Thrive April 2024

Page 1 1 APRIL 2024 Family & Youth has many divisions to uphold its commitment to supporting children, youth, families and communities in which they live and work. For more than five decades, thousands of Southwest Louisiana residents have come to Family & Youth to address their wide-ranging concerns. Why do they come? They have confidence that Family & Youth cares and helps with a variety of concerns and struggles that affect all of us at one point or another in our lives. Family & Youth leads the community in impact and positive outcomes—constantly making things happen for the benefit of everyone in the community. To learn more or to get involved, please visit our website or give us a call at 337-436-9533 Family & Youth Counseling Agency (Family & Youth), an awardwinning organization, was established as a non-profit in 1970 to provide affordable and professional family services to people in 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. It is their mission to provide programs and services dedicated to advocacy, counseling and education for the people of Southwest Louisiana and in communities they are called to serve.

2 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
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4 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Family & Youth has many divisions to uphold its commitment to supporting children, youth, families and communities in which they live and work. For more than five decades, thousands of Southwest Louisiana residents have come to Family & Youth to address their wide-ranging concerns. Why do they come? They have confidence that Family & Youth cares and helps with a variety of concerns and struggles that affect all of us at one point or another in our lives. Family & Youth leads the community in impact and positive outcomes—constantly making things happen for the benefit of everyone in the community. To learn more or to get involved, please visit our website at FYCA Family & Youth Counseling Agency (Family & Youth), an awardwinning organization, was established as a non-profit in 1970 to provide affordable and professional family services to people in 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. It is their mission to provide programs and services dedicated to advocacy, counseling and education for the people of Southwest Louisiana and in communities they are called to serve. 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. Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Assistant Editor Kerri Cooke Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Design & Layout Kyra Labrie Shonda Manuel Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions Contents @thriveswla |
In This Issue Wining & Dining
Home & Family

Wining & Dining

The 2024 Crawfish Season: In a Bit of a Pinch

Since the early 1800s, crawfish farming has been a cornerstone of Louisiana's agricultural landscape. What began as a modest enterprise has transformed into a robust industry. Today, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, crawfish represent a staggering $300 million industry in the state, supplying between 100 to 120 million pounds annually across the country and around the world.

Additionally, farmers, processors, and packers in the Southwest Louisiana and Acadiana seafood industries rely heavily on H-2A and H-2B visas for their strong, dedicated workforce. These migrant workers are permitted for seasonal work and, according to LSU AgCenter, represent an additional significant economic footprint for the seafood industry.

Within the industry is a rich tradition of generational farming. Many operations are led by multi-generational teams, tending to family-owned or leased land. If you ask most farmers around Southwest Louisiana, the path to farming is similar. They grew up fishing farms alongside fathers and grandfathers, all with dreams of taking over when the time came.

Despite Louisiana’s history of profitable mudbug harvests, the 2024 crawfish season has presented significant challenges. A late and sluggish start, attributed in large part to last year's drought conditions, has caused concerns among farmers. Typically, fishing can commence as early as December, but this year, significant catches didn’t realize until late February or early March. Consequently, the market has experienced a strain between high demand and low supply, resulting in higher prices for consumers hoping to dine on a Louisiana delicacy in a much-anticipated season.

Even though buyers are seeing elevated prices, farmers aren’t seeing elevated profits. Mark Shirley, Ph.D., an LSU AgCenter Crawfish Specialist, notes that regardless of the catch size, the operational costs remain consistent. This means that even with higher prices, farmers aren't necessarily reaping additional profits.

The ramifications of the 2024 season stretch far beyond the levees of Louisiana’s 250,000 acres of crawfish ponds. The industry's struggles trickle throughout the state, affecting supporting sectors such as fuel, labor, and retail sales in restaurants. Moreover, the effects may persist into the next season, as ponds depleted this year will require restocking.

The proactive efforts of state and federal officials may provide a glimmer of hope for struggling farmers. Governor Jeff Landry's March 6 declaration of a disaster and the legislative initiatives spearheaded by Congresswoman Julia Letlow and Senator John Kennedy signal a concerted commitment to

farmers will endure. Likewise, Louisianans won’t soon lose their taste for that spicy, savory flavor! 7 SERVING UP FINGER-LICKING FOOD FOR THREE DECADES (337) 474-3651 | Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm & SPORTS BAR DARRELL’S TO-GO NEW DELIVERY AVAILABLE THROUGH

The Great Grilled Cheese Adventure


Even before the creation of sliced bread, the combination of bread and cheese had already been a cultural mainstay. Food historians say the pairing of the two is even found in ancient cookbooks, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that the idea of melting the cheese with the bread was born.

Much of this is tied to the Great Depression and the fact that bread and government cheese were some of the only foodstuffs readily available to the general public. At first, the grilled cheese, or ‘toasted cheese’ at the time, was an open-faced sandwich with grated cheese, sometimes topped with tomato or egg, and if you were lucky, bacon. A second slice of bread was later added to make the sandwich more filling.

By World War II, the grilled cheese had grown to be an American staple, with cooks on Navy ships preparing thousands of them. When Kraft introduced the ‘Kraft single’, it made it easier for homemakers and school cafeteria cooks around the country to make the grilled cheese part of weekly meal planning.

Since then, this beloved sandwich has evolved to include a variety of ingredients, and here in Southwest Louisiana, there are several restaurants that offer tantalizing variations on the traditional.

Simple yet refined, The Bekery’s version of grilled cheese combines muenster, provolone, and white cheddar with caramelized onions. The cheeses work nicely together, and the onions add a slight sweetness to the sandwich; but the real star is their freshly baked focaccia bread, which makes the sandwich look massive, but in reality is perfectly light, airy, and crisp.

8 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Wining & Dining
story and photos by Matt Dye

Stuffing it up a notch, MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub offers a Crab Au-Gratin Stuffed Grilled Cheese, which contains creamy crab meat alongside American, cheddar, pepperjack, and smoked gouda cheeses between two slices of their jalapeno cornbread. While the crab might be the intrigue with this one, the smoked gouda is the real winner, making for a memorable finish.

Putting a few different spins on their grilled cheese, Sunny Side-Up Café in Sulphur offers everything from the traditional to their Brisket Grilled Cheese. The most interesting option, and one that all Cajuns need to try once, is the Boudin Grilled Cheese, which sounds just as you’d imagine and comes out tasting like a souped-up boudin ball.

Sticking with a Cajun theme is The Max in Westlake and their Crawfish Grilled Cheese. This one is more than a mouthful, filled to bursting with crawfish tails seasoned with Cajun spices that’ll have you reaching for your ice-cold beverage after only a few bites. Paired with smoked gouda on a sourdough smoked gouda bread, this is one of the hardier grilled cheeses in town and sure to please the pickiest eater.

Finally, at Great Harvest Bread Company you’ll find the most unique of all grilled cheeses – the Spicy Apple Bacon Grilled Cheese. Served on their freshly baked sourdough, this sandwich combines sharp cheddar and provolone, then tops it with bacon, thinly sliced fresh green apples, and a sweet and spicy pepper jelly. While the sandwich is delicious, what’s even more fascinating are the different textures in each bite – the slight crisp of the apple, the crunch of the bacon, the gooey-ness of the cheese, and a sweet heat finish from the pepper jelly.

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, get out there and find a grown-up version of your favorite childhood treat, or be creative in the kitchen and concoct your own!

Mind & Body

The latest research (2023) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that one in 36 children is now diagnosed with autism. This is an increase from one in 44 children two years ago and a 241% increase over baseline 2020 statistics. The disorder is found in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. According to the organization Autism Speaks, the disorder can be reliably diagnosed as early as age two, but most children aren’t diagnosed until after age four. Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across a person’s lifespan. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, this special section provides information on The Three A’s of Autism: Awareness, Acceptance, & Action, a list of community resources for families of children on the autism spectrum, and some facts and figures on St. Nicholas Center for Children.

One in 36 children is now diagnosed with autism. This is an increase from one in 44 children two years ago and a 241% increase over baseline 2020 statistics.

10 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

The Three A's of Autism

Every parent of an infant awaits the moment when their baby makes its first focused eye contact. They eagerly await the first interactive, facial expressions. They look forward to playing games like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo by their child’s first birthday. Most children wave good-bye, point at objects, share interests with others, and are aware of others’ emotions by their second birthday. The absence of these milestones is a cause for genuine concern; parents should seek medical intervention for a diagnosis. It has become more common to hear that a child is “on the spectrum.” Family and friends may politely acknowledge this finding with a nod, but do we fully comprehend what the phrase means? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is as complex and varied as the people who are diagnosed with it.

According to the CDC, ASD “is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop.”

Medical science is continually discovering more about ASD’s causes and treatments, even as it promotes advocacy and education. Building public awareness about what is currently known about ASD is essential because it teaches us all how to more appropriately respond and interact with affected individuals and their families. For caretakers and loved ones, community awareness is critical because an ASD diagnosis does affect everyone.

“Identifying the long-term care needs for children with autism is important,” notes Missy Griffin, executive director of Autism Services of SWLA, (ASSL). “Autism is a lifelong condition and many need assistance into adulthood. ASSL provides residential housing and support services to these families. Our agency is rooted in the belief that plans of care should be individualized for each person. We offer a home and a lifestyle that encourages each person to be fully engaged in the community with vocational support, recreation, and daily living skills.

Anyone, with or without ASD, may have problems with social communication and interaction, demonstrate different learning and focusing styles, as well as exhibit repetitive behaviors. These characteristics can make their lives more challenging; however, there are specific signs and symptoms that doctors look for early in a child’s development before diagnosing

them with ASD. This is tricky since there are no definitive medical tests to administer to arrive at a diagnosis.

Observations of a child’s behavior and development can sometimes mean a diagnosis is possible by 18-24 months. By age two, the medical establishment agrees that an ASD diagnosis by an experienced professional should be considered reliable. Sadly however, some children are not diagnosed until they are adolescents; still others grow into adulthood without a diagnosis. Imagine the frustration of an individual and their family when early intervention is denied or ignored.

Children with ASD already feel different, which is why communication is critical. They may exhibit delays in language, movement, cognitive, or learning skills. They may be hyperactive, lack impulse control, or the ability to focus. Some may have epilepsy or seizure disorders, display unusual eating and sleeping habits, suffer from gastrointestinal issues, express emotional and unpredictable mood swings, as well as suffer from high levels of anxiety and stress. A child on the spectrum may either show no fear or may be more fearful than expected. Understanding these manifestations of ASD is in everyone’s best interests. Parents, teachers, and organizations are hopeful that education about the condition is constant and continually updated.

The CDC notes that people with ASD may demonstrate behaviors that can seem unusual to those who are unaware of their diagnosis. Their need for acceptance is essential, but is only possible if the public is aware of the wide range of behaviors.

“These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by problems with social communication and interaction only.

Examples of restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests related to ASD can include:

• Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed

• Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)

• Plays with toys the same way every time

• Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels)

• Gets upset by minor changes

• Has obsessive interests

• Must follow certain routines

• Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles

• Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

“It’s so important for our community to allow these individuals to be integrated into our workplaces and communities,” says Griffin, “and to realize that they are valued members in our region, who just happen to have a different way of interacting.” 11
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Local Autism Resources

Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, founded on the belief that each person with autism deserves a living environment specifically tailored with their disability in mind. Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana (ASSL) provides unique housing and support services for adults on the autism spectrum to help them achieve independence with the assistance of staff specially trained to accommodate them. Twenty-four-hour care/one-to-one assistance and focus on achievement of individual goals distinguishes our organization’s model from an institutional setting and a residential setting that encompasses all disabilities. ASSL and its partner non-profit provider agency, Direct Care Inc., offer Medicaid waiver services (Children's Choice, New Opportunities Waiver, Residential Options Waiver, and Supports Waiver) in a warm, family-like community-based setting for adults throughout Southwest Louisiana and beyond. The adults who reside in their homes are at least 18 years of age, have an autism diagnosis, and receive some form of Social Security disability income. The waiver programs provide a portion of the pay for personal care attendants that ensure appropriate monitoring and supervision are in place on a 24/7/365 basis. Social Security disability income is used to pay room, board, and provides a monthly spending allowance for the individual client residing in the household. ASSL provides a continuum of care for SWLA residents impacted by autism that includes daily living skills and vocational support. Our provider agency, Direct Care Inc., also provides care to community clients with disabilities. For more information, go to www. or call the office at 337-436-5001.

St. Nicholas Center for Children is a nonprofit therapy center that transforms the lives of individuals with Autism, delays and disorders in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas by providing therapy and family support. They pride themselves on offering multiple therapeutic services under one roof, so that they can meet the needs of the whole child as they work collaboratively to create individualized goals and action plans. They specialize in early interventions with a wide range of services including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Services are provided in a fun, loving environment by talented and dedicated therapists. Their Outreach Program offers educational opportunities and emotional support to parents and all of those in the community so that we can grow together with compassion and confidence.

St. Nicholas Center Worldwide changes the lives of individuals with Autism, delays and disorders across the globe by providing direct training, consultation and community outreach. They provide parent/staff trainings, free workshops for teachers and daycare providers, and host the annual Louisiana Autism Conference where more than 300 parents, educators, therapists, first responders and others come together to learn practical strategies to work with and care for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Located at 4066 Ryan Street, Lake Charles. For more information, call 337-491-0800 or see their website,

Autism Society of SWLA — Since 1965, the National Autism Society has been a leader in serving people on the autism spectrum, their families and professionals. The Southwest Louisiana affiliate is a great source of information and support for individuals and families impacted by autism. Founded in the 1970’s by Geri Landry, they provide support, services, and opportunities to persons with autism and their families throughout the SWLA five-parish region. They organize several social events throughout the year including summer camp and an annual Christmas party. As their primary fundraiser, each year they collect used Mardi Gras beads and recycle them for organizations to reuse. For more informationautismsocietyofswla. com or call 337-855-2068.

Autism Speaks is a national organization dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. They do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Founded in 2005, their website offers a wealth of information for those whose lives are impacted by autism. 13

Youth treatment court, also known as DAAY Court. Established in 2018 out of the eighth judicial court in Las Vegas, Nevada, this diversion program is designed for at-risk youth who have Autism. It combines the efforts of social workers, therapists, probation officers, defense attorneys and prosecutors to address psychiatric needs, behavioral modification, socialization, and parent training to get to the root causes and prevent these children from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system as adults. It is the only program focused on youth with Autism in the nation.

Let’s imagine a new DAAY for children with Autism. Join us!

Golf Tournament Benefits Autism Services of SWLA

L’Auberge Casino Resort has partnered with Annika Women’s All Pro Tour (WAPT) and Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana to host the L’Auberge Lake Charles Championship at Contraband Bayou Golf Club, April 9-13, 2024. The week kicks off with the Pro-Am on April 9, with proceeds supporting Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana.

The L’Auberge Lake Charles Championship will be the second event of the 2024 ANNIKA WAPT season and is an official event on the Callaway Race To Stage II. The field will consist of 108 professionals from all over the world. The tournament purse is expected to be $55,000 with the winner taking home $10,000.

"Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana looks forward to the L'Auberge Lake Charles Championship tournament,” says Melissa Griffin, executive director for Autism Services of SWLA. “This is our fourth year as a partner with the WAPT. The proceeds from this fundraiser further our non-profit’s mission to expand services for adults on the autism spectrum. This will be our second year playing the event at the Contraband Bayou Golf Club. L'Auberge has shown us their hospitality by hosting the tournament at their beautiful location. All participants can look forward to a fun-filled week at their beautiful course."

“L’Auberge Lake Charles is thrilled to host the L’Auberge Lake Charles Championship for the second year,” says Harold Rowland, VP & GM at L’Auberge Lake Charles. “We couldn’t pick a better charity to work with— Autism Services puts in the hard work with the support they provide to adults with autism in our community. The golfers who take part in the ANNIKA Women’s All Pro Tour are so talented and we are happy to be one of the opportunities to help them achieve their ultimate goal of being a part of the LPGA.”

For sponsorship inquiries and more information about the event, contact Melissa Griffin at or 337-436-5001 or visit the Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana website at www.autismservicesswla. com.

14 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Mind & Body | Autism Acceptance Month
4066 RYAN STREET, LAKE CHARLES | (337) 491-0800 | For sponsorship opportunities & more information email: Provides Autism support systems for communities around the world through education, consultation & advocacy. SAVE THE DATE! Wednesday, October 30, 2024 L’Auberge Casino Resort 777 Avenue L’Auberge Lake Charles, La 70601 Experience a new DAAY in Louisiana for Autism! Join the St. Nicholas Center Worldwide at the Louisiana Autism Conference to hear from Judge Sunny
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Transforming the lives of children with Autism, delays and disorders by providing therapy and family support.

Understanding the Needs for Children with Autism

Here are a few tips for parents, guardians, teachers and friends alike.

Visuals are Key Engage with Them

Eye Contact can be Hard

Give lots of visual cues to back up the information you are sharing.

Joint attention is a must! This happens when two people are paying attention to the same thing.

Even if they are not looking directly at you, they could still be listening.

Sometimes words get lost in the air. Use short and direct language.

Abstract Language is Very Difficult

Have I Lost Them? Are they Still Focused?

Smile and be Accepting of Verbal Noises

Less is More Be Understanding of Use of Digital Devices

Thinking is concrete and literal. Idioms, sarcasm and joking are confusing and can be misundertood.

If you hear them repeating what was just said or reciting lines from a movie or commercial, this usually indicates they don’t understand what is being said to them.

If you are unsure of a noise that they have made, even if it catches you off-guard, just smile. They understand smiles. Being quiet is difficult for them. Learn to be accepting of this.

A child with Autism may need an iPad or headphones in public places so that his/her family can participate in functions and attend appointments.

4066 Ryan Street • Lake Charles • 337.491.0800 •

Gardening is a satisfying activity enjoyed by many, but seasonal allergies can make it difficult to allow your green thumb to fully express itself in the summer months.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever," affects more than 35 million people in the United States. These allergies are caused by substances called allergens, airborne pollens and mold spores that commonly trigger symptoms beginning in the spring and continuing through the summer. During these times, sufferers experience symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, and itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears.

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) and allergy specialist Bridget Loehn, MD, with Imperial Health, says there are some simple steps you can take that will get your hands back in the dirt this summer. “Paying attention to what you grow and reconsidering the types of flowers and trees you are planting near your home can eliminate many allergy triggers." Dr. Loehn explains that different plants produce different levels of pollen, therefore producing different levels of allergic reactions.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) offers the following guidelines for minimizing the impact of seasonal allergies on your gardening activities:

Native plants:

These are advantageous for people with allergies because they require little effort, withstand the climate extremes in various regions of the country and do not need fertilizers, water or pesticides.

Colorful flowers:

Plants with bright, showy flowers are better for people who have allergies. Their pollen is large and because they are pollinated by insects, the pollen is seldom airborne. Plants that cause allergies usually have flowers that are small and insignificant looking and have no color for attracting nectar. They are usually wind pollinated and produce great amounts of pollen that are buoyant and without much surface ornamentation.

The following trees, shrubs, and plants are less likely to trigger allergies:

Alyssum, crocus, hosta, narcissus, snapdragon, apple, daffodil, hyacinth, pansy, sunflower, azalea, dahlia, hydrangea, pear, tulip, begonia, daisy, impatiens, petunia, verbena, cacti, dogwood, iris, phlox, viburnum, cherry, dusty miller, lilac, plum, zinnia, clematis, geranium, lily, roses, columbine, hibiscus, magnolia, and salvia.

Avoid the following trees in your landscaping:

Alder, cottonwood, olive, ash, cypress, palm, aspen, elm, pecan, beech, hickory, poplar, birch, juniper, sycamore, box, elder, mulberry, walnut, cedar, oak, and willow.

Dr. Loehn suggests these additional steps avid gardeners can take to avoid the pollens and molds that cause sneezing, itchy eyes and other allergic reactions:

• Antihistamines or nasal sprays can be used before outside activities. Check with your physician to find out which ones are right for you.

• As soon as your outside work is complete, wash your clothes and hair to remove excess dust and pollen.

• Do your gardening on days when the pollen count is low, or the day is cool, cloudy or less windy.

• Instead of using straw, use black plastic mulch in its place.

• Pollen exposure can be reduced by wearing gloves, goggles and masks. Also avoid touching your face and eyes while working outdoors.

“If seasonal allergies routinely interfere with your enjoyment of outdoor activities, consider seeing an allergy specialist for identification of your specific allergy triggers and an appropriate management plan for your allergies,” says Dr. Loehn. “There are many treatment options that can get you back behind a shovel, pruners or mower whenever the urge strikes you.”

For more information about allergy symptoms and treatment, call Dr. Loehn at (337) 312-8950.

16 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Mind & Body 17 Spring is in the air ... and litter is on the ground. Join us April 20–28 for the Pick It Up Spring CleanUP! Gather your friends, co-workers, and neighboors. We’ll provide free supplies. Times and locations are up to you! Take Pride in Your Parish Sign up now: • (337) 493-LITR Two Years Through 12th Grade Now Enrolling EDS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, or gender in admission of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and athletic and other school administered programs. NORTH CAMPUS Two Year Olds - 6th Grade 803 N. Division Street Lake Charles SOUTH CAMPUS 7 th to 12 th Grade 5665 N. Gray Market Drive Lake Charles Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School provides academic excellence to a diverse student body in a Christian environment. 337-433-5246

BEYOND REPS AND SETS: The Social Benefits of Gym Membership

If you’re looking for one of the most effective ways to improve your health, lose extra pounds, reduce stress, and increase zest and vitality, working out in a group setting is key. Whether it’s a group fitness class or utilizing weight equipment and cardio machines, the atmosphere of a fitness center provides the components needed for most of us to be consistent and see results in a safe manner.

The benefits of a group setting inherently address the most common reasons people drop out of an exercise program: boredom, overwhelmed with choices, not knowing what to do, dissatisfaction, and no sense of belonging.

“Those things are not an issue when it comes to exercising with others in a group setting and being led by a qualified exercise specialist,” explains Suzy Trahan, LDN, RDN, director of Dynamic Dimensions Fitness Centers of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “Because of the training and direction we provide, our members are confident in their workout routines. From group fitness classes to our cardio and weight areas, members feel the camaraderie and develop a rapport with each other; they benefit from the sense of community.”

Dynamic Dimensions Fitness takes seriously their role in providing a safe, professional environment for exercise and wellness. The coaches for group fitness classes are certified in the classes they teach. Exercise specialists in the cardio and weight areas have degrees in health and fitness.

“Personal training has become an integral part of our members’ life success because we start

with assessing functional movement first,” Trahan explains. “Our trainers build workouts based on needs to ensure that we improve quality of movement and therefore quality of life for our members. If you are looking to improve your golf swing, your running stride, or just move better in everyday life, we have trainers who have the knowledge and expertise to help.”

Music makes a big impact in motivation for exercise. Whether it’s on the gym floor or in a group fitness class, the beat and tone of the music is invigorating. Researchers have found that music can improve athletic performance by delaying fatigue and increasing work capacity.

Studies show that the effects of music lead to higher-than-expected levels of endurance, power, productivity, or strength. “We’ve all felt the fun of moving to a great song,” says Trahan. “Research proves the theory that the right music can be a great motivator in fitness. We incorporate music with the right beat and tone to enhance the workout experience.”

The social component is another beneficial aspect. The connections among other members can be just the thing you need to get you there on those days when you just don’t have the motivation yourself. Working out regularly with friends creates an expectation and a built-in accountability system to get you to the gym.

18 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Mind & Body

“What I love to see are the many members who hold each other accountable just by finding joy in movement together,” Trahan says. “It’s not a competition, but rather a level of compassion and caring that motivates them to be at the gym consistently and that’s where they really start to see success.”

Variety is another key to the success. From group fitness classes focusing on flexibility and balance, cardio endurance, and muscle strength, to the wide variety of cardio and weight equipment and a heated pool, cross training automatically occurs when members utilize all that the fitness center has to offer.

“As human beings, we want to be part of

something,” Trahan says. “It’s motivating to walk into the fitness center and the staff and other members call you by name and are genuinely glad to see you. We foster a family atmosphere because we truly care about the health and wellbeing of our members. When gym employees and other members know you and encourage you, it makes a difference in your compliance and commitment to a healthier lifestyle. As fitness becomes a habit, that’s when results happen. Being a member of a fitness center is a big factor in achieving fitness goals.”

To learn more, visit 19


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Money & Career

First annual event prepares local students to study STEM

The Southwest Louisiana Women in Industry Forum held its first annual event on March 7 at the Cal-Cam Event Center in Sulphur. The forum encourages “gender diversity in STEM fields,” according to Megan Hartman, public relations director at Phillips 66. Area high school seniors – girls only –had opportunities to apply for scholarships to study in fields directly related to local industry, experience mock interviews, pose for professional headshots and sit for resumé critiques, as representatives from McNeese and SOWELA were present.

Stephanie Huck, government and community affairs representative for Cheniere, emphasized to students that they were the first members of the newly formed organization. She also offered specialized advice. Their “career

path will not be straight” and that’s normal. Huck also stressed the importance of integrity by emphasizing “someone is always watching you.”

Jessica Saxby, communications advisor at CITGO, said the forum was set up with female students in mind, while Victoria Ellender, external affairs advisor at LyondellBassel, said there are “no dumb questions.”

Sara Judson spoke on behalf of the Community Foundation of SWLA, one of the sponsors of the event, and stressed the importance of partnerships and teamwork. She also iterated the Foundation’s motto to connect “people who care with causes that matter.”

Jim Rock, executive director of the Lake Area Industry Alliance, assured students that there is a “tremendous demand for talent." If we can equip our

22 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

students in SWLA for the industry jobs here, it’s a win for everyone involved. Students were seated at tables with subject matter experts (SMEs) to discuss questions directly related to women’s empowerment and the challenges of a work life balance. Groups had eight minutes to ask SME’s such questions as how do you empower yourself and the women around you, what challenges or adversities have you faced personally or professionally, what was your career path, what does your professional role entail, how do you balance your personal and professional life, and how can we expand women’s connections to each other?

Saxby then emceed a fashion show where local seniors pretended to strut down a runway and presented their outfits to the audience. Students in the audience then had the opportunity to discuss why outfits were or were not appropriate for a job interview.

SWLA now has more resources than ever before to connect women with industry jobs, whether that be in specialties such as human resources,

engineering or accounting. “Cheniere was involved in the Southeast Texas Women in Industry event for the last few years, and we just said we had so much industry here in Southwest Louisiana, we wanted to bring it here,” said Huck.

I cannot tell a lie, 75 feels great! 23

The idea of saving money may seem foreign in a time of rising prices, but according to Katelynn Vaughn, AVP, Lake Charles Banking Center Manager at Red River Bank, having a savings account is important, and with a little savviness, building one can be an achievable goal.

“Even a small savings account can be beneficial in an emergency. The recommended amount for savings is 3-6 months’ worth of expenses for non-self-employed people and 6-9 months’ worth for people who are selfemployed or work in an industry with high volatility. Funds should be easily accessible and in a high-yield account to optimize interest earnings.”

With wallets pinched tight though, where can these extra dollars come from? “The first step is to account for every single dollar coming in and finding a place for it to go,” explains Vaughn. “List your high priority categories – such as housing, food, insurance, utility bills, vehicle costs, loan and credit card payments –first.”

Vaughn says everything beyond those priority items is considered a lifestyle choice. “Once every dollar has been categorized for the high priorities, the extra can go towards lifestyle choices and savings,” adds Vaughn. “Being cognizant of what is happening with everyday spending and writing it down on paper or a spreadsheet is really a great way to see where the money is actually going.”

According to Vaughn, subscriptions, especially those that you may not even be using, could be costing you extra money each month. “Eliminating items or services that are not being used is an easy way to find extra cash. Maximize your savings when grocery shopping by using weekly sales ads and coupons, purchasing store brands, and comparing prices between stores. These are great ways to find a little extra cash to roll into savings.”

Also, consider leveraging your bank’s automation services. “Most online banking systems have frequency settings that allow for a set amount of money to be moved from one account to another on set dates,” explains Vaughn. “This makes saving money routine and simple,” Vaughn adds.

If a summer vacation is on the family wish list this year, Vaughn recommends opening a separate savings account for

Money & Career

these funds to reduce the risk of accidentally spending these funds on something else. Help maximize your vacation dollars by price matching between hotels and popular rental sites, staying a little further away from your main destination, and if your trip will be an extended one, renting a space with a kitchen to allow for some home-cooked meals.

“If you are driving on your trip, don’t forget to leverage your loyalty program rewards,” says Vaughn. “There are a number of programs through grocery stores and other apps that allow you to save money on gas.”

When it comes to looking for savings on mortgage interest rates and insurance rates, be sure to shop around. “Interest rates and closing fees can vary from lender to lender, so it is important to consider both when deciding on a mortgage lender,” concludes Vaughn. “The same can be said for insurance premiums.”

While building a savings nest egg may seem like a tall task, by taking some simple steps to build in accountability, spend responsibly and seek resourceful opportunities for savings, creating that financial safety net is possible over time. 25 Ser vice the way it used to be. e technology you need today. We began Red River Bank with a vision. We believed a bank should be putting down roots as it’s building branches. A bank that really listens and grows in the directions customers need that vision is a reality our communities can count on. (337) 656-6500 | Strong, stable banking. Alexandria • Baton Rouge • Lafayette • Lake Charles • New Orleans • Northshore • Shreveport We’re your people.

Money & Career

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana...

Swift Stepping Down at Alliance

George Swift, the founding president/CEO of The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, has announced his intention to leave his position. Swift began his career in economic development in 2004 as head of the Southwest Louisiana Partnership, which was comprised of elected officials in the five parishes of Southwest Louisiana. In 2006, he was instrumental in establishing the SWLA Economic Development Alliance which combined the Chamber SWLA, The Alliance Foundation, and the Partnership into one umbrella organization.

Janie Frugé, CEO of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital and 2024 Board chair, expressed thanks to Swift for his contributions to the Alliance. He will continue in his role until a successor is named. A search committee will be formed to select a new President/CEO for the Alliance.

Barry J. Henry, MD, Joins Lake Charles Memorial Health System

Lake Charles Memorial Health System is pleased to welcome Barry Henry, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, to its medical staff. Dr. Henry is the newest physician to join Memorial's team of Orthopedic Specialists of Nathan Cohen, MD, Kipp Cryar, MD, Alan Hinton, MD, and James Jackson, DO.

After 20 years of private practice in Lafayette, Louisiana, Dr. Henry is excited to return to his hometown of Lake Charles and help people get back to doing what they love.

Dr. Henry is accepting new patients at Memorial Orthopaedic Specialists located inside Lake Charles Memorial Hospital at 1717 Oak Park Blvd. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Henry please call (337)494-4900.

Creole Nature Trail

Announces Chair, Welcomes Member

The Creole Nature Trail District Board of Commissioners announces its newest chair and welcomes a new member.

With eight years of dedicated service to the board, Wendy Walker Harrington is the newly appointed Chair of the Creole Nature Trail District Board of Commissioners.

With a decade of experience at Cheniere, Stephanie Huck brings both a wealth of expertise and a deep connection to the Creole Nature Trail as she travels it daily. A nine-member board of directors governs the board: Harrington as the 2024 board chair, Paul Guillory as vice-chair and Carolyn Miller as secretary/treasurer.

Lake Charles Gumbeaux Gators Welcome Jeff See

The Lake Charles Gumbeaux Gators announce Jeff See as the strength and conditioning coach for the upcoming 2024 inaugural season.

See will bring his expertise to the Gumbeaux Gators, boasting more than 14 years of experience in the human performance field and a proven track record with top athletes.

See is also the owner and director of performance at Maximum Kinetics Sports Performance (MKSP) in Lake Charles, which will serve as the team’s official performance training facility.

The Gumbeaux Gators, the newest team in the Texas Collegiate League (TCL), will play 48 games, with 24 home games at Joe Miller Ballpark in Lake Charles, starting May 30.

Uzma Naeem, MD, FACOG Joins

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital welcomes Uzma Naeem, MD, FACOG, ob/gyn, to its medical staff at OBG-1. Naeem joins Scott Bergstedt, MD, FACOG, ob/gyn, and Allison Hansen, certified nurse midwife.

Dr. Naeem received her medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis. She is a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Naeem is currently accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call (337) 312-1000.

Imperial Health Iowa Primary Care Clinic Welcomes Charlotte Ardoin, Nurse Practitioner

Charlotte Ardoin, FNP-C, has joined the clinical staff of Imperial Health. She will be working at the group’s Iowa Primary Care Clinic, located at 607 N. Thompon Avenue.

Ardoin brings over 30 years of experience to her new role. She has held management positions in a variety of clinical settings, and has extensive experience in primary care, inpatient hospital nursing, infusion therapy, behavioral health, hospice, emergency medicine and case management, in addition to direct patient care in a practice setting.

Originally from Sulphur, Louisiana, Ardoin earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in nursing, both from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is licensed as a registered nurse by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and board certified as a nurse practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Iowa Primary Care Clinic is open Monday-Friday and provides treatment for illness and injury, management of chronic conditions, routine care, wellness exams and physicals and other routine care, including vaccinations. Most insurance plans are accepted, including Medicare as well as self-pay.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Ardoin at Iowa Primary Care Clinic, call 337-582-5555. Walk-ins are also welcome.

26 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
Who’s News? You tell us! Send press releases to
George Swift Barry J. Henry M.D. Stephanie Huck Uzma Naeem, FACOG, MD Jeff See Charlotte Ardoin, FNP-C Wendy Harrington

Dr. Steven Hale, orthopaedic surgeon with the Center for Orthopaedics, was installed as President of the Louisiana Orthopaedic Association (LOA) at their 2024 Annual Meeting in New Orleans last month.

Dr. Hale is originally from Lake Charles and has 15 years of experience in his field. He earned his Medical Degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed his Orthopaedic Residency at The Campbell Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Hale joined the Center for Orthopaedics in 2009 and is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is also a member of the Council on Legislation within the Louisiana State Medical Society.

Dr. Hale specializes in joint replacement surgery, including robotic-assisted hip and knee replacement; sports medicine; knee surgery; shoulder surgery; hip surgery; fracture care; orthobiologics and arthritis treatment. He is a physician partner in the Joint Replacement Center of Louisiana, which opened last year in Lake Charles. It is the first and only ambulatory surgery center in Southwest Louisiana to focus exclusively on joint replacement surgery. 27 Would you kiss your Mom with that mouth? GET CLEAN at | Lake Charles, (337) 474-3636 | Moss Bluff, (337) 429-5057
Dr. Steven Hale

SOWELA to Host Flying Tiger Open House on Saturday, April 13

SOWELA Technical Community College will host the Flying Tiger Open House on Saturday, April 13, at 11:00 a.m. on its Main Campus in the Sycamore Student Center, 3824 Senator J. Bennett Johnston Ave., Lake Charles, La. The Flying Tiger Open House will give prospective students and their families the opportunity to visit campus and explore all SOWELA has to offer.

The event is open to the public and includes food and giveaways. Attendees can meet SOWELA faculty and staff and tour the many hands-on learning opportunities available at the college, including SOWELA’s Aviation hangar with planes, nursing simulation labs, industrial hands-on training units, and more.

Enrollment and financial aid specialists will provide application assistance and answer questions about scholarships and financial

aid. Representatives from SOWELA’s student organizations will share details on how to get involved and the many student life opportunities available to students.

SOWELA offers over 30 technical and academic programs, including Practical Nursing, Machine Tool Technology, Drafting and Design Technology, Forest Technology, Surgical Technology, Accounting and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training.

SOWELA was ranked the #1 community college in Louisiana for five years from 2019-2023 by Niche and WalletHub. SOWELA is also nationally recognized in 2021 as a “Great College to Work For” by the Great Colleges to Work For program and ranked #36 on the “Top 100 Community Colleges in America” by Stacker.

Individuals who plan to attend are encouraged

to RSVP at

For more information, contact SOWELA’s One Stop Enrollment Office at (337) 421-6550 or onestop@


SOWELA Technical Community College provides traditional, distance, and lifelong learning experiences and awards associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. The College empowers learners in career and technical education and enables transfer students to pursue a four-year degree, so all learners excel as globally competitive citizens. The College has been educating the region’s workforce for more than 85 years.



• 11 a.m. - Chancellor’s Welcome & Program Overview

• 11:15 a.m. - Meet with advisor, visit financial aid & scholarships, and complete and application

• 12:30 p.m. - Tour campus & meet instructors

Enjoy a FREE lunch & meet with student organizations.

SOWELA Technical Community College Sycamore Student Center 3824 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave. Lake Charles, LA 70615 First

28 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
prospective students receive a free SOWELA shirt! SOWELA Technical Community College does not discriminate on the bases of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquires regarding non-discrimination policies. Compliance Officer, 3820 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave. Lake Charles, LA 70615, 337-421-6565 or 800-256-0483.
TO REGISTER! Questions? Contact the SOWELA One Stop at 337.421.6550
Money & Career
29 2024 RUM REVIVAL SPONSORS Thank you to the Visit for more information on S&B Events, our impact within the community, and upcoming great events that give back! BENEFITTING

We’ve all wondered what might happen to us down the road, 10 or 20 years from now. What will we be doing? Where will our life’s journey take us? Will our lives look similar to today, or will we completely reinvent ourselves?

While no one can predict the future, we feel fairly certain this year’s group of 13 30-Somethings will still be thriving. Whatever their next chapters hold, we suspect they will continue to grow in their careers and make positive impacts on the people around them. It’s who they are. They can’t imagine life any other way. This is true not only of our 13 winners, but of ALL the Thriving 30-Somethings nominees! Every

year, Thrive receives over 50 nominations, and each is worthy of being a Thriving 30-Something. It takes a special kind of person to even be nominated for this designation.

In this annual special cover section, we honor these individuals’ commitment to achievement and dedicated compassion for our community. Their stories exhibit a drive to not only succeed in life, but to give back to the people who, directly or indirectly, have contributed to their accomplishments. Read on to find out why they do what they do and how they came to be where they are in under forty years; and where they envision themselves two decades from now.

30 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
by Angie Kay Dilmore photography by Shonda Manuel
Beard Stanley KALYN
Partin 31
HALEY Armand Tarasiewicz ALBERTO Galan JEREMIAH Juneau NICHOLAS J.N. Algero WHITNEY Moss Griffin JULIA Bourgeois ALLEN Cormier, Jr. CHELSEA Champagne JULIE Savoie

Jeremiah JUNEAU


Jeremiah Juneau was born and raised in Hessmer, Louisiana. He attended LSU-Alexandria and earned an associate’s degree in radiologic technology in 2006. He specialized in nuclear medicine at Delgado Community College in New Orleans, and later received a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern State University. More recently, Jeremiah received a graduate certificate in healthcare administration from Louisiana Christian University, formerly Louisiana College. He is currently pursuing a master’s in business administration through Louisiana Christian University, along with an additional graduate certificate in organizational administration.

Jeremiah has been employed since he was in middle school. He washed cars, mowed lawns, worked as a convenience store cashier, and in construction all while maintaining school responsibilities and playing baseball. “Those years taught me the value of a strong work ethic, time management, and the sacrifice required to accomplish lofty goals,” he says.

Jeremiah came to Lake Charles in 2007 to begin his career as a nuclear medicine technologist at Louisiana PET/CT Imaging Center and soon transitioned into a managerial position there. “What was intended to be a quick stop in a town I knew nothing about turned into a wonderful career at Louisiana PET/CT Imaging of Lake Charles for nearly 14 years.”

In 2021, Jeremiah became director of radiology at CHRISTUS Ochsner Health SWLA. Oncology services were later added to his responsibilities. He is now CHRISTUS Ochsner’s director of administrative services for the SWLA Ministry. “I provide oversight of multiple departments at both St. Patrick and Lake

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

Area Hospitals, along with our outlying clinics,” he says. “Through servant leadership, I have helped our Ministry successfully navigate through numerous healthcare challenges, all magnified by the pandemic and local natural disasters.” Jeremiah serves on several committees within the CHRISTUS organization and belongs to numerous professional healthcare organizations.

Within the community, he volunteers with Catholic Charities of SWLA and coaches several youth sports teams. “When serving others, I feel that their appreciation is the ultimate gift.” Jeremiah was previously active in local running, triathlon, and cycling communities. “I have competed in numerous races in all disciplines, and I am a three-time Ironman finisher.”

Jeremiah says he thrives in finding ways to turn obstacles into opportunities. “This mindset allows a positive attitude, even in times of difficult challenges. I have learned that anticipating obstacles, instead of attempting to avoid challenges, allows me to become a reliable and effective leader.” He credits his parents, Greg and Sonia Juneau, and mentors, Ronald Weems and James Davidson for contributing to his work ethic and determination to achieve goals. “My parents instilled in me the value of faith, hard work, commitment, and reliability. This has allowed me to accomplish great things. I now use these qualities to help provide the best for my wife, Kelly, and our children, Oliver and Charlee. We enjoy traveling and outdoor activities and are parishioners of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church.”

My goal is to lead a hospital system as CEO or COO. I would love the opportunity for this leadership to be over CHRISTUS Ochsner SWLA, as my goal is to continue offering improved healthcare options for our community.

32 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

At CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana, we never stop working to make heart care better. With us, you have easy access to innovative diagnostics, rehabilitation, and the latest in heart care – delivered with thoughtfulness and compassionate care by our skilled cardiology team. To learn more about one of the area’s most comprehensive heart care programs, visit You 33
only have one heart. We only have one purpose: to keep it healthy and strong.

Kalyn PARTIN, P.E.


Atlas Technical Consultants

Kalyn Partin was born and raised in Lake Charles and currently lives in Moss Bluff, Louisiana, with her husband and three children. She attended McNeese State University and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in engineering and a minor in mathematics. In 2020, she graduated with a master’s in engineering and technology management from LA Tech with an additional Six Sigma Green Belt Certification. “After McNeese, I began my career as an engineer intern with Accu-Line Surveying, Inc. in Sulphur and then moved to the LA Department of Transportation and Development in Lake Charles,” Kalyn says. “There, I grew in my engineering career for nearly eight years, beginning as an engineer intern in the design office and eventually being promoted to construction coordinator and water resource engineer. Last year, I was hired by Atlas to be a project manager/ civil engineer and establish a new Lake Charles office.”

Kalyn is the president of the Louisiana Engineering Society Lake Charles chapter and serves as a state board member and the state membership committee chair. “Through LES, I have also been the regional MATHCOUNTS coordinator for nearly 10 years, providing middle school students the opportunity to compete in a math competition at McNeese, with the potential to win McNeese scholarships and a chance to compete at state and nationals,” Kalyn says.

In 2022, Kalyn was nominated by the Calcasieu Parish Police

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

Jury and appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to represent the parish as a Professional Engineer on the Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority Board, where she continues to serve. She and her husband are members at Life United Church and serve weekly as musicians/vocalists, EMCEE, and in other volunteer capacities. “In my new role at Atlas, I hope to be able to broaden my volunteer opportunities within the community,” Kalyn adds.

Kalyn says she wants to make a difference and change people and situations for the better. “As a native Louisianan, I have a deep love and pride for SWLA and the state. I want to see my home and the people in it flourish! I have a passion to inspire others to grow and love what they do and where they are. My dad has been instrumental in cultivating a passionate spirit in me, aiming to do the right thing in every situation and leaving people and places better than he found them. Even as a busy full-time wife, mother, and engineer, I’m dedicated to serving my community to see it succeed and know that my family and others will benefit from its growth and success.”

Kalyn says she’s grateful for a supportive family who prays for her, encourages her, and pushes her to be better each day. “Being a working mom would be impossible without the support they provide to allow me to work and serve in my community. They are my biggest fans and my most favorite people.”

I hope I’m watching my kids succeed while continuing to grow in my own career. I would love to be in a leadership role that allows me even more opportunities to make a difference and cultivate growth in a team or company.

34 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

Chelsea Champagne was born and raised on a horse farm in Opelousas, Louisiana. Her parents, Brian and Melanie Carroll, instilled in her three core values that she lives by today: faith, family, and hard work. Chelsea’s first paid job was at the age of 10 when she drove her dad’s farm truck in the hay pasture while he and the helping hands loaded the hay trailer. As a teenager, she worked as a lifeguard at the local pool. Chelsea also excelled at rodeo. Her work ethic, good grades, and the many hours spent in the rodeo arena landed her a full scholarship at McNeese State University where she led the Cowboys to many national rodeo victories. Hanging up her ropes for law school, Chelsea attended Southern University Law Center, where she earned a spot on the SULC Law Review and Trial Advocacy team and graduated with honors obtaining her Juris Doctorate in May 2017.

Since 2021, Chelsea has served as the assistant district attorney for the Parish of Cameron where she serves as the lead prosecutor for all criminal matters of the Thirty-Eighth Judicial District Court and serves as legal counsel to several Cameron Parish entities. She serves as legal liaison to the Cameron Parish Police Jury in litigation of post-hurricane insurance, coastal restoration, and worker’s compensation, as well as general counsel for defense litigation. Chelsea is also an associate attorney at Stockwell Sievert Law Firm where she focuses on the defense of healthcare providers, represents homeowners against their former contractors under the New Home Warranty Act, and assists in cases representing the City of Lake Charles.




ATTORNEY, Stockwell Sievert Law Firm

Chelsea says her work ethic is inspired by her parents. “They both worked hard in life to ensure my sister and I had the best resources we needed to be successful. They taught us that humility and hard work is how success is made.”

Encompassing the characteristics of servant leadership, Chelsea created a Cameron Parish litter abatement program debuting this summer. In 2021, Chelsea was named Cameron Lions Club “New Member of the Year” for unceasing service to others. She volunteers with the SWLA Bar Association and has participated in their OktoBARfest fundraisers. Since 2008, Chelsea has assisted with Special Olympics and Special Kids Rodeos. She judges and assists with mock trial competitions among schools in multiple parishes.

Chelsea is married to Dylan Champagne. “I met my husband when I was in law school, which was one of the most challenging times in my life. He kept me motivated to strive for success in law school and throughout the gruesome summer studying for the bar exam.” The couple live in Grand Lake and are involved with several area churches – the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary of the Lake in Big Lake, and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Creole, where Chelsea serves as a guest lector at Masses and a guest lecturer to the youth Religious Education program.

In 20 years, I hope to be serving Cameron Parish and SWLA communities in a role that will allow me to continue to grow our area.

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years? 35




Visit Lake Charles

Taylor Beard Stanley was born in Grand Lake, Louisiana, but as an adolescent, her father’s job moved the family around the country.

“Bouncing around from school to school at a young age shaped my shy exterior,” she says. “I vividly remember getting into trouble with my teachers for saying “yes ma’am” and being teased because I said words like “y’all.” Taylor returned to Southwest Louisiana in 2004 and graduated from Grand Lake High School in 2009. She attended McNeese State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She soon realized a career in law wasn’t a good fit and explored other paths before ultimately landing at Visit Lake Charles in 2016. “I had no idea what a convention & visitors bureau was or that we even had one in Lake Charles. I was late to my first interview (of three), because I couldn’t find the building. I always joke that I stumbled into tourism, but I’m so glad I did!”

A member since 2016, Taylor is currently the vice president of Fusion Five. She also serves as the sponsorship chair which she says has really pushed her out of her comfort zone. “But I believe in the work that Fusion Five does for young professionals.”

Taylor also serves on the Leadership Southwest Louisiana Alumni Council (currently Alumni Chair) and volunteers with Destinations International, the 30 Under 30 Alumni Council, tourism industry projects such as Just Imagine SWLA, and the Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation Catalytic Project.

Taylor says she’s a big Simon Sinek fan. “He has a TedTalk on what he calls the Golden Circle and starting with your ‘Why.’ When I think about why I do what I do or why I am the way I am, I realize I want to do things that are meaningful for others. When my time on this world is up, I want to feel like I made a difference, and that is what drives me. It’s why I’m so passionate about tourism. What we do at Visit Lake Charles directly impacts our community, both economically and in our quality of life. When

it comes to volunteering, I know I can’t say yes to everything, so I go where I feel my skills can be best utilized. I don’t sit on boards or committees for the title. I do it because I believe I have something I can contribute to the group to help them reach their goals. We have a responsibility to lift up and amplify the voices and organizations that are doing good work, because the bad can be so much louder sometimes. I love Southwest Louisiana and hope I have opportunities to continue to give back to my home in different ways as I move forward in my career.

Taylor and her husband Tyler are parents to daughters Eleanor and Abigail.

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

I’ve tossed around the idea of running for Police Jury one day, or potentially a state representative. I want to be able to help shape policies and laws that would be impactful for our community and state. If I’m dreaming REALLY big, I would love to be Lt. Governor one day and represent our state on a national and international level. I don’t believe there is adequate representation of women in our political landscape, and I would love for that to look different in the future.

36 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 37 JULIE SAVOIE Chelsea Carroll Champagne on being named a 2024 Thriving 30-Something! 127 W. Broad St. Lake Charles, LA 4th Floor | Chase Bank Bldg. 337.493.7240 Congratulations VISITLAKECHARLES.ORG CONGRATULATIONS! Taylor Beard Stanley, VP of Sales 2024 THRIVING 30-SOMETHING From all of us at Visit Lake Charles


ABA SUPERVISOR, St. Nicholas Center for Children

A native of Iowa, Louisiana, Julie Savoie attended McNeese State University and received her master’s degree in psychology. She is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who mainly treats children diagnosed with autism. During her 11 years with St. Nicholas Center for Children, Savoie has played an integral role in the expansion of their services.

For example, Julie initiated Parent's Night Out. “We volunteer one night a quarter to babysit at our facility for any of our patient's families.”

In 2020, the Center partnered with a school for autism in Rwanda, Africa. Savoie visited the school for a week and trained their teachers to work directly with the children and how to conduct a training for the parents. “In Africa, a family whose child has autism is looked down upon, so families don’t speak out. The teachers hosted the first ever parent group meeting and provided a training. For the first time, these families were able to stand up and tell their personal stories about their child. They developed a support system. That was the most rewarding and impactful portion of that experience. I know the kids benefitted from our therapy, but equally important, the families began building awareness for autism in their country.”

Savoie also offers local community training programs. “I have presented at several autism conferences across the state, spoken at local church organizations, as well as to students in area schools or at the Center, where I discuss "What is Autism" and

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

how it affects those diagnosed. The hope is to promote more understanding and empathy. Autism awareness is widespread and helpful, but teaching the next generation to show compassion to children who learn differently can have a huge impact.”

Last summer, the Center piloted a program called STEPS that eases the financial burden for some families and enables their child with autism to benefit from their ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) program.

Savoie is a first year Sustainer with the Junior League of Lake Charles. She’s worked on various committees as a general member, chaired the Technology committee, and served as Communications Director. “My biggest accomplishments during my time with the League were my personal gains. Initially, I was hesitant to be put on the Technology committee since I am the opposite of tech savvy, but I learned so many new things. The League launched a new website at that time and I was involved in creating new content and managing the site for updates. While on the grants and scholarships committee, the League developed the TEACH Grant supporting local teachers.”

Savoie and her husband, Andre, live in Sulphur and have one daughter, Taryn. “While autism has not directly impacted my family, I have a deep love for children on the spectrum,” she says. “It gives me great joy to see a child reach their fullest potential.”

38 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
doing the same thing in my career I do now, but only part-time!

Allen Cormier, Jr. was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He attended McNeese State University and earned his undergraduate degree in music education. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After completing his military service, Allen returned home to Southwest Louisiana and married Michaella Ange Cormier. He earned master’s degrees in criminal justice (from McNeese) and emergency management and homeland security (from Arizona State). Allen worked odd jobs through high school and college, but he says his primary focus was on his education. “Growing up in a home that focused on serving the community (mother was a teacher and father was a sheriff’s deputy), in 2013 I turned to a career in law enforcement with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, where I’m currently a detective.”

In July 2023, Allen founded With You, a non-profit organization focused on providing access to mental health support for first responders. From his experiences in the military and at the Sheriff’s office, he understands firsthand the challenges faced by service members and first responders. “By November 2020, after dealing with COVID-19 and Hurricanes Laura and Delta, I was beyond exhaustion and started to have stress-related issues. I sought out both physical and mental health support and discovered there were limited resources locally and a deep stigma of first responders asking for help.”

Allen says he had a great support group and was fortunate to find help. “But I learned that others were struggling and didn't know where to turn. I started With You to provide access to holistic mental




DETECTIVE, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office

healthcare and dispel the stigma. Through my struggles, I found I need to take care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually, or I am useless to my family and community."

Allen also volunteers with the Southwest Louisiana Veterans Association, where he served as event coordinator and secretary from 2022-2023.

Allen humbly denies being a ‘Thriving 30-Something’. “I’m a normal person who has placed himself into positions that allow me to experience the best and worst of human nature. I’ve worked with service members and first responders whom I look up to and who are truly the best of our community, and I want to bring honor to their service and sacrifice. That is what motivates me. I’m not the best of the best nor an amazing person. I am a son, a father, a husband . . . same as anyone. I want to honor my family, community, and those who came before, and leave a foundation for future generations. When you experience the darkest parts of our community each day it becomes what you see everywhere. I want to change that. Helping others calms the voices of my past failures, of not being enough for those who needed it when they needed it most. True transparency is that I’m afraid to fail because it’s “Life and Death.”

Allen credits his accomplishments to his wife and their three children. “Without Michaella’s support, none of this would have been possible. My extended family also deserves credit for the amazing support system they provide.”

In 20 years, I want to be a published author/speaker and mentor. I also want to sit around and fish the pond in my backyard.

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years? 39



Raised in Moss Bluff, Carrie LaFargue has spent her life in Southwest Louisiana. She graduated from McNeese State University with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral studies. Her first job was at McDonald’s when she was a junior in high school. I would go to school every morning, immediately followed by volleyball, soccer, or track practice (depending on the season) then I would work from 7:00 -11:00 p.m. three times a week. Juggling so many different activities all at one time prepared me for the crazy life that I juggle now. It’s like they always say, ‘If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it!’”

During the day, Carrie serves as the local Senior Development Manager of the American Cancer Society. But it’s her volunteer work that keeps her on the move. She is the president of the Junior League of Lake Charles (JLLC), secretary of the Graywood Tigersharks swim team, fundraising chair of St. John Elementary’s PTO, staff partner for SWLA Relay for Life and SWLA Men Wear Pink for the American Cancer Society. She also volunteers with the Children’s Museum.

Carrie says her childhood competitiveness – supported by her mom, who never missed a game – spills over into her volunteer life. “I take the energy that I once put into sports and pivot it into

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

community service. I still have that same competitive nature but now my heart is as full as my plate! The reward of giving a child a food bag to get them through the Thanksgiving break because they wouldn’t have had anything to eat without it or having a cancer patient be able to afford their treatment because of funds that I helped raise makes all the time and energy given worth it all. But I’m still competitive in my community service! The Men Wear Pink campaign that is in my portfolio is #7 in the nation and we are going for the #6 spot this year. And our JLLC fundraisers are some of the most successful events in the area, and we don’t plan on that slowing down anytime soon. The main reason I stay so involved in the community is because I can. As long as I am able to make even the smallest positive impact on someone else’s life, I will!

Carrie and her husband, Chase, have one son, Grayson, and two dogs, Nola Roux and Sir Archer Squishy Paws. “I wouldn’t be half the women I am without the love and support of my family!”

I hope I’ll still be doing most of the things I’m doing now! I want to make SWLA the best community it can be. I was born and raised here, and I want to continue to make it great!

40 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

Hillary Green

Rachel Garner

Beth Melancon

Aryca Bussell

Eloise Pruitt

Erika Doshier

Marcell Gary

Kari Casey

Hope Buford

Krickett Racca

Sierra Higgins

Kaitlyn LaBove

Jessica Stewart

Tabitha Nichols

Terra Jones

Makeitta Citizen

Ann Barrilleaux

Haleigh Lyons

Stephanie Karpovs

Emily Parker

Ashley Williams

Kellery Barton

Carrie LaFargue

Carrie LaFargue Julie Savoie
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Brittany CHAVIS

ATTORNEY, Chavis Law

PROSECUTOR, City of Lake Charles

A native of Lake Charles, Brittany Chavis earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a major in sociology in 2009. From there, she moved to Baton Rouge and obtained her law degree from Southern University Law Center and became a licensed attorney in 2012. Back in Lake Charles, she served for two years as judicial clerk with the Honorable Judge Ritchie. In 2014, she became an Assistant District Attorney in the 14th Judicial District. Brittany started a private practice in 2020, where she handles family law, criminal defense, and personal injury issues. She is also currently the City of Lake Charles prosecutor.

“When I set a goal, I do everything in my reach to achieve it,” Brittany says. “The only career I have ever wanted was to be an attorney, and I knew that since I was about five years old. Knowing the educational path I needed to achieve that goal, I always strived for high scholastic achievement. I graduated from college within three years and began law school at age 21, the youngest in my graduating class.”

Brittany is also a published author. After journaling her way through a difficult pregnancy leading up to the birth of her son Bryant Jr., she released her first book, It is Well. She has also published a wellness journal, Thankful for LIFE, which became an Amazon bestseller during its initial release. This book was spurred by her personal battle with lupus, an autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with in 2014. Each May, National Lupus Awareness Month, she spreads awareness through social media and other

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

channels. In 2021, she held a Thankful for LIFE Balloon Release, honoring those who have died due to complications from lupus and those still fighting the disease. “I created my yearly slogan, the acronym LIFE, which stands for “Living Is Fighting Everyday”, Brittany says. In 2022, she donated over $5,000 to the National Lupus Foundation through a fundraising event. She also hosted a virtual panel “Purple Table Talk”, where she and other lupus warriors were interviewed alongside their mothers.

Brittany says she’s grateful that her parents, Keith and Pamela Bell, allowed her to be a creative dreamer since childhood. “My parents and my husband have always supported every endeavor, no matter how big the goal, and that has driven me to become the woman I am today. I was born with a heart to help others. No matter how busy I am, I try use my talents to pour into others, such as younger and aspiring attorneys, being a blessing in any way I can to those who need it most and being of service to my community.”

Brittany is married to Bryant Chavis Sr. and they share one son, Bryant Chavis Jr. who she says is her best achievement yet! New puppy, Bentley Chavis, recently joined the family.

I envision myself nearing retirement from law practice. And I hope to write more books and continue to advocate for lupus education and awareness. But my true dream is to be featured in a Lifetime movie! I love watching Lifetime Movie Network for hours on end!

42 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
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Healthy Image Marketing Agency

A native of Sulphur, Louisiana, Haley Armand Tarasiewicz is a double alumna of Louisiana State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business administration, and a master’s degree in public administration with concentrations in government affairs and public policy. Haley says she is thankful for the opportunities the SWLA community has given her. “Having moved away for my education, worked and lived in various parts of Louisiana and travelled all over the world, I’ve learned there truly is no place like home.”

Haley is a senior communication specialist at Healthy Image Marketing Agency. The journey that brought her there includes positions with Louisiana Economic Development, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, SWLA Chamber—Alliance, LSU, PPG, One Acadiana and Sasol. “Every organization needs communications,” she says. “These opportunities to gain a better understanding of corporations, public/private sectors, and their issues instilled in me a passion to keep a pulse on the environment and inspire others to “lean-in” to bring projects to life! All of these different organizations working together is where the magic of community-driven progress happens.”

Haley volunteers and serves in leadership roles with several groups– Leadership SWLA; Family & Youth: The Children’s Advocacy Center; SWLA Chamber Small Business Task Force; Immaculate Conception Cathedral School; and Holden’s Hope. Her career has allowed her to be involved in numerous community projects that make a big impact for SWLA, including

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

the St. Nicholas Center for Children; Tellurian LEAD Council; SWLA Regional Planning & Development Commission; Community Foundation SWLA; McNeese State University; United Way; Fusion Five; and others. She is a member of Ellevate Louisiana; LSU Alumni Association; and SWLA Public Relations Officers.

Haley says she was raised to not see service as something you do, but more of an attitude you build your life around. “You do it because it’s the right thing to do. Our growth and success centers on our impact on others. I’ve gained new perspectives, better communication, lessons in gratitude and empathy, and a greater motivation to push myself. That mind frame and drive comes from the voice in my head of my late grandfather, J.C. Como. He was this giant figure in my life that helped me to believe that anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard for it. Life is tough, but so are you.”

Haley and her husband, John, have three daughters: Anna Grace (6), Jillian (4), Eliza (2). “We love involving our girls in area events and fundraisers that benefit our community, exposing them to our culture and instilling the importance of giving back. I often remind myself of St. Theresa’s words, ‘If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.’ To me, SWLA is my family too, and you create strong family units through love, kindness, and service.”

I hope to still be doing what I’m doing! It has been a dream of mine since I was 11 years old. The trust that clients place in us to be part of their dream and mission is humbling. I don’t take it for granted. I love being creative and collaborating with our talented team and industry partners.

44 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

Alberto Galan was born in Marrero, Louisiana, but he considers Southwest Louisiana home. He graduated from LSU and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance and a Spanish minor, and then attended Southern University Law Center to obtain his Juris Doctorate, before returning to Lake Charles to begin his career. Alberto has worked at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury (CPPJ) for the past 11 years, currently serving as Assistant to the Administrator.

Alberto says the diversity of tasks and challenges associated with his job drives him to succeed. On any given day, he might work on infrastructure implementation, quality of life improvements, streamlining processes, and community programs. He oversees contracts, planning tasks, budgets, legislative issues, drainage and coastal/watershed projects, and more.

“Interacting and collaborating with the public on a regular basis and seeing the value in local government daily is rewarding,” he says. “There is no end to what can be done in this career with the help of others.”

After Hurricane Laura in August 2020, Alberto was appointed to lead a Long-Term Community Recovery Plan. This intense ninemonth process required high-level planning and interpersonal communication skills and persistence to complete a project of this magnitude.

The list of Alberto’s volunteer efforts is lengthy, including numerous boards like the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, LA Watershed Initiative Steering Committee, and Fusion Five; task forces like the Chamber’s Quality of Life Task Force. He’s a 2017 graduate of Leadership SWLA and a 2022 graduate of Leadership LA. He also coaches his daughter’s soccer team.

Alberto says he is fortunate to have had strong mentors throughout his life. “My mom and grandmother taught me the value

Alberto GALAN

ADMINISTRATOR ASSISTANT, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

of a foreign language. My dad taught me more than I can list in this limited space. The team in administration assembled by Bryan Beam, a huge mentor, is exceptional to learn from, and I am lucky to have them. The opportunity to work with people, both internally and externally, and other entities to achieve common goals is rewarding and offers opportunities to improve by learning from others. I am very fortunate to have found work that is challenging and can make a difference in our community.”

Alberto also credits his family, his parents and his sister and her family, for their support and positive influence in his life. “My daughter, Ave Rose (who’s favorite person is her big brother Knox) is my daily inspiration; watching their growth is truly special.”

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years?

I hope to continue my career here in Calcasieu Parish and learn from the many leaders and peers that I’ve been fortunate to work with. I hope to help build on their vision – the vision inspired by the people we serve – and contribute to the success of this organization. The goal is to improve the quality of life for the people who call this place home. 45


FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, Families for Inclusion

A native of Sulphur, Louisiana. Julia Bourgeois pursued her education at McNeese State University, graduating in 2016 with degrees in accounting and finance. During college, she actively engaged in campus life as a Cowgirl Kicker and a member of Phi Mu.

She says her life took a profound turn when she married Joe Bourgeois, and they became parents to two wonderful boys, Brooks and Charlie. “However, it was becoming a mother to Brooks, a special needs child with Spina Bifida, that ignited my passion for fostering inclusivity. Witnessing the challenges Brooks and others with special needs face in everyday activities led me to establish Families for Inclusion, where I now proudly serve as Founder and President.”

Families for Inclusion is a heartfelt initiative breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for individuals with special needs. The organization strives to enhance inclusivity in daily activities, ensuring everyone can participate fully in the community. “This journey is deeply personal, rooted in my love for my children and a commitment to building a more inclusive future for individuals with special needs,” Julia says.

In addition to her own non-profit, Julia participates in other community events, such as the Children's Miracle Network NICU reunion; Touch a Truck; This is Home Fest; Mardi Gras Children's Day; and other City of Lake Charles events. She is also a member of the Mayor's Commission on Disability and Fusion Five.

“Experiencing a love so profound and boundless after becoming a mother has become my driving force,” Julia adds. “It has completely shifted my perspective on the world. My paramount concern is now ensuring that every individual feels included and welcomed in our community.”

Julia describes herself as someone who has always strived for high achievement. “The thought of my actions shaping a community where my oldest son, Brooks, can grow up feeling accepted and participate side by side with his brother, Charlie, is

a powerful motivator. The realization that my efforts contribute to creating a more inclusive environment for all families fuels my sense of purpose.”

Julia says Families for Inclusion owes its existence entirely to the unwavering support of her family. “My husband stands as my anchor and trusted sounding board, urging me to reach for the stars. The motivation I derive from my children propels me forward, reminding me each day of the importance of persevering in my mission.”

Julia is also grateful to the Families for Inclusion Board of Directors: Deveni Polito, Jordan Steelman, Hannah Andrews, Renee' LeJeune, Heidi Minervini, and Hailey Barrow. “These dedicated individuals are true rockstars, wholeheartedly believing in our mission.”


do you envision yourself in 20 years?

My aspiration is to reflect on a community transformed by tangible change. I envision a landscape where opportunities for individuals with special needs abound, seamlessly integrating them into every facet of our community life – from active participation in the workforce to inclusion in diverse events and activities. The goal is not merely a hope for change but a commitment to cultivating an environment where inclusivity becomes an inherent and celebrated part of our communal fabric.

46 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
30 47

Nicholas J.N. ALGERO



Originally from New Orleans, Nicholas Algero attended the University of Southern Mississippi where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a double major in business administration and finance. After graduation, he attended the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU where he earned his Juris Doctorate and Graduate Degree in Comparative Law. Upon graduating law school in 2019, Nick began his legal career with the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s office. In 2021, he opened the Algero Law Firm with aiming to provide quality legal representation that is not only affordable but effective in the areas of criminal defense and family law. He is currently contracted by the Calcasieu Parish Public Defender’s Office to represent the children of Calcasieu parish in cases brought against them by the State.

Since moving to Calcasieu Parish in 2019, Nick has invested himself in the community that adopted him as their own. He has served on the board of Oasis Women’s Shelter, his local Knights of Columbus council, and the Young Lawyers Division of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association. For the last three years, Nick has participated in the SWLA Men Wear Pink campaign which raises funds for the American Cancer Society, directly impacting patients, survivors, and caregivers in our community by providing transportation, lodging and screening. He chaired the SWLA Men Wear Pink campaign in 2023 which helped the campaign finish #7 in the nation, raising over $250,000.00.

Nick’s dedication to the Southwest Louisiana community is driven largely by his desire to positively impact the lives of everyone he meets every single day. Although his business slogan, “Get help quick, call Nick” may seem like nothing more than catchy marketing, it truly is a perfect description of his attitude every day.

Whether it is for his clients or the community, he is always eager to help in any way necessary.

Above all else, Nick’s proudest achievement in life is his family. After moving to Calcasieu Parish, he met and fell in love with Morgan Daniels Algero. Morgan, a native of DeQuincy, exposed Nick to everything Southwest Louisiana has to offer. The two married in December 2021. Morgan and Nick welcomed their first child Nicholas Joseph Norman Algero, Jr, known as “Nico” to family and friends, in April 2023.


do you envision yourself in 20 years?

I am passionate about politics, especially local politics. Driven by a deep desire to improve the lives of everyone in my community, I see myself running for local public office in some capacity in the next twenty years. Regardless of any political aspirations, I am dedicated to serving the people of Southwest Louisiana through volunteering activities, community engagement, and providing quality representation to all the members of our community regardless of socioeconomic background.

48 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

Whitney Moss hails from Sulphur, Louisiana. She attended McNeese State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and an associate degree in paralegal studies. She says she’s worn many hats throughout her career journey, and currently she’s an entrepreneur. Whitney owns Pop Balloons and co-owns Louisiana Reauxl Rolled Ice Cream with her father. She also serves as Client Relations Specialist for the family business, 5M Services. Recently, Whitney embarked on a new chapter in her career as a school photographer with Grad Sales. “I thrive on staying busy, whether it's through work, volunteering, or lending a helping hand to someone in need,” she says.

Whitney says volunteering has always held a special place in her heart. She’s been involved with Dreams Come True of Louisiana; Operation Christmas Child; and Toys for Tots. As a member of Fusion Five, she played a key role in starting Fueling Five Families with Fusion Five. “As a small business owner, I have seamlessly integrated volunteer initiatives within our community. I’ve adopted students at the start of the school year and provided them with essential supplies. I’ve donated dresses for Homecoming and Prom. During natural disasters, I cook and offer support to those in need.”

“I want to make the most of the gifts God has given me,” Whitney adds. “My aim is not only to give back to the community that has shaped me but also to mentor and inspire younger generations to embrace and utilize their own talents. Having been immersed in the pageant community for over half of my life, I understand the


OWNER, Pop Balloons

Louisiana Reauxl Rolled Ice Cream

significance of volunteering and charity. My passion and compassion for my community drive me to make a positive impact.”

Growing up, my parents instilled in me the importance of giving back. For example, each year we adopt a family from the Angel Tree during the holidays. These small reminders have shaped my belief that no matter the circumstances, it is essential to contribute to the wellbeing of others. The act of giving back and supporting my community brings me immeasurable benefits. The feeling of making a positive impact, whether on the entire community or just one individual, is priceless.

Reflecting on my college years and early adulthood, I often wondered how I could establish myself as a thriving individual in my thirties within my community. It warms my heart to see that my vision has become a reality and I’m making a significant impact. My wish for any individual is that they learn to be comfortable in their own skin. God made each of us for a reason – embrace it!

I've always been a dreamer with grand aspirations. My ultimate goal is to expand my business, Pop Balloons, and have opportunities to travel and create unique designs for major corporations.

Where do you envision yourself in 20 years? 49

Thriving through MENTORING

In 2023, Fusion Five piloted a Mentor Program – a visionary initiative aimed at fostering the growth and development of the area's rising talents – guided by their board, mentors, and sponsor, Healthy Image Marketing Agency.

“Mentoring, at its best, consists of collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships,” says Kristy Como Armand, partner at Healthy Image Marketing Agency. “Mentors have played a big role in our business’s growth, which is why we are committed to supporting this initiative, and excited about the partnership expansion with McNeese State University.”

This year, the program is piloting an addition –including a current student within McNeese’s College of Business in the mentee group. Following completion of the program, the student will receive a free year of Fusion Five membership for 2025.

“This opportunity will enable a student to gain access to local mentors in our community and young professionals already in the workforce as they near graduation,” says Taylor Beard Stanley, vice president for the Fusion Five board of directors. “We wanted to find a way to help bridge the gap between soon-to-be graduates and our professional community to ensure they are receiving the full support they need to be successful after college. Plus, intergenerational mentoring programs can help improve entire communities in that all parties are able to learn from each other, viewing the other through their unique lens of experience and perspective, resulting in a widened space for both.”

50 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024

The 2024 program will kick off with a meet-and-greet event scheduled for April 16 at Panorama Music House. Between May and September, mentors and their mentees will meet at least four times to discuss topics tailored to each small group’s interests, ranging from professional development and community engagement to civic responsibility and entrepreneurship.

“Expanding networking options for our students is a priority for us,” says Morgan Turpin, College of Business internship director at McNeese State University. “We are grateful for the partnership and thankful for the Southwest Louisiana business community for lending their time and wisdom to professional newcomers.”

If you are interested in joining Fusion Five, visit

2024 Mentors

Kimberly Dellafosse, Assistant City Administrator, City of Lake Charles

Julio Galan, President & CEO, Family & Youth

Sara Judson, President & CEO, Community Foundation SWLA

Kevin Melton, Executive Director, Chennault International Airport

Willie Mount, former State Senator & former Mayor of Lake Charles

Creed M. Romano, JD, MEDP, President & CEO, Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development Commission, Tourist Commission and Chamber of Commerce

2024 Mentees

Garet Berry, Goosehead Insurance

Chase Brown, Southern Style Enterprises

Amanda Caswell, Carl Vincent State Farm

Ona-Lee Davis, LyondellBassell

Morgan Dodd, Visit Lake Charles

Jazmin Farraj, Calcasieu Parish Public Library

Tessa Fautherree, Boy Scouts of America

Paige Fontenot, Pamela Jackson Real Estate

Gabrielle Gillert, AdSource Outdoor Advertising

Emily Gordanier, Marantz

Juliet Hayes, Hayes Electrical

Amelia Hebert, Lake Charles Regional Airport

Elizabeth Hebert, Sam Hebert Financial Group

Alex-Kaye Latiolais, Cypress Drafting & Design

Mason Leblanc, Southern Style Enterprises

Michael Lopez, Hawthorne Residential Partners

Maddy Savoy, Kip & King Marketing

Alanna Ardoin, marketing student, McNeese State University College of Business 51
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still thriving

2024 marks the 13th anniversary of our Thirteen Thriving 30-Somethings, which means there are 169 former 30-Somethings out there continuing to make the world a better place. And that makes us wonder . . . where are they and what are they doing now? Thrive caught up with three 30-Somethings from the 2011 alpha group and found out what they’ve been up to the past several years.


My biggest accomplishment since being a Thriving 30-Something is becoming mom to two beautiful girls, Maci (age 20- LSU) and Ellie (age 16- Barbe). I finished my career as a stockbroker and went on to do business development and physician recruiting until my husband and I opened our newest venture, South Beach Volleyball. This has been my biggest project! We have nine beach volleyball courts, four pickleball courts, and a patio bar and grill. We have also been instrumental in starting the first ever Women’s Beach Volleyball Team for McNeese State University. South Beach serves as their home facility.


Alyson Vamvoras

Attorney at Law

Being selected as a Thriving 30-Something in 2011 was confirmation that my efforts to orchestrate change in my community were necessary. In 2011, I was a busy entrepreneur operating my day spa and mentoring young girls in my spare time. Today, I serve as the assistant city administrator for the City of Lake Charles, a position I have held since being appointed by Mayor Hunter in 2017.

The nature of my position is vast and requires a great deal of planning, strategizing, and envisioning. However, I still find it necessary to focus a portion of my efforts on cultivating initiatives that prepare local youth for the future.

Becoming a “Thriving 30-Something” has expanded my network, outreach, and my commitment to helping my community thrive.


When I was named a Thriving 30-Something, it was relatively early in my tenure as the executive director of the Lake Charles Regional Airport. This recognition served a great motivator for me in that it provided reassurance that people see positive things happening. At the time, I was the youngest commercial airport director in Louisiana and this acknowledgment was something that I was proud of. Fortunately, I’ve been able to continue serving Southwest Louisiana in this capacity and am proud of the work our team has been able to accomplish. It’s not as much about me thriving, but rather about our airport thriving and the great team I have around me that works every day to ensure LCH continues to thrive. I’m honored to have the opportunity serve in my role and grateful for what we’ve all accomplished together.

52 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024
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is Thriving!

Lake Charles Regional Airport is a bustling center of connectivity and economic vitality – a dynamic hub that stands as a testament to progress and growth. With over 30 tenants and spanning nearly 2,000 acres, LCH has become a staple in the region’s economic landscape, contributing over $333 million annually according to a recent DOTD study conducted by Mead & Hunt in 2022.

A staggering 75% of the airport’s selfsustainability is attributed to a myriad of business activities, including leases and fees. The airport is not just a physical space; it’s a thriving ecosystem that provides critical services to both local residents and visitors.

“Connectivity is critical to our economy; LCH is proud to be an economic driver in Southwest Louisiana.”

Places & Faces

Wedding planning starts nearly the moment a couple becomes engaged. The bride-to-be, ecstatic at finally being asked that long-awaited question, “Will you marry me?,” will usually get on sites such as Pinterest and collect ideas for a wedding theme. According to Pinterest statistics, retro weddings will be a huge trend this year. Brides-to-be are also considering having the wedding ceremony one day and the reception the following day. Jump into Thrive’s bridal guide to find out what’s in vogue for 2024 weddings.

The Royal of Lake Charles

The historic First Baptist Church in downtown Lake Charles was dedicated in 1910 and remained a place of worship for over a century. However, the church was severely damaged during Hurricane Laura in 2020. The building now houses The Royal of Lake Charles, a customizable wedding venue and event center.

Nestled in the heart of downtown, The Royal opened last September. Owner David Shamieh says that he was not actively “looking” to embark on another project but was concerned the church might be demolished, which he felt would be a loss for downtown. He took it upon himself to preserve, restore and repurpose the building. Shamieh, who has a passion for mid-century buildings,

has undertaken restoration projects before, aiming to preserve the history behind them.

The venue boasts a modern design. It also offers ample parking—a feature Shamieh prioritized based on common complaints about other venues. Another priority was the creation of an elegant bridal suite, which includes bright, ambient lighting, gilded mirrors and a private restroom. Shamieh hopes the bridal suite will allow the bride and bridal party to create lasting memories.

A groom’s suite is available, as well. This room is a place for the groom and groomsmen to socialize in comfort while awaiting the bride.

When asked why the venue is called “The Royal of Lake Charles,” Shamieh

56 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Places & Faces | Bride Guide
newest wedding venue

says that it is his aspiration to give brides and grooms an unforgettable and luxurious experience on one the “most important days in their lives.” This mission is obvious when you see the golden chairs and iridescent chandeliers. The marble floors were even shipped in from Spain.

There are two event rooms to choose from: the Marble Hall, which seats up to 350 people, and the Great Hall, which seats up to 550 people. Both rooms can be reserved together or booked separately, depending on one’s needs.

The Great Hall boasts white chiffon curtained walls, crystal chandeliers, polished hardwood floors, an LED dance floor and glowing light-up furniture. The Marble Hall has pristine white walls, marble flooring and goldtone light fixtures.

While The Royal certainly has a list of recommended caterers, florists and photographers, renting the venue doesn’t require the use of specific vendors. The businesses The Royal does suggest are vetted through a strict protocol. Shamieh says if they recommend a local business, it means “we believe in them and the service they provide.” He emphasizes a preference for collaborating with local businesses.

The Royal hosted the Bridal Show Bootcamp last year, allowing brides to see the services Lake Charles businesses provide. The bootcamp offered the resources to plan the wedding of their dreams.

If possible, Shamieh plans to restore the façade of the old First Baptist Church. The Royal will not only include the event center but also a sanctuary for brides wanting a church ceremony. While the sanctuary is still under renovation and won’t be fully restored for another two years, plans are already underway to host future events. Shamieh intends to use the venue to “promote Lake Charles” and believes the building “deserves to be recognized nationwide.”

If you are a bride-to-be or hope to see wedding bells in your future, The Royal is a great addition to the community, especially for those desiring an event in Lake Charles’ historic district. And for guests, restaurants and nightlife are just around the corner. 57

How to be an EXCEPTIONAL Bridesmaid

Your best friend just got engaged to the man of her dreams, and she has asked you to be one of her bridesmaids. The request is a great honor and a testament to the bond between the two of you. You jump at the request without thinking about the actual demands of the role. Before you say yes to being a bridesmaid or maid-of-honor, consider what the responsibilities of the role will be.

Sara Lasher, of Sara Lasher Weddings & Events, says, “Before accepting the role of a bridesmaid, it’s vital to understand that what you are accepting is a commitment. It’s a commitment of your time, your finances, and your emotional support. If any of those commitments cannot be guaranteed, it’s completely acceptable to decline the role.”


Agreeing to be a bridesmaid not only comes with the cost of time and energy, but also a financial cost. Bridesmaid dresses are not cheap, and you should be aware that you could be shelling out a few hundred dollars to buy your wedding party dress. If you can’t afford the cost of being a bridesmaid, it’s best to politely decline the offer.


Everyone has their own personal style. But even though you are the one who will be wearing the bridesmaid’s dress, the bride has the ultimate say on what you will wear. It is her day, after all. It is nice if your gown is something you will wear on future occasions, but don’t count on that. Be flexible and enjoy spending time with the bride.


Make sure you schedule any needed alternations to your bridesmaid dress as early as possible. You don’t want to push this essential step to the last minute. It is your responsibility to make sure your dress fits you as well as possible.


If the bride needs to brainstorm ideas, happily engage in helpful discourse. She will have so many things on her mind that she might not think of everything. Make a Pinterest board, save screenshots and volunteer ideas for anything she might need help on, even if it’s as simple as the types of flowers to put in floral arrangements.


Wedding planning is known to be stressful. You, as a bridesmaid, can help relieve some of the stress by listening to the bride when she needs a sounding board, extending encouragement and helping reassure her.

58 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Places & Faces | Bride Guide


As an important member of the bridal party, get together with the other bridesmaids and the maid-of-honor to plan events, especially a bridal shower. A bachelorette party and even a spa day to help everyone relax may be considerations. However, Lasher says, “Brides are having destination bachelorette parties with airfare, lodging, and travel expenses attached. I don’t think being a bridesmaid should come with the expectation of investing that level of funds. If you can’t travel to that degree, be transparent from the beginning about what you can and can’t afford for the festivities.”


First and foremost, be on time to get ready and help the bride get ready for the wedding ceremony. Make sure you carry around essentials all day, such as hair pins, lipstick, tissues and clothing pins. Be ready to adjust the bride’s dress, train, veil, etc. throughout the day. Make sure to always stay picture-ready.


When it’s reception time, help get the party started! Take snaps of guests having fun. Take a few turns around the dance floor. Make sure to get the bride anything she needs. Then be around to clean up after the party, if necessary. 59
Places & Faces | Bride Guide HERE COME THE BOWS 2024’s Bridal
Dress Trends Focus on Detail
It’s the most exciting time of your life, and the question “What do I wear?” begs to be answered. While shopping for the most important dress you’ll ever own is

exciting, it can also be stressful. However, you don’t need to get lost among your options.

Here are the major trends you can choose from this year:


It’s hard not to love flowers. And you don’t need to confine flowers to your bridal bouquet and table center pieces. Dresses with rosettes at the bust offer a feminine, refined and classic look to any bride. Floral appliques sprinkled along a skirt will attract attention, especially if you’re planning a garden-party wedding.


It’s a bow renaissance! A big bow on the bust of a gown makes a statement while a large bow on the back of a gown displays effortless glamour a la Christian Dior. If you are more of a minimalist, a small bow here and there will add a bit of personality without overwhelming your senses.

“Bows are still having their moment and we love to see it,” says Laurie Baynard, owner of L Bridal Couture. “The ‘coquette’ look is strong this season, which is just a classic, romantic look typically with a bow or florals. We absolutely love the ‘old money’ aesthetic that has been strong as well—very traditional, classic bridal looks, which are what our brides have always loved anyway!”

Statement Sleeves

Bishop sleeves and lace sleeves are dainty options, but expect more choices for what a bridal gown can look like with the re-emergence of popular ‘80s-style sleeves. Shoulder pads (you either love them or you hate them) are back if you like sharp shoulders. Puffed sleeves, heavy on volume, are adorning more gowns.


Do you want more than one dress for your wedding? That problem can be solved by customizing your wedding dress. For the ceremony, you can add a voluptuous overskirt to your sheath dress. When it's time for the reception, remove the overskirt for a new silhouette. You can also add sleeves to a strapless gown for a more modest look. By adding and/or removing one or multiple items from your original dress, you can rock several styles throughout your big day.


Pastel pinks and blues are popular alternatives to white and ivory. Not everyone wants a white wedding dress. Pink is feminine, soft and looks good on everyone, while a light blue gown will give you that “something blue.”

Drop Waist

Moving a waistline greatly alters the style of a gown. A drop-waist gown is perfect whether you want an Art Deco look or prefer a corseted dress. A dropped waistline can give the illusion of length when it comes to a flapper-like maxi gown, while dropping the waist on a corseted dress will bring attention to a woman’s shape.

1990s Minimalism

Are you more of a sleek and simple girl? Take a cue from the ‘90s and grab an elegant silk slip dress. Minimalistic gowns are chic, will never go out of style and are easily dressed-up with accessories.

While bridal trends come and go, Baynard says “Our brides in the south are still very traditional. A traditional dress with a statement veil or sleeves can be on trend, and the brides can still feel like classic southern brides.”

When it comes to what a bridal party will wear, the bride has the final say. However, that doesn’t mean dressing for a wedding has to be a chore. While bridesmaid dresses in 2024 are following a lot of the same trends as bridal dresses, you don’t want to be the bridesmaid that upstages the bride. But you don’t need to sacrifice style, either. Just don’t overdo your look. The bride will be heavily involved in picking the bridal party attire, so go with the flow and enjoy the special time with your loved one.

The most frustrating part of bridesmaid dress shopping can be paying for a $300 dress that you know you will never wear again after the wedding. More brides are taking their bridesmaids’ investment into consideration when choosing the dress they will wear. The bride might opt for tea-length dresses rather than floor-length gowns. Another option is for dresses to be easily convertible into date-night attire. This could mean dresses with floral patterns or simple, elegant gowns that can be accessorized into a new look.

Gone are the days where wearing neutrals as a bridesmaid is a faux pas. More brides than ever before are opting to have their bridal party wear neutral colors that are not dissimilar from the color of the bridal dress. Choosing gowns must be done with care, though. If a bridal gown is white, the bridal party might offset yet compliment her gown with attire in a champagne color. The contrast is subtle but can be stark if the bridal dress is embellished. As far as accessories go, Kleckley says many bridesmaids are wearing silver, gold-tone and crystal earrings for an effortlessly elegant look.

Black is becoming a common color at weddings. It’s the go-to color for the groom and groomsmen after all, so why should the bridesmaids be excluded from the universally flattering color? Black is the color on the opposite side of the spectrum from white. If bridesmaids flank the bride in onyx gowns, it will make the bridal dress shine even more.

There is no rule that all bridesmaids must have identical dresses. If the colors are similar, slightly different gowns can reflect a bridesmaid’s personality while still giving the bridal party a cohesive look. Bridesmaids have different body shapes and skin tones. What works for one woman might not work for another. If a bride is flexible, the combinations can be fun to curate. Rhonda Kleckley, owner of Accessory Zone, says the average bridal party in the area is averaging from five to six bridesmaids. It would be easy to coordinate similar looking gowns for a bridal party of that size.

There is always the option to give bridesmaids free range when it comes to their dresses for the big day. If the wedding is small and entails minimal planning, this option might be in the interest of everyone involved. After all, a wedding is all about celebrating the love between two people and their friends and family. The details are not always important.

As for the groomsmen, your task is to make sure your suit is tailored to perfection. After that crucial step is done, you can determine if a colorful tie or some statement shoes are in order.

April 2024 Places & Faces | Bride Guide
by Kerri Cooke








What to Wear on The Trip of a Lifetime

You’re about to go on your first romantic getaway as a newlywed. What’s a girl to wear? When packing for your honeymoon, the last thing you want to do is forget something important or bring the wrong type of clothing. Keep in mind where you’re going and what you’re doing on your honeymoon. Different locations require different clothing.

Places & Faces | Bride Guide

Weather is an important determining factor. Don’t just rely on an advanced forecast. Pack clothing for a variety of temperatures and weather conditions so you don’t end up in a bind. And always pack a nice pair of jeans, at least one formal outfit, and some sexy lingerie. No matter what, these items will always come in handy regardless of your honeymoon destination.


Whether you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, staying at an exclusive resort, renting a beach house or traveling to the Mediterranean, there are a number of must-haves to pack in your suitcase. Some clothing brands even offer cruise collections to provide the perfect pieces for your ensemble.

Linen and cotton are two materials to consider if traveling to the tropics.

Gwen Smith, owner of Cruella’s Boutique, says many of her customers opt for linen garments because of its breathability. She says linen is “very sophisticated” and can help regulate your temperature even if the garment is fitted. Or you may want to pack some clothing with tropical prints, crocheted tops and a raffia bag.

Here are some other essentials if you’re staying near the water:

—Tank tops



—Flipflops and/or sandals

—Beach cover-ups



—Hats & Sunglasses

—Tote bag

—Formal gowns (if on a cruise)


If you and your love have decided to visit the Great Smoky Mountains or Yellowstone National Park, you’ll need some outdoor gear. A visit to a sporting goods store is a great place to start. You will want to pack plenty of extra clothing for an outdoor trip. You never know when the unexpected will happen, so it’s smart to plan ahead.

Make sure you pack:

—Outdoor and/or athletic pants

—Short & long sleeve tops

—Extra undergarments/base layers

—Hiking shoes

—Athletic sneakers

—Lightweight jacket/windbreaker

—Heavy jacket

—Hair ties

—Durable backpack

—Water bottles

—Outdoor water filter

—Bug & bear sprays


—Portable phone charger


Have you always dreamed of skiing in Colorado or Switzerland? Here in the South, we can be oblivious as to how to function in cold and snowy weather. Cold temperatures can disrupt your skin’s barrier, so drink plenty of water and keep your skin hydrated as you attempt to stay warm. Packing a portable facial humidifier will help keep your skin glowing even when it’s below zero.

Pack plenty of warm items such as:

—Scarves & Gloves


—A ski suit (if you have one)

—Base layers

—Sweaters made of wool, cashmere and/or angora

—A warm coat

—Thick socks

—Hand warmers

—Lip balm & Lotion



If you love visiting museums, attending live performances and trying a variety of new foods, you might chose a metropolis for your honeymoon.

Pack for comfort and style as there will be lots of walking. If you are flying a good distance, consider wearing comfortable loungewear, such as joggers and a sweatshirt, on the plane. Consider if you want to bring custom “Mrs.” attire to celebrate being a newlywed.

For a city excursion you’ll need:


—Flats and/or sandals (and band-aids for blisters)



—Breezy dresses

—Shorts (if summertime)

—Formal attire (for performances and fine dining)

—Accessories that match with multiple outfits

—A backpack or large bag

—A statement umbrella (for rainy days)







Romance at sea

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Nature Lovers

From alpine lakes to epic peaks, there are endless outdoor adventures near Salt Lake City. Eleven ski resorts lie along the Wasatch Mountain Range, all less than an hour from the airport.

Consider making the scenic drive to Snowbird Ski Resort even in the offseason, taking the aerial tram up to The Summit, Utah’s highest restaurant, a casual spot open only for lunch. A more romantic option is dinner at The Aerie, perched atop The Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. Enjoy their award-winning wines along with breathtaking mountain vistas.

The recently opened, 25-story Hyatt Regency Salt Lake is a great home base, with a rooftop heated pool and restaurant featuring outdoor climatecontrolled globes. The hotel is just over a mile from some of the best hiking in Salt Lake City and a half-mile from iconic Temple Square and the majestic Mormon Tabernacle.

Outdoor enthusiasts can’t leave Utah without visiting one (or more!) of its five national parks. The stunning red rock canyons of Zion National Park made it the USA’s third most visited National Park in 2023. Instead of camping, go glamping in one of the decked-out Airstream trailers at the new AutoCamp Zion. After a day of hiking, relax in the hotel pool and clubhouse in this sublime setting.

Big City Lights

Prefer the excitement and culture of a big city? Stunning architecture, world-class museums and award-winning restaurants make Chicago a great choice.

First, choose a hotel. Want easy access to free concerts at Chicago’s modern icon, Millennium Park, and priceless treasures at the Art Institute? Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park is your best option. Maybe you’re architecture enthusiasts? Head to Swissotel and request a room with a river view. Spend days strolling Chicago’s riverfront being awed by the towering skyscrapers. Does shopping along Michigan Avenue sound fun? French luxury brand Hotel Sofitel’s Chicago location is just off what’s known as Magnificent Mile and recently underwent major renovations.

Chicago’s culinary scene is world-renowned. Here are some notable offerings. Less than a mile from Hotel Sofitel, The Smith is an American brasserie taking pride in working with local farms and curating a drink menu featuring local beers and distilleries. Its raw bar appetizers and steamed mussels are classic favorites.

Hungry to explore new cultures and cuisines on your honeymoon? A fun, budget-friendly option is Chicago’s new Jook Sing, with decor and menu inspired by the street foods and vibrant night markets of Southeast Asia. Now known as Fulton Market, Chicago’s once industrial West Loop

Places & Faces | Bride Guide
Celestyal Journey In Santorini. Photo courtesy-Celestyal

neighborhood has transformed into the city’s culinary hot spot after trailblazing chefs began opening restaurants here almost 20 years ago. Make a reservation at Proxi, a beautifully designed space celebrating travel and cooking through unconventional global street food. Enjoy shareable dishes with Japanese, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican influences.

Island Escape

Halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast is the barrier island of Manasota Key. Being off-the-radar for most tourists makes it a perfect honeymoon spot.

Newly renovated Manasota Key Resort is the only resort on the island. The white powder-soft sand beach is the main attraction, but taking a hotel bike to one of the nearby casual seafood restaurants makes for a fun afternoon. Row a complimentary kayak or paddle board along the quiet waters of Lemon Bay to see playful dolphins. Go hiking next door at Stump Pass Beach State Park and you’ll feel like you’re on a deserted island.

Cruising Together

Maybe a love boat is your idea of the perfect honeymoon? A European cruise is a great way to explore multiple destinations, while only unpacking once. Greek-owned Celestyal Cruises, which specializes in the Eastern Mediterranean, is a cruise line geared towards adults. You won’t find high-adrenaline onboard attractions like zip-lines, water slides and climbing walls, but if island-hopping through the Mediterranean, immersing yourself in the region’s culture, sounds like an idyllic vacation, this would be a no-stress honeymoon.

As you start planning, Lake Charles travel agent Tina Higgins with Cruise Planners advises that much like marriage, compromise is the secret to a happy honeymoon. “Take turns planning different parts of the trip, so each person can prioritize favorite activities. By being open-minded and willing to try new things, they can create a vacation that’s not only unforgettable, but strengthens their relationship by finding common ground in different interests.” For more information, call Tina Higgins at 337-405-7650. 67
EXTERMINATING Termites, Pests & Mosquitoes • JJEXT.COM 1.800.737.2847 F o r P e s k y , U n i n v i t e d G u e s t s ! M O S Q U I TO M O S Q U I T O E L I M I N AT I O N E L I M I NAT I O N and and C O N T R O L C O N T R O L •• F R E E F R E E IINSPECTION NSPECTION ••TREATM EN T OPTION S TREATM EN T OPTION S ••MAINTENAN CE MAINTENAN CE Swissotel in Chicago. Photo courtesy-Swissotel Chicago

Homebuyer's HANDBOOK

Buying a home can seem like a daunting task.

It’s a step-by-step process – seeking out pre-approval for a loan, finding a REALTOR, viewing property after property until you discover the one that feels just right, negotiating a price, scheduling an inspection, securing insurance, signing mounds of paperwork at the closing – and finally, you have the keys to your new home in hand. Whether you’re buying your first home or you’re a seasoned homeowner on the move again, our Homebuyer’s Handbook is bursting with tips to make the journey as hassle-free as possible.

You’ve found your dream home and made your offer. Now it’s time to get the financing in order, appraisal completed and start picking out new furnishings. But wait – how can you be sure there are no hidden flaws in your new-to-you home? Some serious problems may be invisible to the untrained eye but stick out like a sore thumb to an experienced home inspector.

“Home buyers often ask me if they need to go through the expense of a home inspection,” says Jade Miles, REALTOR with Century 21 Bessette Realty. “As a REALTOR, it’s my job to help my clients have a successful home-buying process, so my answer is going to be ‘yes’ to a home inspection in almost every case.”

When you sign on the dotted line to buy a home, you are locking yourself into a long-term mortgage, in most cases, so Miles says an inspection is an investment worth making to protect that investment. “You wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the hood and taking it for a spin around the block. You can’t do that with a house, but you can bring in an expert to check it out for you.”

A home inspection is completed after the potential buyer and seller sign an offer contract and should be viewed as a protective measure for the potential buyer. Should the inspection come back with less than favorable results, the potential buyer can walk away at that point or negotiate with the seller to have the defects fixed, often at the seller’s expense, prior to closing on the final sale.

“There are several things a home inspector is looking for when he or she comes out to the property,” says Miles. “The typical list includes everything from the construction of the walls and state of the foundation to the status of the electrical and plumbing components in the home.”

Here’s a brief rundown of what your typical home inspector will inspect:

• Structural elements: Construction of walls, ceilings, roof, floors and foundation.

• Exterior evaluation: Wall coverings, landscaping, grading elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, etc.

• Roof and attic: Framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing and gutters.

• Plumbing: Identification of pipe materials used for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes, including the condition.

• Systems and components: Water heaters, air conditioning, fireplaces, chimney, duct work, etc.

• Electrical: Main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures.

• Garage: Slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, exterior windows, etc.

Finally, Miles says a home inspection is especially important in this area considering that many homes were affected in one way or another by the series of natural disasters we faced in recent years.

“Many area homes have new roofs and have had some level of reconstruction done to them since 2020, so it really is best to proceed with caution” adds Miles. “A home inspection can provide you with valuable peace of mind and protect you from a bad experience.

For more help with buying a home, contact Jade Miles at Bessette Realty at (337) 474-2185 or visit 69
When it comes to real estate, first impressions are everything.

As prospective buyers pull up to a property and look at the outside of your home and your landscaping, that curb appeal sets the tone for what they expect to see inside. The importance of a well-manicured lawn and carefully curated landscaping cannot be overstated.

“Beyond mere aesthetics, the exterior environment of your home plays a pivotal role in determining its value and commanding a higher price when you sell it,” says Nathaniel Allured, who owns The Grounds Guys landscaping services in Lake Charles with his wife, Alexis. “Homes with superior landscaping spend less time on the market and can yield returns of up to 10-12% on the overall value of the property.”


The front yard is the first thing potential buyers see when they approach your home. Ensure your lawn is well-maintained, trees and shrubs are pruned, and flower beds are neat and colorful. A tidy and attractive front yard creates a positive first impression, drawing buyers in and increasing perceived value.


Consider hiring a professional landscaper to design and maintain your outdoor space. Landscaping experts can offer valuable insights and creative solutions tailored to your property's unique features and local climate. “A professional offers the experience and vision to transform ordinary yards into stunning outdoor retreats that will add value to your biggest investment,” Allured says.

Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook


Opt for low-maintenance plants and landscaping features that enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home without requiring excessive upkeep. Slow growing hardy evergreen shrubs and trees and perennial flowers are great choices that add beauty to your landscape while reducing the time and effort needed for maintenance. Avoid tropical varieties if you’re worried about losing plants to frosty winter temperatures.


Transform your backyard into an inviting outdoor living area. Install a patio or deck where you can entertain guests or relax with family. Incorporate elements like water features, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and seating areas to create a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces. Don’t forget to add adequate drainage and walkways.


Planting trees, hedges, or shrubs strategically can enhance privacy and security on your property. Creating natural barriers around your home not only adds visual interest but also provides a sense of seclusion and safety for potential buyers, making your property more desirable.


Outdoor lighting can dramatically enhance the ambiance and safety of your home's exterior. Use a combination of flood, spot, and path lights on sidewalks, trees, and architectural features to highlight key elements of your landscape design. Well-placed lighting adds depth and visual interest to your outdoor space, increasing its overall appeal and value, especially during evening viewings. It has the added benefit of deterring criminal activity. The Grounds Guys recommend skipping solar lights due to lower durability and battery life.


Regular maintenance is key to preserving the value of your landscaping investment. Keep your lawn mowed, weeds in check, and plants wellwatered and fertilized. Prune trees and shrubs as needed to maintain their health and appearance. A well-maintained landscape signals to potential buyers that the property has been cared for and is in good condition.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively use landscaping to increase the value of your home, creating an inviting and attractive outdoor environment that enhances curb appeal, functionality, and overall desirability.

The Grounds Guys are a full-service residential and commercial landscaping company. Learn more at 337.888.4020, groundsguys. com/lake-charles, or @ groundsguysoflakecharles on Instagram and Facebook. 71
                                          1/16" = 1' Scale: 3/8/2024 Date: 003 Revision #: 001 Nathaniel Allured
by:                                                                    1/16" = 1' Scale: 3/8/2024 003 001 Nathaniel Allured Ben Thompson Home Landscape Plan: The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles Landscape Design by:  WELCOME HOME! DESIGN BUILD MAINTAIN BEFORE 3 3 7. 8 8 8 . 4 0 2 0
Ben Thompson Home Landscape Plan: The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles Landscape Design
72 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook Locally Owned Since 1981 4515 Lake St | Lake Charles, LA 70605 | (337) 477-2167 The Tupper Team works with you from plan design to move-in. We are a one-stop source for plan design, construction, and interior design. Let us help you build your dream home! Make your Mark with Landmark • Closing Services • Second Mortgages • Lot Purchases • Refinances • Title Insurance • Title Searches RON RICHARD KRYSTAL DELANEY (337) 477-8782 | L ANDMARK T ITLE LC. COM | 330 Alamo Street, Lake Charles

Finding the Right Insurance Coverage for Your Home

Buying a home can be overwhelming, and comes with many responsibilities, including selecting a homeowner policy that best fits your needs. Where do you begin?

“There are so many different insurance policies on the market,” says State Farm Agent Jennifer Mabou. “Coverages can vary from carrier to carrier, so it’s important to not just get a ‘quote’ but to truly sit down and ask questions about specific coverage options and endorsements, which can vary from company to company. Not every homeowner insurance policy is the same, so you need to understand the major differences before making a decision.”

Mabou says it’s important to educate yourself on which companies offer the best overall coverage, as well as looking at the financial strength of the carrier you’re considering. “This was a huge factor after the 2020 and 2021 seasons,” she says. “That was the reason so many carriers became insolvent; they did not have the financial strength to pay all their claims.” The four most prominent rating companies are A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings.

Mabou says that most homeowner policies will include repair or replacement due to fire, wind, or storm damage, unless you have a policy that specifically excludes wind/hail (which is unacceptable in our area). “But as a general rule of thumb, wear and tear or neglect of your home is not a covered loss because it is not sudden and accidental,” she explains. “And since rodents or insects (termites) are not covered on most standard homeowner policies, it’s important to keep your home on a regular pest inspection schedule.”

As far as costs go, your premium can be impacted by various factors, such as the age of your home, square footage, type of roof construction (hip roof vs. gable roof), roofing material (shingle vs. metal), slab vs. piers, quality of construction, and even the number of windows and doors.

“There are so many details that go into determining price to risk,” Mabou continues. “Your claims history can also play a role in your homeowner premium. Companies are now offering discounts for Fortify Homes, and I see this playing a big role in the future of South Louisiana.”

The Louisiana Fortify Homes Program grants up to $10,000 for homeowners to upgrade their roofs to standards set by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. The program will help Louisiana homeowners reinforce their roofs to better withstand hurricane-force winds. To see if you qualify, go to fortifyhomes#eligibility.

“One of the most important things to look for and consider when purchasing a homeowner policy is to ensure you have a replacement cost policy,” Mabou explains. “You want to be able to rebuild your home, not just receive actual cash value for it. As mentioned previously, you must have wind/hail coverage. There are some carriers that exclude this coverage.”

She also suggests reviewing your deductibles. “Some carriers offer wind/hail deductibles while others offer hurricane deductibles,” she continues. “Educate yourself on the difference and make an informed decision.”

Down the road, Mabou says to make sure you contact your carrier when you make updates to your home. “Things like age of roof are important! If you upgrade your windows or doors, this can also play a role in your insurance premium. You should review your coverages with your insurance agent annually to make sure your home is either properly insured or not over-insured.”

Mabou recommends that along with obtaining quotes, you should also sit with each agent that has provided them to ask questions so you can understand the coverages. “It’s not so much about the number of quotes, but the quality of your conversation with the carrier when obtaining the quote,” she says. “We like to educate our clients, and they know they can reach us anytime, day or night, because we are local.”

For more information, call Jennifer Mabou at (337) 527-0027 or email 73

5 Common Mortgage Myths:

Buying a home is an exciting milestone, but unfortunately, misinformation can also make it a confusing time. “Purchasing a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make,” says Aaron Scott, mortgage loan officer with Lakeside Bank. “You’ll get a lot of advice about mortgages from many different people during this process, which can add to the stress of such an important decision.”

Scott provides some guidance to help homebuyers understand the facts about the most common mortgage myths:

Myth: I can’t afford to buy a home.

If you can afford to pay monthly rent, you will likely be able to afford to make a monthly mortgage payment. In contrast to renting, when you own a home, you also own your equity in that home, an asset that will likely increase over time. To find out how much mortgage you can afford, talk to a qualified mortgage lender. You can get a quick, non-binding estimate, or a prequalification, just to get an idea of how much money you could potentially borrow.

Myth: You need perfect credit to buy a house.

Many potential homebuyers put off buying a home due to past credit problems or believing they need a perfect credit score to get a mortgage. Credit history is one of the factors that determines whether a borrower is approved for a mortgage and also impacts the interest rate offered, but you don't need a flawless credit history to buy a home. There are many mortgage programs available to borrowers with lower credit scores.

Myth: You must put 20% down to buy a home.

The 20% down payment myth has persisted for decades, but it's simply not true. Many lenders offer mortgage options with smaller down payments, especially for first-time homebuyers. Additionally, there are

various government-backed programs available that offer down payment assistance to qualified buyers. A smaller down payment may result in a higher monthly payment and interest rate, but it doesn't have to prevent you from buying a home altogether.

Myth: The down payment is the only up-front cost.

For some buyers, a down payment represents the biggest up-front cost when buying a home, but it isn’t the only expense you’ll be asked to fund. For example, closing costs are typically 2.5% of the home loan amount and are generally due at signing. You may also be required to prepay property taxes and insurance, or demonstrate that you have reserves, a sufficient amount of money in your savings after closing, to provide a safety net in the event of unexpected expenses.

Myth: Mortgage rates are the same no matter where you go.

Not all mortgage rates are the same. Closing costs and other fees can also vary from one mortgage lender to another. A lower rate can make a big difference to your monthly payment. You may find that based on your personal circumstances, such as your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, salary and other factors, you qualify for a much more favorable rate with one lender than another.

“Navigating the mortgage process can be intimidating, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer,” adds Scott. “It’s important to educate yourself to avoid feeling uncertain throughout the process. One of the best ways to do this is to choose a mortgage lender you trust, who you are comfortable with, and who will take the time to answer all your questions.”

Visit to learn more about mortgage loans.

74 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook 75 Whether it’s a new home, a refinance or home improvement, let Lakeside make the home of your dreams a reality. MORTGAGE DEPARTMENT 337-502-4836 | 337-474-3766 Your Dream Home. Your Lakeside Loan. DESIGN BY BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES From planning to execution, our award-winning team will exceed your expectations and provide FULL-SERVICE COMPANY • DESIGN • LANDSCAPE RENOVATION • EROSION CONTROL • GARDEN CENTER/NURSERY • PROPERTY MAINTENANCE 5005 Cobra Road, Lake Charles | (337) 478-3836 M-F: 7am – 4pm Sat: 8am – 2pm (Seasonal Hours) Voted “The Best” 11 Times in Local Publication Polls BOOK SPRING COLOR NOW!

Help us to help others buy their own home.

Project Bulid a Future builds and rehabilitates quality, affordable homes in communities in Lake Charles that are north of Broad Street. Here’s how you can help us meet our mission.


The first step toward Project Build a Future building a new home is acquiring land that meets our program criteria, located in our target area. We acquire land through fair market value purchasing, donation, or a combination of both.


Donation of professional services related to homebuilding, and donation of building materials greatly assist our mission.


Gifts can be given as personal or business support of our not-for -profit community efforts — or even in memory or honor of a person, creating a long-lasting tribute — or given in recognition of a personal milestone.


Ask your employer about a matching-gift program for workplace giving. You may be able to double up your gift and make a bigger impact.


Planned gifts — bequests, charitable gift annuities, and charitable remainder trusts — extend your generosity into the future.

76 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook
Contact us: • • 337-439-7191 •

Skyline Foundation Supports Project Build a Future’s Local Efforts for Homeownership

Project Build a Future is revitalizing northern Lake Charles through homeownership and housing initiatives. And Skyline Foundation recently donated $250,000 to their efforts.

“This is a major gift that will help us significantly in our work to provide quality, affordable homes in the community,” said Charla Blake, executive director of Project Build a Future (PBAF). “We’re deeply appreciative of Skyline Foundation for what is one of the most generous gifts in our history.” PBAF’s homebuyer counseling and other financial education programs help lay a foundation for financial success for its clients. No recipient has foreclosed on a home since PBAF was founded in 2001.

Skyline Foundation said in a statement, “Our core mission is to move money to organizations that address problems at their roots — and change systems to create a more just future. We are proud to partner with Project Build a Future to advance economic security.”

The donation will help support the Fitzenreiter Resilient Neighborhood Development initiative — an effort to build a series of single-family homes off Fitzenreiter Road to form a new community.

As Skyline Foundation noted, “The fight for gender, racial, economic, and environmental justice is central to our work. We seek to move resources into expert hands in service to opportunity for all. Funding well-considered yet bold and venturesome ideas is an adventure we embrace.”

PBAF builds and rehabilitates quality, affordable homes with the goal of:

• Beautifying the community.

• Giving pride and hope to potential homebuyers.

• Providing an opportunity for lasting financial stability.

About Skyline Foundation

Skyline Foundation is a San Francisco Bay Area-based family foundation that funds local, national, and global organizations addressing problems at their roots and shifting systems toward a more equitable and just future. In 2023, Skyline gave $83 million to more than 200 organizations.

The foundation’s philosophy emphasizes a high level of trust in the leadership of the organizations it funds. Skyline’s work is guided by its core values of gratitude and hope; justice and opportunity; curiosity and humility; trust and partnership; and urgency. The foundation was established by Angela and David Filo to return the wealth created through the internet company Yahoo! to society. David Filo is a former Southwest Louisiana resident.

For more information about Project Build a Future and Skyline Foundation, visit and 77

Red Flags!

Know the warning signs for pests when home buying

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments you'll make in your lifetime. It's not just about finding the perfect layout or ideal neighborhood — it's also about ensuring the property is free from potential hazards, including pests.

While a home inspection is a crucial step in the buying process, it's essential to keep an eye out for red flags that could indicate underlying issues with pests.

What does a homebuyer need to know from a pest control standpoint? Keith Dubrock, owner of McKenzie Pest Control, offers some pointers.


One of the most obvious signs of pest problems is visible damage to the property. Watch for chewed wood, holes in walls or floors, and droppings, as these are all indicators of pests like termites, rodents, or insects. Even if the damage seems minor, it could be a symptom of a more extensive infestation beneath the surface.


Dubrock says another red flag to watch for is evidence of pest activity around the exterior of the home. Look for signs such as:

• Ant hills.

• Termite tubes.

• Rodent burrows near the foundation.

Pests often enter homes through cracks and openings in the exterior, so identifying these entry points early can help prevent future infestations.


Consider the surrounding environment when evaluating the risk of pest infestations. Homes located near wooded areas, bodies of water, or agricultural land are more susceptible to pests than those in urban or suburban areas.

While you can't control the environment around the home, being aware of potential risks can help you make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.

During the home inspection, pay close attention to areas that are prone to pests, such as the attic, basement, and crawl spaces. These areas are dark, damp, and often undisturbed, making them attractive hiding spots for pests. If the inspector finds evidence of pests or damage in these areas, it's essential to address the issue before finalizing the purchase.

In addition to visible signs of pests, be wary of strong odors in the home, as these could indicate an infestation. Musty or moldy smells may suggest water damage or a leak, which can attract pests like termites and cockroaches. Similarly, a foul odor could indicate the presence of dead pests, such as rodents or insects, which may require professional pest control services to remove.

It's also essential to inquire about any previous pest control treatments the home has undergone. If the home has a history of recurring pest problems, it could be a sign of a more significant issue — a structural issue or moisture problem — that needs to be addressed before moving forward with the purchase.


Buying a home with pest control red flags requires careful consideration and attention to detail. By identifying signs of pests during the buying process, you can address any issues before they become major problems.

Ultimately, being proactive about professional pest control services, coupled with your own vigilance, can help ensure that your new home remains a safe and comfortable living space for years to come.

For more information about pest control — including the critical need to control termites, visit, call (337) 478-7826 or visit McKenzie Pest Control’s Facebook page.

78 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook Termites cost Americans $5 billion in property damage each year. (337) 478-7826 Protect your home before termites invade with McKenzie Pest Control and a Sentricon Termite Elimination system— the leading termite solution. CALL
BEFORE 79 Care is woven into the fabric of our organization. From each member of our team to the services we offer, we are committed to providing exceptional care. Every day, compassion and healing happens within our hospital and in the outpatient services and programs we provide. A Commitment to Our Services: Breast Health Cancer Care Cardiology Community Health Center Ear, Nose & Throat Care Emergency Care Endocrinology Family Medicine Home Health Care Laboratory Nutrition & Wellness Obstetrics & Gynecology Orthopaedics Pediatric Care Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Pulmonary & Respiratory Care Radiology & Diagnostic Imaging Rural Health Centers Sleep Medicine Surgical Services Wound Care NMLS# 401286 • 337-477-9190 Real Estate Needs? WE HANDLE IT ALL! Construction • Land-Only Loan Home Equity Line of Credit Refinancing
80 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 VISITBEAUMONTTX.COM Scan for Good Times Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook

Calcasieu Parish’s Housing Counseling Agency, in conjunction with Project Build a Future, has announced its free Homebuyer Education Classes schedule for 2024.

All classes are held at the Allen P. August Multipurpose Annex, 2000 Moeling St. in Lake Charles and participants can opt to attend two, four-hour, back-to-back classes or attend one eight-hour session.

Here is the 2024 class schedule:

• Monday, April 22: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Tuesday, April 23: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Monday, June 10: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Tuesday, June 11: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Saturday, Aug. 17: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., hosted by Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

• Monday, Oct. 21: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Tuesday, Oct. 22: 5-9 p.m., hosted by Project Build a Future

• Saturday, Nov. 16: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., hosted by Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

The classes walk participants through the entire process of buying a home, step by step. They cover all the fundamentals of homeownership, including the pros and cons of purchasing a home, the role of realtors, all about mortgages (mortgage terminology, mortgage originators, mortgage underwriters and underwriting criteria and mortgage attorneys), financial management and proper budgeting. Other topics include down payments, closing costs, insurance and how to apply for grants.

Residents who are interested in buying a home, are in the process of buying a home, and even those who already own homes, are encouraged to sign up for these classes. Please note that the definition of “first-time homebuyer” is anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years – even if the person owned a home previously.

“Education is the key to investing in yourself, your family, and your community – it pays the best interest,” said Maxcine Fontenot with Housing Counseling. “Homebuyer education classes provide participants with the opportunity to develop the skills needed to reach financial goals, increase savings, and secure the financial stability needed for homeownership.”

Classes are free to all participants, regardless of income. To register, visit, click on the “homebuyer group counseling” tab and fill out the application.

Applications are also available at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s Human Services Department office, 2001 Moeling St., Lake Charles. The office is open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday-Friday

Participants will receive a certificate when they successfully complete classes.

For more information, call the Calcasieu Parish Housing Counseling Agency at 337-721-4030, ext. 5152 or email

Meet the Newest Member of our Clinical Team

Imperial Health is pleased to welcome Charlotte Ardoin, FNP-C, to our Iowa Primary Care Clinic.

Charlotte and her staff offer experienced, convenient access to healthcare services in the Iowa area, including:

• Routine Care

• Treatment for illness and injury

• Management of chronic conditions for patients

• Vaccinations and flu shots

• Lab draw services

• Other non-emergency medical concerns

Call today to schedule your appointment, (337) 582-5555.

The care you need, where you need it – in Iowa!

Board certified Family Nurse Practitioner

Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing, McNeese State University

Over 30 years of clinic experience

Clinical and management background includes primary care, hospital inpatient, emergency medicine, infusion therapy, hospice, case management, behavioral health and private practice

Iowa Primary Care Clinic 81
607 N. Thomson Ave., Iowa |
ARDOIN, Nurse Practitioner
Charlotte Ardoin, FNP-C
accepted, including Medicare.
plans are
Renting has long been seen as second-best to owning a home. But Dwellsy CEO and cofounder Jonas Bordo says more and more Americans are relegating that perception to the same scrap heap that holds landlines, paper road maps, and VHS tapes. As the world has evolved, so have attitudes toward renting.

“Sure, cost and availability play a role in people’s decision not to buy, but I’m encountering more and more renters who say they’re choosing to rent because it’s just a better fit for their life,” says Bordo. “It’s interesting because it reflects a massive shift in how people live and work and what they value.

Consider workforce trends. Today’s talent prefers remote work, flexible schedules, and plenty of autonomy. There’s job hopping and gig work. People are delaying marriage and having fewer kids. There’s a sense of restlessness and a desire for fluidity and freedom.

Whether you’re a young professional who isn’t ready to commit to a zip code or an empty nester who’s tired of spending weekends mowing the lawn, there are plenty of reasons why renting might work best for your lifestyle (and yes, for your budget too).

You’re not tied down.

Let’s say you get your dream job offer, but it’s in another state. If you’re a homeowner, there’s a long slog ahead. Selling your house might involve expensive repairs and inconvenient showings. Finding a buyer might take months, and—even with that much-hyped equity you’ve built up—there’s no guarantee you’ll come out on top financially.

You’ll find lots of cool places to live.

In many areas, renters have more choices in terms of geography and aesthetics. For instance, your rent budget might get you a quirky little space in a historic downtown building, a trendy new apartment in a complex, or even a bedroom in a house-share. Homeowners often don’t see this kind of variety within their price range.

It won’t hurt your social life, either.

Especially if you live in an apartment complex or rental community, you’ll have plenty of neighbors to connect with. In many cases, management might even sponsor activities like happy hour, game night, or trivia to help you meet them.

Your (rare) spare time is really your own.

If you’ve never owned a home, you might not realize just how big of a time-suck it can be. In addition to keeping the interior (relatively) clean, you are responsible for unclogging the drains, mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, cleaning out the gutters…and the list goes on.

There’s someone “handy” to make repairs.

Hiring someone to fix your leaky faucet or install your new ceiling fan costs money. Thus, many homeowners find themselves watching YouTube tutorials so they can complete these tasks themselves…and then watching more tutorials to fix the mistakes they made the first time.

Renting helps you save money.

Across the country, home prices are rising, competition is fierce, and interest rates are high. That all adds up to one heck of a monthly mortgage payment. Meanwhile, median asking rent for many rental property types hasn’t changed dramatically in the past year, and inventory is increasing. Even if your theoretical mortgage payment is lower than your rent (not a given these days), the cost of owning and maintaining a home tends to cut deeper into your wallet. Homeowners insurance, property taxes, repairs, lawn maintenance, utilities, and more can add up quickly.

“In our fast-paced, overscheduled world, flexibility and free time are increasingly important—and in this economy, almost everyone needs to save money,” concludes Bordo. “Whether you’re a for-now renter or a forever renter, choosing not to take out a mortgage is a great way to achieve all those things. There’s nothing less-than about renting…and a lot to gain.”

Jonas Bordo is the coauthor, along with Hannah Hildebolt, of the book Everything You Need to Know About Renting But Didn’t Know to Ask: All the Insider Dirt to Help You Get the Best Deal and Avoid Disaster.

82 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • April 2024 Home & Family | Homebuyer's Handbook 83 • Yoga Studio • Fitness Center • Grille House Cabana • Club Room • Salon and Spa • Movie Theater • Business Center • Event Center • Courtyard & Garden • Meeting & Game Rooms • Garages • Pet-friendly • Outdoor Games • Storage Room options The Villages of Imperial Pointe is the newest and best Independent Living community in the Lake Charles area. With spacious apartments, countless first-class amenities, and unmatched service, The Villages of Imperial Pointe raises the bar on what you can expect from a senior living community. Call today to schedule your personal tour. Spring Move in Special Move in by April 30th & get 3 Months FREE One Month Annually for 3 Years 337-409-8338 55+ Active adult Resort style living Trade the Ordinary for Extraordinary! 1717 Imperial Boulevard Lake Charles, Louisiana 70605

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Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.