,000+ indoing, donated supplies. We –had contributions Dallas, Houston, Alabama, and all over Louisiana.” everyone everyone was was working. working. We We had had a logistics abut logistics team team connecting connecting “I had no idea what I was doing, it and was working – because coming from across the country volunteers driving in from “I had no idea what I was doing, but team itneeds. was working –up because volunteers volunteers to to specific specific families families specific specific needs. We We setset up everyone was working. We hadwith awith logistics connecting Dallas, Houston, Alabama, and all over Louisiana.” everyone was working. We had a logistics team connecting a headquarters a headquarters in in the the gutted gutted rooms rooms in in mymy house, house, and and people people volunteers to specific families with specific needs. We set up – because “I had no idea what I was doing, but it was working volunteers to specific families with specific needs. We setInup with with means means of of transport transport came came toto get get they they needed. needed. In a headquarters in theworking. gutted rooms inwhatever my house, and people everyone was We had awhatever logistics team connecting a headquarters in the gutted rooms in my house, and people the the meantime, meantime, we we were were doing doing non-stop non-stop debris debris removal removal and and roof roof with means of transport came to get whatever they needed. In volunteers specificcame families with specific they needs. We set with means ofto transport to get whatever needed. In up tarping tarping with with volunteer volunteer teams.” teams.” the meantime, we werein doing non-stop debris removal and roof ameantime, headquarters thedoing gutted rooms in my house, and people the we were non-stop debris removal and roof Ultimately, Ultimately, Scott Scott believes believes the the project project provided provided over over $200,000 $200,000 tarping with volunteer teams.” with means of transport came to get whatever they needed. In tarping with volunteer teams.” in Ultimately, in net net value value for for storm storm victims. victims. Scott believes the project provided over $200,000 the meantime, we were doing non-stop debris removal and roof Ultimately, Scott believes the project provided over $200,000 “Working “Working with with relief relief teams teams after after Katrina, Katrina, the the 2016 2016 Baton Baton Rouge Rouge in net value for storm victims. tarping with volunteer teams.” in net value for storm victims. floods, floods, and and a half a half dozen dozen other other major major storms storms taught taught me me that that 10 10 “Working with relief teams after Katrina, the 2016 Baton Rouge Ultimately, Scott believes the project provided over $200,000 “Working relief teams after Katrina, the 2016 Baton people people working working together together can can be be infinitely infinitely more more valuable valuable than than floods, and a halfwith dozen other major storms taught me that 10 Rouge in net value for storm victims. floods, and a half dozen other major storms taught me that the the same same 10 10 individuals individuals working working separately. separately. Hurricane Hurricane Hope Hope is is people working together can be infinitely more valuable than 10 with relief teams after Katrina, 2016isthan Baton Rouge people together can be infinitely more the valuable definitely definitely aworking by-product aindividuals by-product of of that that truth.” truth.” the same“Working 10 working separately. Hurricane Hope floods, and a half dozen other major storms taught me that 10 the same 10 individuals working separately. Hurricane Hope is Scott Scott credits credits the the success success of of the the project project to to a close a close group group of of definitely a by-product of that truth.” people together be infinitely more valuable than definitely aworking by-product of that truth.” friends friends who who jumped jumped in in and and worked tirelessly, tirelessly, and the the 350 350 donors Scott credits the success ofworked thecan project to aand close group ofdonors Scott credits ofground. the project to athe close group of the same 10 the individuals working separately. Hurricane Hope is and and over over 50 50 volunteers volunteers onon the the ground. “Something “Something like like that that friends who jumped in success and worked tirelessly, and 350 donors friends who jumped in and worked tirelessly, and the 350 donors definitely a by-product of thatshared truth.” doesn’t doesn’t happen happen in in a vacuum. a vacuum. People shared the the fundraiser fundraiser allall over over and over 50 volunteers on thePeople ground. “Something like that andmedia, over 50 volunteers onPeople the ground. “Something like that social social media, donated donated money, money, and and volunteered days weeks weeks of ofof Scott credits the success ofvolunteered the project to and a and close group doesn’t happen in a vacuum. shared thedays fundraiser all over doesn’t happen in amoney, People shared the fundraiser all their their lives. lives. I’m I’m thankful thankful I vacuum. had I had front a front row row seat seat toto watch watch Hurricane Hurricane friends who jumped ina and worked tirelessly, and the 350 donors social media, donated volunteered days and weeks ofover social media, donated volunteered days and weeks Hope Hope evolve evolve into what what it is. itmoney, is. We’re just just getting getting started, started, but but we we their lives. I’minto thankful I had aWe’re front row seat to watch Hurricane and over 50 volunteers on and the ground. “Something like thatof their lives. I’m thankful hadsystems a systems front row seat toway, watch Hurricane acquired acquired assets assets and and developed developed along along the the way, so so we we areare all over Hope evolve into what it is. We’re just getting started, but doesn’t happen in aI vacuum. People shared the fundraiser Hope evolve intodonated what itwhatever, We’re just getting started, but we weeks of much much more more prepared prepared forfor whatever comes comes next. next. That That said, said, it would itand would acquired assets and developed systems along the way, so we are social media, and volunteered days acquired assets and systems along thesaid, way, we are be be pretty pretty cool cool toto get get afor pass adeveloped pass this hurricane hurricane season.” season.” much more prepared whatever comes That it so would their lives. I’m thankful Ithis had a frontnext. row seat to watch Hurricane much more prepared for whatever comes next. That said, it would be pretty cool to get a pass this hurricane season.” Hope evolve into what it is. We’re just getting started, but we Scott Scott Ogden Ogden is assets is a partner a partner at Fuerst, Fuerst, Carrier Carrier and and Ogden Ogden Law Law so we are be acquired pretty cool to get a at pass this hurricane season.” and developed systems along the way, Firm Firm and and the the founder founder of of the the local local non-profit non-profit organization, organization, Scott Ogden is a partner at Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden Law much more prepared for whatever comes next. That said, it would Hurricane Hurricane Hope. Hope. Tax-deductible Tax-deductible donations donations can can bebe made made viavia Scott Ogden is a to partner at Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden Law Firm and the founder ofget thealocal non-profit organization, be pretty cool pass this hurricane season.” Facebook Facebook @HurricaneHope @HurricaneHope SWLA. 100% 100% ofcan of proceeds proceeds gogo toto Firm and the founder of SWLA. the local non-profit organization, Hurricane Hope. Tax-deductible donations be made via natural natural disaster disaster relief relief efforts. efforts. Hurricane Hope. Tax-deductible donations can be go made Facebook @HurricaneHope SWLA. 100% of proceeds to via Scott Ogden is a partner at Fuerst, Carrier and Ogden Law Facebook @HurricaneHope natural disaster relief efforts. SWLA. 100% of proceeds go to Firm and the founder of the local non-profit organization, natural disaster relief efforts. Hurricane Hope. Tax-deductible donations can be made via Facebook @HurricaneHope SWLA. 100% of proceeds go to47 natural disaster relief efforts.

TABITHA NICHOLAS life-long resident of Lake Charles, Tabitha Nicholas attended McNeese State University and earned a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Science and a master’s degree in Health & Human Performance with a concentration in Nutrition and Wellness. She spent the first few years of her career as a renal dietitian in dialysis centers. “Working in such a terminal area made me want to focus more on disease prevention,” she says. Currently, this Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is growing a private practice. “Dietitians In Home provides nutrition counseling to people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease, helping them manage their health and potentially slowing or stopping disease progression.” Tabitha is also employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and does consulting. She and her husband, Kedrick, are the parents of two

energetic little boys.  Tabitha was raised in a Christian home with seven siblings. Her father, a pastor, and mother instilled in her the values of being a good steward. “I saw firsthand the importance of helping those in need and that it is more blessed to give than receive. Whether big or small, seen or unseen, everyone can contribute to the betterment of their community. We all have civic responsibilities, and I want to do my part. My motivation is intrinsic: I want to do what I love, help others, and provide a positive example for my family and my community.” Tabitha’s volunteer work includes the Junior League of Lake Charles, United Way, voter registration assistance (When We All Vote at Black Lives Matter Walk), and VA Homeless StandDown, an annual fundraiser to provide services and resources to homeless veterans.


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and owner, Dietitians In Home

Tabitha launched Dietitians In Home early last spring, but the pandemic put her fledgling business on hold. Then schools closed which made it more difficult for her and Kedrick to adjust schedules and navigate the children being home more. But they managed. “Just when I thought some normalcy was approaching with the kids returning to school in late August, Hurricane Laura, followed by Delta, ravaged the city. Like many families, we faced moderate home damage and were displaced. I’ve only recently returned to Lake Charles permanently. With all that was going awry, I took time for my mental health by focusing on good nutrition, consistent exercise, meditation, and spending quality time with my family. It is difficult to take care of business if you don’t take care of yourself.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HOME? The words home and house are often used interchangeably, but they vary in meaning to me. Home is where love and my family reside. We had a house built less than a year before the hurricane hit. The damages are all repairable. I love my house, but I really did not miss it. A house is only a physical structure and can be replaced. Having been out of my house for six months and living in much smaller apartment brought a new appreciation and awareness for how quickly life can change. Home is the people of Lake Charles rebuilding a damaged city. I knew this, but the events of 2020 reinforced the wisdom of not taking anything for granted.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021



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– Behind the Lens by Angie Kay Dilmore

Shonda Manuel joined the Healthy Image team as a graphic designer and photographer in 2011. Her hiring coincided with the inaugural 13 Thriving 30-Somethings feature. Since then, this Southwest Louisiana native has been the artistic visionary behind our popular annual cover section, dazzling readers with her creative themes and settings, stunning photography and clever layouts. In 2016, Shonda moved to the other side of the camera when she was chosen as a Thriving 30-Something. It seems only fitting that in this special tribute issue to what is now a yearly institution at Thrive, we discover what drives this artist, now a partner at Healthy Image, to continue learning and perfecting her craft, and why each year brings new reasons for her to love the 30-Somethings feature. Tell us about your college experience and how you became a photographer. I graduated from McNeese State University in 2000 with a BA in Visual Arts. When I started there, I was majoring in Journalism. After I got into the program, I realized I didn't have that "need to get the scoop" ambition. I was taking a drawing class with the art department head, Bill Ihles, and he loved my drawing style. He constantly came into the video store where I worked and told me why I should change my major to graphic design. It didn't take much persuading. As an art major, you choose your concentrations. In addition to graphic design and drawing, I really wanted to do photography. I feel all graphic designers should have a concentration in photography. The two go hand-in-hand. The end result to your design will be more successful when you know what makes a photograph strong and couple that with bold and effective graphic design. 50 50 Thrive Thrive Magazine Magazine for for Better Better Living Living • April • April 2021 2021

Describe the path that led to your successful career as a photographer and designer. My first job was as a graphic artist at Grand Casino Coushatta and then I went on to work as a graphic designer for the O'Carroll Group. I learned a tremendous amount about brand standards and quality at L'Auberge Casino Resort and was part of their Opening Team in 2005 as their advertising specialist. From there I became the Publications Manager at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. And this month in April, I will make 10 years at Healthy Image Marketing as Partner/Associate Creative Director. The funniest thing about my career in advertising depends on where you met me; you may think I am just a graphic designer or just a photographer. Everyone is always shocked when I tell them I do both. How did you perfect your craft and what tips do you have for budding photographers? Practice and observation. Many people assume that if you are a photographer, you can take a good photo of anything. That's not the case. Some photographers specialize in portraiture or commercial photography. Others only take photos of architecture or newborns. Each subject matter requires special skills that do not cross over to other subjects. I get tasked with doing so many different types of photography. If it's something I haven't shot before, I do research and then trial and error. I follow professional photographers on social media and incorporate their tips. The only way to get better is to shoot lots of photos. When you get it right and develop your style, make note of what worked and what didn't. And always be flexible. I try to show up prepared for anything and almost always, something I could not have predicted happens. What do you love about photography as an artistic medium? I love finding a way to tell a story with a photo where others just see an empty glass or a nervous smile. I owe so much to my beginnings at McNeese with Lynn Reynolds for teaching me the basics of photography. Understanding the elements of photography such as light, composition, form and depth of field, just to name a few, helps me to see the beauty in ordinary things. People tend to laugh at me when they see me laying on the floor or peering through stairwell rungs, but I love the different perspectives of everyday life. How has 13 Thriving 30-Somethings evolved over the past 11 years? It's definitely become a huge theme-oriented event. My first week on the job literally was the week the first class of 30-Somethings was being photographed. Our previous graphic designer/photographer was already shooting

it and asked me to help out. I had no clue what a 30-Something was. I worked solo on the 30-Somethings the next year and wanted to make it really special. After that, it seemed I was always trying to top the idea from the year before. My plan would be to keep it simple, but then I would make it even more elaborate because the people were so awesome. What is your goal when planning ideas and a theme each year? My number one goal is to showcase the individual being photographed in the most flattering way. The work they do in the community should be celebrated and what better way to do that than with a photographic tribute? When it comes to the theme, I want to do something that hasn't been done before. Sometimes I know what I want to do. Other times, I open it up to discussion with the staff to see what ideas they have. I am thankful that each year the 30-Somethings are completely game for whatever the theme is and trust me not to make them look foolish.

and get the final result to look as seamless as possible. What I really was doing was trying to prove myself to my new bosses that I had a brilliant idea and could pull it off. I was so exhausted after that issue, but I learned so much. I wish I could go back in time and redo it because I have really refined my skills as a photographer and designer. Plus, Photoshop has developed some great time-saving tools that would have cut that design process time in half. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Aside from the opportunity to work on my craft, the best thing for me about the Thriving 30-Somethings are the many people who started out as subject matter and have now become some of my dearest friends. I never need to look far for new friends. I simply wait until the next class of 30-Somethings and then we all become besties. I am so grateful to be able to celebrate their accomplishments and be a part of this Thrive tradition.

Describe your favorite past theme. I love all my 30-Something shoots and I don't have a true favorite because the people make each one special and unique. That said, I think my favorite theme is a tie between 30-Somethings Go to The Movies (2015) and 30-Somethings 10th Anniversary (2020). I am a huge movie fan. I asked each 30-Something that year to pick their favorite movie scene and recreate it. I was blown away by their effort and the detail they went into. That's when I realized there was no going back to easy non-themed shoots. When I worked at L'Auberge, I fell in love with the architecture there. Years before the 10th-anniversary issue, I knew I would shoot it there. Once again, the 30-Somethings came through with total red carpet glam. Most fun photoshoot. The most fun shoot was Camp 30-Something (2017). It was the very first time we had all the 30-Somethings together at one time. No one had to be photoshopped into the group picture. Everyone stayed the whole day at Camp Edgewood and hung out and bonded. Each person cheered on the others while they had their photo taken. It was seriously just like camp. So many people from that shoot went on to be my closest friends. Most difficult shoot. The 30-Somethings Clue issue (2012) almost broke me. That entire cover was photoshopped. I took everyone's photos and had to strategically place them on the couch. It took time to preplan how I would pose them and then countless hours afterward extracting them and putting them in that stock photo study. I must have gone cross-eyed trying to perfect shadows


'12 '15

'16 APRIL 2013 APRIL 2013


'19 '14


'13 '20 '17


I thought it was special that we were able to be present for an all-day shoot. Most of us took the whole day off to support each other, network and just hangout in a celebratory way. The day created an unexpected comradery between all of us for which I’m grateful. Little did we all know, the world would shut down just days later and group hangouts were forbidden due to the spread of COVID-19.


Two years ago – it feels like decades ago today. Being named to the 2019 Thriving-30 Somethings and joining this esteemed group is one of my biggest, professional accomplishments so far. Thinking back on the experience, I am so thankful that my children were at an age where they could understand and share in my excitement. It could be that they were more excited about eating my congratulatory Bundt cake, but nevertheless, they were happy! When Thrive presented us with our individuall, framed 30-Somethings story, I was filled with pride. Two years later, I’m still beaming and appreciative of the acknowledgement.

Insert Inside

April 2013


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


My most memorable moment as a Thriving 30-Something came before it even started. Everyone else suggested their own photo locations, but Shonda told me mine would happen at Crying Eagle Brewery. Don't get me wrong, Crying Eagle is awesome. Eric Avery is a friend. But despite the family friendly atmosphere, I questioned Shonda's motives in selecting this locale for me! Do I spend that much time there? Maybe. I can't deny I always enjoy the great local craft beer and pizza on a hot date with my wife!




We had an amazing time at Camp Edgewood (our Boy Scout Camp) in Dequincy for our photoshoot. The deep friendships that developed from our class has been amazingly rewarding. Who knew that a “somewhatfriendly” tug of war challenge would lead to a special section family style bond for so many of us! We have also connected and joined efforts in supporting many local causes over the years. In many ways, our connection was just the beginning of Thrive Magazine for our Betterimpact Living serving our community! enhancing Keep up the great work class of 2017!

outdoor living


While it was a real hoot shooting in the gym and on the bus for the “Class of 2016,” I think the acknowledgement from Thrive and the love I felt from my community and peers following its release played a role in boosting my entrepreneurial spirit. My employer at the time, Empire of the Seed, embraced that same spirit, so being named a Thriving 30-Something that year was both perfectly timed and good for the soul as I ventured out to open my own event planning business.

My most memorable experience as a Thriving 30-Something was the individual photoshoot. My theme was the movie The Breakfast Club. I was able to include my son and a close friend. We got a cool shot for the magazine but what you didn’t see was how much fun we had shooting the photos that didn’t make the cut (dancing on tables). I love that I got to share that experience with people I care about. Plus, the photographer is pretty cool too!

Into Fitness



Instead, Shonda Manuel, who is very creative and fun to work with, led me to an empty studio and directed me to look and act as if someone were suspiciously looking over my shoulder. It was awkward . . . and hilarious. That day, I got “a CLUE” about how the physicians and staff members I worked with over the years probably felt when I asked them to step out of their element and in front of a camera for advertising campaigns, news stories, and such! It is something I will never forget. Thank you, THRIVE, for continuing this special feature year after year.


I remember feeling honored to have been a recipient and included with such an outstanding group of people. The entire experience was wonderful. First, my piece was written by the very talented Erin Kelly who did an amazing job. Then came the ‘Brady Bunch’ cover shoot. I remember being by myself in front of this screen with Shonda Manuel telling me to look up (click,) look down (click,) now look to the right corner and point (click.) The final cover looked amazing, and I’m constantly reminded of this as it’s hanging in my office. I’ve looked at the other recipients on the cover occasionally and like to see where they are now. Some have moved on, but the majority are still in SWLA making an impact. Some recipients I’d never met before eventually became people I worked very closely with. Also, Thrive gave me a t-shirt! I literally wore it out, it was so comfortable! My wife forced me to throw it away a few years back when the number of holes had become slightly ‘excessive.’

Being chosen was such an honor (and so surprising)! I remember I was fairly new to my position as Marketing Director at CHRISTUS Ochsner (CHRISTUS St. Patrick at the time) and was humbled to be chosen among such an amazing group of community leaders, many of whom I knew and respected. Since then, I always make note of impressive community leaders who really stand out in their field and their contributions to society and many of those people go on to also become Thriving 30-Somethings. I’m proud to be a 30-Something alum!   I remember I was at teaching at school when I found out I was selected as a Thriving 30-Something. I was totally shocked and elated. Having my photo taken by Shonda Manuel was definitely the cherry on top. Thank you, Thrive, for shining a light on our community!


At the time, I had a very busy and fulfilling career in the healthcare marketing and public relations field. I was astounded when I received an unexpected message stating I had been nominated for the annual Thrive Magazine Thriving 30-Something recognition. I was humbled by the news and felt honored to be one of the 13 people included that year. One of my most memorable moments was the cover photo shoot. I assumed everyone would show up at the same time for the group photo.


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Thriving CHELSEA BOUDREAUX, class of 2014 and co-owner of Stellar Beans Coffee House and the Yoga Center, says she’s now in her 40s and still thriving, though she admits 2020 was a tough year. “We had to close the Yoga Center and did several online classes, but began to focus on remodeling Stellar Beans during quarantine, with our family’s help. We put our hearts and souls into providing the best product we could for our CommUNITY. Despite navigating a global pandemic, things were starting to pick up. And then came the hurricanes.” After Hurricane Laura and through Hurricane Delta, Chelsea and her husband, Carl, opened Stellar Beans as a free CommUNITY Pantry. They offered free coffee and collected donations of essential items for those in need. For their efforts, they received a Humanitarian Award through the Louisiana Travel Association. OWEN CLANTON, class of 2017 and Administrative Director of Middle Schools for Calcasieu Parish School Board (CPSB), says his post-Hurricane Laura support to students and families began while being evacuated in Houston with his wife, four children, and their dog Moby. “The response from surrounding districts from Louisiana to East Texas was overwhelming. I began funneling communication, organizing donations, and tracking which schools were most in need. This simple action allowed our core team of leaders in Calcasieu to focus on the immediate task of securing our school sites. Once we had power and internet at one central location, me and a team began building out what has now become our K-8 online virtual program, CPSB Connected Classrooms. To date, we have provided daily live instruction to around 2,000 students. With an amazing team of teachers, we are refining our online teaching to ensure our students receive the best education possible.” ERIN DAVISON, class of 2013 and the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA (BBBS SWLA), secured technology for her staff to work remotely during the stay-at-home period last year, implemented Virtual Mentoring for their BBBS programs. She raised $35,000 for direct recovery needs for the Littles/Families post-Hurricane Laura and Delta, and another $25,000 in donor funding for BBBS to continue to provide virtual enrollment, 100% of health/safety checks of all Littles/Families/Big Mentors, and hotspots for her staff to continue to work remotely post-Hurricane when telecommunications were obsolete. “With the help of the PPP loan and other funds, my staff remained fully employed with all benefits for 2020.” Erin spoke out against Altice/Suddenlink’s unfair and negligent practices before and post-Hurricane recovery, as well as at the Joint Insurance Commission Hearing to protest the unfair practice of insurance claims and coverages. “I spoke for my Littles, families, and community. 54

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

In typical Thriving 30-something mode, numerous past 30-Something recipients were instrumental in community service, outreach, and recovery through the devasting events of 2020. Here are but a few examples:

Under my leadership, my staff enrolled, matched, and supported 59 new youth in SWLA, and paired them with a Big Brother or Big Sister in 2020.” TRAVIS MANCEAUX, class of 2015 and coowner of PERC Development, LLC, met with his team to discuss a game plan prior to Hurricane Lara making landfall. “We secured our ongoing projects and placed orders for lumber, plywood, chainsaws, temporary roof covering materials and general supplies in preparation for the storm. We discussed a plan of action and ensured our team had safe shelter and evacuation plans. Despite the devastation, Manceaux’s team showed up within hours after the storm passed. “Even with most of our personal homes damaged, the PERC team helped our community in major ways. Within the first 24 hours, we received thousands of calls, texts, emails and messages. The outreach from the community was overwhelming and humbling.” Manceaux and PERC have helped hundreds of people with both their commercial and residential properties. They temporarily hired many people who were out of work and wanted to be part of the community efforts so they can continue to build our community “with passion, excellence, reliability and commitment.” Manceaux says they still have hundreds of construction projects in progress and many more awaiting repairs. “The hardest part of this is not being able to help everyone. We are working every day to secure supplies and labor resources to rebuild this wonderful place we call home.” DR. TYSON GREEN class of 2011and podiatric surgeon with the Center for Orthopaedics, reported to the CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital when Hurricane Laura hit. He cared for patients who couldn’t be transferred while his wife and four young children evacuated to safety. After a harrowing night spent in the hospital’s hallways to protect patients from flying glass, he assessed the damage outside and says it looked like a war zone. It took him over an hour to get home, normally a 15-minute drive. Once there, he found his home destroyed. “I realized we were homeless,” he said. “And I realized how many other people in our community faced the same reality. To get through this, we’d need to help each other.” Dr. Green and his son Jackson came up with the idea of creating a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help healthcare workers recover. “Hospitals reopened immediately to provide care after the storm, and I was struck by the commitment of nurses and other healthcare workers. Many had lost their homes, had no electricity or water, and were separated from their families, but they reported to work to care for our community. I wanted to show them our community cares for them, too.” Dr. Green raised over $15,000, which he and his nurse Maggie Pankhurst distributed to 12 healthcare workers to help them rebuild their lives. “The generosity and resiliency of Southwest Louisiana is incredible and that is what will carry us through the long recovery process.”


Niche Creative Studio

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses last March, Melissa Hill, class of 2019 and Niche Creative Studio owner, had no idea if her business would survive. But she saw a need – MASKS – and the team at Niche knows how to sew! “Our studio decided to shift our focus from classes and craft supplies to sewing masks nearly full time,” Hill said. “For several months, my staff and I sewed day and night to meet a very important need in our community -- helping essential workers safely return to work at our local hospitals and schools. We used a window up front to sell them from – like a snow cone stand for masks and craft supplies. This change of course saved the business and allowed us to stay open during such unknown times and kept our team employed so they could take care of themselves and their families. We also produced online craft videos, especially useful for parents and kids to do at home

during the shutdown. We felt this was a great service to offer our community to help keep kiddos entertained at home and help elevate the spirits of those who had to stay home for an indefinite period of time.” But then came the hurricanes. Hill said Hurricane Laura caused extensive damage to her business, including debris breaking through doors and windows, and losing parts of two exterior walls. Hurricane Delta brought rain and flooding into the studio. “Again, we were given the choice to close or find a creative way to rebuild and stay open. Opting for the latter, we boxed up everything that survived, found storage options, moved the necessities into a smaller, temporary space, and were able to open during the holidays in the new location. My greatest concern was for my employees. We did a fundraiser for our team by selling SWLA Strong window stickers and t-shirts to help them and their families through the uncertainty.”

Hill and her staff stayed connected with loyal customers by creating a For the Locals Temporary Store Group on Facebook, which thrived on grass roots efforts and word of mouth. “We are so thankful for our customers' patience during this time,” she said. Niche Creative Studio is now re-opened in its original location. “With much hard work, we moved everything back in and have started our first set of classes since before the storms,” Hill said. “We have a long way to go, and our crafting community isn't back 100%, but we are here supporting our community, making the most of each day, and helping people find their creative "niche". Niche Creative Studio is located at 4706 Common Street in Lake Charles. 337-477-3810,


Why are we including the 2020 13 Thriving 30-Something section in our April 2021 issue? Glad you asked! Last year was intended to be a grand celebration of our 10th anniversary of this special, annual feature. We worked hard on it; our 2020 30-Somethings were excited about it; and just when the festivities were about to start, a pandemic named COVID-19 crashed our party. Stay-at-home orders were announced, so very few people ventured out in search of Thrive magazine. And even if they had, most of the businesses that house our magazine racks were closed due to the virus. After all our planning and preparation, hardly anyone had the opportunity to see and read last year’s spectacular 30-Something issue. SO, we are re-printing it along with the 2021 class of 30-Somethings. Enjoy our double feature!

photos by Shonda Manuel stories by Angie Kay Dilmore shot on location at L'Auberge Casino Resort, Lake Charles

2020 marks Thrive magazine’s 10th anniversary of our annual 13 Thriving

30-Somethings feature! What a pleasure it has been to spotlight young, local, successful, compassionate professionals this past decade. Every year, we receive dozens of nominations, each one worthy of being named a Thriving 30-Something. It’s always a challenge to narrow the field down to 13. Our community is full of high-achieving community-minded citizens who represent diverse backgrounds and a wide range of occupations. In celebration of our ten years, we went all out on the photo shoot – formal attire and stunning backdrops at L’Auberge Casino Resort. We also expanded this year’s special section to a whopping 30 pages. Sit back, read and relax, and know for certain, the future of Southwest Louisiana is in great hands!

56 56 Thrive Thrive Magazine Magazine for for Better Better Living Living • April • April 2021 2020

Gregory Bass, 33 Director of Operational Excellence at Golden Nugget Lake Charles

Gregory Bass was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. He began his post-secondary education at LSUE for Nuclear Medicine and ultimately completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix while working full-time. He made an intentional decision to postpone obtaining his MBA and opted instead to earn his Six Sigma/Lean credentials. “That decision has played a valuable role in my career and growth opportunities,” Gregory says. “With Villanova University I earned the top certification of Advanced Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.” Gregory began his working career as do many young people – in food service. He soon joined the heavy equipment company Louisiana CAT. From there, he joined the hospitality industry and loves his job. He is now Director of Operational Excellence at Golden Nugget Lake Charles. “My grandfather shared a statement with me long ago as a young man that I’ve continually turned to in my life. ‘Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.’ Therefore, anything I commit my time will have my complete effort.” Gregory co-chairs his employer’s Golden Giver Community Panel, through to which he serves at United Way of SWLA and raises funds for nonprofits in the community. He’s a member of the executive leadership committee for the SWLA American Cancer Society and was their 2019 Chair for their fundraiser Real Men Wear Pink, raising a total of $222,241. Gregory is the 1st Vice President for the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, serving as co-chair to the 2020 Live at Lakefront. He also coaches his son’s soccer team with the Calcasieu Soccer Club! “I’m thankful to my wife for allowing me the opportunity to serve. I believe those with the ability to serve owe it to their community to add value and help change lives, even if in a small way. I want to be remembered as a person who cares for others and to leave this world knowing I did my part to make it better for my children and the future of my family and other families.” Gregory lives with his wife, Claire, and their sons, Patrick and Ronan.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I had just married my incredibly talented and beautiful wife and we moved to Prairieville, Louisiana for a position I was promoted to at Louisiana CAT.

Where do you plan to be 10 years from now? I intend to be general manager of a property or something comparable. Most importantly, I commit to providing for my family and spending all the precious time I can with them.


While working on her undergraduate degree at McNeese State University, Melissa Raymond was introduced to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston Clear Lake with a concentration in ABA and became a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst; later a Licensed Behavior Analyst. In 2012, she and her husband, Craig, opened Milestones Behavioral Services with a goal of utilizing the principles of ABA to help autistic children and those with other developmental disabilities reach their developmental milestones. “I am so lucky to wake up every day to a beautiful family and a job that I truly enjoy,” she says. Inspired by her parents, Melissa has a passion for working with children with developmental disabilities. “As a Licensed Behavior Analyst, I see children speak for the first time. I see them learn new skills and reach new milestones. As a business owner, I create a positive environment where employees enjoy the work that they do and feel support from their supervisors.” Witnessing the struggle that parents of children with developmental disabilities face when transitioning their child from early intervention to a school setting, Melissa wanted to do more. In 2017, she and Craig founded the non-profit organization Autism Scholars with a mission to increase scholarly opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Autism Scholars gives back to the community through its Teacher Workshop and Scholarship Fund. The one-week, hands-on Teacher Workshop provides information about ABA to teachers in Calcasieu, Cameron, Allen, and Beauregard Parishes. The goal of the workshop is to arm teachers with tools they can take back to their classrooms. Melissa is on the boards of Louisiana Coalition for Access to Autism Services and Louisiana Association for Behavior Analysis. Along with her husband, Melissa lives with her children, Kinzey and Cohen.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was a new behavior analyst working part time for myself and part time for another company. And I was still a newlywed!

Where do you want to be in 10 years? I hope that Autism Scholars has grown and our reach expanded. I hope our fundraisers are bigger, better, and result in the donations needed to expand our scholarship fund and increase the number of teacher workshops offered. Milestones Behavioral Services might have multiple locations and possibly include a feeding clinic and life skills lab to provide ABA services to more families.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Melissa Coco Raymond, 33 Licensed Behavior Analyst, owner of Milestones Behavioral Services, autism activist

Jana Crain, 39 Litigation paralegal with Scofield, Gerard, Pohorelsky, Gallaugher, & Landry

Lake Charles native Jana Crain attended Barbe High School and Hamilton Christian Academy, and graduated from McNeese State University with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and a minor in paralegal studies. She lived in Dallas and later Houston, working in law firms and handling complex international commercial litigation. Growing weary of big city life, Jana and her husband returned to Lake Charles to be close to family and friends. She now works for Scofield, Gerard, Pohorelsky, Gallaugher, & Landry. “For 17 years I have driven myself to produce the best product to help my firms and their clients present the strongest cases possible. I have coupled this with my organizational skills both in the courtroom and my personal life.” In 2019, Jana started her own business, Honestly Organized. Her passion is to help people find better organization in the clutter of everyday life. She helps to organize home and business moves – from planning boxing and moving day to full unpacking and set up in the new location. “My dream has been to be a small business owner and use these skills to help my clients find ways to de-clutter their lives for their families and careers.” she says. Jana serves the community and especially thrives behind the scenes, making things happen. She currently serves with the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA as the Secretary of their executive board and and works with their numerous annual events. Jana assists her husband with his charity, the Outdoor Association for True Heroes (OATH) and is a member in Krewe du Lac. “I strive to help people and organizations reach their goals by playing supportive roles and using my experience and perspective to strengthen their teams.” Jana volunteers for the Everything Grey Greyhound Rescue. She fosters and finds homes for rescued retired racers. “After Hurricane Harvey, hundreds of dogs were displaced and shipped to Lake Charles. I couldn’t stand the thought of them being hungry and scared, trapped in a kennel. I spent several days working around the clock at Burton Complex walking, feeding, and comforting these dogs until they were returned to their owners.” Jana lives with her husband, Chad, her step-son, Zachary, and her dogs, Sizzle, Layla, and Marty.

What were you doing 10 years ago? Working in Houston on the BP Horizon Oil spill. And I had just met the man who is now my husband.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? I want to be fully invested in Honestly Organized. I envision myself with a lifestyle that allows my husband and I to travel while continuing to volunteer.


Ashley Gatte, 34 Ashley Gatte spent her childhood in Sulphur and moved to Lake Charles when she was a high school senior. She earned a degree in marketing (minor in management) and an MBA from McNeese State University and is currently the President of Events Division at Empire of the Seed. Through her role there, Ashley supports local organizations such as the Lake Charles Symphony, Boy Scouts, The Community Foundation, and various community and arts projects. “I believe that giving is a part of my nature,” says Ashley. “I aim to be someone who gives abundantly and does not ask for anything in return. Several people in my life inspire me daily. My husband (Ben Gatte), my parents (Lonnie and Trudy Phelps), my in-laws (Nacis and Patty Gatte), my friends (they know who they are), and Rick and Donna Richard. These folks have been true examples of what it means to be selfless and generous. I’ve been so blessed in my life; I can’t help but try to be my best self every day. Hard work and drive are my expressions of gratitude to all of those who have encouraged and helped me along the way! Ashley has been a volunteer musician at her church for years, allowing her to serve different church congregations and act as a mentor for younger musicians who need encouragement/ advice. “I believe my faith is the main reason for this drive to make our community and the world a better place. I grew up in church watching my parents volunteer, teach Sunday school, and open our home to befriend people and share meals with them. (1 Peter 4:8-10, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.) Ashley also volunteers at local 5k races and events. “It’s always fun when you can align your favorite hobbies with doing good for others!”

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was in Lake Charles, starting the MBA program at McNeese and working as Dr. Burckel’s graduate assistant.

Where would you like to be in 10 years? I would love to still be in Lake Charles. I love this city. As long as I stay rooted in my faith in God, and am surrounded by the ones I love, I know I can handle whatever the future may bring. Ten years from now I hope to be doing good and meaningful work, encouraging others, and creating community!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Empire of the Seed Historic Events President

Emily Porché, 31 Events Manager at Burton Coliseum Complex

Emily Porche' was born and raised in Lake Charles, graduated from Barbe High School, and McNeese State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. She is the Events Manager at Burton Coliseum Complex, where she rents the facilities to various clients and helps create memorable experiences for our community. Her first “big girl” job was the Marketing Assistant at Cameron State Bank, where she coordinated promotions and special events for each bank branch. “I knew that my career was headed down the right path of managing promotions, planning events, and ensuring patrons enjoy their experiences, whether in a bank lobby or in a large 6,200 seat arena,” Emily says. Emily was a member of Fusion Five, serving as a board member and an executive board member. She represented the art community by serving on the Arts & Humanities board and executive committee for several years. She participated in the annual Mad Hot Ballroom fundraising event for Dancing Classrooms and DanceSport as a “professional dancer” and is a 2014 graduate of SWLA Leadership and a 2018 graduate of the International Association of Venue Management. After her experiences from these various leadership and volunteer opportunities, Emily felt a passion to start her own non-profit organization, Mae’s Mission., founded in September of 2019 to bring awareness and fundraised dollars to small, lesser-known non-profit organizations within the five-parish region of Southwest Louisiana. They host events and donate the collected funds to other nonprofits through a grant application process. Emily strives to live by what she calls the 50/50 standard. “The 50/50 standard focuses 50% of your time and efforts on accomplishing goals and focusing the other 50% on putting those accomplished goals to good use, meaning giving back to your community. I also think celebrating ‘small wins’ is important so that your goals and accomplishments are kept in check. Everyone defines success and achievement differently, but if you take the time to recognize your ‘small wins,’ they add up to large achievements along the way.” Emily is married to Cody, owner of Porche' Aerial Imagery, and mom to Charlie Mae.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was just starting my first job at Cameron State Bank, finalizing wedding plans to marry my high-school sweetheart, excited to take on the so-called “real world,” and still teaching dance classes for extra money.

Where do you plan to be 10 years from now? I hope that ten years from now, I’m as eager to succeed and serve my community as I am now.



CONGRATULATIONS! to Ashley Gatte, Empire of the Ashley Gatte, Empire of the Seed Seed Historic Historic Events President... Events President our Thriving Thirties gal! our Thriving Thirties gal!


Class of 2019

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Dr. Tyler Zachary, endocrinologist, has joined the medical staff of Imperial Health. He is practicing with Dr. Timothy Gilbert and Dr. Sandra Dempsey at the Endocrinology Center of Southwest Louisiana. about:blank

Originally from Sulphur, Dr. Zachary earned his Medical Degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. He completed a Fellowship in Endocrinology & Metabolism at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Zachary is board certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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Call (337) 310-3670 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Zachary.

1727 Imperial Blvd., #2, Lake Charles | 1327 Stelly Lane, Sulphur | (337) 310-3670 62

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Kyle Daigle, D.C., 33 Doctor of Chiropractic, Owner of Ultimate Performance Chiro & Rehab

Kyle Daigle says he’s a small-town kid making an impact in the world. He grew up in the Sulphur/Vinton area and began his higher education at McNeese and later transferred to LSU. After completing the prerequisites for chiropractic school, he attended Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas, where he studied Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology and was president of the Nutrition Club. Kyle is currently the Chief Medical Officer for SNA Technologies, a software company in Austin, Texas, where he co-developed a patent-pending program called Neurosage that is being used in countries around the world. He manages Partners for Brain Chat, an online educational platform for doctors and therapists who want to learn about Neurological Rehabilitation. He published a book called What If You Knew. He partnered with a Company in Abu Dhabi called Developing Minds, a learning center for kids with development delays and sensory processing disorders. He lectures at Life University and in Europe (Barcelona and Amsterdam) to doctors in the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation (IAFNR) about Digital Therapy and Childhood Development Disorders. He received the 2018 IAFNR Humanitarian of the Year Award and won their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 for developing the software used by numerous doctors in the organization. He was recently selected to speak at the Movement Conference at the University of Paris/La Sorbonne in September on the impact of Virtual Reality in movement and cognition. When he isn’t traveling, Kyle sees patients in his private practice in Lake Charles called Ultimate Performance Chiro & Rehab. “I absolutely love my job and all my patients! I help patients facing difficulties with different neurological and orthopedic conditions,” he says. As a child, Kyle’s career path was influenced by his parents and his love of competitive sports. His mother is a special needs teacher. “Her passion to help kids struck me early. She has made such a huge impact on so many kids.” His father operated a successful oil distribution company. “I had two great role models who demonstrated persistent hard work and setting goals. In second grade, I knew what I wanted to be—a doctor. At LSU, my interests changed after I began researching neurology, biochemistry, and nutrition which led me to the chiropractic field.” Kyle lives with his wife, Alexa, and daughter, Blakesly.

What were you doing 10 years ago? Living in Dallas, attending Chiropractic School, and dreaming about opening my own practice.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? I plan to expand Developing Minds throughout the Middle East and into parts of Europe while still practicing here in Lake Charles.


Ashley Williams was born and raised in Lake Charles. She began her role at Oasis A Safe Haven for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence (formerly Calcasieu Women’s Shelter) 12 years ago as a volunteer and worked her way up to Assistant Director of the organization. “I advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I am also responsible for training and supervising survivor and children advocates, addressing family needs, safety planning, educating survivors on the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and I have facilitated domestic violence support groups for survivors and their children,” she says. During her employment with Oasis, Ashley also worked with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV) as the Public Policy Coordinator where she provided legislative advocacy on the state and national levels. She was also the Project Coordinator of LCADV’s Children Exposed to Violence Program. “Domestic and sexual violence is real and affects families in our community. I try to be a voice for all victims, but it is the children impacted by violence who hold a special place in my heart. They need people in their lives who will listen, believe, and respect them. I want them to know that they are not alone.” Ashley says being a voice against domestic violence is rewarding by itself, but educating children and young adults about healthy relationships, bullying and signs of domestic violence is what she loves. “When I see that engaging, educating and empowering our young people is saving and changing lives, it truly makes my heart smile.” Ashley volunteers for several community service organizations. She’s a board member of MusicMakers2U, Secretary at LCADV, a member of the Junior League of Lake Charles and the Lake Charles Happy Hour Rotary, and an active member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Ashley learned the importance of service from her parents. “Watching them give so much of their time and talents growing up taught me that if I can help someone, just do it! I am so grateful that God has given me opportunities to serve Him through serving others. Ashley lives with her husband Markell and her son Mason.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was a McNeese student and child advocate at Calcasieu Women’s Shelter.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? I would like to be better version of myself. I hope that I will be a BETTER wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and member of this community. Most importantly, I hope my faith is still my foundation.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Ashley Chretien Williams, 32 Assistant Director – Oasis A Safe Haven for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Nick Reina, 33 Agent/Owner of Nick Reina State Farm

Nick Reina was born and raised in Lake Charles.

Mind & Body He attended Hamilton Christian Academy and

joined the United States Marine Corps immediately after graduation. He served as an infantryman in Iraq from 2006-2008. After his honorable discharge, Nick attended McNeese State University and majored in Natural Resource Conservation Management with a concentration in Wildlife. While in college, he worked for Meridian Global Security and did overseas anti-piracy security contracts abroad. He also installed irrigation systems and realized he would rather have an office job. Postgraduation, Nick moved to Houston and worked nearly four years with a successful State Farm agent, working his way up to Office Manager. Nick is currently the Agent/Owner of Nick Reina State Farm in Lake Charles. “During our first year, we were the number seven new agent in the country out of roughly 1000. In our first full year we received an award for being a top 5% agency nationwide,” says Nick. “My desire to win, do things the right way, take care of others, and my need for personal growth in development drive me to succeed in my career.” Nick serves on many boards throughout the area such as the Arts and Humanities Council and Fusion Five. He’s a member of the SWLA Veterans Association, and integrally involved with the College of Business at McNeese State University. His business has sponsored schools, organizations, and sports teams. “My compassion and love for the community stem from growing up in this area and being raised in the church. My compassion for others increased tremendously as a result of my years in the Marine Corps. Seeing how other people live opened my eyes to the struggles people deal with every day. If we can make an impact that makes their lives a little easier, it’s worth doing. I feel compelled to give back because without people helping me through my life I would not be where I am today. Helping others gives me the self-satisfaction that I am doing what God has called me to do. Otherwise, what is the purpose of life? Be it financial support, acts or service, or just listening, being there for others is my calling.” Nick lives with his wife, Erin, and daughters, Emma Catherine and Parker.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was a freshman at McNeese transitioning back into civilian life after leaving the Marine Corps.

Where do you want to be in 10 years? I want to be a Top 50 Agent in the country, be able to give back more to the community, and assist with the positive progression of Lake Charles.


Brandon Racca was born and raised in Lacassine. He recalls helping on his grandfather’s farm, working summers for his dad on construction sites, and riding four-wheelers. With academic and athletic scholarships (he was a javelin thrower), Brandon attended LSU and graduated with a degree in Kinesiology. From there, he attended Texas Chiropractic College. After that he began his career as a D.C. at Southwest Chiropractic in Lake Charles and is now a partner at Center for Chiropractic in Lake Charles. Brandon spearheaded the development of a second office in Sulphur to better assist their patients. “In my journey through life, athletics, and career I have had many people give me their time and knowledge to improve me as a person. For that, I feel a calling to repay to others after me. One of the joys of life for me is to provide people with improvement of their health and physical being.” Brandon grew up in a family with five chiropractors who were pioneers in their field. From the time he was five years old, Brandon aspired to follow their lead. “My dad always told me to do what makes you happy and you will always want to go to work.” Brandon’s parents taught him the importance of service. His mother was a teacher and his dad a carpenter. “They taught me through their actions what kind of man to be.” Brandon recently went on a medical mission to El Salvador, traveling from village to village and setting up a mobile clinic where he gave free adjustments, health education, and provided basic hygiene essentials to those in need. He coaches high school and college athletes in Track and Field and helps with local events. Brandon is an avid cyclist and has ridden in multiple MS 150’s to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. “We can enrich not just one person but many others through giving. I am one person and if I can help thousands of people then those people can help millions along their journeys.” Brandon lives with his wife, Krickett (a fellow 30-Something this year).

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was stressing out in Houston at chiropractic school.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? Right here doing the same job. I love my town and I never want to leave, but I would like to branch out more into the surrounding area and develop multiple practices.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Brandon Racca, D.C., 35 Chiropractor/partner at Center for Chiropractic in Lake Charles

Krickett Racca, 31 Marketing and Special Events Manager at Crying Eagle Brewing Co

Krickett Racca was born in Springfield, Missouri. She and her mother later moved to Greenville, Michigan. As an early teen, her mother met Krickett’s stepfather which took them to Southaven, Mississippi. She graduated high school from DeSoto Central in Southaven and attended LSU where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies in 2010. As a young person, Krickett worked summers at her parents' beer distributorship, submitting beer and soda orders for local restaurants and grocery stores. “This position gave me valuable behind the scenes knowledge that I utilize every day in my current position at Crying Eagle,” she says. “I have worked several marketing jobs throughout my life at restaurants, doctors’ offices, media companies, athletics, you name it I've marketed it! When Crying Eagle popped up on my radar, I knew that it was the perfect place to combine both of my passions; marketing and beer.” Krickett learned the value of volunteer work from her mother’s example. “We helped serve food at church, we adopted shelter animals. As soon as I was old enough to drive, she encouraged me to spend time at our local animal shelter and our community foundation.” Through the Junior League of Lake Charles, Krickett has volunteered for Fit Kids, Truck Fest, Waters Edge Food Pantry, and Lake Charles Pitbull Rescue. She’s on the board of directors at the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and Fusion Five, and volunteers with the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles (Secretary & past board member). She is currently in the Leadership Southwest Class of 2020. “I love to see a need, come up with a plan, and make it happen all while working with some truly brilliant and caring individuals. No matter where I’ve lived, I meet amazing people while volunteering.” Krickett lives with her husband, Brandon.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was finishing up my bachelor's degree at LSU. I was also an LSU Batgirl and a Chi Omega, putting off "adulting" as long as possible.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? I plan to physically be right where I am. My husband and I have planted roots here in Lake Charles. Our community has so much potential and we intend to do our part to make it even better year after year. I plan to still be working at Crying Eagle and striving to make our brand the go-to Louisiana beer as well as bringing bigger better out-of-the-box events to SWLA.


Erika Doshier is a native of Lake Charles, a graduate of Barbe High School, and a McNeese State University graduate with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Her first job was working the drive through at McDonalds. In college she worked as a nursing step student for CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. In 2006, she was hired by Family and Youth Counseling Agency. “I started at an entry level position and now 13 ½ years later I’m the Vice President of the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and a Diplomate Child Forensic Interviewer for the State of Louisiana.” Erika’s goal has always been to “help the next person” whether she’s providing information to our community about child abuse or foster care issues or talking with a child one-on-one about their story of abuse. “I feel so honored to play a small role in keeping our community safe. I love being involved in my community and working to bring about change.” Erika credits her passion for community to her love for her son. “Becoming a mother changed my outlook on what being involved means. I look around and I want to ensure my son’s experience in this community is healthy, safe, nurturing and most of all inspires him to want to give back to our community in some capacity. Growing up, my parents were always involved with community and church groups, lending a hand to a friend or stranger in need. I was raised to believe that being able to serve others is an outward reflection of God’s love for us.” Erika’s past and current community volunteer work includes the Go Group Sub Committee, KIDS Can of Southwest Louisiana, Leadership Southwest, Allstate Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders Program, and the Continuous Quality Improvement Team (created by the Department of Children and Families to improve the quality of services for SWLA foster care youth). She assists with special events for the eight different divisions of Family & Youth Counseling Agency. She’s been a member of the Junior League of Lake Charles and is a member of her church choir at United Christian Fellowship Church. Erika lives with her son, Myles Simon.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was the Senior Coordinator for the Children's Advocacy Center at Family and Youth Counseling Agency. I was also preparing for the National Association of Certified Child Forensic Interviewer Exam.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? I want to work with others to strengthen our community by being a voice for change, advocacy, and education! I believe it’s our responsibility to pave the way and leave a legacy for the next generation.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Erika Doshier, 37 Vice President of the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Court Appointed Special Advocates

Stefanee Tolbert, 34 Co-founder, visionary, and principal at Life Christian Academy

Stefanee Tolbert was born and raised in DeQuincy. She attended LSU and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in English, as well as a degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. She also earned an associate’s degree in Advanced Youth Ministry from Christ for the Nations in Dallas. In 2011, she and Carolyn Nelson opened Life Christian Academy to the public with 26 students. They now enroll 350. From the beginning, their goal has been to "encourage, equip, and empower" their students. “These values are also my life values,” says Stefanee. “If I look back over my day, and know that I have encouraged, equipped, and empowered the people in my life, then I feel like I am thriving. I strive to help others reach their full potential.” Stefanee says she wanted to be an educator her whole life. “From a very early age, I would play school. So many things have led to where I am today, from ministry experience to my personal educational experience. My life has been a series of wins and losses, high mountains and low valleys, but I wouldn't change it. I am so happy where I am today. I don't take it for granted.” Stefanee enjoys community outreach, but says she doesn’t like to do it alone. “I provide our students with many opportunities to serve. As early as three years old, we involve our scholars with community outreach. We go to SC3 to provide non-perishable food items; we have partnered with the City of Sulphur to serve the senior citizens at the Ole Tyme Christmas Brunch by singing, interacting, and serving food. We partner with Compassion International and bring groups of children to poverty simulations. We collect necessities and deliver them to the homeless; partner with the Biker Church to serve lunch to those in our community; and participate in Operation Christmas Child. I’m proud of how well my students do academically, but my true joy is encouraging, equipping, and empowering the next generation of world changers to be the hands and feet of Christ. Servant leadership is essential.” Stefanee is married to Trent Tolbert and together they parent Cruz, Piper, Beckett, and Nash.

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was fresh out of LSU with big dreams, absolutely no idea how to reach them, but determination to make my dreams reality.

Where do you want to be in 10 years? Life Christian Academy will be meeting in our stateof-the-art facility. I will be encouraging, equipping, and empowering a new group of young world changers, and training up educators to do the same.


Jamie Chapman, 36 Region Engineering Supervisor for Entergy Louisiana Jamie Chapman grew up in Lake Charles, attended Hamilton Christian Academy, and majored in electrical engineering at McNeese State University. After college, she began her career with Entergy as a Distribution Field Engineer. She briefly transferred into a Distribution Planning Engineer role before accepting her first leadership assignment in 2014 as the Region Engineering Supervisor of the Entergy Louisiana West Region. In this role, Jamie led a group of employees responsible for distribution designs for Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana, a geographic area spanning from the Atchafalaya Basin to the Texas border. Most recently Jamie accepted a developmental opportunity where she is the acting Region Manager, leading the day to day operations of the line and service organizations in this same geographic area. “I have every intention to retire with Entergy,” she says. “I strive to be the best role model I can be for my two daughters. I want them to see a successful independent hard-working mother who has a strong career and also makes it to the events at school.” Jamie is also actively involved in the community through board and committee membership. She serves on the Family and Youth Counseling Agency Board and is engaged in the Programs and Personnel Committee. She serves on the board of Hamilton Christian Academy where she currently holds the office of Secretary. Jamie has also served as a member of the CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwestern Louisiana Foundation Board for three years on the Foundation’s Development Committee and Children’s Miracle Network Committee and was an honored Philanthropist in 2019. “I invest back into the community because I grew up here and I plan on staying here long term even after retiring. I want a strong community so that even my girls will want to build their families here, too.” Jamie lives with her husband, Blake, and daughters Emma and Charlotte.

What were you doing 10 years ago? Living in Lake Charles and working for Entergy as a Field Engineer in the department I currently supervise. Ten years ago I was married and focused on starting my family.

Where do you want to be in 10 years? I love Lake Charles and I plan to still be here.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


A lot of work goes into planning the Thriving 30-Something issue. From themes to props to locations to scheduling, thriving is serious business. Past themes for the issues include a police line-up, CLUE, smart phone apps, selfies, movies, back-to-school, camping, Southwest Louisiana and chairs. The one thing that stays the same each year are the bonds created between the recipients. Many go on to remain close friends through this experience.

FUN FACT Sometimes it's quite hard to get everyone in to take the Thriving 30 Something group picture. Can you spot who are the people who were photoshopped into their month's cover photo?



It’s so Handy!

APRIL 2013 APRIL 2013

APRIL 2012

They have a CLUE about what it takes to succeed.

It’s so Handy!

APRIL 2013 APRIL 2013

APRIL 2012


They have a CLUE about what it takes to succeed.


Hats Off to Grads!

All About Women

May 2011

Better Living

May 2011

May 2011

Thrive Magazine for Better Living

Insert Inside



2011 May 2011

April 2013

outdoor living special section Thrive Magazine for Better Living

April 2013


Into Fitness


2013 Spring

Hats Off to Grads!

All About Women

May 2011

er Living

Thrive Magazine for Better Living

May 2011

Thrive Magazine for Better Living

Insert Inside




Thrive Magazine for Better Living

Allison Kuhn Brooks Donald-Williams Clair Marceaux Dave Evans Heath Allen Jennifer Wallace Jason Barnes Kara Garofas Nikki Fontenot Kimberly Dellafosse Trista Ledet Ames Tyson Green Wayne Smith

April 2013

April 2013


outdoor living special section Thrive Magazine for Better Living

Into Fitness



Melissa Bender Kay Morgan Nadine Dunbar Gillis Dr. Brian Harrell Nomica Guillory Tommy McClelland Billy Edwards Jen Kober Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough Becky Dupre Pastor Tony Bourque Aaron Davis Keisha Braxton Payne

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Jason Martinez Angela Pierson Jennifer Spees Erik Jessen Keith Credo Angie Manning Erin Davison Dr. Craig Morton Rebekah Osborn Ann Barilleaux Haleigh Lyons Dr. Keith Menard Eric Zartler

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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


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Anatole Karpovs Makeitta Broussard Matt Young Huber Mickey Smith Travis Manceaux Erica McCreedy

Angela Stutes Melanie Dees Brad Guillory Ethan Miller Ashli Waldrep Fred Sebren Justin Hill

2016 Candice Alexander Cheyenne Boudreaux Cary Chavis Rachel Garner Hillary Green Katie Harrington Anthony Iannone Sara Lasher Shonda Manuel Beth McGee Beth Melancon Curtis Stewart Lonnie Turpin

2017 Alyson Vamvoras Antoon Mike Beer Owen Clanton Brandon Cooligan Marcell Gary Megan Monsour Hartman Jennifer Chaumont Istre Terra Gauthreaux Jones Brett McKee Lauren Monroe John O’Donnell Amanda Reeves Maria Tran

2018 Devin Morgan Elizabeth Eustis Keri Hankins Krystle Blue Graham Martin Ronaldo Hardy Laurie Baynard John Reddin Amy Peck Selena Cisneros Blake Brignac Sara Kennison Jessica McBride

2019 Amber Ewing Brittany Manuel Charley Lemons Crystal Briscoe Dr. Michelle Corcoran Dr. Donald Higgins Jennie Bono John Viator Justin Holt Megan Norris Melissa Hill Michael Elliot Morgan Turpin


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T hriving Married Couples

You could say high-achieving, compassionate personalities are drawn to like minds. It’s no surprise there are six instances where both individuals in a married couple have been past Thriving 30-Somethings. Thrive magazine caught up with these folks and asked them how being a thriving couple has affected their relationship with each other and with the community.

Dr. Anatole & Stephanie Kestel Karpovs married December 29, 2001

Stephanie – Private practice speech-language pathologist, Therapy Team leader and feeding specialist in the NICU at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. Anatole – Pediatrician at the Children's Clinic of SWLA and Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist. Thriving personally is great; but combining our strengths, talents and passions has given us the opportunity to grow together and help others to thrive. We've used our own health scares combined with our professional training to help others use food as medicine and combat disease. We’ve attended trainings that allow us to collectively help patients while spending time with each other across the country. We take one day at a time, laughing, praying, and reflecting on the many reasons we have to love being a part of this community.

Dr. Tyson & Hillary Green married June 20, 2003

Hillary – Former teacher turned stay-at-home mom to four kids and an occasional substitute teacher at ICCS. Tyson – Physician/partner with Center for Orthopaedics. Our relationship was tested and proven when fostering and adopting our daughter. It was a time to rely on each other’s strengths, the same strengths used to thrive as a couple pushing each other to be resilient. Regarding the community, we have branched out and learned more about the needs of our city and its people. Being a thriving couple gave us the confidence to step out of our comfort zones and continue to be challenged to find new ways to make a difference in our area.

Justin & Melissa Hill married August 11, 2007

Melissa – Owner of Niche Creative Studio. Justin – Head Baseball Coach at McNeese State University. Success should be measured by how much you can help those around you. We like to focus on community outreach that we can do as a family. This way we can support each other and show our children what it means to do a “job” you love but also give back to the community we live in.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Lonnie & Morgan Turpin married June 28, 2014

Morgan - McNeese State University- College of Business Internship Director. Lonnie - McNeese State University - Associate Professor of Operations and Statistics. We feel very fortunate to serve our students, side-by-side, in the College of Business at McNeese. Through our work at the University and volunteerism in the community, we hope to help others thrive. We support each other in all endeavors—our careers, passions, and service.

Matt Young & Wayne Smith married November 4, 2017

Wayne - Supervisor and Hearing Officer for Calcasieu Parish School Board’s Department of Child Welfare and Attendance. Matt - Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of Lake Charles. Matt says “We’ve learned it’s important to support each other’s professional goals and personal passions. You can’t be so busy chasing your own ambitions that you forget your partner’s dreams.” Wayne adds, “The calendar can get out of control really quickly. We’ve learned to be more intentional with scheduling dates, quiet nights at home, and short weekend trips. I so appreciate the drive Matt brings to the table and being able to run ideas past him is priceless. From new businesses to the growth of homegrown festivals, we are fortunate to be able to experience our thriving community together."

Dr. Brandon & Krickett Racca married May 28, 2017

Krickett - Marketing & Special Event Manager Crying Eagle Brewing Co. Brandon - Chiropractor/partner at Center for Chiropractic in Lake Charles Brandon and I felt extremely lucky to have both been selected as a thriving thirty something in 2020. It was a such a fun and truly special experience. It was our individual accomplishments that brought us to this point, but we truly do work better together. We definitely felt like we were doing something right to be the first thriving thirty something couple to be in the same issue! Since this issue’s first publication, so much has changed. Pandemic, hurricanes, and adding a new tiny member to the Racca Krewe has tested us in so many ways, but we came out stronger on the other side, and we are more dedicated to our community and its future than ever.

Congratulations to the latest Thriving Couples!

Alyson & Michael Antoon and Jessica & Curtis Stewart


Noteworthy Past Thriving 30-Somethings —Where are they now?

While all 130 people who have been named Thriving 30-Somethings continue to thrive in their careers and community – that’s their nature – several have gone on to exceptional heights, with some in the national spotlight.

Clair Thomson Marceaux was a 30-Something in 2011. At that time, she worked with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, overseeing more than $35 million in hurricane recovery projects and was involved in the development of the SEED Center. Since then, Marceaux says she has grown more passionate about participating in regional economic development initiatives, She moved on to positions with Entergy Louisiana, and the Director of Economic Development with the Cameron Parish Police Jury. She currently holds the position of Director of the Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District. She has served on numerous boards and was recognized as one of four global nominees by ExxonMobil for its first ever Vanguard Award in 2019, which honors those who display tremendous leadership in the liquified natural gas industry. In 2018, she was awarded the SWLA Economic Development Alliance’s “Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Accomplishments for Southwest Louisiana”. Marceaux is currently pursuing a master’s degree in port management.

Dave Evans was also one of our Thirteen Thriving 30-Somethings in 2011. During that time, he championed downtown Lake Charles development, including his popular restaurant, Luna Bar and Grill. Nine years later, Evans is still evolving his business and the cultural climate of Lake Charles. Several years ago, he spearheaded the organization of Chuck Fest, a festival celebrating music, food, and art in Lake Charles. Last year, Evans expanded Luna, a fixture on Ryan St. for the past 16 years, into the space next door. This spring, he’s breaking into the Lafayette dining scene with a food truck and a brick and mortar location. In February of this year, Evans was named the 2020 Restauranteur of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Association.

Jen Kober was recognized as a Thriving 30-Something in 2012. That year, she had already built a successful stand-up comedy career in clubs across the country and appeared in several television shows and movies. Since then, Jen has continued to tour nationally and has headlined new markets and larger venues. Her TV and film career has continued with roles on The Middle, The Purge, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, and on the hit Netflix series Dead to Me. She can be seen on the first season of RuPaul’s Netflix sitcom AJ & The Queen and she has a recurring role on the hit HBO show, The Righteous Gemstones and the Disney+ Diary of a Future President. Jen accepted an award in 2017 and 2018 for best comedic performance on NPR's hit storytelling show Snap Judgment. She’s created a style born out of her humble Lake Charles upbringing where she has always brought folks together by sharing a laugh. “My focus is to make an audience laugh so hard it hurts,” Jen says.

In 2015, 30-Something Mickey Smith, Jr. was a successful saxophonist, an award-winning band director at Maplewood Middle School, and was named a Top 10 Nationwide Finalist for the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Since then, Smith remains in his role at Maplewood Middle, but this year, he WON the 2020 GRAMMY for Music Educator! He continues his work with Musicmakers2U, his SOUND180 EDUCATORS program, and is author/illustrator of his own children's book, The Adventures of Little Mickey: Keep on Going.

A 2013 30-Something, Craig Morton, MD, FAAPMR, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Center for Orthopaedics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He has now been with the group for 13 years, providing non-surgical treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskletal system. He has taken his mission of helping his patients live pain-free lives way beyond his medical office. Dr. Morton founded Innovations in Wellness to work toward improving quality of life through innovative wellness products and media solutions. Under this parent company, he has successfully launched RehabZone, a series of exercise videos to help those with lower back pain, and AcuPlus, an all-natural pain relief cream that promotes healing and recovery. Both products are very successful and are just the beginning for this physician entrepreneur. Just recently, Dr. Morton launched a podcast with two friends called “Who’s Driving My Car?”

Lyle Broussard was a 30-Something in 2014. At that time, he was room chef at Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill, L’Auberge Casino Resort, a role he fills to this day. But since that time, Broussard’s talent in the kitchen has brought gumbo pots full of culinary kudos to Southwest Louisiana. In the past six years, he’s participated in and placed or won dozens of seafood and gumbo cook offs. He represents SWLA by cooking in culinary tours around the country. He has won tourism and “Best Chef” awards. He’s been the subject of countless magazine articles. In 2016, Broussard was part of a documentary made at Dillard University called The Black Hand in the Pot – the Story of Creole Cooking.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021


for life


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

Learning to Be Still, Part II Last month we discussed meditation, and how easy and fast it can be. We talked about the benefits, and the fact that I am using it more and more to keep my head above water these days. And we ended with three very easy breathing techniques to bring relaxation and help us get focused. This month, I want to give you some more ways to take a moment and re-center. Again, meditation takes all forms, and does not have to be lengthy to be effective. Body Scan. A quick body scan can help you realize just how tense you are. Maybe your jaw is clenched, and you didn’t even realize it. Maybe your shoulders are up around your neck. As you get better at body scanning, you will know the areas you tend to tense up, and immediately relax them. So, get into a comfortable position (sitting or lying down), close your eyes, and feel the length of your body. Starting with your feet and toes, tune into any sensations you feel, such as pain or discomfort. When you realize an area is tense, take a deep breath in, and as you exhale release the uncomfortable area. Work your way up your body, muscle group by muscle group. There are good videos on Body Scanning on YouTube, if you would like someone else to guide you. Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Similar to Body Scanning, Progressive Muscle Relaxation uses focusing on each muscle group. Get back into that comfortable position. Starting with your feet again, focus on each muscle group. Purposefully tense and release the muscle group. Curl your toes and release them. Flex your feet and release them. Continue working your way up your body. Continue the deep breathing technique, tensing the muscle groups while breathing in and relaxing while breathing out. Again, YouTube is a great resource for this technique.

Visualization. Where is your happy place? The mountains? Beach? By a lake? Think about a place that feels particularly relaxing to you. You don’t even need to have ever gone there – if you’ve seen pictures and thought, “I would love it there,” that may be your happy place. Going to this special place in your mind can be very relaxing. Close your eyes. Picture your happy place. What do you see? What sounds do you hear? Can you feel the breeze on your face? What do you smell? Using your imagination, you can create the environment and truly feel like you are there. Breathe deeply and drink it in. Taking a “mini-vacation” in your mind is a great re-set. For us, right now, picturing a place we find beautiful can help us deal with our less-than-perfect current reality. Gratitude Meditation. When we feel frustrated, defeated, or generally “blah”, it is helpful to stop and think about the good things in your life. We have talked about this many times over the years. It’s all there – the good stuff and the bad stuff. Whatever you choose to focus on is what you will continue to find in your life. When you focus on the positive, you will notice more positive. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Mentally list five to seven things you feel grateful for in this moment. A comfortable home, a soft blanket, good friends, your health, laughter – these are just a few examples. Make this as simple as you possibly can. Sometimes we need to simply be grateful we woke up this morning – not everyone did. Next month, I will talk to you about my new favorite pastime to help me with “being still” – stretching. I love it so much, and I feel so much better when I do it. I want you to love it and feel better too! But for this month, I really hope you will try the techniques above. They are free, easy and I promise they work.


Home & Family

What Will You Learn

in 2021?

After the year we’ve had, you might be yearning to get out of the house and do something, anything, different and exciting. We suggest you learn something new! Take a class on a subject that has always intrigued you, develop a new skill, or pick up a new hobby. Discovering new ideas and abilities is not just for kids! Studies show that adopting a mindset of lifelong learning provides numerous benefits – professional development, improved brain function, expanded social interactions, new friendships, happiness, fulfilment, even longer life! And, it can get you out of the house. Below are just a few of the many learning opportunities you can find in Southwest Louisiana.

Leisure Learning

McNeese State University’s Leisure Learning offers monthly over 300 instructor-led online courses each month. Many courses are selfdirected and available anytime. Some of the most popular courses include Accounting Fundamentals, Speed Spanish, Introduction to Interior Design, Explore a Career as a Pharmacy Technician, and Secrets of Better Photography. Find a complete selection of online courses at SAGE is a bi-yearly series geared to the over50 set. Due to the pandemic, they’ve been creating new programs for viewing and streaming on C-GOV. The current program is The Creation of the Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial Museum: A High-School Student Project, which will air Fridays, April 2 - 9. TBA. Upcoming programs and courses are listed in the American Press on Sundays and soon on the revised website, leisurelearning. 78

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

Learn to Play an Instrument

Beardon's Music in Sulphur offers piano, saxophone, and bass guitar lessons starting at age 6 through adult with one-on-one, private lessons. With over 30 years of teaching experience and a degree in Piano Education, Stacy Bearden teaches five days a week from 1:00 – 7:00 p.m. year-around. There is no enrollment fee or contract to start your lessons, and you can start any time. Lessons center around enjoyment and fun while learning music. Call 337-625-5397.

Get Busy in the Kitchen

Pasta Lab will offer their popular Introduction to Making Pasta course every Saturday at 5:30 p.m. this spring. BYOB, eat, and learn how to make pasta and ravioli. The session usually includes details on ingredients, equipment and how to make your own pasta without making a mess! Small groups (5-10) are encouraged to “buy out” a session. Learn basic kitchen technique while enjoying a night out. Pasta Lab also designs bridal and baby showers, birthdays for all ages, and office/donor appreciation sessions. Call Michael at 337-419-0285 or 805708-2189. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 1301 East McNeese Street, Suite 105, Lake Charles and on most social media platforms.

Water Classes

Lake Area Adventures has a lot going on if you’re looking for outdoor fun. If you want to learn a new skill, they offer swim and SCUBA classes. See their website,, email, or call 337-310-1681. 5959Common St., Lake Charles.

Makeup Application

Blush offers a Beauty Makeup Class for all ages. “We talk through each step and show how to apply and color match each makeup item to enhance natural features while still keeping it age appropriate,” says Kelli Knight, makeup artist at Blush. For more information, go to, call 337602-6627, or email 4080 Nelson suite 300 Lake Charles

Personal Safety Classes

FASTACT LLC is veteran-owned and operated company providing a vast array of firearm training from courses designed for new shooters to advanced training designed for Law Enforcement Officers. Courses include Concealed Carry, Basic Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Advanced Defensive Pistol, Advanced Defensive Shotgun, Advanced Defensive Tactical Rifle, Reloading, Refuse to be a Victim, and Muzzle Loading. They also provide classes for firearms instructors. FASTACT is affiliated with Scouts BSA and the Civilian Marksmanship Program, offering merit badges and competitive shooting opportunities for youth. Most courses are held on weekends and in the summer. Course vary in length and price. See or call Rob at (337) 853-8223 for details. 500 Airport Blvd, Lake Charles. Learn self-defense at Lake Area Brazilian JiuJitsu. Currently holding classes at 1012 Beetree St., Westlake, LA. 337-214-2222 and on Facebook.

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Artistic Outlets


Gallery by the Lake offers monthly art classes open to the public. Their studios are on the 3rd floor of Central School, but due to repairs, classes are currently being held on the first floor in Room 108. Cost per class is $35 per person, plus supplies (usually $10 per person). Register on their website at https://www.gallerybythelake. org/events. Spring 2021 classes are as follows:

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Create and Craft

Niche Creative Studio offers several fun, new classes this Spring. Learn how to sew children’s garments from PDF patterns or take one of their several beginner sewing classes ranging from sewing machine basics to sewing a zipper. They offer two machine embroidery classes each month, as well as quilting, crocheting, and crafting. Private sewing lessons are also available. Or try Niche Night Out Painting classes – perfect for getting together with friends and having fun while crafting! For more information on classes, visit their website,, or call 337-477-3810. 4706 Common Street in Lake Charles •


Sizzling Hot! Online Courses

• Speed Spanish • SAT/ACT Prep Courses • Discover Sign Language

Learn to Dance!

• Stocks, Bonds & Investing

Cathy Kurth Dance Academy offers adult hip hop, adult ballet and barre, and an adult burlesque class for dancers of all skill levels. They also offer private parties for birthdays or bachelorette parties. See or call 337-8553525.

• Introduction to Interior Design

Leisure Learning’s new Jitterbug for Couples is planned for Mondays in June, 2021. Email

• Real Estate Investing

Lake Charles Dance Academy offers intermediate adult ballet classes; beginner adult ballet classes will start in the summer. Channel you inner ballerina! 337-477-1510,

• Accounting Fundamentals • Start Your Own Edible Garden

• Project Management Fundamentals • Explore a Career in Medical Coding • Computer Skills for the Workplace • Administrative Assistant Fundamentals • Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2019/Office 365



Style & Beauty

Spring into Summer

Style by Kerry Andersen


A year into the pandemic there are no more dress codes. We ditched the office in favor of Zoom calls, comfort took priority (when is the last time you wrestled with a pair of pantyhose?) and loungewear became the new uniform. As summer approaches, we are all eager to throw aside our sweatpants, reclaim our style and get back out into the world. Spring and summer fashion 2021 will feel like a rebirth after a long winter’s nap wearing cozy pj’s and easy ponytails, but you’ll be waking up to some familiar trends reminiscent of the 80’s.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

The biggest style story of the year will have you reaching deep into the back of your closet (or regretting that lockdown wardrobe purge). Oversized blazers with big shoulder pads are large and in charge this season. Roll up the sleeves and pair a big jacket with pants or shorts. Just remember to keep proportion in mind with cropped, lean bottoms for balance. Perhaps the most dramatic fashion throwback of 2021 is denim. Gone are skinny jeans and frayed hems, replaced with 90’s distressed boot cut styles and even pleated and baggy denim from the 80’s. The Bubble Jean will have you humming tunes from MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, and one could easily argue it is a style that should have been left in the… past, past, baby! A more wearable version of the trend is a cropped, light wash trouser style jean with wide legs. Perhaps nothing says style throwback more than, gulp, the mullet. Molly Holmes from Bauhaus Salon explains, “Don’t panic! The soft-serve mullet of the moment is more of a layered shag style with fringy bangs and wavy hair that is slightly longer than chin length. For color, we’re seeing people lighten up for springtime with loads of blonde and caramel highlights.” Holmes adds that harsh Instagram brows are giving way to ‘soap brows’, so named because they can be easily created by dipping a brow spoolie in glycerin soap or pomade and simply brushing eyebrow hairs up for a natural, feathered effect.

Julip Boutique

Mill + Gray

Mill + Gray

P O P O F CO LO R The official Pantone colors for 2021 are Illuminating, a bright, happy yellow, and Ultimate Gray, a calm and neutral shade. Expect to see these colors appear, well, everywhere. Bright yellow bags of all shapes and sizes will be the go-to accessory of the season and the easiest way to capture this color trend (Cobalt Blue is also having a moment). Julie Miller from Julep Boutique says one of her favorite ways to wear bright color is an on-trend midi length slip dress. Miller says, “It’s an affordable indulgence and a chance to explore something fun in your wardrobe.” On the opposite end of the color spectrum, expect to see shades of sherbet everywhere. Sorbet pastels reminiscent of easter candy are flattering to all skin tones and will be especially popular choices for summer manicures and pedicures now that salons are fully reopening to customers. It is not just color breaking us out of the COVID-19 blues this summer. Courtney Benton from Mill + Gray is excited about fun, floral prints to transition into summer. She says, “Nothing says spring like a bright floral piece. Floral printed tops, dresses and midi skirts will keep you stylish and on trend all season long.”


Style & Beauty


• • GET GRAPHIC Benton’s pro style tip for wearing a floral printed midi skirt is to pair it with a fun graphic tee, which continues to be on trend this year for men and women. The key to appearing stylish is fit. Avoid a baggy t-shirt for a more polished look. Graphic prints and patterns will also be featured prominently on nails. Bold geometric and abstract swirly patterns give a retro revival nod to 60’s and 70’s aesthetics. And those press-on nails which surged in popularity when salons closed this year are here to stay. Many nail artists are even commissioning custom press-on sets to send directly to clients for the ultimate DIY manicure. Bauhaus Salon says the graphic trend even extends to eyeliner with many young women drawing on dramatic and colorful wings. Graphic prints also make an appearance on shoes and belts.


• •

• •


Add a pop of color to your outfits with a bright yellow or cobalt blue purse. Reach into the back of your closet and grab an oversized blazer with big shoulder pads (or swipe one of his), roll up the sleeves and pair it with shorts or slim pants or jeans. Swap out your skinny jeans with frayed hems for slim boot cut or vintage, distressed straight leg denim; or explore more relaxed baggy and pleated jeans styled more like trousers. Add fun sherbet tones to your nails, makeup and clothing. Get graphic! Have fun with graphic prints on tee-shirts, nails and shoes.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2021

All about eyes! Since we will still be wearing masks, play up the eyes with smoldering eyeliner, brightly colored mascaras (try cobalt blue) and technicolor eyeshadow in bright purple. Experiment with graphic eyeliner; have fun! Lip stains that will not smear our protective masks replace more traditional lipsticks and glosses. Natural ‘brushed up’ feathered brows pair best with fresh, dewy skin – trade heavy foundations for tinted moisturizers and highlighter balms.


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Kerry Andersen is a former news anchor, freelance communication consultant and animal rescue advocate. When not writing or helping businesses with their PR needs, she runs a successful online boutique as a Poshmark Ambassador (@sb_emporium on Poshmark) and is a reseller on Mercari (@livinsimple) featuring new and secondhand styles. Kerry believes that recycling quality clothing and accessories is good for the world!

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