December 2021 Issue of Thrive Magazine

Page 1

December 2021



A-Z Gift Guide

SWLA Good Samaritans 2021 TAX



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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021


Contents In This Issue Wining & Dining

8 Helen St. Bakehouse Finds a New Home 10 LuLu’s Specialty Snocones 12 Magical Moments Picnics

Regular Features

41 Business Buzz 69 Solutions for Life

ind & Body M 14 Dreaming of a Pain Free Holiday 16 Benefits of Chiropractic Care 17 Winter Skin Care

Places & Faces

20 Holiday Traditions



SWLA Good Samaritans

28 Recovery Spotlight -- McNeese Basketball Arena 30 Butterfly Books by Nancy Cartie 31 PGA Korn Ferry Golf Tournament


Money & Career


Style & Beauty

42 Holiday Style – what to wear where 44 Simplify your Beauty Routine

Home & Family 46-61 COVER SECTION:


64-67 SWLA Holiday A-Z Gift Guide 66 Family and Youth 67 Pick it Up Calcasieu 68 The Villages at Imperial Pointe

@thriveswla | Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives – family, health, home and career. Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. 4

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

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

Merry Christmas,

from the officers of your locally owned and locally operated community bank.

Roy Raftery

President & CEO

Shively Verrette

Aaron LeBoeuf

Executive VP

Misti Young

Vickie Buckels

Senior VP

Jonathan Boudreaux

Melissa Miller Asst. VP

Cheryl Bertrand Asst. VP


Twenda Hanson



Christa Comeaux Asst. VP

Grace Butts

Asst. Branch Manager

Senior VP

Michael Hardy


Jamie Schiro

VP, Moss Bluff

Bobby Broussard

Senior VP

Renee Lassiter

Senior VP

Aimee Gilmore

Senior VP

Kala Kuhlthau VP, Sulphur

Connie Tregle VP, Oak Park

Regina Thomas Manager, Nelson

Michael Moore VP

Lisa Pinder

Compliance Officer

Virginia “Ginger” Karcher Banking Officer

Hollie Saltzman

Asst. Branch Manager







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Wining & Dining

Helen St. Bakehouse

Finds a New Home by Matt Dye

In the framework of Daley’s Gym, where for 100 years fists pounded punching bags, Helen St. Bakehouse is doing a different kind of pounding, and then kneading, twirling, and baking some of the best bread that you may have already experienced and not realized. Currently, Helen St. supplies fresh baked bread to some of Lake Charles’ finer establishments – Calla, The James 710, and Fire & Oak. Now, with their Common Street location, Helen St. Bakehouse looks to ramp up production and availability to the general public. This has been a long-time goal for owner Cary Sole, and like many, he was forced to change course due to the hurricanes last year. “We were two days from breaking ground when Laura hit,” says Sole, referring to their original site for Helen St. Bakehouse. Hurricane Laura might have diverted plans, but it gave Sole a new opportunity when Daley’s became available. “That’s where the boxing ring used to be,” he says, pointing to a corner now outfitted with a dozen bread racks and a walk-in convection oven. That’s only one of the highlights at Helen St. Bakehouse. They have a mixer that can handle over 300 lbs. of dough at a time, and a sheeter that makes mass


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

production easier. Helen St. has come a long way from selling baguettes and sticky buns at the Cash & Carry Farmer’s Market, where they got their start. But this has always been Sole’s vision for his baking future. While there isn’t a set date for a grand opening just yet, Helen St. Bakehouse hopes to be open for the start of the new year, with a tentative schedule of 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Sole says he plans to serve croissants and sticky buns with coffee in the morning, and offer fresh bread daily at 4:00 p.m. While there will almost always be baguettes, the range of other bread types will depend on the days, as Sole is very particular about making sure his customers only get the freshest breads. “We may do a marble rye on Tuesday, or Halal on Friday,” he says. But there will be limited supplies, so don’t be surprised if there’s a four o’clock rush. That said, Helen St. Bakehouse will also take private orders if you need the freshest bread for your next party or office function. While there may eventually be a sandwich and chocolate chip cookies on the menu, Sole is quick to point out that Helen St. has no plans to morph into a restaurant or café, but instead will focus on the bread. That said, Sole looks forward to getting his hands back in the grains and mash and creating new items once his team gets fully settled into the new location.






We are now available on Eats 2 Go, Gubers & Waitr!

119 West College Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-3651 | Monday – Thursday: 11am–10pm | Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm Closed Sunday | Happy Hour 4–7pm


Wining & Dining

Visit Lulu’s over the Holidays for Cool Sweet Treats

This Snocone stand serves more than flavored crushed ice. And they’re open year 'round! by Angie Kay Dilmore


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Lulu’s Specialty Cones & More dared to open in the summer of 2020 during the height of the pandemic, and then navigated through the myriad natural disasters of two hurricanes, a freeze, a flood and most recently, a tornado. Owners Ashley and Jonathan Frantz have proven to be examples of the many SWLA entrepreneurs who have persevered through the past year and not only survived but prospered as a result of their creative ways of reaching out to their clients and the community. Lulu’s regularly tweaks their menu – recently adding limited breakfast items – and concocts new and exciting products such as smoothies, snowshakes (their own spin on milkshakes) and a breakfast cereal series (think Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a shake). For winter, they are offering frozen hot chocolate and regular hot chocolate, as well as grilled cheese sandwiches and warm, soft pretzels. They have a lively social media presence, host movie nights on their Country Club Rd. property, and have mastered the art of taking their Snocones and More on the road to local events.

That’s not in any way to suggest it hasn’t been a struggle. The Frantz’s have experienced a major increase in supply costs and shortages of items such as chips, pickles, and cups. “We drive to Lafayette, Baton Rouge, or Beaumont several times a week to buy or borrow supplies, promising to repay when our own stock comes in,” says Ashley Frantz. The couple believes businesses succeed when they work together, supporting each other in good times and bad. “In many experiences over the years whether at a job or seeking out help to open Lulu’s, it’s often been ‘every man for himself,’” Ashley adds. “That can be very discouraging to one’s confidence in pursuing their dreams. I don’t want anyone to feel defeated and give up because we need

every person’s ideas, dreams, and passions to come to life. We all benefit when someone walks out their purpose and leads a life full of joy. I know what a huge help it is for me when I pick up the phone and call another business owner and ask for help and get great advice, so I want to be that for others. We teach our employees that working together makes things more bearable and they never have to do life alone. We try to model that as bosses and business owners, not just say it.” Lulu’s Specialty Cones & More is located at 2735 Country Club Rd, Lake Charles, and open 6:00 – 8:00 a.m. Tues-Fri and 1:00 -7:00 p.m. Tues-Sun. They will close the week of Christmas and return after the New Year.


Wining & Dining


n i s u B c i n c i P d e Styl s e l r a h C e k a L o t Comes


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

There’s a new way to party in Southwest Louisiana - styled picnics. Magical Moments Picnics brings joyous picnics to your backyard, literally. Elegantly curated décor and custom low tables bring the picnic of your dreams to life, whether for a romantic date, girls’ night, birthday party, baby shower, proposal, or more.

“These days, people are looking for small, intimate celebrations and unique ways to have fun,” says owner Hannah Pettefer. Magical Moments has already been bringing magic to SWLA through princess parties since 2019, and now Hannah is taking her event planning business to the next level. She has thought of every detail in preparing the perfect picnics. The set up includes custom dried

florals from Eden’s Designs, custom built low tables, cozy pillows and blankets, fair trade décor items, place settings, a Polaroid camera, a Bluetooth speaker, and more. Plus, she is offering charcuterie and grazing boards. The best part? Magical Moments does all the set up and clean up. You simply show up, enjoy the picnic, take some stellar shots for the ‘gram, and leave with memories for a lifetime.

“You don’t need to leave Lake Charles for a unique event that will make a forever memory,” Hannah says. “You don’t even need to leave your backyard.” Find out more about Magical Moments Picnics (or princesses) at or find them on social media @ magicalmomentspicnics.


Mind & Body

Dreaming of a Pain-Free


by Christine Fisher

Stress and the holiday season can go hand-in-hand, but for those with a condition that worsens with stress, such as arthritis, now is the time to take control and limit exposure to stress-causing situations.

Many times, that’s easier said than done, but incorporating a few simple techniques can make a significant difference in one’s health, according to Rebecca Braud, MD, family medicine physician at Braud/Davies Family Medicine. “Stress can be a contributing factor to exacerbating pain, anxiety and other medical problems,” says Dr. Braud. “Managing stress is important everyday, but it is especially important for those battling chronic ailments, such as arthritis.” Increased stress can have a negative impact on one’s health. “If you suffer from arthritis, the tension that many experience during the holidays can heighten the effects of chronic pain,”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Dr. Braud explains. Some people may notice an increase in migraine headaches, stomach disorders, fatigue, short tempers, and difficulty concentrating and sleep problems. If you have an autoimmune disorder or problems with your joints or tendons, Dr. Braud advises paying careful attention to your activity level. Over-activity and unhealthy habits, such as neglecting exercise and eating an unhealthy diet, will make things worse. “Find ways to ease the stress. Exercise, meditation and good nutrition will keep your body in a good rhythm and strong enough to help combat the level of stress we may experience during the holiday season,” Dr. Braud says. Develop effective coping skills for holiday-related activities, such as entertaining, cooking, decorating, or family gatherings to increase enjoyment this season. “Most of us enjoy these times, but it can easily become overwhelming, turning what should be a happy time into something more stressful,” says Dr. Braud.

Flexibility in planning events helps. If you’re not up to hosting or entertaining, know when to draw the line. Do as much as you enjoy, but don’t over do it. Enlist help as you make preparations. Don’t do everything alone. Listen to other people’s ideas and compromise. The process of planning the holiday gatherings can be as enjoyable as the event itself. Scale down your expectations. Focus on the spirit of the season. Slow down and spend time together with family and friends. Keep a regular exercise schedule. Neglecting your regular walk, yoga or water aerobics will only worsen your stress level. Pay attention to your own feelings. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pull back and slow down. Don’t try to muscle through it. Try not to commit to anything that you can’t adjust if it begins to feel like too much. The holidays are meant to be a joyful celebration, not add to the stress level.

“As with any chronic health problem, it’s good to reduce anxiety by maintaining a manageable schedule, staying active and keeping a positive attitude. Every case is different,” Dr. Braud says. “But those behaviors generally help the patient cope and ease through the holiday season with as little stress as possible. This not only helps someone with arthritis to enjoy the holidays, but promotes physical well-being, too.”



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Mind & Body

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

after a Vehicle Accident by Kristy Como Armand

If you or someone you know has ever been in a serious car accident, then you know pain and discomfort can immediately follow, and impact an individual’s life for months or even years. Neck and back pain, stiffness and restricted range of motion are all very common. Whether you’ve had a major collision or relatively minor fender bender, chiropractic care after a vehicle accident can help reduce pain and restore pain-free movement. “The impact from a car wreck can cause stress on the neck and back that may result in dysfunction of the vertebral joints and muscle strains. This may also lead to loss of range of motion and pain in the neck and back, “explains Dr. Joey Kulaga, chiropractor and co-owner of Lake Charles Chiropractic. “Our goal is to identify the source of pain, acknowledge if we can help restore spinal joint function, and reduce neck and back pain, to help get their life back to where it was before the car wreck occurred by developing a customized treatment plan to promote healing and recovery.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Whiplash is a common injury in vehicle accidents. He explains that a whiplash injury occurs when the force of a rear-impact accident causes the abrupt movement of the cervical spine backward and forward. The spine is essentially “whipped” back and forth. Whiplash typically results in stress on the spine and strain to the neck muscles, which causes pain, soreness, and stiffness. Whiplash can also cause other symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness and even hearing and vision problems. Dr. Kulaga says he sees many patients who have tension headaches due to car accidents. “A customized treatment plan that involves gentle, targeted manipulation can help relieve the pain and stiffness of whiplash,” says Dr. Kulaga. More direct muscle strains and sprains caused by a car accident often result in pain and restrict flexibility and range of motion. “Chiropractic adjustments not only can relieve pressure on the muscles and nerves, but also bring alignment back to the spine. This, in some cases with the addition of other therapies, can help bring back the body’s full range of motion,” says Dr. Kulaga. Some injuries from vehicle accidents don’t always cause symptoms right away – delayed symptoms can occur hours and even days later. One of these is sciatica. Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.

“The symptoms of sciatica can be sudden or delayed, depending on the severity of the injury and the body’s response to pain after a significant traumatic event like a car accident,” says Dr. Kulaga. Common symptoms of sciatica can include a tingling sensation that runs from the lower back and down the back of one leg, weakness or numbness alone one leg or foot, and pain and difficulty sitting. Other symptoms of sciatica that may present include numbness or weakness in the lower back and along one leg that presents right after a car accident or significant trauma to the lower back coupled with intense pain. Some experience sciatica pain as a mild discomfort or ache, while others say it feels like a sharp, burning pain. No one wants to be left with lingering pain and loss of mobility after a car crash “Chiropractic treatment can be very effective for treating someone with neck pain, back pain and sciatica pain due to injuries sustained from car wrecks,” says Dr. Kulaga. For more information, call Dr. Kulaga at Lake Charles Chiropractic and Functional Medicine at (337) 240-6619 or visit



by Haley Armand Tarasiewicz

Cooler weather and lower humidity are usually great for hair, but bad for skin. Dry patches and flaky skin can look dull and lifeless – not the desired look for all the important holiday parties and events this month.

How can you restore luminosity and vitality to your face? Dr. Allison Clement, Medical Director and Master Injector at The Skin Studios in Lake Charles says, “Hydration, hydration, hydration! If you see dry patches and flakes, your skin has been seriously dry for some time. It’s time to put moisture back into the skin.” Dry skin usually feels like it’s two sizes too small, and along with the tightness, it feels itchy, rough and uncomfortable. Fine lines and wrinkles appear more noticeable, and the skin loses its plumpness, looking more shriveled and dehydrated. “Dealing with dry, flaky skin is the number one complaint I hear from patients during the cooler months,” says Dr. Clement.

Central heating, fireplaces, and space heaters rob the air of humidity, causing skin to lose moisture. Frequent washing, especially with highly-fragranced soap, can also contribute to the problem, along with hot showers and soaks in the tub. “Many people think that a shower or bath will help hydrate the skin, but actually, it doesn’t. Immersing in water, especially hot water, for long periods of time will break down the lipid barrier on the skin and strip the moisture away,” Dr. Clement explains. “The better method is to take warm showers for no more than 15 minutes then blot with a towel and immediately apply a moisturizer all over the body.” Soaps are another contributor to dry skin. “Highly-fragranced and anti-bacterial products tend to cause irritation,” she says. Dr. Clement recommends fragrance-free, mild cleaners. Detergents are another oftenoverlooked problem. Choose mild over extra-cleansing.

Dr. Clement also recommends facial treatments such as microdermabrasion, which exfoliates and removes dead skin cells, combined with a hyaluronic acid infusion treatment to hydrate and plump the skin to maintain good condition throughout the winter. In terms of products, Dr. Clement recommends a good moisturizing cleanser like ZO hydrating cleanser followed by Elta MD Barrier renewal complex, which is a cream that repairs your skin’s barrier to restore its natural hydration system. Finish up with a good moisturizer targeted for dryer skin types, like Elta MD AM and PM therapy. The Skin Studios offers a comprehensive range of advanced treatment options for a variety of aesthetic conditions using the most cutting-edge techniques and the highest quality products available. To get the care of a physician and comfort of a spa, visit The Skin Studios at www. or call 337-474-1220.

Landscaping Made Joyful



Be sure to add some holiday to your landscaping with splashes of Christmas color, such as red holly berries and evergreen shrubs. And don’t forget to add the lights! Landscaping made simple for your home.

5005 Cobra Road in Lake Charles (337) 478-3836 M-F: 7am – 4pm


SAMANTHA POOLE MARCEAUX: People’s Choice for 2021 Best Nurse/Nurse Practitioner in SWLA and Co-Owner of Access Urgent Care Born and raised in Grand Lake, Louisiana, Samantha Poole Marceaux is proud to serve the medical community of Southwest Louisiana. Her areas of expertise include emergency medicine, hospital medicine, urgent care, and occupational medicine. Her central belief in healthcare is that medicine should be affordable and accessible for everyone. Patients should never have to wait and worry about their health concerns or watch their loved ones suffer in discomfort. Samantha devotes her time and energy to making sure that every patient she encounters is seen, heard, and treated like family. Samantha’s willingness to work hard to help others is inherited from her family of entrepreneurs. Her late grandfather, Richard Poole, started Poole Roofing in 1975. When Samantha thinks about what hard work means, she thinks of how her grandfather never stopped until a job was done “just right.” Her parents, Daryl and Becky

1530 E. MCNEESE ST., LAKE CHARLES, LA 70607 18

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Poole, now serve as her examples for how hard work has more to do with helping a community than with helping yourself. Her dad, for example, will rise before dawn, come home after dark, and yet still stop to help a stranger on the side of the road. Samantha is determined to bring their legacy into the next generation through her work as a nurse practitioner. After graduating from McNeese State University with an undergraduate degree in nursing, Samantha worked as a medical and cardiovascular intensive care nurse for six years. She went on to earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing at McNeese in 2015 to become a family nurse practitioner. She is also now a Certified Medical Examiner through the Department of Transportation. Samantha remains an active member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society.

Throughout her twelve years in the medical field, Samantha has dreamed of being in a leadership position and becoming her own boss. While working at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, she met Dr. Robert Bernauer Jr. After developing a friendship, she and Bernauer, talked about long-term goals of opening their own urgent care. On October 11, 2021, this dream became reality when they opened the doors to Access Urgent Care. Located on 1530 E. McNeese Street, Access Urgent Care offers a different urgent care experience for patients in Southwest Louisiana. Over the last year, Samantha and Bernauer have worked with local architects to design a state-of-the-art facility that includes digital X-ray, a modern laboratory, and a large number of exam rooms. The result of their facility design allows them to provide patients with an experience known as “direct bedding,” which places patients directly into an exam room rather than sitting in a waiting room. Both Samatha and Bernauer draw upon their decades of emergency room experience to run Access Urgent Care at an efficient speed that never sacrifices expert levels of care. Their urgent care promises to provide affordable, dependable care for patients in Southwest Louisiana who face increasing insurance premiums, overbooked family clinics, and long wait times. Their team of talented healthcare providers shares three core values: quality, dependability, and accessibility.

Samantha is proud to be a local, female business owner in Lake Charles. She is even more proud to raise two beautiful daughters, Stella and Eloise, with husband Jacob Marceaux. She spends the majority of her spare time chasing toddlers and their Maltese, Wrigley. She also enjoys fitness and is currently training to run a half marathon.


Places & Faces


Traditions & Memories n gels o any anee f the m tr One o Christmas family


the Dil

Every year for New Year’s, my husband, kids and I sit down and read our submissions into our Jar of Joy. We started this tradition about five years ago. I cut index cards into small strips and leave them on the kitchen counter near an empty jar. When something good happens, like a raise, good test score or whatever brings us joy, we write it down, fold the slip and put it in the jar anonymously. We start with an empty jar on January 1 and read them all aloud on December 31. It's memories of things that happened over the year that we could have easily forgotten. One of the funniest things is when people come to our house and sneak their slips in. - Shonda Manuel, partner/associate creative director, Healthy Image Marketing

Everyone has their favorite holiday memories and family traditions . . . special recipes, annual destinations, tree trimming festivities, loaded stockings hanging from the mantle on Christmas morning, or special New Year’s celebrations. What comes to mind when you wax nostalgic over the holidays? Thrive caught up with several folks in town and around the office – here are their favorite traditions and memories.

For decades, I hosted an annual treetrimming party. It was a highlight of the season for family and friends. My love of Christmas ornaments began when I was a child. My dear mom would give me a new angel ornament every year. Today, my tree is covered in angels, each with its own story. - Angie Kay Dilmore, managing editor, Thrive magazine Every year after Christmas dinner, we all pile into the car and look at Christmas lights around town. We turn up the Christmas music, sing, laugh and enjoy our time together. It’s one of my favorite traditions and I look forward to it every year. - Katie Stevenson, business manager, Thrive magazine

20 Thrive Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Readin Manue g through th e l's joy ja r

Every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I try to do something unique to set the tone for the following year. On NYE 2019 going into 2020, I wanted to up my movie game for 2020, so I decided to go see a movie that started just before midnight. I opted to see a movie I expected to be agonizing, CATS. And it was! It was barely eight minutes in and decided I couldn’t endure this movie. I went to the counter and asked if I could change my movie, and saw Rise of Skywalker instead. So at midnight, I was watching Star Wars instead of my original plan, CATS. Now, I’m not saying that my actions CAUSED 2020 to turn out like it did, but I think it’s entirely possible my last-second swerve at the stroke of midnight caused the gears of 2020 to get out of sync. Can you think of any other reason why 2020 was the colossal disaster it was? Me either.

When our children were small, Mom ordered a Santa costume and recruited my brother to wear it. The instructions advised him to stuff cotton up his nose so that his Santa voice would sound authentic. After our huge meal, brother disappeared. Suddenly, loud footsteps marched across the roof of their two-story house, then traipsed onto the front porch and into our presence. He tried taking gift orders, but little Kyle looked up at the tall man in red, and asked, “Santa, why do you have cotton up your nose?” All the children huddled close to see, sending us adults into hilarity. Dad laughed until he cried, Mom giggled until she peed, and I threw up in the kitchen garbage can. When it was all over, my brother whispered in my ear, “You know, I had the strongest desire to try to go down that chimney.”

- Anonymous

- Jessica Roach Ferguson, freelance writer

Shayne family Lauglin's blend ed

aux and Clair Marce

her Granny


My wife, Becky, and I have two children, Harrison and Colette. Harrison was born in August 2017 and Colette in February 2020, so their family holiday traditions are still fresh. The Hunters always enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with family and then put up the Christmas tree afterwards. Harrison helps with the tree. Harrison and Colette sported special, matching Christmas PJ’s in 2020 and this is a Christmas tradition the Hunters plan to continue for years to come.

Eric Avery's Judson's Mandy and Meredith Kingham enjoy regionally-famous hot chocolate

- Mayor Nic Hunter, Lake Charles mayor

My Granny Gloria was Christmas’s biggest fan. Every memory I have of the holidays is wrapped up in her. She decorated everything, wore silly sweaters with tinsel and tiny LED lights, played corny Christmas music, made the most delicious divinity, fudge, cookies, pies, and cakes in addition to a turkey, ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce. When I think about the warm, cozy, happy holiday things, I think about her. She taught me that it doesn’t matter where we are or how we celebrate. What’s important is that our family is together – all the more meaningful now that we’ve lost our home multiple times. All those amazing memories are safe in my mind. No natural disaster can take them away. - Clair Hebert Marceaux, PCED Director, Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District nter

d Colette Hu

Harrison an

Like most divorced parents during the holidays, we have to share time with the kiddos. The way Christmas works for us is that if one parent gets Christmas Eve, then the other parent gets Christmas day. Rather than just drop the kids off, each year one set of parents hosts our “Blended Family Christmas Party.” We celebrate with Christmas Eve Mass, then games, gift exchanges and lots of yummy food. Every year, the games get more competitive and the laughter gets louder. Though everyone is growing up and will eventually have their own families, this tradition is one that we hope to continue for the rest of our lives and is my favorite party of the season. -Shayne Laughlin, State Farm agent

parents and


For me, the best part of the holidays is having my parents over for Christmas Eve. My mother is a fantastic cook and makes THE BEST fried oysters and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. No, we don’t eat a typical Christmas feast but a seafood blowout. Then after we are stuffed we all pile in a vehicle and visit the light show at Trinity Baptist Church and the house on Canal Street off of Country Club Rd. - Eric Avery, President, Crying Eagle Brewing Co. Christmas Eve Worship at First Presbyterian, friends and family, and Mark’s regionally famous Kickin’ Henry hot chocolate, have been our family tradition for our daughter’s entire life. Mark, the “mayor” of Edgemont, makes the hot chocolate by hand, and with loving care like his father used to do, exclusively on Christmas Eve. It is served in a variety of Christmas mugs collected through the years and even includes some Santa mugs from Mark’s childhood. Friends and neighbors throughout the region make it a point to stop by the Judson’s home for this rich Christmas Eve tradition. - Sara Judson, CEO Community Foundation SWLA


Places & Faces |

SWLA Good Samaritans


Good Samaritans by Angie Kay Dilmore

A volunteer is defined as a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task with no payment expected or given. And where would our community be without volunteers? Nonprofit organizations that strive to make Southwest Louisiana a better place to live wouldn’t survive without the help of their many volunteers. A person volunteers out of the goodness of his or her heart, because doing so is the right thing to do; but what motivates these serial helpers to spend so much time assisting others? Our annual Good Samaritans feature answers that question and more. We tell the stories of these volunteers not only to spotlight their efforts and thank them, but to encourage others to follow their lead, find out where their own passions lie, and discover their own ways to serve the community. 22

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021


Places & Faces |

SWLA Good Samaritans

Jon Manns

Community volunteer and retired Plant Manager at PPG Lake Charles Jon Manns says he developed a heart for volunteerism through the corporate culture at PPG. “PPG wanted to give back to the community with donations of money and volunteer time. The company had a strong volunteer organization called PPG Friends and that is how I first got involved.”

Manns is a perfect example of how retirement does not always translate to “slowing down.” He retired from PPG seven years ago and has since focused his time and passion on improving his community. He’s been on the Board at The Community Foundation SWLA for nine years and completed a three-year stint as Board Chair in 2019. “The Community Foundation SWLA is all about improving our area – from making plans for bike paths, downtown development, water recreation, etc. So, I have put a lot of energy into working with this outstanding organization.” One of the projects Manns is currently interested in through the Community Foundation stems from a generous grant from the Filo family to help develop a long-term plan to improve the community after the many storms that have devastated SWLA over the past two years. “This effort will provide many opportunities for local people to get involved and join planning committees.”

Manns’ other volunteer efforts include:

• United Way SWLA: Board member, 6 years DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS FOR BUSINESS

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Campaign Chair, 2 years, Board Chair, 2 years,, Campaign committee 13 years • Big Brother Big Sisters SWLA, Board member 6 years • Volunteer Hole Marshall US Open, 10 Years • Volunteer Hole Marshall Byron Nelson Tournament, 5 years • Volunteer Hole Marshall Ryder Cup, 2 years • Volunteer with IMCAL for developing Bike Path plans for area • Volunteer to help develop Bayou Greenbelt Manns says, as with anything, you get out of something what you put into it. “And I have received so much while working with these organizations in terms of friendships and experiences.”

Locally owned and operated for over 30 years

600 W McNeese Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-9913 24

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Interested in joining Manns in his quest to make a better SWLA? Call the Community Foundation SWLA at 337-491-6688 or visit their website,

Alisa Stevens

Director of Grants and Program Management for SWLA Center for Health Services Alisa Stevens says volunteer work has always been important to her. “When I was young, I volunteered with my school groups. Later as an adult, I coached my children’s cheerleading squads, basketball and track teams, allowing me to spend quality time with my children while giving back to others. Serving the community in a positive manner makes it a better place to live, work and play – it makes me happy!” Stevens volunteers in many ways and for a variety of organizations, but her passion lies in child safety education. “Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 16. Providing safety education to the community increases the opportunity for young people to reach their full potential while reducing the risk of injury and death.” Stevens is a Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor and a founding member of the Sleep Safe Coalition that provides education to reduce risks of SIDS and accidental suffocation of infants. Stevens is also an active volunteer with Catholic Charities of SWLA. “They have a food distribution program that serves thousands of residents in our five-parish area,” she says. “Volunteers are a huge part of the success of this program.”

Stevens' other volunteer activities have included:

• Abraham’s Tent • Disaster Recovery (debris pick up, gutting homes, food distribution)

• Landmark Nursing Home • Emergency Responder Day • Mentoring programming • Community garden management “No matter where you are in life, there is always a way to make a positive difference in someone’s life,” Stevens adds. “For those who think that they don’t have the time to volunteer, you can impact someone’s day simply by being a smiling face, saying good morning or just holding the door open for someone.” Want to volunteer but don’t know where to start? Stevens suggests you do a self-assessment. Ask yourself, ‘What are my strengths, what’s important to me, what do I enjoy doing?’ “After you have answered these questions, research local non-profits and their missions. Determine which one speaks to you and contact that non-profit to discuss volunteer opportunities.” To volunteer for Catholic Charities, contact Richard Newman at 337-439-7436.

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Places & Faces |

SWLA Good Samaritans

Robert Goodson

Assistant Superintendent of Ward 3 for Gravity Drainage District Number 2 Robert Goodson began volunteering while in high school during summers at the free sailing lessons offered by the Lake Charles Yacht Club. “Sailing has been a passion of mine since a young age and when I was old enough to teach, I jumped right in!” he says. “Since then, I have volunteered my time as much as I can on various Boards and for events here in SWLA. Serving the community is not only immensely rewarding, but it helps enrich the lives of everyone we serve. Almost all the great events in SWLA could not happen without volunteers. I’m proud to be a part of these great events and to know how much joy it brings to the community.”

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Goodson’s current volunteer work includes:

• Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, Board member

• Artists Civic Theatre & Studio (ACTS), Inc., Board member

• Living History Cemetery Tour, actor and script writer

Previous volunteer work:

• Project Build a Future • Live@the Lakefront • Lake Charles Civic Ballet • Louisiana Winter Beer Festival • Banners • SWLA Free to Breathe • Sulphur Mines Theatre

Since August 2020, Goodson has tried to volunteer as much as possible with post-storm rebuilding efforts. When work days aren’t available, he volunteers for the Art’s Council and ACTS Theatre to help promote the arts through the various events they sponsor. “Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you can do in the community. Not only does it help out your fellow citizens, but it opens you up to a new network of people you may never had met before. I have met lifelong friends through volunteering and it’s a great way to get out and do something new. Whether volunteering at a local event, theatre or even just showing up to take the free sailing lessons at the Lake Charles Yacht Club, you may find a new passion you never knew you had!” Goodson says the ACTS Theatre always welcomes volunteers. Rebuilding efforts continue, and they also need stage crew, tech crew, as well as actors. “Don’t worry, acting experience is not required, they welcome first timers.” Volunteer events and audition dates can be found on the ACTS website at or their Facebook page at

601 S. Pine Street • DeRidder, LA 70634 • (337) 463-7442 • Goodson portrays legendary Lake Charles photographer Clarence Laughlin


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Erica McCreedy Public Relations Specialist, First Federal Bank of Louisiana

Erica McCreedy grew up in Lake Charles and after graduating with her undergrad degree at LSU, she returned home to attend McNeese State University where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. “After graduation, I was jobless and couldn’t find my way in life – that is until I found the Arts Council of SWLA. I admired their dedication and passion for the arts, so I offered to volunteer at their events and in their office. I wanted to be part of their mission.” While volunteering at the Arts Council, McCreedy learned that great events and programs require a lot of hard work and collaboration from numerous volunteers. “I used to be that person who thought nothing ever happened in Lake Charles. The cure for that is to jump in and help create the things you want to see happen. Be a part of that change you want to see.” McCreedy is most passionate about helping the local nonprofit community prosper, especially after the hurricanes and COVID-19. “So many nonprofits had to cancel fundraisers, lay off staff, and lose resources. These organizations rely on the kindness of strangers to keep them afloat. My most recent volunteer activity is serving on the board of Mae’s Mission, a new funding nonprofit. We raise money throughout the year, then grant that money to small nonprofits that have small staffs and fewer resources than larger nonprofits. These groups elevate our community with their work to help everyone from those experiencing homelessness and at-risk children to animals looking for a home and artists. It’s our responsibility as a community to ensure these nonprofits have a thriving future.”

Many volunteers find community service opportunities through their place of employment. In 2018, McCreedy helped organize the First Federal Change Makers Volunteer Team. “We volunteer at various events; and after Hurricane Laura, we helped with debris clean-ups in downtown Lake Charles.”

McCreedy’s other volunteer activities include:

• Numerous Arts Council events • Grant writing for the Lake Area Ballet Theatre and helping with their productions

• Calcasieu Historic Preservation Society, Board member

• SWLA Public Relations Officers, Board member

Want to help McCreedy in her efforts to help small local nonprofits?

Mae’s Mission accepts donations year around, and on April 9th, 2022, they plan to host their biggest fundraiser yet – Game Night. Businesses and individuals can sign up for a team to compete in the games, and funds raised will be granted back to small nonprofits. For more information, go to The Arts Council is always looking for volunteers and sponsors, too.

McCreedy received the 2019 Keystone Award for support and volunteerism with the Arts Council


Places & Faces


The Legac MCNEESE BASKETBALL TO RETURN TO A REPAIRED AND RENAMED ARENA IN JANUARY After hosting basketball games at Burton Coliseum for many years, McNeese Athletics, as well as their b-ball fans, were thrilled when the Department of Health and Human Performance (H&HP) Complex opened in 2018. All was well until 2020, when COVID-19 and Hurricanes Laura and Delta had other plans. “Due to the modifications to the 2021 season post hurricanes and amidst the COVID-19 limitations, we moved our season to Burton Coliseum and provided admission free to the people of Lake Charles,” says Tanner Stines, Deputy Athletic Director.


After Hurricane Laura, a large hole was ripped into the south wall of the main arena, the roof was torn open in several places, and the north walls were lost in a pile of debris. Hurricane Delta caused further damage by blowing large amounts of rain into the damaged facility. Stines says a restoration crew initially removed all the water and loosely buttoned up the arena. Later, Lemoine Construction began the real work on the facility, which required removal of all sheet rock walls, ceiling tiles, gym floors, carpet, and a full mold remediation. “Time was a huge obstacle in terms of getting

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

the materials in and performing the work, but through amazing coordination we are on track to be open for the start of conference basketball season in January 2022. The repair work on the exterior of the facility won’t be completely finished until late March 2022.” Upon re-opening, the arena will have a new name – the Legacy Center. David and Kimberly Griffin, owners of several local businesses including Chick-fil-A and Legacy Jewelers, gifted $2.5 million over 10 years to McNeese State University for the naming rights – the largest gift for naming rights of

a McNeese athletic facility in the 82-year history of the university. “We love Southwest Louisiana and McNeese State University,” says Kimberly Griffin. “And to help McNeese is certainly to help the community.” “David and Kimberly Griffin embody all that is good about SWLA and Lake Charles,” says Clerc Bertrand, McNeese Athletic Foundation Director. “They give selflessly to our community and around the world. The Legacy Center is a reminder for each of us to think about what our legacy will be and how we can be impactful each day.”

cy Center The Griffins moved to Southwest Louisiana a decade ago and have made Lake Charles their home. Several of their businesses bear the Legacy name and concept. They say, “For us, it’s our life’s purpose of using a platform of business success to impact those around us. It’s our way to give back. It became not just a name, but a call to awareness, a call to action.”

This year’s basketball season is currently underway. The opening game in the Legacy Center will take place January 15, 2022. To buy tickets, go to, email tickets@, or call 337-562-4MSU.

Heath Schroyer, Clerc Bertrand, David and Kimberly Griffin with two of their children, mascot Rowdy, and Daryl Burckel.

Join us for the 2022-2023 Middle & High School South Preview (Grades 7th - 11th) Wednesday, January 5th 5:30 pm 5565 N. Gray Market Drive, Lake Charles, LA

The purpose of the evening is for familes to preview the upcoming grade level, meet our faculty, and preview next year’s curriculum. Come and find out why we are “so much more than a school.” 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.


Places & Faces

s e i fl r Butte Inspire Heartwarming & Educational Book Series Author Combines True Events with Fiction to Teach Important Life Lessons Nancy Cartie wears many hats – an elementary school nurse, mom, Nana, monarch butterfly enthusiast and now, author. Her background, combined with a series of butterflyrelated events, led her to write the children’s book, A Time to Fly. It began several years ago when, on a trip with friends, butterflies began to follow Cartie. “It became a running joke during the trip about me and ‘my butterflies.’ I had never experienced anything like that,” she says. “When I got home and told one of my teacher friends about it, she suggested I plant milkweed at my home to attract butterflies to my garden, so I did.” Fast forward a few months after she planted the milkweed, and Cartie saw three monarch butterflies emerge from chrysalises in her garden. She was excited and curious, and quickly began researching online to learn what happens to monarchs right after they emerge. She discovered it takes about four hours for their wings to dry and they are very vulnerable during that time. She gently moved them to an angel in her garden and kept watch over them. After a few hours, two of the butterflies flew away but one stayed behind. “I wondered what I was supposed to do now. What if it doesn’t fly away? I gave it a little bit more time. The sun was going down, and I knew from the research I had done that sunlight fuels butterflies, helping them maintain a body temperature. So I put the remaining butterfly on my shoulder and went inside. That is really where the story in the book began.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

by Kristy Como Armand

Cartie quickly went into research mode again, learning how to care for a butterfly that “failed to launch.” She named her Annie, after her mother. “I was very close to my mom and got my love of nature from her. Her name seemed like the perfect name for this butterfly.” Annie and Cartie became inseparable. Cartie made a little garden habitat for her and learned to feed her. She took her to school and everywhere else – just a little passenger on her shoulder. I’d be walking the dog in the park and someone would stop me and say, ‘Excuse me, but did you know you have a butterfly on your shoulder?’ I’d say, ‘Yes, this is Annie. It’s not her time to fly, so she’s staying with me.’” Cartie used Annie’s presence to teach students not only about monarch butterflies, but also the lesson that there is a time for everything. Her grandchildren got to meet Annie too. “After two weeks, Annie decided it was her time to fly. We were outside and she jumped from my shoulder to my chest, looked up at me as if to say thank you, and flew off. I was both happy and sad. Happy she was free but sad because I had grown close to her.” Encouraged by her family and friends, and now something of a monarch enthusiast, Cartie decided to turn Annie’s story into a book. A Time to Fly recounts Annie’s time with Cartie’s family in a heartwarming tale of courage and transformation. “I think now, more than ever, it’s important for children to understand the importance of timely potential. They are living in a very fast-paced, competitive, connected social media world. I hope this book encourages children to take the time they need

to learn, grow and know for themselves when it is their time to shine.” After she wrote the book, Cartie called on longtime friend, artist and art teacher Joy Chandler to create the illustrations to capture the magic of Annie’s story. Once that was done, she dove into navigating the world of online publishing. And in just one more piece of synchronicity, the book was released by Amazon in 2019 on the anniversary of the death of Annie’s namesake, Cartie’s mother. As she promoted the book online, with readings and book signings, Cartie was asked repeatedly what was next in Annie’s story. Now, two years later, a second book in the series, A Time to be Kind, coauthored with Cartie’s daughter, Sarah Cartie Lowry, again with illustrations by Chandler, has been released. “This new book is a heartwarming story of two butterflies who go on a journey to explore ways of being ‘kind to every kind,’” says Cartie. Each book also teaches children about monarch butterflies and their life cycles in an easy to understand way. “We hope to continue telling engaging stories that teach valuable lessons. Butterflies provide a beautiful way to talk to children about life, individuality and the importance of self-discovery. Sara and I definitely have more butterfly stories to tell.” Learn more about the books and monarch butterflies at Both books are available for purchase on




in Lake Charles Scheduled for March 2022 In the fall of 2019, Visit Lake Charles announced, with well-deserved enthusiasm, that the PGA TOUR’S Korn Ferry Tour would be coming to Lake Charles in March 2020. But like so many events over the past two years, the tournament was postponed – twice! – first due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and a year later due to destruction from Hurricanes Laura and Delta. But indicative of the overall determination and resilience of Southwest Louisiana, the 2022 PGA TOUR’S Korn Ferry Tour is slated to visit Southwest Louisiana March 21-27 at the Golden Nugget – Lake Charles.

“This is the longest inaugural event in the history of the PGA Tour,” says Kyle Edmiston, President/CEO of Visit Lake Charles. “We’re rekindling the excitement everyone had back in 2019. We want to bring something to the Lake Charles area we’ve never had before – a professional golf event that will be here in SWLA for at least the next five years and hopefully, as community support grows, into the future.” Tournament Director David Fox says the Korn Ferry Tour is the main pathway to the PGA TOUR. “Some would say it’s the top tour in the world next to the PGA TOUR. Players come from all over the country and even the world. Of the current players on the PGA TOUR, 80% graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour, including major players such as Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, and Tony Finau. Of the 156 professionals

Mon. – Tues. Wednesday Thurs. – Sun.

on the Korn Ferry Tour, the top 25 overall, at the conclusion of the 26-city tour, are guaranteed a spot on the PGA TOUR. The pros will tee off on Thursday, March 24 and Friday, March 25. After two days of competition, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties for the Saturday and Sunday final rounds. The total purse for the event is $750,000. It’s going to be an exciting and unique event for Southwest Louisiana.” The arrival of the Korn Ferry Tour in Lake Charles represents a major coup for this region in terms of tourism and puts Lake Charles on the map in the world of professional golf. Lake Charles is the newest addition to the Korn Ferry Tour which covers a total of 18 states. Interestingly, Louisiana is now one of only four states that can boast two host cities. Lafayette welcomes the Korn Ferry Tour event the week prior to Lake

Practice rounds Pro-Am Tournament Championship rounds

Charles. Several thousand visitors are anticipated to attend the Lake Charles event, including players and caddies, volunteers and spectators, providing an economic benefit of three to five million dollars to the region over the course of the week-long event. The PGA TOUR, Golden Nugget, and Visit Lake Charles have signed a five-year commitment to host the Korn Ferry Tour in Lake Charles. Want to get involved? Judy McCleary, Assistant Tournament Director, for the Lake Charles Championship, says the organizers are seeking 200-300 local volunteers to help during the week-long event. “We need people to volunteer as walking scorers and marshals as well as assisting with registration, hospitality and player shuttles.” Or would you rather play 18-holes with a professional golfer? A Pro-Am Tournament will take place Wednesday, March 23, with 52 sponsored teams of four amateurs each playing with two Korn Ferry Tour pros, one on the first nine holes and another on the back nine holes. “It’s an opportunity to get up close and personal with a couple of professional golfers and the future stars on the PGA TOUR,” McCleary says. For more information, to volunteer, become a corporate sponsor, or participate in the Pro-Am Tournament, go to


Money & Career


TAX REVIEW Yes, we know it’s only December, but it’s never too early to start planning for tax season. It’s also good to keep in mind that tax concerns involve more than filing your annual tax return before the April deadline! In this special section, you’ll find stories on How to Plan Ahead for Taxes in Retirement, Estate Tax and Lifetime Gifting, and a basic piece on Understanding your Tax Return.



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Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

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Money & Career | 2021 TAX REVIEW


Diversification isn’t only for your investment portfolio. If you’re actively saving for retirement, it’s also a good idea to diversify how and when your savings will be taxed so you can successfully navigate two unknowns in retirement:

How much of your income will be taxable? Income includes not only your retirement savings, but also Social Security, pensions, nonretirement investments, and other potential sources of income. What will your tax rate be after you retire? Recently, rates have been relatively low by historical standards. It’s conceivable they could rise before or during your retirement years. Despite these unknowns, it’s still possible to plan for a potentially better tax outcome. The trick is to use accounts with a variety of tax treatments to better control your taxable income in retirement. Generally, there are four types of accounts available in retirement, each with their own tax advantages:

TAX-DEFERRED: Contributions to these accounts— which include 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and traditional IRAs—generally reduce your taxable income dollar for dollar in the year you make the contribution. Pretax contributions and gains aren’t usually taxed until retirement, at which point withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax rates. But there are some rules. Starting at age 72, the IRS requires you to take minimum distributions (RMDs) from your taxdeferred savings accounts each year. ROTH: Unlike tax-deferred accounts, contributions to Roth 401(k)s and IRAs are made with after-tax dollars, so they won’t reduce 34

your current taxable income. But when you withdraw the money in retirement, you won’t owe taxes on appreciation, income, or withdrawals. A Roth IRA is exempt from RMDs, while a Roth 401(k) is not—though you can still avoid RMDs by rolling it into a Roth IRA when you retire. TAXABLE: These traditional bank and brokerage accounts are also funded with after-tax dollars. For brokerage accounts, you can sell securities and contribute or withdraw money at any time and for any reason without penalty. Any taxable investment income is taxed in the year it’s earned, and investments sold for a profit are

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

subject to capital gains taxes. If you sell an investment for a loss, you may be able to use it to offset any gains—and/or up to $3,000 of ordinary income. These accounts are also exempt from RMDs. HEALTH SAVINGS: Although not traditionally considered retirement accounts, health savings accounts (HSAs) can be an effective savings vehicle (if your employer offers one and you’re covered by an eligible high-deductible health plan). Contributions reduce your taxable income up to annual limits, investments grow tax-free, and you pay no tax on withdrawals for qualified medical expenses. Once you reach age 65, withdrawals for

nonmedical purposes will be taxed as ordinary income. HSAs are also exempt from RMDs.

Tax diversification in action The right mix of retirement accounts for you depends on several factors – your current marginal tax rate, your tax rate in retirement, and how much flexibility you’d like when making withdrawals in retirement. Nevertheless, there are some basic guidelines you can consider when deciding which retirement accounts to fund first:

CAPTURE YOUR MATCH: If your employer offers matching contributions to your retirement account, your first priority should be to save enough to get the full match. Never say no to free money. CONSIDER AN HSA: As you age, you’ll likely have more health expenses. If you can pay them with tax-free dollars, do so. Employers sometimes provide matching contributions, though they’ll count against the annual limits. MAXIMIZE YOUR TAXADVANTAGED SAVINGS: Consider an appropriate combination of tax-deferred and Roth accounts, depending in large part on your current tax bracket: If you’re in a lower tax bracket (0%, 10%, or 12%), consider maxing out your Roth accounts. Potentially, your tax bracket in retirement will be equal to or higher than it is today, especially

given today’s lower tax rates. Also, early in your career, you may be in a lower tax bracket than later in life. If you’re in a middle tax bracket (22% or 24%), consider splitting your retirement savings between tax-deferred and Roth accounts. While it can be difficult to predict your future tax rate, if you contribute to both types of tax-advantaged accounts you may alleviate some of that uncertainty. If the majority of your workplace savings are in a traditional 401(k), for example, you might opt to diversify with a Roth 401(k), if your employer offers one. If you’re in a higher tax bracket (32%, 35%, or 37%), there’s a good possibility your tax rate in retirement will be the same as or lower than it is today, so maximizing your tax-deferred accounts might make the most sense.

INVEST TAX-EFFICIENTLY IN A BROKERAGE ACCOUNT: If you still have more left to save after you’ve taken the steps above, consider investing in a traditional brokerage account. Income generated in these accounts is generally taxable, but there are strategies you can employ to improve their tax efficiency: Hold appreciated investments for more than a year so you can take advantage of long-term capital gains rates, which range from 0% to 20%, depending on your income. Consider tax-efficient investments, such as exchange-traded funds, index mutual funds and taxmanaged funds, which by and large don’t create as many taxable distributions as actively managed funds. Opt for tax-advantaged municipal bonds, especially if you’re in a high tax bracket. The interest paid on such bonds is typically free from federal taxes and, if issued in your home state, is generally free from state and local taxes, as well.

CONSIDER A ROTH CONVERSION: If your income precludes you from contributing to a Roth IRA, one potential option is a Roth conversion. With this strategy, you convert all or a portion of funds from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA and pay ordinary income taxes on the converted amount in the year of the conversion. Despite the additional taxes, a Roth conversion can help diversify a mostly taxdeferred portfolio. Logistics can be tricky, so consult a tax advisor to help you make decisions. Predicting future tax rates is a bit of a guessing game, but with variety of account types available, there’s potential to create flexibility and a comfortable level of control over future tax bills.


Money & Career | 2021 TAX REVIEW



When you give assets to someone—whether cash, stocks or a car—the government may want to know about it and may even want to collect some taxes. Fortunately, a large portion of your gifts or estate is excluded from taxation, and there are numerous ways to give assets tax free, including these: USING THE ANNUAL GIFT TAX EXCLUSION Currently, you can give any number of people up to $15,000 each in a single year without incurring a taxable gift ($30,000 for spouses “splitting” gifts). The recipient typically owes no taxes and doesn’t have to report the gift unless it comes from a foreign source. However, if your gift exceeds $15,000 to any person during the year, you have to report it on a gift tax return (IRS Form 709). Spouses splitting gifts must always file Form 709, even when no taxable gift is incurred. Once you give more than the annual gift tax exclusion, you begin to eat into your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption. USING THE LIFETIME GIFT AND ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the gift and estate tax exemption has increased significantly. Prior to 2018, the gift and estate tax exemption was $5.49 million. Through 2025, the exemption is $11.7 million (adjusted annually for inflation). The $11.7 million exemption applies to gifts and estate taxes combined—whatever exemption you use for gifting will reduce the amount you can use for the estate tax. The IRS refers to this as a “unified credit.” Each donor (the person making the gift) has a separate lifetime exemption that can be used before any outof-pocket gift tax is due. In addition, a couple can combine their exemptions to get a total exemption of $23.4 million.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

There’s one big caveat to be aware of—the $11.7 million exception is temporary and only applies to tax years up to 2025. Unless Congress makes these changes permanent, after 2025 the exemption will revert to the $5.49 million exemption (adjusted for inflation). So here is the big question—if this new exemption disappears after 2025, how do you take advantage of it before then?

portion of the $19.05 million would be taxed at 40%. Additionally, in 10 years the gift and estate tax exemption will have likely reverted back to the lower $5.49 million amount (for dates after 2025). That could result in your estate having to pay over $4.74 million in federal taxes, leaving your heirs with about $14.33 million in assets rather than $19.05 million if you made the gift sooner.

LOCK IN THE NEW EXEMPTION For the majority of people, the gift and estate tax exemption will allow for the tax-free transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. For those who have acquired enough wealth to surpass the gift and estate tax exemption, there are several strategies that could lock in the $11.7 million exemption. The simplest way is to gift your assets to your loved ones now, rather than waiting until you pass away. If you have the means, giving the assets now has two advantages. First, you get to see your loved ones benefit from your gifts. Second, the gifted assets could increase in value for your loved ones— and could decrease your taxable estate. For example, if you were able to give the entire $11.7 million to your children today, that money could grow over time. At a growth rate of 5% per year for 10 years, that $11.7 million gift could end up being worth over $19.05 million, and your loved ones will have received the entire amount free from gift or estate taxes. On the other hand, if you held onto those assets and you passed away in 10 years, a large

ENSURE YOUR GIFTS ARE USED AND MANAGED PROPERLY One concern many people have when it comes to giving assets away early is that sometimes the person receiving the gift may not be ready to handle the responsibility of managing such a large amount of money. A good example of this is a large amount of money gifted to a young child or teenager. One way to give those assets, but ensure they are protected from misuse, would be to create an irrevocable trust and make the child or teenager the beneficiary. This allows you to set the rules of the trust and determine how the assets will be invested and distributed. For instance, you could create a trust that stipulates the beneficiary can only have access to the income generated by the assets—or you could set specific rules, such as the beneficiary must graduate from college before having access to the funds in the trust. There are numerous options when it comes to structuring a trust, and each state has its own rules. Meet with an attorney or tax professional to learn more.

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE TAX-FREE You can make unlimited payments directly to medical providers or educational institutions on behalf of others for qualified expenses without incurring a taxable gift or affecting your $15,000 gift exclusion. This is a great way to help a loved one with large medical bills from an illness or to help pay for a family member’s education. For example, if you want to pay your granddaughter’s $50,000 tuition for her medical degree, you could pay the university directly for her tuition and still give her an additional $15,000 tax-free. This reduces your taxable estate and helps preserve your lifetime exemption. HOW TO MINIMIZE TAXES FOR RECIPIENTS One thing to remember about the assets you gift is that your cost basis will transfer over to the recipient. So, if that asset has appreciated in value significantly prior to the gift, the recipient could incur the substantial taxable gain when selling that asset. Highly appreciated assets that are received as part of an estate, on the other hand, generally get a “step up” in basis, which means a taxable gain could be avoided if the asset is sold soon after being received. Carefully select what assets you gift to minimize the impact of taxes. In general, cash and assets with little appreciation are better for gifts while highly appreciated assets are better to transfer as part of your estate.

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Acco u nti n g • A s s u r a n ce • Au d iti n g Ta x • B u s i n e s s A c c o u n t i n g

KEEP IN MIND: Lifetime gifting can be a great strategy, providing you leave yourself enough to live on. For the gift to count, it must be a complete and irrevocable transfer. This article focuses only on the federal tax implications for gifting and estates. Depending on where you live, there could be state tax consequences for your gifts and estate. Take the time to meet with a tax and estate planning professional to ensure your gift and estate plans are well thought out and properly implemented. As with any tax planning strategy, there is always the possibility that Congress could change the laws related to the gift and estate tax exemption. You’ll want to review your gift and estate strategy each year to be sure that your plans are still relevant based on your financial situation or changes in tax laws.

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Money & Career | 2021 TAX REVIEW


Tax season is right around the corner, so it’s not too early to start thinking about preparations. Do you anticipate a refund? Or do you owe the government money each year? Many people find themselves surprised when their tax refund is smaller than previous years, or worse—that they need to cut a check to Uncle Sam.

What’s really going on with your taxes? Consider the following: • Tax refunds (or bills) depend on paycheck withholding

• Each paycheck has a portion of your

earnings taken out and sent to the IRS—a process known as tax withholding. In a perfect world, your total taxes withheld for the year would equal the total tax bill reported on your personal tax return. If that were the case, you wouldn’t get a refund, nor would you owe any tax when you file your return. • Unfortunately, changes in income or deductions can make estimating your tax bill difficult. That’s why most people either receive a refund or need to pay a bit extra when they file their tax returns. • Don’t get too excited about getting a refund (or feel bad if you need to pay) The truth is, both options are neither good nor bad. A refund just means that you overwithheld taxes from your paycheck, and paying additional taxes means you underwithheld from your paycheck. As exciting as a refund might be, it’s really just the federal government returning the money you overpaid. Think of it as giving the government an interest-free loan: The government gets to use your money, and then they return it to you without any compensation—not a great investment.

Tax experts generally recommend trying to withhold just enough to cover your tax bill or even pay a little bit extra when you file your return. That way you have more money in your pocket throughout the year potentially earning some additional income. Ultimately, it’s your total tax bill that matters, not whether you owe or get a refund. The following information will help you determine your tax liability—and whether you’ll get a refund or owe a bit more on Tax Day:

The total tax due: what you actually owe in taxes for the year • Income tax withheld: total amount of taxes taken out of your income that year

• The refund you’ll receive: the amount

you “overpaid” (i.e., the amount you overwithheld that year); or the amount you owe: what you under-withheld in taxes for the year

The amount withheld from your paycheck is the key to understanding why your refund may be lower or why additional taxes may be due. To know if you get a refund or owe additional taxes, simply compare your total tax to the total amount of tax withheld. If the amount withheld is larger, you overpaid and will be eligible for a refund. If the total tax is larger, you under-withheld, so you will have an amount you owe and will have to cut a check for the difference.

Recent changes

In 2018, the IRS changed the withholding tables in an attempt to account for the lower taxes that many people would pay under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. These tables are used by employers to determine how much should be withheld from your paycheck. The withholding tables reduced the amount withheld from each paycheck so that on Tax Day, the IRS wouldn’t have to issue an enormous number of refunds. Unfortunately, changing the withholding tables is not an exact science. The unintended consequence of those changes resulted in some people withholding less than expected, which caused their refunds to be lower or in some situations caused them to owe on Tax Day.

How to prepare for next year

If you want a larger refund next year (not recommended, from a financial perspective), you can update your Form W-4 to change how much is withheld from your paychecks. Check how much is being withheld from your paycheck at least once or twice a year to stay on track to a targeted withholding amount and to ensure you don’t end up under-withholding too much (which could result in penalties). For help determining the amount that should be withheld, use the IRS’s calculator or meet with a tax professional.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

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Money & Career


Annual Banquet Featured National Speaker

The Alliance for Positive Growth

(APG) held their Annual Positive Growth Banquet on November 4 at L’Auberge Casino & Resort. The theme for the event was “United for a Better SWLA,” words that Faith Hooks, APG Executive Director, said have taken on new meaning in the region after the economic challenges of the past 18 months. “Never has there been a more important time to focus on building a better Southwest Louisiana. We’ve experienced devasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple natural disasters. Now is the time to find innovative solutions that will jumpstart positive economic development that will benefit generations to come.”

The keynote speaker at the sold-out event was Joe Max Higgins, renowned powerhouse visionary and CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK. Higgins and his team revived a desolate three-county region of Mississippi after years of decline and economic depression. Today this “Gaolden Triangle” has become one of the most sought out regions for new business development. Domestic and international companies are flocking to the region and Higgins shared his insight on creating positive economic resurgence. APG is an organization of professionals in the fields of real estate, development, construction and all other interested parties working together to promote strong, progressive growth in Southwest Louisiana.

Retirement… Are We There Yet? Let’s Build a Plan.

Proceeds from the annual banquet help APG support positive growth in Southwest Louisiana through a variety of initiatives, including commissioning studies for tax allocations for education; government and private partnerships; drainage and infrastructure improvement; advocating for policy changes, ordinance updates and fair business practices; educational campaigns; and collaboration with local municipalities. This year’s banquet was dedicated in memory of Brent Lumpkin, APG founding member and respected business developer, who passed away last year due to complications from COVID-19. A special presentation was made to his family during the event. Learn more about APG at


Marty DeRouen CFP ®, CHFC ®, LUTCF Wealth Management Advisor Martin DeRouen, David Girola provides investment brokerage services as a Registered Representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a subsidiary of NM, brokerdealer, registered investment adviser and member FINRA and SIPC. Martin DeRouen, David Girola is an Insurance Agent(s) of NM. Martin DeRouen, David Girola provides investment advisory services as an Advisor of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company®, (NMWMC) Milwaukee, WI,


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

David Girola CFP®, CLU® Wealth Management Advisor

a subsidiary of NM and a federal savings bank. There may be instances when this agent represents companies in addition to NM or its subsidiaries. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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Style & Beauty

y a d i l o H tyle S what to wear where by Kerry Andersen

It’s time to do something that many of us have not experienced for the longest time – dress up. The holidays are upon us, and our wardrobes could use a shot of holly jolly! Festivities in 2021 may not include large formal gatherings, but friends and family can still get together to celebrate the season. Check out these ‘go to’ looks and unwrap what to wear for the holidays.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Girls' Night Out A night on the town with gal pals counting your blessings for the year allows you to lean into high fashion with bold color and style. One-shoulder tops or those with dramatic, puffy sleeves and bright colors are a hit this season. For a completely on-trend look, pair your top with a pair of faux leather leggings – shiny or matte – and top off the festive outfit with a hat and big beaded earrings for a look that makes a statement. Modern faux leather leggings have a bit of stretch and elastane for a surprisingly comfortable and flattering look, and you can find them in all price points. Another fun option is party pants. Look for slim trousers made with velvet, brocade, a metallic fabric, or ornate embroidery. Balance out the look with a simple fitted tee, jewelry, and a clutch for a festive but comfy look. Embellished pumps also elevate an otherwise simple holiday outfit. Bonus points for any accessory trimmed in this year’s luxurious trend – feathers!

Christmas Morning Christmas morning isn’t complete unless your toes are warmed up inside cute, fuzzy slippers. Miller’s top pick is the Santa Baby slipper by Rollasole. The Santa themed footwear is as festive as it gets but comfy enough for hours on your feet baking cookies. They even fold up into a small carrying case if you’re traveling over the holidays. Matching pajama sets are always a hit for the holidays. Instead of the usual fun reindeer or elf prints this year, try turning up the glamour a bit with PJs in a fashionable animal print or trimmed in fluffy feathers. Santa is sure to love the look!

Holidays from Home Throwing a get-together at your home? Miller recommends you choose an outfit a full week or two before the big day to avoid the last-minute stress of scrambling for something to wear. “Choose a look that’s fresh, energetic and comfortable. Bold colors, animal prints, long necklaces and a brand-new pair of sneakers top the list for a memorable hostess outfit.” That’s right, sneakers! Casual footwear from the 90s is making a big comeback and is appropriate for most occasions. Pair bright white or shiny gold sneakers with a candy-colored matching tracksuit for a comfortable but polished retro option while shopping for holiday gifts.

Socially Distanced Office Party Whether it takes place in the office breakroom or at a local restaurant, company employees are beginning to gather again to celebrate and reconnect. Over-the-top Christmas parties are giving way to smaller gatherings, but we still want to glam it up and feel joyful. Julep Boutique owner Julie Miller suggests treating the informal office party like Friday . . . but with flair. “Grab a pair of pants with dramatic flared bottoms and pair them with booties and a big sweater. Add a hat and sparkly, eye-catching jewelry for a look that is casual but fun.” Julep Boutique is located at 4720 Nelson Road, Suite 180, Lake Charles. Shop Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or online at Instagram: @julepboutiquelc


Style & Beauty

y t u a e B outine R Simplify your

Perhaps it’s a symptom of the pandemic and our changing lifestyle, but women everywhere are craving a more simplified routine, and that extends to beauty. We want to look fresh and polished for Zoom meetings and family outings without spending an hour in front of the bathroom mirror or a fortune on a stockpile of products. Cosmetic companies heard the call and in 2021 leaned in hard to the ‘less is more’ trend.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

by Kerry Andersen


The key to nailing a simplified beauty routine is to seek out multi-tasking products. Consider switching out heavier foundations for a tinted moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. Products like Iris & Romeo Best Skin Days have become a cult favorite for their efficiency. The five in one formula is a serum, moisturizer, sheer coverage, sunscreen and pollution protector. A new generation of brow products (Glossier Boy Brow, Thrive Causemetics Instant Brown Fix) will thicken, shape, and groom your brows with one easy swipe of a pigmented wand. Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind concealer is another great example of a product that can be used as a base, highlighter, blemish cover or contour depending on the shade you choose. The twist up sponge makes application quick and easy (and as a bonus, is infused with skin loving goji berry). Most major brands now also feature pots of color and sticks that can be used interchangeably on lips, cheeks, and eyes (Nars The Multiple).

Less is more

Beauty industry icon Bobbi Brown recently founded a whole new brand based on the premise of ‘less is more’. Jones Road Beauty offers up a fivepiece Bobbi Kit that promises you can do your makeup in three minutes or less. The hero product is a Miracle Balm that is touted as the secret to no-makeup makeup and is racking up awards and die-hard fans for the way it easily transforms skin. It can be worn alone or over traditional makeup and used as a bronzer, highlighter, eye shadow, lippie or skin tint. Likewise, Merit beauty launched in 2021 with just seven ‘impossible to mess up’ products inspired by minimalism and made with clean, skin loving ingredients. Their well edited customizable signature kit named Five Minute Morning is an easy way to remake your beauty routine affordably and without fuss. Look for all the major beauty companies to launch balms and get-ready-quick kits to tap into this new trend.

More tips for a fuss free beauty routine • Create a signature look. Focus on your biggest asset and play it up! A bold red lip or dramatic winged eyeliner allow you to simplify the rest of your routine. • Prioritize skin care. The most important step in your makeup routine is skin care. Moisturized skin requires less product to look good. Pro tip: look for serums and creams with hyaluronic acid for instant hydration. • Don’t overlook the basics. Well-groomed brows and curled eyelashes add polish without product. Quality makeup brushes make application effortless and professional. • Multitasking products for the win. Tinted moisturizer, some beauty balm and a few swipes of mascara is all it takes for a quick fresh-faced look.

Pencil it in If you want easy, impactful results – reach for a pencil. Trying to draw a perfect wing with liquid eyeliner before your morning coffee is time consuming and often frustrating. Toss the wand and use a pencil instead – they’re just easier to control. Smudge out the pencil with a brush for an easy one-step smoky eye look. Modern lip pencils are also highly pigmented without being drying so they can be used as both liner and lipstick. Top it with gloss and you’re out the door in no time. Bonus: the new pencil formulas are made with better-for-you ingredients and are easy to tuck into a handbag or pack for travel.


Home & Family

YOU R 2022 WE DDIN G PL AN N E R After over a year of postponed, scaled back, and masked up nuptials, 2022 is predicted to be a comeback year for weddings. According to The Wedding Report, there will be approximately 2.5 million weddings in 2022 — that’s more than we’ve seen in almost 40 years. If you and your intended will among the dapperly-dressed couples, our 2022 Wedding Planner is for you! You’ll find stories on the latest wedding trends, from engagement rings to honeymoons.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021


Home & Family |

by Lakyn Connor

Christmas or New Year's Eve are popular times for marriage proposals! Ring styles, colors, and shapes are always changing. So stay up-to-date on the latest trends in engagement and wedding rings and you’ll have an idea of what you are looking for when you go shopping to pick that perfect ring.

Kimberly Griffin, owner of Legacy Jewelers in Lake Charles, says it is still the norm for guys to come in alone to shop for their intended’s engagement ring. “The tradition of surprise remains very strong. I wish women could know the thought their men put into picking out just the right ring. Guys come in with an idea in their head based on photos they’ve seen, hints from their girlfriend . . . or they might want to combine a couple different ideas, and we create rings based on their vision.” 48

Griffin says gold is traditional, but white gold tends to be more popular. And rose gold is very on trend right now. Round diamonds are classic, and the two other most popular shapes are oval and emerald cut. Halos – a circle of diamonds around a center stone – are also very current. “That’s a trend that’s not going anywhere,” Griffin adds. She enjoys helping customers understand the ‘4Cs’ of diamonds – carat, cut, clarity and color, which helps them choose the right stone.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

For the wedding bands, couples generally shop together. Griffin says it’s no longer required for the engagement ring and the wedding band to be ‘matchy-matchy.’ “We call it ‘texture.’ The rings don’t need to nest together. Some couples ‘stack’ the bands, meaning one band on either side of the engagement ring. Or they will incorporate the birthstones of their children into the wedding band.”

Men’s wedding bands have historically been rather straightforward. But today’s bands allow guys to express their sense of style. Many men opt for a formal ring, but buy a second less expensive band, often made of silicone for safety while working, hunting, fishing, or beachcombing, so they don’t ruin or lose their band or injure their finger in an accident.

Vintage-style engagement rings are also trending. For something truly unique, find an antique ring for bonafide vintage – perfect for a woman with an old soul. These can be found at estate sales, antique stores, or pawn shops.

Couples can opt to personalize their wedding bands by adding engraving to the inside of the rings, possibly their names and/or wedding date, or a phrase that is meaningful to the couple. Griffin says she strives to make her jewelry store comfortable for both men and women. “We’re definitely not stuffy. We want ring shopping to be a fun environment and an enjoyable experience for clients while they trust us to create their rings. We are a very small part of a very big moment.” Legacy Jewelers is located at 3133 Ernest St, Lake Charles. For more information, call 337-433-3375, or see their website,, or find them on social media.

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Weddings • Private Parties • Corporate Events • • & Other Special Occasions • • (337) 412-5135


Home & Family |

by Kerry Andersen

While the world looks to the runways in Paris and Milan for fashion trends, no European city tops the American South when it comes to wedding glamour and show stopping bridal gowns. After a season of downsized ceremonies, big weddings are back, and brides are dreaming about their moment in the spotlight. At L Bridal Couture in Lake Charles, owner Laurie Baynard tells brides “It’s all about you!” We sat down with Baynard for a chat about what local brides can expect when choosing a dress that will make them shine. What makes a Louisiana bride unique? Louisiana brides tend to be a bit more traditional, so they go all out on their wedding day with a big budget to back it up. They are looking for a bit of flair as they walk down the aisle which means the longer the veil and train, the better! Engagements are on the shorter side right now as local brides forgo a long waiting period before saying their vows, but they still want to dazzle on their big day.

What are brides in SWLA requesting when they book their appointments? First and foremost, they are looking for an entire bridal experience. When they book an appointment with us, we reserve the entire store just for them and their loved ones to shop for a gown and accessories in an ultra-private and luxurious setting. They also want their pick of designers from New York City, Barcelona and Australia without leaving town, so we curate looks from around the world for them to choose from. Mikado gowns are popular with Southwest Louisiana brides right now. The rich silk offers a sophisticated structured look that holds its shape. 50

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

What are the hot trends in bridal fashion? Louisiana brides love lace and crepe. Beyond rich textured fabrics we’re also seeing intricate trains, square necklines, high-low hemlines and gowns that can transform into multiple looks. Convertible dresses feature options such as a detachable overskirt, removable sleeves, or a train that clips off to allow brides drama during the wedding ceremony but comfort and a new look at the reception without buying two gowns. Also look for backless dresses or gowns adorned with giant bows.

What are the latest bridal accessories? Capes continue to be popular as they offer easy drama and can be removed for multiple looks with one gown. Puffy sleeve dresses offer up the designer elements that modern brides are looking for. Flutter sleeves and bell sleeves instantly elevate a gown with a pop of photogenic glamour. Many designers offer detachable or customizable sleeves for a one-of-a-kind look.

Who are the trending bridal gown designers right now? Smaller independent designers are having a moment as brides look for unique looks that set them apart. Choosing an American label is popular, in part because U.S. based bridal gown companies aren’t experiencing shipping and supply issues impacting the larger global brands. I’m so eager to help brides feel beautiful, I’ve developed my own label – Elle by L Bridal Couture – and it has become a bestseller in the boutique.

Advice for brides in 2022? After you say yes to the groom, say yes to the dress – and do it NOW. Bridal gowns traditionally take a long time to be delivered, but worldwide shipping slowdowns mean that dresses are taking 20 weeks (or more) to arrive. L Bridal Couture does carry some ‘buy now’ options, but for a customized look, ordering 8-12 months before the wedding is highly recommended to allow for alterations and delays. Most gowns range from $1500-5000. L Bridal Couture is located in Oak Crossing at 5656 Nelson Road – by appointment only for personalized one-on-one service. Find them. online at and Instagram @lbridalcouture.


Home & Family |


Break out the LOVE stamps! When it’s time to announce your wedding and invite your guests to your big day, you’ll want the help of an expert. Sara Smith, stationer and owner of PaperSmith & Co., says a wedding is a very special event and should be announced accordingly. “The invitation does not need to be expensive, formal or fussy, just reflective of the bride and groom and their vision for their day.”

Smith established her stationery business in 2005, just after Hurricane Rita. “It was a onewoman show back then,” she says. “I was creating invitations with little more than a computer and printer. Since then, we’ve acquired additional printing options through larger companies, most being located in the south. We’ve also upped our design savvy, and find that our customers, mainly brides, are very pleased with our offerings.” While many things have changed in the stationery industry over the years, the biggest difference Smith has seen is the sheer number of


options available to brides – styles and designs of invitations, printing methods, embellishments, and the like. “Our favorite ‘extras’ are lined inner envelopes and a ribbon to wrap all the pieces into one. Lately, we’ve seen a definite trend back to more formal, classic invitations, including formal reply sets and accessory pieces to complement the invitation. Inner and outer envelopes fall into this traditional area, but recently we don’t see these as often. With so many exciting options for wedding and reception venues, invitations ideally should follow the theme, giving guests a little hint of what to expect on the big day.”

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Save the Dates are also very popular, Smith says, giving guests the opportunity to schedule travel and accommodations ahead of time. “These are especially helpful for destination weddings, or when the wedding takes place over a holiday weekend. Our calendars seem to fill up quickly these days!” Smith also encourages couples to create a wedding website. “They are extremely helpful in getting information out to guests, receiving RSVPs, and such.”

Smith advises couples to allow enough time for their invitations to be received by their guests. “They should be mailed at least six weeks prior to the wedding date and take possibly that long to design and print. So, three months out is the latest you should schedule your initial appointment with your stationer.” PaperSmith is located in downtown Lake Charles, at 311 Broad Street. Visit their website for more information on setting up an appointment and follow them on social media.

a t i e k a M

s a m t s i r re ry Ch l never forget!



4031 NELSON ROAD (337) 478-0901


Home & Family |

A MONTH - BY- MONTH TIME LINE AND CHECKLIST You’re engaged! . . . now what? With so many items on your to-do list, planning a wedding can seem overwhelming. But, if you allow yourself enough time and sort the tasks month by month with a checklist and timeline, the job becomes more fun and less stressful. Though 12 to 14 months is the ideal length for an engagement, every couple’s engagement time is different. If your engagement length is shorter, simply condense the schedule.

12 Months Out DETE RMINE YOUR B U D G E T. First up, do the math. Determine who’s paying for what and your wedding’s bottom line. Then create a budget – what’s a priority and what’s not? Consider making a spreadsheet to help you keep track of spending and adjust numbers along the way. SELECT THE VENUE. Choosing the venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make right now. The location affects almost everything else, from how many people you invite to the kind of flowers on the tables. It’s also likely one of your greatest expenses. So, explore your options, visit your top picks, and select a place that fits your guest count, style, and budget.


11 Months Out M A K E A G U E S T L I S T. When deciding head count, consider your budget and venue (how many people does it accommodate?) Also, who’s paying for what? If you and your partner are footing the bill, assume you’ll get 70 percent of the invites, while both sets of parents will split the other 30. But if mom and dad are contributing, it’s protocol to give all involved parties—your parents, your partner’s parents, you as a couple— one third each. HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER. If your budget allows—or if your peace of mind requires it—now is the time to choose a wedding planner. This person will guide you in all decisions, from selecting a venue to tracking your budget and handling all the logistics.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

DECIDE FORMALITY AND OVERALL THEME . Time to have a conversation with your significant other regarding the vibe of your wedding, which of course should be a mutual decision between the two of you. What’s important to you and why? What do you value? Remember, your venue will affect your decision. S E L E C T T H E C AT E R E R . Hire people you trust to deliver— whether that’s the venue’s inhouse caterer, a preferred caterer recommended by your planner, or your favorite taco truck. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your menu.

CHOOSE A COLOR THEME AND CONSIDER OVERALL DESIGN. It’s time to gather inspiration so pull up your Pinterest boards, select a color palette, and create a mood board. If you’re uncertain, look at things that are already in your world—like how you’ve decorated your house, what you are liking on Instagram, etc.—and draw inspiration from that. HIRE VENDORS SUCH AS PHOTOGRAPHER, BAND OR DJ, AND VIDEOGRAPHER. These are the people who will make your night fun and record your memories and they tend to book up early. Do your research, poll people you trust for recommendations, and ask the vendors a lot of questions before you hire.

10 Months Out

8 Months Out

6 Months Out

4 Months Out

S TA R T S H O PPI N G F O R YOUR WE DDING DRE SS . Peruse bridal magazines so you have an idea of what’s trending and what you like but have an open mind when you begin this process. You never know until you try it on.

REGISTER FOR GIFTS. Involve your better half in this one— after all, you two are building a life and home together. It’s smart to ask for staples—like sheets and pots and pans, and so on—but also think about what you really want. Consider your hobbies and tailor your registry to your soon-to-be-married lifestyle.

HIRE A LIGHTING TECHNICIAN. Couples often forget about lighting, but the bulbs and candles you select will light your perfect venue, make your photos just right, and keep the party going—even after the sun sets.

S C H E D U L E A TA S T I N G W I T H T H E C AT E R E R . The tasting has become increasingly important as more and more couples choose to customize everything from their signature cocktails to their desserts. Bring along your planner or a few friends to stay objective.

BOOK HOTEL ROOM BLOCKS FOR GUESTS. It’s a thoughtful gesture to block out rooms (and secure a discounted rate) for your guests. C R E AT E YO U R W E D D I N G WEBSITE. Get your site running now because you’ll need to put the URL on save the dates next month. TA K E E N G AG E M E N T PHOTOS. Now is a great time to practice being in front of the camera, especially since most photographers include a session in your package. S TA R T L O O K I N G AT I N V I TAT I O N S . The wedding invitation is a guest’s first impression of your big day. If you’re going custom, start working with a graphic designer or stationer now. If you’ll take a simpler route, you can wait until the six-month mark.

9 Months Out BU Y YOUR WE DDING DRESS. It’s time to say “yes” to the dress if you want to avoid rush fees. S E N D S AV E -T H E DAT E S . Let everyone officially know your exciting news. And remember: Everyone who gets a save the date gets a wedding invite. No exceptions.

SELECT BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES AND SCHEDULE FITTINGS. Go shopping with your bridesmaids. The trend is to set the color scheme and overall style and allow your wedding party some freedom to help choose what they will wear. MEET WITH POTENTIAL FLORISTS. Ask trusted friends or your planner/ venue coordinator who they recommend in the area. It's important that you find someone who is able to deliver on your vision and budget.

7 Months Out BOOK THE R E HE AR SAL- DINNE R VENUE. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, but you still have say in the theme of this party and where it should happen. Consider hosting a family-style dinner at your favorite restaurant or even hosting a casual celebration like a crawfish boil or backyard BBQ. H I R E A N O F F I C I A N T. If you aren’t marrying in a house of worship, you’ll need to hire someone to make it official. Couples can use a professional or take a more intimate approach and ask a close friend or family member to do the honors.

5 Months Out B O O K T R A N S P O R TAT I O N F O R YO U R S E LV E S A N D GUESTS, IF NEEDED. Consider your venue’s parking situation, guests’ access to car services or public transportation, and the cost you’re asking them to incur. Good rule of thumb: If it’s going to run them $20 or more—especially if you’ve already asked them to travel for a destination wedding— think about a shuttle bus or car services such as Uber that allow you to book rides on others’ behalf. BOOK THE HONEYMOON. Try to have things semi-sorted out by this five-month mark. Be on the same page about budget, timing, travel arrangements, and a semblance of an itinerary. BUY OR RENT THE GROOM’S TUXEDO. Choose between a tux or suit, based on the formality of your wedding, and then decide whether to buy or rent. When selecting the ensemble, focus on fit and function. A well-made outfit will be flattering, but also allow for quirky dance moves.

CHOOSE YOUR CAK E . Find a reputable baker who’s available on your date and can accommodate your dream design for a reasonable price. You and your partner should settle on a look and flavor you both love. Don’t stress about pleasing every one of your guests. This is your cake! You can also consider a groom’s cake. BUY WEDDING BANDS. Gold or silver? Engraved? See story on page 48 for more information. SELECT THE G R O O M S M E N ’ S AT T I R E AND SCHEDULE FITTINGS. Do you want the groom and his guys to be matchy-matchy? How can you ensure the entire entourage gets fitted on time if they live all over the place? What else could go wrong? The groom involved with this one and he’ll get his men in line—a very neat, orderly, and well-dressed line. HAIR AND MAKEUP TRIAL. Help your stylists help you by researching some particulars before you come in for your trials. Consider what has looked good on you in the past. Search social media for more inspiration.

B E G I N PR E M A R I TA L COUNSELING. Whether you come from a religious background or not, pre-marital counseling has benefited countless couples. It’s helpful to have an objective third-party encouraging you to address issues that haven’t come up yet in your relationship. Counselors can also provide you with healthy conflict resolution tactics so you’ll be ready when the inevitable disagreement comes along. Plus, some states offer a discount on your marriage license if you undergo counseling.


Home & Family | 3 Months Out

2 Months Out

1 Month Out

O R D E R T H E I N V I TAT I O N S AND HIRE A CALLIGRAPHER. Order enough invitations and account for some mistakes. Ensure they will arrive in time. Create a system for recording RSVP replies, and confirm all addresses and spelling. The theme of your invites should match the vibe of your wedding and express you as a couple.



• You’ve made it all the way to the final week of your wedding planning! All that’s really left are the nitty-gritty details:

SE ND R E HE AR SALD I N N E R I N V I TAT I O N S . These can be included with the wedding invitations if you like.

PAY YO U R V E N D O R S I N FULL. Keep track of when and how much you pay each vendor. If some vendors must be paid the day-of, or you’re distributing tips, ask your most trusted bridesmaid or relative to handle the labeled envelopes you’re going to put together.

• Refresh your hair color

PL AN YOUR ME NU. Once you’ve undergone a successful tasting, you’ll have a good sense of your caterer’s style and offerings, so you’re ready to finalize a menu that fits your budget, tastes, and timing. BRAINSTORM GUEST FAVOR S . You don’t have to do favors or gift bags, but now’s the time to decide. BOOK A PHOTO-BOOTH R E N TA L . Photo booths have become a reception staple, but if you prefer, use your imagination and create a fun backdrop for photo ops. WRITE YOUR VOWS . If you’ve opted to write your own promises to one another, start thinking about what those should sound like for you two as a couple. SELECT READINGS. Bible verses are a traditional choice here, but there are plenty of nonreligious options, as well. If you prefer your readers choose their own, give them as much guidance as possible. MEET WITH THE OFFICIANT AND INVITE HIM/HER TO THE REHEARSAL DINNER. Lots of things to consider when asking someone to marry you, but your main concerns are availability, eligibility, fee, and fit. Can your officiant of choice lawfully, affordably, and meaningfully help you two become one? Once you’ve chosen, discuss expectations and the overall tone you want for your ceremony.


FIRST DRESS FITTING. Your first fitting should be anywhere between two to three months after ordering, and your second one around the six-week mark. PICK UP YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE. There are four steps to getting your marriage license, and it›s important to know where to go, what to bring, how much it’ll cost, how long it’ll take, and how long it’ll last. Every state has different laws and requirements, so Google yours. If you’re having a destination wedding, whether domestic or international, you’ll need to research those paperwork requirements, as well. Then, make sure you as a couple, your witness(es), and your officiant sign it. B U Y W E D D I N G - PA R T Y GIFTS. How much you spend on your bridesmaids’ gifts is determined on an individual basis, but no matter your price point, your goal should be something that’s thoughtful, functional, and personalized. as possible. DO A F LO R A L M OC K- U P W I T H YO U R F L O R I S T. Floral samples vary depending on your florist and your own wedding décor choices, but most of the time they’ll include a mock reception table setup, centerpiece, and bouquet. Talk tweaks and finalize your delivery and care strategy. GIVE SONG SELECTIONS TO YOUR BAND OR DJ, AS WELL AS ANY CEREMONY MUSICIANS. BUY ALL SMALL ITEMS. Toasting flutes, cake topper, cake stand, cake knife, guest book, card box, ring-bearer accessories, flowergirl accessories, a cute hanger for your dress, and a garter, just to name a few. Don’t wait till a week before the wedding to pick up these incidentals.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

HAVE A F INAL VE NUE WA L K-T H R O U G H . Make a list of questions beforehand and bring your planner or another close friend or family member to bring up anything you forget. PUT CASH IN TIP E NVE LOPE S FOR YOUR P L A N N E R / D E L E G AT E T O DISTRIBUTE. Generally, you don’t need to tip people who own their own business—such as photographers, videographers, and florists. It’s customary to tip the following vendors: musicians, DJs, hair stylist, makeup artist, drivers, bartenders, and servers. Many couples tip the wedding planner, as well. BRE AK IN YOUR WE DDING SHOES. Walk around your hallways. Dance in your kitchen. Do everything in your power to avoid painful blisters on your wedding night.

Final Week

• Get your eyebrows done • Manicure/pedicure • Get a massage (or make it a couple’s massage?) • Final dress fitting (a friend or bridesmaid should come with you so she can learn how to bustle if your dress requires it) • Pack your bags for the honeymoon (don’t forget your passport if you’re leaving the country), and confirm your travel arrangements • Clean your ring (head to your jeweler to get your engagement ring professionally cleaned so it’s extra sparkly on your wedding day) • Chase any RSVP stragglers and deliver the final head count • Clear your work to-do list so you can focus on wedding festivities and take it all in • Practice your vows out loud • Write your partner a note to be delivered to him on the big day. Source:


Wedding trends come and go, and wedding photography is no exception. But one truth remains the same . . . of all the details of your big day, the memories caught on camera are the ones that will endure for a lifetime. Wedding photographers once tended to follow a bit of a formula at weddings. There was a general list of expected wedding shots. But wedding photography has become more sophisticated over time. Today’s couples don’t want their wedding photos to look like everyone else’s. They’re looking for more natural poses, dramatic imagery, and stunning backdrops.

Lana Tyler, a 13-year veteran in the wedding photography industry, stays abreast of these trends and meets with each bride or couple prior to the wedding for a final consultation. “This allows me to better help guide their wedding day and learn what events, both traditional and not, will take place during their wedding and when,” she says. “It is important to me that I build a relationship with my clients. This helps them to trust that I will not only document one of the most important days of their lives, but that I will be there to help guide their day along, as well.”


Couples in 2022 will likely see more of the following wedding photography trends:

With documentary style photography, the photographer allows the event to unfold organically, capturing real, unrehearsed photos full of sincere, in-the-moment feelings. Some might say this style is replacing the videography trend.


Nature adds unpredictable yet sometimes pleasantly unexpected elements to wedding day photos. Backlighting from a sunrise or sunset, even a rain or snow shower, can result in fun, spontaneous, and unique photo memories.

While Tyler sees fewer couples tossing the bouquet and garter or swaying to the money dance, she says the big group photos with family and wedding party are here to stay. But couples are often requesting more casual versions of these wedding album staples. More candid group photos bring out more relaxed emotions, which can ease tensions on the wedding day. D O C U M E N TA R Y S T Y L E PHOTOGRAPHY



Tyler says “first looks” have become popular in recent years, where a couples will see each other privately prior to the ceremony, instead of waiting for the bride’s walk down the aisle. “This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the day. First looks relax the couple, and it is one of the only times of the entire day they will spend alone. It’s intimate and provides an opportunity to capture authentic emotion.” Some brides also request photographers capture their dad’s first glimpse of them in white, as well.

Wedding days are so busy, it can be difficult for a photographer to catch every shot you may want, especially if time or lighting become issues. Day-after shoots are garnering popularity with couples who may want some postwedding day photos in a more relaxed setting or want to shoot in a location that’s different from the wedding venue.


For a completely different perspective, overhead or aerial photography can be an effective way to capture the excitement of the day. Shooting from nontraditional angles is also a great way to grab unique candid shots.


Props are fun, no matter what’s trending. They lighten the mood and allow for some fun, candid creativity, often adding joy and color to your photographs. In addition to delivering timeless, true-to-life photographs, Tyler says her goal is to create a memorable experience from beginning to end. “The cake is cut, the guests go home, but your images are with you for a lifetime.” To learn more, go to or find her on social media.


Home & Family |

by Stefanie Powers

Wedding and event planner Sara Lasher was in the middle of a busy season with more to come when the COVID-19 virus hit—and everything changed. “Just before the announcement, my then-bride, a general practitioner here in town, called me forecasting a shut-down,” Lasher says. “Having her in my corner helped me navigate the pandemic for many couples over the last year.” Luckily, cancellations were rare for Lasher. “I had one. And frankly, they cancelled because after having a private 10-person wedding in May of 2020 and rescheduling their celebration to the fall, they were impacted by Laura. My heart broke for them more than for any of my other clients. They were robbed of their celebration twice.” Most of Lasher’s clients either postponed or married privately with vow renewals later. “I recently had one couple who celebrated their vow renewal on their one-year anniversary, and during their first look, they exchanged gifts of paper, as is customary. It was difficult to keep a dry eye.” Lasher says that during the mandate, only a few couples were willing to compromise to 50 people indoors (that headcount included vendors). “But some of those minimonies were my favorites of the year. Love was witnessed, tears were shed . . . followed by a party, but just a smaller one than I’m used to seeing.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Now that things are looking up and mandates have been relaxed, are couples requesting pre-pandemic ways of doing weddings, or did COVID-19 change some things indefinitely? “Hand sanitizers are still everywhere, and people value that,” Lasher explains. “Outdoor events are still very much appreciated by hosts, guests, and vendors alike, especially this time of year. Some couples are more cautious than others, naturally, but for the most part, everyone still considers safety in their seating and sanitizing planning.” Lasher says that one of her recent brides has a PhD in epidemiology. “She went from planning a 300-person gathering to a much smaller event, cutting her guest list substantially, hosting her reception fully outdoors, and taking additional cautions after Delta became the dominating variant. It is still very much a concern for many.”

Buffets have always been a big deal at Louisiana weddings, and it seems that hasn’t changed, despite health concerns. “The buffet is a cultural norm here,” Lasher says. “Cajuns and weddings are pretty synonymous with potluck, and there’s still a huge portion of the population here that subscribes to that. The catered meal is foreign to many, so the buffet line keeps things feeling a bit more relaxed – a sort of ‘eat when you want, drink when you want, but kick off your shoes right away,’ approach. Cajuns wants their guests to be comfortable.” Even in the thick of the pandemic, seated and plated meals were not the norm, but buffets looked a lot different than those prior to the pandemic. “Masked servers plated the offerings as guests went down the line behind stanchions so as not to cough over the meal,” Lasher says. “Tables were called up one at a time rather than it being a free-for-all. So, buffets are here to stay – but modified.”

Lasher is thankful that people are comfortable enough to host events again, no matter what those events might look like compared to before. “My wedding and event family has struggled,” she says. She encourages the community to consider shopping local when planning events to support the businesses and help them bounce back. Sara Lasher Weddings & Events,,, 337 422-4824, and find her on Facebook.

Meet the Newest Member of our physician Team Dr. Prasanna Sugathan, Cardiologist

Imperial Health is proud to welcome Prasanna Sugathan, MD, FACC, board certified cardiologist, to our medical staff. Following undergraduate studies at University of Southern Mississippi as well as University of South Alabama, Dr. Sugathan earned her Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Tennessee. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine as well as fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Tennessee-Memphis, followed by a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Sugathan brings over 30 years of experience in her field to Imperial Health. She will be joining Drs. Gilmore, LeBeau, Mulhearn, Turner, Foster, Goodwin and Fastabend in the group’s cardiology department. Dr. Sugathan is now accepting new patients, and will be seeing patients in our Lake Charles, Sulphur and Jennings offices. Call 312-8281 to schedule an appointment.

501 Dr. Michael DeBakey Dr., 3rd Floor | Lake Charles | (337) 312-8281


Home & Family |

by Stefanie Powers

The world is reopening, little by little. If you’re planning a honeymoon, there’s a lot to think about since the pandemic. If you want to travel outside of the United States, you must keep up to date on the latest travel restrictions and requirements of the destinations you are considering, as they are constantly changing. There will be online forms to fill out, test results to be downloaded, etc. It’s a bit of a chore. As of this writing, most Caribbean islands and foreign countries require visitors to be fully vaccinated AND show the results of a negative COVID-19 test before departure. In addition, the United States requires all American citizens returning from a foreign country to take a test before they can re-enter the states. Many resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico now provide pre-departure COVID-19 testing on the premises, which makes it easy for their guests. Unfortunately, if you test positive for COVID-19, you can look forward to a 14-day quarantine in a foreign country on your own dime. Some countries, such as Costa Rica, will not let you enter their country without specific COVID-19 insurance. So, with the above-mentioned caveats, let’s take a look at the top honeymoon destinations for 2022.


Jamaica Jamaica has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and lots of all-inclusive honeymoon packages, which makes this island ideal for newlyweds. Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Seven-Mile Beach in Negril are the top resort locations, and many are couples-only. Don’t miss the rainforest for ziplining, chairlifts, ATV adventures and the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls.

Mexico Mexico continues to be a popular destination. For those of us here in Southwest Louisiana, Cancun/ Riviera Maya is a mere two-hour flight from Houston. It’s chock-full of luxurious, all-inclusive gated resorts that cater to your every whim and offer maximum security. If you want to venture out to visit the Mayan ruins or any of the many fabulously fun adventure parks,

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

there are dozens of tours available. Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast has a more rugged beauty and equally beautiful accommodations.

St. Lucia Beautiful Saint Lucia in the eastern Caribbean is home to volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, luxury resorts and fishing villages. Snorkeling, sailing and rainforest adventures await, along with hikes to the Piton Mountains on the west coast.

Hawaii Honeymooners have been flocking to Hawaii for decades. While Honolulu was the main attraction back in the day, Kauai, Maui and the “big island” of Hawaii are now more popular due to their natural beauty, with Maui voted the most romantic of all the Hawaiian

Islands. To truly enjoy your trip, try to stay for at least 10 days. With the time change, it takes about three days to get fully acclimated. Keep in mind that while there are many resorts on the islands, none of them are all-inclusive (that’s a European invention), and you will need to rent a car to get around.

Tahitian Islands The islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Mo’orea have reopened to international tourism. Their majestic volcanic peaks, lush vegetation and impossibly blue waters make this destination a true paradise. If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own little bungalow over the ocean . . . this is the place. It’s a long journey to get there, so count on a two-week vacation. You may also want to splurge and upgrade the seating on your flights, so you can stretch your legs and be more comfortable.

There are package deals available for all these destinations, so do your research, or let a local travel agent help you plan the honeymoon of your dreams.


by Angie Kay Dilmore

SWLA Gift Guide A-Z

Home & Family Often, the best gifts are those centered on experiences that create lasting memories. Fortunately for those on YOUR gift list, Southwest Louisiana boasts a wide variety of activities and gift items sure to please even the pickiest friend or family member.



Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

Adventure Point marks a starting point to a fun day spent on the Creole Nature Trail. Known as “Louisiana’s Outback,” this 180-mile designated U.S. Scenic Byway and All-American Road offers trails through marshland to spot wildlife, opportunities for fishing and crabbing, and 26-miles of shoreline to hunt for seashells and build sandcastles. Craft Beer from Crying Eagle Brewing makes a welcomed gift for the beer lovers in your life. You’ll find six-packs in stories throughout the region or go to the brewery for a growler. They also have a great gift shop for merch. Coffee makes a great gift for the java junkies on your list. Coffee shops abound in SWLA – try Stellar Beans; Coffee:30; The Village Coffeehouse. Or give a selection of Community Coffee or locally owned Dead Pedal Coffee Company. Plan a date at Darrell’s for their legendary po’boys or buy your special someone a gift card. The Darrell’s Special is one of their best sellers. If you’re up for a challenging adventure, plan a visit to an Escape Room at Escape Room Louisiana or Bayou Escape Room, both in Lake Charles. Find an extensive collection of Fleur-de-Lis artwork/gifts and more at Candice Alexander Art Studio. Take your kids to Gator Chateau in Jennings to learn about alligators and hold a live baby gator. Spend an afternoon at Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center. December art exhibits include The Pace Collection (Japanese printing traditions), Flamenco: from Spain to the U.S., and two local art galleries with shopping opportunities. Also in December, experience their annual Christmas card workshop. Admission is free Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Ice Cream! A gift card from Boombox Frozen Pops and Ice Cream will make anyone smile on Christmas morning. Better yet, plan a date and go there together. Jewelry is a time-honored gift. Find that perfect piece of bling at Navarra’s Jewelry; Legacy Jewelers; Bijoux Fine Jewelers; or Nederland Jewelers. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are great ways to get up close to nature and experience the beauty of our SWLA bayous. Try Lake Area Adventures or Paddle Up Lake Charles. Treat your family or date to a tour of area Light Displays. Lake Charles Civic Center, Prien Lake Park, Heritage Square in Sulphur, or Shangri-La Gardens.

Wishing you a Happy,

Healthy Holiday Season

The physicians and staff of Imperial Health extend the warmest of holiday greetings to our patients and the communities we serve in Southwest Louisiana. The past two years have been challenging for our region, but we are proud to be part of a strong, resilient community. As we look forward to the future and the continued growth of our physician-owned group, we renew our shared commitment to provide exceptional care for our patients. CARDIOLOGY

Carl Fastabend, M.D. Corey Foster, M.D. Richard Gilmore, M.D. Brett Goodwin, M.D. Jake LeBeau, M.D. Thomas Mulhearn, M.D. Prasanna Sugathan, M.D. Michael Turner, M.D.


Sandra Dempsey, M.D. Timothy Gilbert, M.D. Tyler Zachary, M.D.

Andrew Bradberry, D.O. Jason Burklow, M.D. Marissa De La Paz, M.D. John DiGiglia, M.D. Benjamin Fontenot, M.D. Andres Guillermo, M.D. Jason Morris, M.D. Keane O’Neal, M.D. Todd Peavy, M.D. Melissa Rasberry, M.D. Steve Springer, M.D. Errol Wilder, M.D. Benjamin Williams, M.D.




Blake LeBlanc, M.D. Bridget Loehn, M.D.


Brian Wilder, M.D.


Yoko Broussard, M.D.


Nirmala Tumarada, M.D.


Christine Palma, D.P.M.


Juan Teran, M.D.


Justin Rudd, M.D. | (337) 433-8400


Home & Family

SWLA Gift Guide A-Z continued...





Monogrammed Gifts add a personal touch to just about anything. Queen of Threads offers a wide range of monogramming services and gift items.

Nelson’s Donuts reopened in August. Not sure what to give that hard-to-buy-for person on your list? A gift card or a dozen glazed is sure to please anyone!

For the chef or kitchen maven on your list, find specialty Olive Oils and Louisiana-inspired Oven Mitts from Crave Gourmet Baskets and Gifts.

Pamper her with a Pedi or Mani at any of the many nail salons in SWLA. Or if she’s a DIY girl, how about a set of trendy nail polishes like this holiday set from Nailtopia.

Merry Christmas f ro m yo ur h o me tow n liq uo r sto re !

-Since 1977-

Q While fun and festive, the holidays are often stressful. Give the gift of some Quiet Time in the form of a relaxing massage or spa day. Spa du Lac; Scarborough’s Salon and Day Spa; Golden Nugget Day Spa; Oasis Massage and Day Spa.

Everything you need for the holiday season! Mon - Sat 10 am - 6 pm Gift Cards Available


G i ft C a rd s Ava ila b le

(337) 477-2428 4336 Lake Street, Lake Charles


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021


R Ho ho ho, and a bottle of RUM from Louisiana Spirits in Laccasine makes a great hostess gift. Or plan a tour of their rum distillery.

S Winter is Sweater Weather! Plan a girls’ day out and go shopping! Try Julep Boutique; Mimosa Boutique; Bayou Blend Apparel.

While brightly wrapped presents add an element of fun and festivity to the season, the true spirit of Christmas lies in the love and relationships we have with family, friends, even strangers. Make time to spend cherished moments with those you love and create holiday memories that last a lifetime.




For a sweet gift idea, surprise a friend or loved one with holiday Treats from The Bekery; Great Harvest Bread Co.; Sweets and Treats; Cipi’s Cake Box.

Umbrellas are practical gifts, but when they’re extra pretty, you have a winner. Accessory Zone and Expressions offer a variety of brightly colored umbrellas sure to brighten up any rainy day.

Vino! For the wine lover on your list, Hokus Pokus Liquor, Lake Street Liquor, The Cellar at Crave, and The Wine Store have extensive selections of wines.

Water bottles, wall decals, waffle makers, watercolors, welcome mats, woks, workout wear . . . what’s not to like here!

X Surprise the kids on your list and instill the joy of music with a Xylophone! Etie’s, a Children’s Shoppe offers several variations of this timeless toy.


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For the spirit lovers on your list, give the gift of locally-owned Yellowfin Vodka or plan a tour of their Sulphur distillery.

Visit a ZOO for a fun day out! Try the Alexandria Zoological Park or Zoosiana in Broussard, LA.


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Home & Family

What Makes a

LEADER? by Haley Armand Tarasiewicz

What makes a leader? Are they born? Or can these skills be learned? What do they look like? Can a leader look like me or you?

The Leadership Center for Youth (TLC), a division of Family & Youth Counseling Agency (FYCA), helps teens develop the skills they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives. They explore careers, get involved in their communities and learn leadership skills to help them to be successful community service leaders of tomorrow. “Our youth are our future, we need to help them to develop positive leadership knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations to become effective and skillful leaders,” said Sarah Meche, TLC Director. “At The Leadership Center for Youth, we provide an environment of growth and opportunities for positive development to help teens find their purpose, build their strength and find meaning in learning. We help them to develop habits that will result in positive and effective action and results.” TLC is comprised of four components that are stand-alone but work together to help youth develop a leadership toolbox.

1. Leadership Development: Navigating Life Challenges Students will benefit from experiential groups to promote selfrespect and responsibility, leading to a healthy and responsible way of life. They will learn soft skills-communication, boundaries, cooperation, leadership and more.

2. Career Exploration: Building Career Pathways

In collaboration with area businesses and industry, high school youth participate in programs which offer them a chance to explore career options in experiential settings. They will have the opportunity to interact and network with professionals in various career fields to help them determine their desired career trajectory. It can reaffirm interest that was already present, or it could pique their interest in a field they were not familiar with.

3. Civic Engagement: Promoting Advocacy

Young people are a powerful force for change. As future reformers, they have innovative ideas on how to solve the political, economic and social problems facing their communities. Students will have the opportunity to advocate for themselves and their beliefs through the development of their own voice and learning to effectively use it.

4. Service Learning: Giving Time and Talent

Students will learn about the importance of serving their community through programs and activities that emphasize using their time and talents to give back.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

These components are open for high school students; however, TLC can offer leadership development workshops for area middle school students. For any student interested in getting involved with TLC, Meche recommends they start with Leadership Development to establish a strong foundation of skills in order to take full advantage of the benefits the other segments offer. “I enrolled in all components of The Leadership Center for Youth,” said Alonnie Celestine, current chair of FYCA’s Youth Advisory Council. “I started the program my freshman year of high school, and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to find my voice. It encouraged me to think about what is my ‘why,’ and how I am someone and I can make a difference. They have provided a necessary outlet for area youth to be engaged, get involved and to become successful in all areas of life.” If any student or their parent/legal guardian is interested in registering for one or more of TLC’s components, they can register at Applicants can select as many of the components as they would like, and a member of the FYCA team will reach out to you with more details based on what activities and events are occurring now and in the future.

Activities available now: • Career Exploration will kick-off in February • February 4: Criminal Justice & Law • March 18: Engineering & Technology • Civic Engagement event for Jefferson Davis Parish scheduled for the evening of February 23 and all day on February 24 • 1:1 Career Guidance sessions are always available by appointments • Service Learning projects are scheduled monthly at various sites within our community


Steps Up Enforcement,

RECRUITS ALLIES TO STOP ILLEGAL DUMPING As disaster recovery continues, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury is stepping up its “Pick it Up” anti-litter campaign with a new initiative — increased enforcement against illegal dumping and littering. Illegal dumping on roadsides and at empty lots remains a chronic problem in Calcasieu Parish. Aided by new partners – the Ward 3 Marshal’s Office and Ward 4 Marshal’s Office – the Police Jury is turning to increased enforcement to attack the problem. Their participation will mean increased enforcement on both the east and west sides of the parish. “The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury is determined to stop litter and illegal dumping in Calcasieu,” said CPPJ President Brian Abshire. “This agreement with the two Marshal’s adds a crucial enforcement element to our efforts that will help stop this blight on our parish.”


Littering and dumping have consequences. Here’s a summary of the potential fines and penalties:

Intentional littering: first conviction, $250 fine and eight hours in a litter-abatement work program; second conviction, $500 fine and 16 hours; third conviction or more, $1,250 fine, 80 hours and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

• Gross littering (illegal dumping): first

conviction, $500-$1,000 fine and eight hours of community service in a litterabatement work program; second conviction, $1,000 to $2,500 fine and 24 hours; third conviction or more, a fine of up to $5,000, up to 100 hours of litterabatement service and a one-year driver’s license suspension.


There’s also another recruit the Police Jury wants: YOU. The parish is encouraging residents to report illegal dumping when they see it. “We have made it easier than ever to get involved, report littering, and share information with others,” their website states.

You can report illegal dumping in one of two ways:

• Call 337-493-LITR (5487) • Fill out the “Report Litter” form

at You’ll also have the option to upload a photo


People can also help the current and ongoing “Pick it Up” effort in several ways:

• Adopt-A-Spot. Get a group together and schedule a cleanup of an area of your choice. Free supplies are provided.

• Drop it off. The Police Jury has two sites

where residents with a valid driver’s license can drop off their items for free. The accepted items and policies can be found at Public Works operates a pair of staff-monitored Residential Solid Waste Convenience Centers — the East Maintenance Facility at 5500 B Swift Plant Road in Lake Charles, telephone (337) 721-3760, and the West Maintenance Facility at 2915 Post Oak Road in Sulphur, telephone (337) 721-3750. For more information, visit


Home & Family

New Senior Living Community

Coming to Southwest Louisiana

THE VILLAGES OF IMPERIAL POINTE SALES SHOWROOM OPENS IN LAKE CHARLES To better serve the growing senior living demand in Southwest Louisiana, a new stateof-the-art active senior community is under construction. The Villages of Imperial Pointe will provide high-end, inspired independent living in a resort-style setting, featuring an abundance of rich amenities and services in a vibrant and active environment. The on-site showroom for The Villages of Imperial Pointe is now open on Imperial Boulevard in Lake Charles, directly behind the fountains, and across from the construction site at the future address, 1717 Imperial Blvd. Community open houses are scheduled at the showroom on December 9 from noon – 6:00 p.m., and December 12, from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Villages of Imperial Pointe is located within the larger 75acre mixed-used Imperial Pointe development at the corner of Nelson Road and Imperial Boulevard in Lake Charles. The four-story, 70,000-square-foot 68

apartment building will provide 129 apartments, available in a variety of apartment styles, from multiple one-bedroom and twobedroom options ranging from 700 to 1,150 square feet. There are several variations of apartment layouts, all featuring high-end finishes and full kitchens with islands; large walk-in closets, wood floors, stainless steel appliances, upgraded cabinets, patios/ balconies and full washer and dryers. Private garages are also available. The community will offer true resort-style living with amenities such as multiple dining venues, bistro bar and lounge; “club room” with bar, pool table and piano, fitness center and yoga studio; event center; spa and salon; art studio; demonstration kitchen; theater; library; outdoor swimming pool; outdoor courtyard with sunshades and trellis; beautifully landscaped grounds; large putting green and shuffleboard; and outdoor grille house and dining area. Numerous social, educational and spiritual programs and events will also be offered to the residents. Bobby LaFleur has been named General Manager of The Villages of Imperial Pointe. Originally from Sulphur, Louisiana, LaFleur has worked in healthcare and management his entire career, first

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

as a nurse and then as a hospital CEO and in other management positions. He has repeatedly been recognized for customer and employee satisfaction. The community is managed by Solvere Living, the operations management division of St. Petersburg, Florida-based Solutions Advisors Group (SAG). “We are very excited about managing the exceptional Villages of Imperial Pointe and bringing its luxurious, inspiring and resortstyle atmosphere to Southwest Louisiana,” said Kristin Ward, President and CEO of Solutions Advisors Group. “We are providing residents an environment of rich amenities, engaging programs and events, along with the best in quality of life and services. This has already led to high interest in advance of the showroom opening, which is not surprising considering the location in Lake Charles and the expanding development on the Imperial Pointe healthy living campus.” The Villages of Imperial Pointe will also feature Solvere Living’s proprietary wellness philosophy Salus™. Latin for “well-being”, Salus is a holistic approach that focuses on each resident’s potential to achieve his or her personal goals through engagement and connections. “Our Salus program

is designed for more successful and healthier aging and helps people sustain their physical, intellectual and social abilities as they age,” Ward said. Some of the many services include concierge, around the clock staff coverage, emergency response system in each apartment, maintenance and repairs, scheduled transportation, housekeeping and basic cable. Projected opening date of The Villages of Imperial Pointe is July 2022. More than 25 full-time positions will be created initially, with more positions added as expansion of the community takes place. Dr. John Noble, managing partner of The Villages of Imperial Pointe and orthopaedic surgeon with the Center for Orthopaedics, says it is exciting to see the physical construction of The Villages taking place. “This development represents our contribution to the rebuilding of Southwest Louisiana after the devastating storms of 2020. The housing shortage we had before the storms is even worse now and we are thrilled to help address that problem in such an innovative way.” To learn more about The Villages of Imperial Pointe, visit or call (337) 549-7100.


for life


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

Bah Humbug! Is anybody else dreading the holidays this year? Well, dreading isn’t the right word. Maybe “too tired to holiday”? Or “still trying to just make it through the day and don’t have the energy or mindset to be festive?” Anyway, you know what I mean. My house is a still not back together from last year’s hurricanes, and certainly won’t be put back together in time for the holidays. Frankly, I don’t even notice the unfinished things in my house anymore. They have been there so long, they have become normal. Even more sad, I know lots of people who will be celebrating their second holiday season out of their homes, in their campers or wherever else they have managed to find to land.

Combine our housing situations with a battered town we are slowly trying to put back together, with a horrible pandemic that took so many lives and caused so much divisiveness, it’s no wonder many of us are feeling “Bah Humbug-ish!” All that to say, I really don’t have anything left for Christmas presents and cheer. Can’t we cancel Christmas this year? Actually, you can. I wouldn’t recommend canceling Christmas completely, but I do think this may be the year to shift our focus and try to decrease the craziness associated with Christmas. With all the shortages and delayed delivery times, not to mention our sheer exhaustion, this is the perfect year to rethink the holidays. What if we focused on the feelings of Christmas, instead of the things of Christmas? What are the feelings of Christmas supposed to be? It might be easier to discuss the feelings most people have and how they are not in line with what I’m hoping for you.

Stress – Are you going in a million different directions, with your mind going nonstop? Welcome to the club! Many of us are so overwhelmed, and instead of looking for ways to decrease the stress, we are determined to get it all done – even if it means we are completely exhausted Christmas Day!

your house. Maybe the little victories with insurance companies has taken on a whole new meaning for you. Maybe you haven’t had as much time to be depressed because you have been so busy with reparations. Start making an “I’m Thankful For” list – maybe everyone could name something at the Christmas dinner table.

Competition – Who’s got the best decorations, will I give the best presents, who is going to get stuck in the namedrawing with the most difficult cousin to buy for, and is a good gift-buyer going to get your name? I also see competition in the money arena – who spends the most, get the most presents, etc.

Peace –Slow down – take a deep breath – you are alive and thriving. Part of the spirit of the season is the chance to “be still and know.” We have a perfect opportunity this year to slow down the pace. Begin prioritizing what you do and don’t want to do: which parties you enjoy, which traditions are important to you, which people you actually like. What are some quieter, more peaceful things you want to be sure to do this year? Take the opportunity to take a night off from the “shoulds” of the season.

Perfection – Everything is supposed to look, feel and taste perfect. What if someone brings food that doesn’t match the menu – and on an ugly tray??? What if you get a gift that clearly does not match any of your décor? This is why the return lines are so long the days after the holidays! OK, now that we have established how we DON’T want to feel, let’s take a look at the feelings of the season I am hoping for you (and me)?

Thankfulness – I know so many people who have suffered far worse in the past 1 ½ years than I. I’m grateful to “only” have to deal with re-construction issues. Many don’t have a home to worry about. Many will be sitting around a table with fewer people because they are no longer with us. I was talking to a friend who has lost everything. She told me “I’m just glad we’re all alive.” I’m certainly not trying to minimize what you have been through; I am simply asking you to begin looking for little things in your life that you can be grateful for. Maybe that camper is way easier to clean than

Tradition – Do you really want your kids to remember the holiday season as the time of year they are constantly with sitters? Again, this may be the perfect year to do those things you always wanted to do – make cookies with the kids and use those as gifts, go look at Christmas lights (I am choosing to believe we will have plenty in our area), and telling your children the true meaning of the season. This holiday season is, once again, going to be a true test for many of us. Can we find the courage to celebrate the season in the way most appropriate for us at this time? Can we be both realistic and optimistic? Can we get to January and be content with the way we navigated the holidays? As long as we make a plan, we most assuredly can.


Some superheroes wear capes …


Our kids deserve to be protected, too. REN. THE COVID-19 VACCINE IS SAFE FOR CHILDREN.

VID-19. The CDC has recommended that all children ages 5 and up get vaccinated against COVID-19.

feThe that vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in children as young as 5 years old. The vaccine is so safe that as the soon CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urge all eligible people to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon nce as it is available at to them. When your child gets vaccinated against COVID-19, they also have a better chance at staying in school and participating in the activities they enjoy.

“This vaccine for children has passed rigorous clinical trials and is safe – just like the other common vaccines we recommend our children receive.”



kidsvax ccine “These vaccines are as safe and as effective as any 77 4 vaccines we’ve ever had for any disease.” DR. MARK KLINE PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF AND PEDIATRICIAN, Children’s Hospital New Orleans


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021

GET THE FACTS: visit or call the Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774

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ALZHEIMER S PREVENTION TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 3 The TRAILBLAZER-All 3 study, a new research study sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, is testing whether a study drug can potentially prevent or slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Can I be part of this trial? ••••••••••• Yes, you may be able to join the research study if you: 0 Are aged 55-80 years old 0 Have normal memory and thinking 0 Have a reliable study partner 0 Pass study screening activities A study partner O is a person who is familiar with your day-to-day life and would notice any changes in your memory, thinking, mood and behavior. This could be your spouse, partner, friend, relative or caregiver. Your study partner would also consent to the trial.


Monday - Friday 9AM - 4 PM

Location: 600 Bayou Pines East Dr. Suite B Lake Charles, LA 70601


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • December 2021




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