Thrive March 2021

Page 1

MARCH 2021


Resilience, Rebuilding, & Recovery SPECIAL SECTIONS:


Take Back your Yard

first person

- Kyle Edmiston at CVB


Rehabilitation Hospital

of Jennings


• Brain Injury

• Hip Fractures

• Strokes

• Osteoarthritis/DJD

• Amputations

• Neurological Disorders

• Burns

• Spinal Cord Injury

• Major Multiple Trauma

• Congenital Deformities

• Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Systemic Vasculidities

• Joint Replacements

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

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

love you

you’ll the way we care for

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital is a community hospital that provides both inpatient and outpatient care. Inpatient services are provided for patients requiring hospitalization while outpatient services focus on the continual improvement of patients’ diagnoses through preventive medicine, rehabilitation, and wellness. Specialized services, provided by medical and surgical physicians of various disciplines, are also provided to patients requiring such medical care. Our team of caring professionals is committed to providing exceptional healthcare to our community every moment, every day. Breast Health Cancer Care Cardiology Ear, Nose & Throat Care Emergency Care Endocrinology Family Medicine Home Health Care

Laboratory Nutrition & Wellness Obstetrics & Gynecology Orthopaedics Pediatric Care Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Pulmonary & Respiratory Care Radiology & Diagnostic Imaging Rural Health Centers Sleep Medicine Surgical Services Wound Healing Center

701 Cypress. St., Sulphur



Regular Features

In This Issue Wining & Dining

6 8 10 11

Fire and Oak Brunch is Back! The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eat LIT Pizza


52 Recovery Spotlight 60 Who’s News 71 Solutions for Life

Mind & Body

12 14 16 18

Meatless Mondays Can Slow Kidney Disease Benefits of Vitamin D in Relation to COVID-19 Short of Breath? Is it COVID-19, or Something Else? Headache & Wellness Center Opens in Lake Charles

Money & Career

21-28 SPECIAL SECTION: COLLEGE PREP 101 30 McNeese is First Choice for Fulbright Scholar


Places & Faces


40 first person - Kyle Edmiston at CVB

58 The Children’s Theatre Company: Playing it Safe During COVID-19

Home & Family

62-66 SPECIAL SECTION: Take Back your Yard

68 SCAM ALERT: Don’t Post your COVID-19 Vaccine Info Online

70 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana Recruiting Big Mentors and Littles During the Month of March

Correction on February Issue: Content Page: Correction: On page 20 of our February issue, photographer Chris Brennan’s name was misspelled. Our apologies to Mr. Brennan.

@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 • March 2021


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

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Wining & Dining

fire & oak

Opens in South Lake Charles Amidst the rigors of hurricane recovery and rebuilding his first restaurant in downtown Lake Charles – the popular 1910 – Andrew Green has opened a second establishment in South Lake Charles named Fire & Oak. After a successful soft opening last month, Green says they are now fully open and ready to serve the community. “It is not entirely different, but not at all the same as 1910.” Similarly to 1910, Fire & Oak is sure to be a favorite destination for wine, spirits, and craft cocktails, and of course, great food. Patrons will find dishes such as fried oysters and petit filet. “The petit filet is a very tender cut of meat harvested from the shoulder clod – less expensive than tenderloin, but just as tender,” Green explains. He plans to expand their menu as they grow and as COVID restrictions ease. Green says the bar at Fire & Oak is a main feature. “Of course, we have an extensive selection of bourbon, but it is our goal here to balance some of the bourbon with a few more rum and tequila offerings. Our cocktails will taste great and be beautiful and we will use unique outstanding ingredients like butterfly pea blossom, freshly juiced raspberries, CBD oil, and extra-large Fresno Chile ice cubes. And we will also have unique and thoughtfully selected wines offered by the glass and by the bottle.”

In addition to food and drinks, Fire & Oak focuses on creating a unique atmosphere. To improve acoustics, he had a wall built between the bar and main dining area and plans to add sound paneling. The restaurant has three distinct rooms, depending on what you’re in the mood for, plus a pleasant outdoor dining patio featuring a 250-year-old oak tree. The main dining room is dimly lit and intimate, with mixed booth, banquet, and regular seating. There is a private dining room that can seat up to 30 for dinners, receptions, and other private events. The bar offers a lively, boisterous, party atmosphere with TVs to entertain. Green places Fire & Oak in the category of casual upscale dining. When asked about the dress code, he says, “We tell people to wear their favorite clothes.”

Buttermilk Sorbet, Basil Granita, Strawberry Compote, Lemon & Black Sesame


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

by Angie Kay Dilmore

Fried Oysters, Rockefeller Sauce, Pickled Carrots & Radishes

Raspberry Rosemary Cosmo




Sit Back & Chill Sour, Made with CBD Oil

“Cocktails, food, atmosphere, service, location, and availability are all highlights we hope to become known for,” Green adds. Find Fire & Oak at 5656 Nelson Road Suite 2, Lake Charles, or on Facebook @fireandoakLakeCharles. Green says he is hiring for most positions. If interested, call 337-990-5280.



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

NOW ENROLLING Two Years Through 10th Grade


Two Year Olds - 6th Grade 803 N. Division Street Lake Charles

en Now Op


7th - 10th Grade 5665 N. Gray Market Drive Lake Charles

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.


Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School provides academic excellence to a diverse student body in a Christian environment.


Wining & Dining

Brunch is Back! by Matt Dye

As the weather warms up and COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, getting out on the weekends to catch a little culture and community might be on your list of things to restore some normalcy. While not everything is back 100% just yet, a number of local eateries have opened their doors and invite you to their weekend brunch, with both Saturday and Sunday options. So, pull up a chair with a friend over a mimosa and a variety of Benedicts!

Beignets at Pujo St. Cafe

Bread Pudding Benedict with Crawfish Cream Sauce at Villa Harlequin

The Villa Brunch Burger

Irma's Grits at Luna Bar and Grill

Cinnamon Roll at the Village Coffeehouse

You can start your Saturday early over at the Village Coffeehouse in Sulphur. Owner Blake Foreman notes that while it isn’t a formal brunch like at other places, it doesn’t stop the crowds from coming in at 9:00 a.m. and staying until after noon. Besides the expected latte, first-timers might try either the cinnamon roll, baked fresh every morning, or the Garlic Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich if you’re looking for something a little more on the savory side.


Pujo St. Café hosts a Saturday brunch in Downtown Lake Charles. From 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Pujo offers several enticing brunch specialties. Try the traditional beignets that we all love to powder our noses with, or the Maryland Benedict, which substitutes two lump crab cakes for the usual English muffin, or the Pain Perdu and Chicken, which looks to be the French Toast spin on Chicken ‘n Waffles! Make reservations so you’ll know you have a table for Saturday.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Sunday Brunch has become a fixture of the Lake Charles’ downtown scene, and one local favorite is the Villa Harlequin. Owners Michael and Brenda Sperandeo and head chef Amanda Cusey serve up some tasty vittles, such as the Seafood Stuffed Mushroom, or the Villa Brunch Burger which features an 8-ounce veal burger, fried egg, and pecan wood smoked bacon. For the daring and hungry, try the Savory Bread Pudding Benedict with Crawfish Cream Sauce. Sunday Brunch runs from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Reservations available.

Luna Bar and Grill has a long-standing Sunday Brunch tradition. While the doors open at 10:00 a.m., the real party doesn’t start until the Street Side Jazz Band begins playing at 11:00 a.m. (weather permitting). With ample room to cut a rug, Luna’s outdoor seating might be some of the best in town. Their brunch menu boasts a variety of omelets, as well as Louisiana Remoulade, which features lump crab meat, crawfish, and shrimp tossed in the sauce over a bed of romaine, but the real treat might be the tried-and-true French Toast.



Brunch Board at Bisou Lounge

Newer to the city and making their way in the weekend brunch game is the casual Bisou Lounge, located south on Ryan St. Their menu is simple in all the right ways, with items such as a Veggie Omelet or Chorizo Tacos, though with a group of friends, the Brunch Board containing mini pancakes, waffles, bacon, and fresh fruit is tempting. And of course, this wouldn’t be a proper lounge without Bottomless Mimosas to keep your midday flowing right. Running from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, reservations are accepted. And as the Bisou Lounge grows, look for outdoor seating and live music to become a part of the experience.

324 Pujo Street, Downtown Lake Charles | (337) 436-6251


copiers • scanners • printers • fax • shredders

MacFarlane's Voo-Doo Bloody Mary

MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub hosts a Celtic-Cajun Sunday Brunch 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. With items as fun to say as they are to eat, like Crabby Tomatoes and the Cluck and Squeek, MacFarlane’s has perhaps the widest assortment of brunch items in all of Southwest Louisiana. If you prefer your brunch in liquid form, MacFarlane’s has you covered with its Bottomless VooDoo Bloody Mary (a meal unto itself ) and Bottomless Irish Mimosas – perfect to sip in the sun on the outdoor deck. They’re first come, first serve though, so plan accordingly.

There are few times better spent than the weekend with friends and food, and with all these options available, you’ll have no problem finding both. Locally owned and operated for over 30 years

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


Wining & Dining

The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eats by Brooke Lawton

Imagine a deliciously decadent peach cobbler and then take it to the next level as a scrumptious peach cobbler king cake. Could a creation as extravagant as that even exist? Sure it does, and you can order it from The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eats.

Boudin King Cake

The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eats

specializes in artisan delicacies from fresh baked breads, charcuterie boards, healthy snacks, king cakes, cheesecakes, and more. For special needs, ask them about their keto and vegan offerings. Owners Ashley Bittner and Olivia Bellard create and bake all their own items. These two best friends had so much fun baking and creating new dishes that they decided to go into business together last November. They have been selling out of just about anything they offer ever since. While their outrageously indulgent dessert items have been a big seller, they will soon also be offering what they call “bakery boards” – like charcuterie boards but with fresh baked breads and homemade desserts and dips. The bakery’s custom king cakes sold out well before Mardi Gras (and will remain a seasonal item) but some lucky customers were able to nab specialty king cakes such as Berry Chantilly, Boudin, Ice Cream Sundae, Red Velvet, German Chocolate, and Chocolate Covered Strawberry in time for the festivities. 10

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

If you have a craving for something other than king cake, no worries. There are plenty of additional sweet treats available. As the area prepares to usher in Spring and Easter season, the bakery plans to focus on items like cupcakes in all sorts of flavors and icings, as well as fluffy homemade marshmallows in a variety of flavors. Be on the lookout for some special cookies. Bellard has a fantastic cookie recipe that results in the kinds of treats she’s long been told are so delicious she should be selling them. Or try the Southern Banana Pudding Cheesecake Trifle which perfectly melds together (you guessed it) melt-inyour-mouth cheesecake and banana pudding. If you’re really living on the edge, try the decadent Half + Half King Cake Wild Berry Chantilly and Southern Banana Pudding, which is one rich dish. They have delicious little nibbles, too. Consider overthe-top treats like chocolate covered cheesecake-stuffed strawberries infused with strawberry syrup. If the concept of The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eats sounds like some kind of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryinspired place that serves up the most creative and decadent treats imaginable, well, you’d be right. The good news is that you don’t have to have a golden ticket to get your hands on something delicious there. Stay tuned, as these magical concoctions will be available soon at a brick-and-mortar location to be determined. In the meantime, creations are whipped up in a local commissary and are available via phone orders, through email, or by visiting the Facebook page for The Bakery Co. Artisan + Eats. Call 499-0221 or email thebakeryco@

Lit Pizza Offers a Blast-Fired Experience The founders of Baton Rouge-based Lit Pizza and Izzo’s Illegal Burrito opened a new Lit Pizza location – a fast-casual dining experience – late January in Lake Charles, located on the corner of Country Club and Nelson Road next to the Super Kroger. This is their ninth Lit location. “We continue to be humbled by the overwhelming support of our current locations in Baton Rouge and Lafayette,” said founder Ozzie Fernandez. “We are excited to bring this family oriented, wood-fired pizza concept to Southwest Louisiana and can’t wait to be a part of the Lake Area community.” Lit offers a “craft your own” experience, giving guests the opportunity to customize everything about their 11” pizza. For guests looking for culinary inspiration, ten signature pizzas and six calzones are on the menu. Fresh spun dough is made daily and wood-fired to create a light, crispy thin crust pizza, topped with various cured meats, sauces, cheeses and vegetable options to choose from. Options include gluten-free and house-made cauliflower crusts, and vegan cheeses so that everyone finds something they like. After crafting a pizza, guests watch as their creation is blast-fired in minutes in a custom woodfired oven. Other menu options will include house made grab-and-go salads, local craft beers on tap, wines by the glass and fresh-squeezed lemonade. For more information about Lit Pizza, visit


Mind & Body


CAN SLOW KIDNEY DISEASE In the United States, 30 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it. One in three American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are three times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end stage renal disease (kidney failure). In recognition of National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has partnered with The Monday Campaigns’ global public health initiatives, which include Meatless Monday, to encourage Americans to make healthier changes to their diets. Studies suggest that incorporating meatless options into an overall balanced diet may help slow the progression of kidney disease. With a catchy promotional campaign and research drawing the connection between overall good health and the vital role kidneys play, this collaborative effort encourages Americans to think about meatless options as a way to help their kidneys.

“Plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, have been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including lower body mass index (BMI), better control of blood pressure and blood glucose, less inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and less dietary acid, sodium, and phosphorus loads,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD and Chief Medical Officer of NKF. “As a result, research indicates that a plant-based diet may be part of an effective lifestyle program to help treat or slow the progression of chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.” The links between kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are often overlooked; but diabetes and high blood pressure are the top risk factors for developing kidney disease, accounting for two-thirds of all cases. Kidney disease can also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in kidney patients. Ron Hernandez, Managing Director of The Monday Campaigns, said, “We realize that making dietary changes is challenging for people who are coping with kidney disease, and we encourage them to start with cutting out meat just one day a week. Our research indicates that Monday is the day many people choose to make positive, healthy changes, and often describe a higher intention to continue the rest of the week if they start on Monday. By promoting a Meatless Monday practice, we hope to support those with kidney disease in making this important dietary change, while also helping all people learn about the benefits of reducing meat consumption.”



Studies demonstrate the beneficial role of a plant-based diet in slowing the progression of some chronic diseases (including kidney disease.)

This reduced absorption decreases the phosphorus load on the kidneys and lowers the risk of complications caused by excess phosphorus.

Plant-based foods produce less of a dietary acid load than animal-based foods (meats and dairy). If not highly processed, plant-based foods are also lower in sodium and bioavailable phosphorus (phosphorus that’s easier for the body to absorb).

The consumption of animal protein increases the acid load in the kidneys, which increases harmful ammonia levels that can damage kidney cells.

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Plant-based diets may protect against tissue damage and suppress inflammation (fatty acids in plant foods are anti-inflammatory, whereas those in animal foods can be pro-inflammatory). Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fats, which is better for the health of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart and kidneys.

Email or Text Notification when your RX is ready!


The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information, visit


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The Monday Campaigns, a non-profit public health initiative associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse Universities, encourages individuals and organizations to join together every Monday to commit to healthy behaviors that may help end preventable chronic diseases. Learn more at www.

601 S. Pine Street • DeRidder, LA 70634 • (337) 463-7442 •

Meet the Newest Member of our Physician Team Tyler Zachary, MD, Endocrinologist

Dr. Tyler Zachary, endocrinologist, has joined the medical staff of Imperial Health. He is practicing with Dr. Timothy Gilbert and Dr. Sandra Dempsey at the Endocrinology Center of Southwest Louisiana. Originally from Sulphur, Dr. Zachary earned his Medical Degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. He completed a Fellowship in Endocrinology & Metabolism at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Zachary is board certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Call (337) 310-3670 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Zachary.

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


Mind & Body

VITAMIN D Boosts Body’s Defense Against COVID-19 by Christine Fisher

Taking adequate amounts of vitamin D could help your body stay healthy and fight respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Research between this ordinary vitamin and the pandemic is ongoing, but many largescale studies are showing a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and those who ended up being admitted to intensive care units, placed on ventilators, or dying from complications with COVID-19.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

“It appears there is enough evidence to say that adding vitamin D to your daily routine is a good idea, especially during this time when the pandemic is not under control,” says Dr. Kelly Fuqua, family medicine physician with Calcasieu Family Physicians of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “Studies support the notion that vitamin D might be protective against COVID-19. complications.”


• • • • •

Clearly, vitamin D does not prevent COVID-19. More research is needed to identify the exact significance between it and the virus. U.S. researchers evaluated blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 and then followed them to see how they fared. Patients who had adequate vitamin D levels were less likely to become unconscious or die from COVID-19. Currently, researchers from Queen Mary University of London are launching a six-month study involving 5,000 people to see if high-dose vitamin D can reduce winter respiratory infections, including COVID-19. In a study of almost 200,000 COVID-19 positive patients, physicians with Boston University found that vitamin D deficiency increased risk of acquiring the disease by 54.5 percent. It was observed in all 50 states and for all ethnicities. In another smaller study, physicians observed that COVID-19 patients who had adequate vitamin D levels had a 51.5 percent lower risk of dying from the disease and a significantly reduced risk for complications. “Science shows that healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give a survival advantage by helping people with COVID-19 avoid a cytokine storm, when the immune system overreacts and begins attacking the body’s own cells and tissues,” explains Dr. Fuqua. “Most of us feel that anything safe that we can do to support our own immune system is worth looking into.” Pre-pandemic research indicated that when people had a healthy level of vitamin D in their systems, they had a reduced risk for respiratory infections. Scientists looked back at the 1918 influenza pandemic and found that patients with healthy vitamin D levels were less likely to die. “Vitamin D makes the immune cells less inflammatory,” says Dr. Fuqua. While it seems vitamin D is helpful in keeping COVID-19 from becoming severe, it’s not yet known if restoring vitamin D to normal levels is helpful as a treatment. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 600 – 800 IU/daily, “but given the pandemic we’re living through, a supplement containing 1,000 – 2,000 IU/daily of vitamin D would be reasonable,” says Dr. Fuqua. Toxicity occurs with doses of 50,000 to 60,000 IUs daily.


It is also manufactured naturally by the skin upon contact with sunlight, but it’s difficult to get enough simply from the sun and nutrition, so physicians often recommend taking vitamin D supplements. Research is ongoing, but physicians already know there is much evidence showing that a healthy amount of vitamin D regulates the immune system promoting optimum health. All in all, vitamin D could offer a simple and cost-effective way to reduce the risk of getting respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

OUR ROADS They are still in very bad shape. It has been like that at least for the last 10 years. Little has been done, and the two hurricanes and excessive rain in the last six months has only made them worse. Added to the weather damage is the influx of heavy equipment and trucks that have added to the disrepair of the streets. • If my father is elected, he will sit with the engineering department and tackle those issues and try to get some of them done in the first 2 years in the office.

-S he re e n Ta ha COUNCIL DISTRICT G PleaseCITY vote for

Please vote for Khalid Taha TAHA # 60 Khalid CityforCouncil District G #60 on 3/20/2021 CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT G on 3/20/2021


Mind & Body


Is it COVID-19, or Something Else? Being short of breath is a well-known symptom of COVID-19. The virus attacks your lungs, prevents them from working properly, and thus causes difficulty breathing. But it’s worth taking a look at what else may be causing your shortness of breath. “Because we are highly aware of COVID-19 right now, it might be easy to overlook other common problems that may cause issues with your breathing – issues that still need to be treated or handled,” says Dr. Andrew Bradberry, D.O., family medicine specialist with Imperial Health.

Allergies affect over 50 million Americans each year, and can be responsible for symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, congestion, and even shortness of breath. Allergies are extremely common. They can be caused by pollen, dust, pet dander, and other things that can enter your airways. Sometimes the allergic reaction can even cause an asthma attack. It can also start with something you touch or eat. If you’re having difficulty breathing due to a reaction, it’s important to relieve it as quickly as possible. “You can best manage your symptoms by talking with your doctor about a plan. Pay attention, too – if your symptoms change at all, you need to check in with your doctor,” says Dr. Bradberry. “Anxiety will almost inevitably make you feel short of breath. Sometimes, you can feel it before you even realize you are experiencing anxiety,” says Dr. Bradberry. Usually though, when the anxiety lifts, the shortness of breath will, too, meaning this symptom of anxiety typically only lasts 10 to 30 minutes. Difficulty breathing due to anxiety usually develops quickly and can be alleviated through healthy coping mechanisms and breathing exercises. “The catch here is that many are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Some who have never had anxiety symptoms before are becoming well-acquainted with the symptoms so familiar to people who have been previously diagnosed,” he adds. 16

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

by Lauren Morris

If you find yourself experiencing anxiety on a regular basis, be sure to talk to your doctor. It can wear on your overall health and shouldn’t go untreated. Pneumonia is when a virus, bacteria, or fungus infects the air sacs inside your lungs, causing those sacs to fill with fluid, which makes it harder to breathe. You might cough up a thick, colored mucus and have a fever and/or chills. Symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly, and usually are accompanied by a high fever. “It’s easy to confuse influenza and COVID-19, and it’s the same with influenza and pneumonia, as they have very similar early symptoms. Some of these include fever, a dry cough, headache, muscle pain, and weakness. Within a day or two, the symptoms typically get worse, with increasing cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain,” explains Dr. Bradberry. Call your doctor if your symptoms are severe, or if you or a loved one is in a high-risk group like individuals over the age of 65 or children age two and younger. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), sometimes known as “chronic bronchitis” or emphysema, is most often caused by cigarette smoking, but it can also be caused by other irritants, including cigar smoke, secondhand smoke, pipe smoke, air pollution, and workplace exposure to dust, smoke, or fumes. “Your bronchial tubes are naturally elastic as to force air out of your body when you breathe, but COPD causes them to lose their elasticity and overexpand, which leaves some air trapped in your lungs when you exhale,” Dr. Bradberry says. “Besides difficulty breathing, you might feel tightness in your chest, coughing, and/ or wheezing.” People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, as well as a variety of other conditions. COPD is a serious condition, but it can be managed with help from your doctor. The best and most important thing you can do is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Being anemic can make you weak and tired, and sometimes short of breath. It can also make you dizzy and pale, with cold hands and feet, and a fast heart rate. It affects 1.6 billion people worldwide, and can be caused by many things, the most common being an iron deficiency.


Anemia can be caused by pregnancy, a heavy menstrual cycle, or regular use of some over-the-counter pain medications. “When someone is healthy, an adequate amount of oxygen is conveyed to the heart, muscles, and organs. With anemia, the lungs overcompensate to bring in more oxygen, thus causing breathing issues. Even small exertions can cause shortness of breath or fainting spells,” Dr. Bradberry explains. There are many reasons a person might become anemic, so talk to your doctor if you’re exhibiting symptoms. The common cold may irritate your lungs and airway and bring a cough that can make it hard to breathe. As most know, there’s no cure, but it usually gets better on its own in about a week. Differentiating between COVID-19 and a cold can be rather difficult, though. The COVID-19 virus is caused by SARSCoV-2, while the common cold is most often caused by rhinoviruses. They spread similarly, and they have many common symptoms. However, there are differences: The COVID-19 virus can become serious once a person is infected, and it is rightly top of mind for all of us. “Just be sure you are still paying attention to your overall health and examining all possibilities when it comes to the source of your symptoms,” says Dr. Bradberry. “This way, you can treat yourself effectively, recover quickly, and avoid passing your germs to others.”






Usually (dry)



























Usually (early — often without a runny or stuffy nose)

Sometimes (especially with a stuffy nose)


Shaping the Future

Early Voting, March 6-13 | Election Day, March 20


Mind & Body

Headache & Wellness Center

OPENS IN LAKE CHARLES Headaches or migraines impact more than 15% of Americans aged 18 years or older. The pain can be incredibly debilitating and is considered to be one of the main causes of disability, according to the CDC. The new Headache & Wellness Center of Southwest Louisiana, located at 803 W. Bayou Pines, Suite B, in Lake Charles, has opened to provide a personalized, therapeutic approach for those who suffer from headaches. It is the only comprehensive headache center in the region. Darci Portie, APRN-FNPC, founder of the Center says although most headaches are not life-threatening, they can be lifealtering. “Migraines and chronic headaches can cause great discomfort and dramatically impair a person’s ability to participate fully in their life. We felt there was an unmet need in Southwest Louisiana for headache sufferers and we wanted to provide a centralized location for a more specialized approach to the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment that will help these individuals get back full enjoyment of their lives.” Portie says they take a multi-therapy approach to treatment that includes evaluation of symptoms, non-medical therapies, lifestyle adjustments and alternative treatments. “Our goal is to help our patients with every aspect of headache relief, through all stages of care: diagnosis, personalized treatment plan and follow-up care. We’ll work with multiple healthcare professionals, as needed, to provide complete care. We’ll customize a treatment approach for each patient that may sometimes connect more than one therapy option.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

She explains that just as there are many different types and causes of headaches, so too are there different treatment approaches. “What works for one patient may not be the best option for another. That’s where the personalization comes in. Instead of following the same treatment path for every patient, we tailor a treatment plan for each person. We pride ourselves on this patient-centered approach, where education and communication are key.” Treatment options available at the Headache & Wellness Center include non-pharmacological therapies, acute medication for symptom reduction, preventive medications, outpatient medication management, CGRP monoclonal antibodies, medical Botox and more. Established patients are able to receive care for refractory headaches in office, avoiding long waits at other types of medical care centers. In addition to comprehensive headache treatment, the Center also offers a wide range of wellness services and infusion therapies for health promotion. These include vitamins, nutrition, anti-aging, skin care and more. Portie says the Center will also provide other wellness-related services such as sleep apnea discussions, mammogram referrals, sports physicals and some vaccinations. “We are happy to discuss a wide range of wellness topics,” adds Portie. “We want our patients to experience care that helps the whole body, not just a single problem.” The Headache & Wellness Center accepts patients without a referral and provides treatment for ages 18 and older at this time. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 337508-2333, visit or the Center’s Facebook page.

Memorial Medical Excellence in Cancer Care Outcomes


Lake Charles Memorial has been recognized as the top hospital in Southwest Louisiana and the top 10% in the nation for medical excellence in cancer care outcomes by CareChex®. This 2021 award is based on a comprehensive quality scoring system that CareChex uses to compare inpatient quality performance across

Medical Excellence in Cancer Care Outcomes

general, acute and non-federal U.S. hospitals.

CareChex is an innovative medical quality rating system designed to assist hospitals and health systems in improving the quality of inpatient care and promoting medical excellence to consumers, payers and employers. CareChex Awards are powered by the Quantros Quality Outcomes Analytics Software. Quantros is a leading provider of software-based solutions and services to healthcare. Unlike other publicly available award rankings, CareChex awards are based on comprehensive risk-adjustment methodology and do not include any selfreported data. CareChex provides a composite evaluation of all components of medical quality including process of care, outcomes of care, and patient experiences.

For access to provider quality ratings and more information on these awards, visit CareChex® Awards by Quantros at





Louisiana Students



Best Regional Universities



International Students

Named one of the in the South

by U.S. News & World Report for







1 : 16

Instructor to Student ratio in upper level classes


Active Student Organizations







for salary potential for engineering majors!



ABET- Accredited Ranked in the

of Louisiana universities for

Out-of-State Students Representing


for its graduates by

90 % Pre-Physical

of graduates majoring in

Spring 2020



are accepted into physical & occupational therapy programs across the U.S.

achieved a


(PayScale 2020 College Report)

graduates achieved a

The College of Business is among just



on their national credentialing exam. Since 1978, McNeese students have held a 98.4% first-time

passage rate!

Student Central

20 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March337-475-5065 2021






in the WORLD

to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International!

BEST VALUE COLLEGE in Louisiana by (2020)

Money & Career COLLEGE



If you’re a high school senior and graduating this spring . . . congratulations!

You have your life ahead of you, and there are plenty of decisions to make – will you enter the workforce or attend a college or trade school? If you plan to attend an institution of higher learning, there are even more decisions to make! For example, where will you attend and how will you pay for it? This special section is full of informative articles on how to visit and choose a school, ways to save on college costs, everything you need to know about school loans, and more that hopefully will help answer some of your questions.


Money & Career |






by Casey Near

Most students approach college visits and planning with a rinse-and-repeat model: check in at the admissions office, go on a tour, attend the info session, and leave with a swag bag. But what if you could get more out of a college visit? Every student is different with their own unique needs. How can you get more out of your college visits? Consider what you’re grappling with in your college search. Are you uncertain about the size of some of the larger schools? Are you unsure if you’ll fit into the social scene of a rahrah sports school? How can you make the most of your visit to answer your questions?

The following suggestions will help you personalize your school visits: Ask to sit in on a class. Most admissions offices will have a list of classes open to visitors. See if one aligns with your interests. This is especially helpful if you’re wary about bigger classes, and gives you a glimpse of what it’s really like to be a student there. Eat a meal in the dining hall. Other than testing out the quality of the food, this is a great one to do solo. As weird as it sounds, just observe people around you. Are they studying, goofing around, or heatedly discussing string 22

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

theory? You can tell a lot about students on campus by the social scene at lunch time. Go to the big game. If you’re around on a weekend, bring the family to a big event on campus: the football game, acapella concert, or political rally. It’ll give you a feel for what’s popular on campus. (Make sure to wear the right school colors to fit in!) Ask questions. The two most common oncampus experiences for prospective students (the college tour and the information session) can often be missed opportunities to get a real feel for what type of student thrives on that campus if a prospective student doesn’t know what questions to ask.

The questions below can help you learn what you could truly only learn in person on a campus visit. What type of applicant do you get excited about? This is a great question for an information session and/or to an admissions counselor. It gets to the heart of the process— the human part. What students catch their eye? Now, this isn’t meant to be asked to unlock some sort of secret formula to get into the school of your dreams. Think of it as a litmus test. When they list those qualities, do they sound like you or the people you tend to like? If they don’t, perhaps it’s a sign that this college isn’t a good fit. And if they do, jot those qualities down. It’s a reminder of what you’re looking for.

What are the most popular, exciting events on campus? This question gives you a sense of the social culture of the campus, and it’s a good one for tour guides and admissions officers alike. Maybe it’s a protest about a political issue, a big rival basketball game, or a dance marathon. Whatever it is, it’ll give you an idea of what people do for fun, what they care about, and what gets attention. What qualities would you say your peers here have in common? The words that any tour guide would use to describe their peers may not appear on the website. But they’d capture the essence of the student body. Get them to open up about the student body as a whole, not just themselves. What do they notice as a common denominator? Taken together, these answers paint a picture of the type of student that the college looks for and the type of student that thrives there. With those answers, you can decide if you fit in. If you don’t, don’t try to reverse-engineer yourself to fit that mold. But if it sounds like you and college would be a good match, you’ll walk away with a stronger, more specific vocabulary to describe what you want in your college applications and throughout the college admissions process. Casey Near is a counselor at Collegewise. For more information, go to


COLLEGE When it comes to colleges and their campus cultures, one size doesn’t fit all. For example, an Ivy League name doesn’t necessarily suit the needs of every student. “Our society is obsessed with being associated with the top one percent of anything, whether it’s wealth, looks, social media followers or achieving that Ivy League status,” says Jeffrey Leiken, CEO of Evolution Mentoring International. “Far more important is not the school’s brand and our cultural obsession with it. Rather, it’s helping to ensure that every student who attends any school gets closer to reaching their potential.”

Joseph Lavergne, Director of Recruitment and Career Services at SOWELA Technical Community College, describes college visits like shopping for a vehicle. “There is so much to choose from when deciding which car to buy. You want to make sure it is a good fit for you. The right size, price, color, etc. In the same way, you want to make sure the college you choose is a good fit for you, as well.”

Lavergne offers these tips when planning a college visit: • Start planning early. Do your research about the college. • Establish a budget for college. What can you and your parents afford to pay? • Take a campus tour. This gives you the chance to “test drive” the college. • Get student perspectives. See what other students say about the college. • Explore academic departments and ask questions. • Visit the student center. This is where you will engage and socialize with other students. • Ask about campus safety. Parents normally ask about safety, but students should be concerned, too. • Get financial aid information. At SOWELA, all students are encouraged to submit a scholarship application to see what scholarships might be available to them. • Share your visit with friends. You might inspire others to look at a college depending on your experience.

What criteria should students and parents look for when determining where to apply for college? Leiken offers some crucial guidelines to keep in mind. Seek a college with programs that may help with lifelong skills. Self-awareness, self-leadership, self-actualization – those qualities are often overlooked when considering higher education. Learning the tangible skills for a future job is important. However, those requirements change over time. Coursework, professors and other programs that speak to a student’s ethical intuition, however, make up the educational gold that is enduring. Look beyond the typical menu of schools. There is a common denominator among millions of 17-year-olds: an anxious balance between their “reach” schools and their “safety” schools. It turns out that many college counselors guide these kids to a similar list of “reach” and “safety” schools – about 50 of them. Between public and private institutions, there are thousands of other schools to choose from! Ask yourself, “Where will I flourish? Learn more about the culture of these institutions. There are two distinct stages for young adults in college life: the time where students adjust to a new environment and, later, when students realize they are becoming independent adults. A name-brand school isn’t necessarily the best place for millions of kids to best reach maturity. “Just as we don’t all wear the same size clothing,” Leiken says, “the intellectual development of young adults doesn’t always fit into the same small box of name-brand schools.” Jeffery Leiken ( is the CEO of Evolution Mentoring International and is co-founder of HeroPath International. He is author of Adolescence is Not a Disease: Beyond Drinking, Drugs and Dangerous Friends – The Journey to Adulthood.


Money & Career |




RESULTS by Meredith Graham

You’ve jumped through all the hoops, filled out all the paperwork, written the essay, and sent it all in to the college of your choice, along with the requisite fee. Now, the waiting – the hardest part, right? But there are things you can do while anticipating that allimportant letter of acceptance. If you’ve applied to a college that offers admission on a rolling basis, you might not have to wait too long. These colleges make decisions on completed applications as soon as they realistically can, and they send out admissions decisions to students as they make them, rather than holding onto them for a particular date. It might be a few days, it might be a few weeks, but it will probably be “sooner rather than later” for these colleges. It’s in their best interest to let you know quickly, truth be told—they can show you lots of love now, which makes it more likely that you’ll say yes back to them and commit to their college. And given how uncertain enrollment numbers are at colleges right now, anything they can do to get students to say yes is a bonus. 24

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

However, if you’ve applied to a school that doesn’t make decisions on a rolling basis, it could be a while before you hear back. Right now, colleges with Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision application pools are reviewing all the pieces of the applications you worked so hard to put together. And it takes time for them to review the applications and make decisions. It’s a tough job, and this year it’s more complicated because of the pandemic. According to the national organization Fairtest, more than 2/3 of four-year colleges and universities are test optional this year, and many are test optional for the first time, which means they’re doing something new in the middle of a pandemic. The colleges need to figure out how to ensure their admissions teams make fair and equitable decisions for all applicants who don’t submit test scores, and in ways that still support their college’s priorities and culture. WAITING FOR AN ADMISSION DECISION IS HARD. CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES IN THE INTERIM. Check your college portals about once a week and your email at least twice a week.

This way, if a college updates a release date or sends you a question about your application, you’ll know about it fairly quickly. The most common type of message you’ll get is “The college is missing a part of your application!” If you get one of these, DON’T PANIC or flip out at your school counselor! These are usually automated messages, and it’s not unusual for this message to get to you before a college has processed all the application pieces that they’ve received. It can take time for colleges to match all the pieces of all the applications together. Calmly reconfirm that you, your recommenders, and your school counselor have submitted all required parts of your application, then keep checking the portal. If the college gives you specific instructions and a timeline for following up, use those. If they don’t, and your application still isn’t marked as “complete” about a week or so after you get that scary email from the college, consider reaching out to the college to see if they’re still working through a backlog of materials. If they say they’re all caught up, work with them to figure out where the missing piece of your application ended up—chances are good it was accidentally linked into someone else’s file, and it’s a quick fix.


Don’t obsess over your email or the portals. You’re likely to make yourself a little loopy if you check them too frequently. Keep your grades up in your classes. If you’re deferred from an Early Action or Early Decision pool to Regular Decision, the colleges will absolutely want to see your fall grades as they’re making final decisions about your application, and those grades really can make a difference! If you’re admitted via Early Action or Early Decision, colleges still care about your grades—it’s a horrible, horrible feeling to have to rescind a student’s admission if their grades tank in the spring of their senior year. And it feels even worse to be that student! FROM A MENTAL HEALTH STANDPOINT:

on the path towards a good paying job! - Apply now and start class March 16 - SOWELA Technical Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Compliance Officer, 3820 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave., Lake Charles, LA 70615, 337-421-6565 or 800-256-0483,

Strive to get offline and unplug a bit. Get some exercise, read, talk to a family member, sing . . . just do something that’s not online. The pandemic will eventually end. Remember the world beyond your computer.



Be proud of the applications you put together. You did a fantastic job with them, and now that you’ve sent them off, you can’t control what happens when they’re reviewed by the colleges. Have faith in yourself, your abilities, your strength, and your resilience. No matter what the college admissions decisions are, you’re going to be okay. Meredith Graham works with Collegewise, a group of counselors and tutors at the forefront of the everevolving admissions landscape. For more information, go to

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Money & Career |



Things to Know Before You Take Out


LOANS UNREGULATED CONTRACTORS We did not learn from Hurricane Rita when it hit Lake Charles back in 2005 and people came from everywhere claiming to be experts. • Some helped rebuild our city. But an equal number were not skilled or expert. • Their goal was to take advantage of us while in crisis who gave them their trust. • Many of our citizens lost a great deal of money and were none the better for repairs and rebuilding. If my father is elected: • He will not allow inexperienced people to come to our city and take advantage of us when we are in crisis. • He will screen every contractor and issue a special tag or ID to indicate their legitimacy to our people before permitting people to do repair and rebuild work. • He will make the contractor suffer the consequences for job not done properly.

-Ma rw a n Ta ha COUNCIL DISTRICT G PleaseCITY vote for

Please vote for Khalid Taha TAHA # 60 Khalid CityforCouncil District G #60 on 3/20/2021 CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT G on 3/20/2021 26

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Student loans seem like a financial necessity at first glance. But personal finance expert and best-selling author Eric Tyson warns they can be tricky, especially if you don’t fully understand what you’re getting into. “Student loans aren’t inherently ‘bad,’” says Tyson. “They make sense for many people. But college is expensive, and using loans to pay for it means debt—sometimes a lot of it. Students and parents need to understand what they’re agreeing to before they sign on the bottom line.”

A FEW FACTS: The total amount of student loans outstanding in the U.S. has surpassed $1.5 trillion, making it the second largest form of consumer debt, exceeded only by mortgage debt. More than one million student loan borrowers default annually on their loans, and only 57 percent are current on their payments. According to LendEDU’s analysis of student loan debt figures at nearly 1,000 four-year private and public higher education institutions across the U.S., the average graduating borrower received their diploma and left campus with $28,565 in student loan debt. Those are some hefty numbers, and they underscore why you need to know some important facts and instructions about the payment process. Tyson offers these tips to remember before taking out a loan.

Keep track of your loans. They can get lost (and you can get behind) in the shuffle. Especially if you’ve taken loans from numerous sources, total up the amount of debt accumulated.” Debt surprises are rarely good! Track all of your student loans as they may well be represented by multiple lenders and/ or servicers by the time that college degree is earned. Discuss cosigner responsibilities. If parents have cosigned student loans with their son or daughter, everyone who has cosigned is legally responsible for the repayment of those loans. Putting an agreement in writing is a good idea to ensure that everyone is clear on the plan and there’s some accountability. Know the loan terms up front. When you take out a federal government student loan, you sign a federal student loan promissory note that spells out the terms and conditions of the loan. Generally, six months after graduation, federal student loan payments begin. Private loans work differently and have different terms and conditions; if you are considering taking out a private loan, take time to understand the terms before committing. Save money with your loan’s auto-pay feature. When your student loan repayments begin, consider an automatic payment option. This feature drafts the money from your bank account monthly on or before the payment due date. In addition to ensuring you don’t have late or missed payments, most loan servicers or lenders will knock 0.25 percent or so off of the effective interest rate you’re paying for using auto payment. Some private lenders may reduce the rate a tad more than that. One potential downside to putting your student loan repayments on auto payment would be if it ever leads to your bank checking account being overdrawn. Keep an eye on your account balance so that surprise doesn’t occur. Understand loan forgiveness conditions. There are several conditions under which a portion or all of government student loans can be discharged or forgiven. Most commonly this occurs because the student-borrower is working in a field of public service. However, this may also occur when the student-borrower suffers adverse health conditions. Borrowers who work in education, government, military, certain nonprofit organizations (not labor unions or partisan political organizations), law enforcement, or public health may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness

program. To be eligible, borrowers must have completed 120 monthly (10 years’ worth) ontime payments; be working full-time in public service; and be paying their loans back under an income-driven repayment plan. Unfortunately, the other conditions under which student loan balances can be discharged are less pleasant to consider, for example the studentborrower suffers a long-term disability or passes away. Know your federal loan repayment options. There are eight different repayment plans/ options for your federal student loans. Many of these plans are sensitive to and based upon the student’s income relative to the amount of student loans he has outstanding. The repayment schedule, however, is not tailored to the local cost of living (strangely, there’s an adjustment only for students in Alaska and Hawaii). So, students-turnedworkers who live in high-cost urban areas like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington, San Francisco, and so on don’t get any special breaks. Your salary may be a bit higher working for employers in those high-cost areas, which actually undermines your chances and ability to qualify for incomebased repayment plans. Stay open to the possibility of refinancing. By the time a student graduates and begins loan repayment, interest rates on new, comparable loans may be lower. When that occurs, it may be possible to refinance some of your student loans with a private lender at a lower interest rate than you are currently paying. Ask for relief if you need it. Hard times can happen, and as a result, you may struggle to make your required monthly loan payments. However, you may qualify for some relief from making your federal student loan payments until you can afford to do so again. There are two ways in which you may qualify for what is called “forbearance” of your federal student loans. You can request general forbearance if you are temporarily unable to make your scheduled monthly loan due to financial difficulties, medical expenses, change in employment, or

other reasons acceptable to your loan servicer. General forbearance is granted for no more than 12 months at a time. Under other circumstances (for example, you are serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program, and you meet specific requirements), you may be eligible for mandatory forbearance, in which your loan servicer is required to grant the forbearance. Make use of the student loan interest deduction. You may take a federal income tax deduction for each tax (calendar) year for student loan interests that you pay on IRS Form 1040 for college costs. Figures and stipulations vary from tax year to tax year. If you paid $600 or more in interest to a single lender, that lender is required to provide you with Form 1098-E, which documents the interest you paid for the year. Otherwise, ask your lender or loan servicer what you paid in interest for the year in question. Pause your loans if you return to school. Getting a college degree may not be the end of a person’s higher education. Returning to school at least half-time enables those who have subsidized federal government student loans to pause those loans. With subsidized federal student loans, interest does not accumulate, and no loan payments are due while the student is in school. However, private student loans and nonsubsidized federal student loans are a different matter. The interest keeps accumulating on those even if a former college graduate returns to school at least halftime. With some private student loans, you can’t defer payments, regardless of your student status. “If you take out student loans for college, they will be a part of your life for years to come, and you should approach them with eyes wide open,” concludes Tyson. “But if you handle them with responsibility, they can be a smart investment in your future.” Eric Tyson is the author of Paying For College For Dummies® and a syndicated personal finance writer, lecturer, and counselor.


Money & Career |



COLLEGE COSTS by Miron Lulic

The average tuition, fees, room and board for an instate public institution (without financial aid) in 2019 topped out at $20,790, according to a College Board report. Going out of state? You’re looking at $36,480. Considering a private, four-year school? Expect to pay around $46,990 a year. But college costs don’t have to break the bank. There are ways to manage college costs that don’t involve applying for a second mortgage.

Pile on the A.P. classes.

Taking Advanced Placement classes in high school—and excelling on the official exams at the end of the course—can earn students credit hours at the school of their choice. Translation: the more A.P. classes a high schooler can ace now, the fewer college courses they’ll have to pay for later. These classes may not count toward your major, but they will count for general requirements. Do it right, and you could reduce your time in college by an entire semester. That could save you an average $13k in an in-state college and up to $25k in a private college.

Be creative with scholarships.

Leave no stone unturned. Free money is a big deal. You may be able to score extra cash because you know how to knit. It could have to do with your heritage, your beliefs, personal interests, or what you plan to study. Research what’s out there—and don’t forget to look for scholarships even after freshman year.

Apply for financial aid.

Even if you think that a school won’t offer you financial aid, it doesn’t hurt to ask. You may be surprised—and you definitely won’t get anything if you don’t apply. This means filing a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) ideally in January of the year that you will enter school. Communities even have FAFSA meetings for parents to help them interpret the paperwork. Do this a couple of years before you need it. You may be able to move assets around to qualify for aid.

Compare net price, not the net cost.

Net price is what college will cost after you subtract the gift aid. Net cost subtracts the entire financial aid package. Even if a school is offering you loans, you’ll have to pay those back. (For years, in most cases.) So that’s still a cost to you, even if it’s not immediate. You can learn what individual schools dole out, on average, at such sites as U.S. News & World Report and the College Board. Look at the average aid package and the ratios of grants to loans or work-study programs.

Consider graduation rates.

You may think that you’re choosing the more economical school, but that only works if you can snag a diploma in four years. Some 45% of students who go to school full-time need another year (or more) to finish; so compare apples to apples among schools — find out what 28

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

percentage of the student body graduates in four years using a site like College Results. From the start, map out how many courses you plan to take each semester to graduate on time. Then consider stacking the deck with summer classes, which can be cheaper than regular semester hours, or summer classes at a community college that will transfer.

Look for a closer school.

When considering colleges, mileage matters. There are four breaks in the typical school year—Thanksgiving, winter, spring, and summer— and traveling home for each of these can add up. It’s less expensive to drive across the state than to fly across the country. Calculate the cost. You may wish you had chosen a closer college if you can’t afford to visit family and friends.

Seek out no-loan options.

Some schools have adopted “no loan” financial aid policies, meaning students receive grants instead of loans to help them attend. Unfortunately, these tend to be the big leagues: Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Vanderbilt, for instance. If you have the chops to get accepted by one of them, you’re set. Princeton University started the trend, and 83% of seniors graduated debt free in 2016.

Work—but not too much.

The more money you can earn during the school year, the less you will need to borrow to cover school costs. However, excessive work can torpedo academic efforts. People who work while at college get benefits, particularly when working in jobs related to what they are studying. However, students who work too much jeopardize their chances of graduating altogether. Though summertime is fair game!

Be reasonable.

Half of your costs are going to be living expenses and miscellaneous things that come up. So be flexible and remember there are plenty of variables that will affect the final price you pay. For instance, you could live in student housing versus an off-campus apartment, or even at home, if you’re close enough. You can also buy textbooks secondhand. One cost-cutting tactic that’s risky: hitting community college first, with the plan of transferring to a four-year school later. It could save you a lot of money, but three-fifths of students who start their education at a twoyear school do not obtain a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Save, save, save.

Try to start early putting money away for education. Every dollar you save is a dollar less that you’ll need to borrow. It generally takes about $2 to pay back every $1 in student loans, so you literally cut your college costs in half by saving first. Miron Lulic is founder and CEO at SuperMoney, a leading financial services comparison platform.

You can count on

Lakeside Bank Provides Food for the Community

The Lakeside Bank Cooking Team barbecued over 800 chicken breasts to feed the local communities they serve. Chicken sandwiches, chips and drinks were served by the Officers and employees at all locations.

Lakeside Bank Collects Coats in Time of Need

Lakeside’s One Coat Drive was initiated to help the many people who lost everything in two major hurricanes that hit SWLA. Lakeside collected over 800 coats and gave those to churches, schools, charitable originations and shelters to keep our local citizens warm.

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Lakeside Bank Spreads Holiday Cheer with Random Acts of Kindness Lakeside Bank employees randomly gave out hams, pork tenderloins, chickens, cookies, candy, and paid for some folks’ meals at a local restaurant.

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Money & Career

McNeese Is First Choice for Fulbright Scholar

Hamza Gheith, a graduate

engineering student, is attending McNeese State University this spring semester as the university’s first Fulbright U.S. Student Program participant. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program – established in 1946 – offers research, study and teaching opportunities for one academic year in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. Gheith, from Libya, completed his undergraduate engineering studies in 2013 at the University of Tripoli. He then worked for one of the nation’s gas industries but had dreams of continuing his education abroad.

He applied to the Fulbright program and was very excited to receive the call that he had been accepted into the program. Fulbright students must pass GRE and English proficiency exams before moving on in the admission processes. After several rounds of interviews, students create a list of possible university destinations that offer academic programs that align with their goals. “There were a lot of interviews and tests to get through, but I knew I was on my way to obtaining my academic goals,” he says. McNeese was Gheith’s first choice for two reasons. “Through my research I learned McNeese has one of the best engineering programs in the country,” he explains.

“Also, I liked the prospect of nearly year-round warm temperatures in Southwest Louisiana.” McNeese’s engineering program is ranked among the Top 25 public and private institutions in the nation for salary potential for its engineering majors by the 2020-2021 College Salary Report by PayScale.Com. Gheith’s research interest is in renewable energy and he plans to continue working in Libya after completing his studies. For more information on McNeese’s graduate engineering programs, visit https://www.

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Lake Charles • Sulphur 337-533-1808 • Federally Insured by NCUA


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

SOWELA ACHIEVES HIGHEST STUDENT RETENTION RATE AMONG ALL COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN LOUISIANA SOWELA’s retention rate from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 leads at 83.71% Despite the challenges from COVID-19 and damage from two disastrous hurricanes, SOWELA has achieved a student retention rate of 83.71% from the Fall 2020 to the Spring 2021 semester. SOWELA, damaged heavily by recordbreaking Hurricane Laura, did not experience a major loss of enrollment following the devastation. The 83.71% retention rate is the best semester-over-semester retention rate of any community college in the entire state of Louisiana with community colleges in the state reporting an average retention rate during the same semester-to-semester time period of 78.82%. SOWELA also led all Louisiana community college retention rate from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020 with 75.06%. In addition to the highest retention rate in the state, SOWELA was recently named WalletHub’s #1 community college in Louisiana for the third straight year. SOWELA is also ranked #27 overall in the entire U.S. out of all 698 community colleges in the rankings. “SOWELA is very proud of the strong enrollment growth the College has experienced in the last several years. However, the key to the longevity of this growth is retention. We continually do the important work of student recruitment and engagement but the real test is if we can get these students to persevere and complete their programs of study,” said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. “I am very pleased that SOWELA has the highest student retention rate of all the colleges in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Our faculty and staff understand that the most important reason we exist as an institution of higher learning is to serve our students. The student support services we provide help our students reach the finish line and earn the credential for which they are preparing and eventually the career they want to pursue.” SOWELA is currently offering online, hybrid and in-person options dependent on course availability and requirements since it began the Spring 2021 semester on January 19. SOWELA’s main campus is in Lake Charles with satellite campuses in Jennings and Oakdale.

SOWELA is currently offering a “Second Start” option for new students hoping to enroll. The Second Start option also allows current students to add another course to their Spring 2021 schedule. Enrollment for the Second Start option is open now and will end on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Interested students can visit for more information or to sign up. Currently, five of SOWELA’s 13 main campus buildings are open for instruction. Beginning last Spring in 2020, SOWELA shifted many of its programs to online and/or hybrid options due to COVID, and officials will continue the online and hybrid options for some of the college’s programs in the Spring 2021 semester. Some programs will have in-person options for hands-on training and lab instruction. To help students gain access to online instruction, SOWELA recently provided more than 1,000 mobile hotspots to its students, staff and faculty. SOWELA offers more than 30 technical and academic programs including Practical Nursing, Machine Tool Technology, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Surgical Technology, Accounting Technology and Forest Technology.

For more information or to apply online, visit www.sowela. edu. Anyone needing additional assistance can contact ABOUT SOWELA TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE SOWELA Technical Community College provides traditional, distance, and lifelong learning experiences and awards associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. The College empowers learners in career and technical education and enables transfer students to pursue a fouryear degree, so all learners excel as globally competitive citizens. The College has been educating the region’s workforce for 80 years. | (337) 421-6550 31

Places & Faces 2021 Economic Update

Resilience Rebuilding Recovery As members of a community, recovery from the storms of 2020 – whether in the form of devastating hurricanes, a global pandemic, financial difficulties, personal loss, or all of the above – is a process. Recovery requires time and tenacity. While businesses and people are all progressing in their own time, one thing is certain. With resiliency and determination, we are moving forward. In this issue, our annual economic cover section illustrates how various industries and organizations throughout our region have weathered the storms and found innovative ways to stay afloat and continue serving Southwest Louisiana and surrounding areas. Thrive magazine recognizes the impressive progress made and applaud the efforts of everyone who has had a role in restoring our communities and bringing them back better than ever. We thank you all!


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021



The annual payroll and benefits of direct employees with local industry.



The number of employees with local industry in 2020.


$1,000,000,000 The amount of donations local industries made to local hospitals, clinics, the Calcasieu Parish School Board and local non-profits during the COVID-19 pandemic.


$275 million

40,000 The number of non-industry jobs created thanks to local industry.

The amount of financial contributions by local industries to the McNeese State University Foundation.

The amount of property taxes paid by local industries in the past 5 years.



The number of volunteers from industry every year in Southwest Louisiana.







The amount of sales tax paid by local industries in the past 5 years.

$1.4 million The amount of donations made to capital projects at SOWELA by area industry. 33 Sources: Plant Manager Survey, Calcasieu Parish Assessor’s Office, McNeese Foundation and SOWELA

Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

2021: A Year of Questions and

Comebacks for Industries

Local industries are restoring, rebuilding and revitalizing from the devastating year of 2020. This is an encouraging step for over 7,000 employees with direct jobs at local industry, along with the thousands of contractors and vendors. While many questions remain – most of them stemming from the president’s energy policies – most are hopeful for continued growth and renewed stability. “COVID was an economic double-edged sword for the industries,” explains Jim Rock, executive director of Lake Area Industry Alliance. “The needed precautions to keep employees, contractors and their families safe increased cost and disrupted the normal practices and procedures at these facilities. Economically, the decreased demand of some of the products produced by local industries caused a significant loss of profits. The global demand for gasoline, diesel and especially jet fuel diminished greatly as travel decreased. The demand for other products such as polyethylene and other derivatives plunged also, as manufacturing sites across the country declined in their productivity.” 34

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

As local industries coped with the decrease in production due to COVID, Hurricanes Laura and Delta created new problems. “Preparing for the storms introduced additional costs for the industry,” explains Rock. “The downtime before, during and after the storms had a big impact. Every facility had some degree of damage which extended the time production was curtailed and added even more cost to make temporary and eventually permanent repairs.” Hurricane Laura dealt the highest force winds the industrial plants in Southwest Louisiana had ever sustained. In addition to cooling tower and insulation damage, many buildings also sustained roof and siding impacts which are requiring repair and replacement. As facilities were resuming operations, Hurricane Delta hit in early October, causing more delays for many facilities and further damage in some cases. “The good news is we are anticipating a gradual restoration of production as the COVID vaccine is distributed, allowing the overall economy to strengthen. This brings back demand for products produced here in Southwest Louisiana,” Rock says. Many of the products produced by local industries are integral in the production, manufacturing and distribution of the COVID

by Christine Fisher vaccine. The medical supplies, equipment and logistics that are now mobilized to treat patients and distribute the vaccine stem from plastics, one of the end-products manufactured by some local industries. The transportation and distribution of vaccines requires oil and gas to fuel the trucks. Beyond that, the vaccines require continuous refrigeration at extremely cold temperatures, which can be accomplished thanks to oil and gas produced, in part, here in Southwest Louisiana. The Institute for Energy Research states that the vaccines for COVID would not be possible without the huge contributions of America’s oil and gas suppliers. “Local industries can be proud to be part of the solution for the treatment and vaccination of COVID,” says Rock. On the national front, President Biden’s recent executive order pauses oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, another setback for local industry. “Any bans or restrictions on federal lands and waters will shift the U.S. to increased imports of foreign oil. The offshore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for over 15 percent of U.S. oil production. This will impact both oil and gas with Louisiana bearing the greatest loss of jobs and associated loss of revenue,” Rock says.

In a recent letter to President Joe Biden, LMOGA emphasized the challenges and opportunities facing Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry. “Louisiana’s energy industry is critical to realizing the national economic and environmental goals set by the Biden administration, and the industry stands ready to work together for a brighter future,” says Gray. “We will continue to vigorously advocate for strong, long-term energy policy that promotes homegrown energy and protects much-needed jobs and recognizes the importance of a strong oil and natural gas industry. In order for local industry to sustain, thrive, and continue to grow, the overall national and global economy needs to rebound. “Our products go far beyond this region, including many exports to Asia and Europe. It will take a world-wide recovery of demand for us to realize a complete business restoration,” Rock explains. Our region is rich in industrial investments, and the future may bring more industrial projects and expansions. As our area, the country, and the world recover from the COVID pandemic, getting businesses back online in a safe manner is beneficial for individuals as well as the economy.

The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association warns that the president’s actions set a dangerous precedent that threatens Louisiana’s economy and undermines environmental progress. “It is abundantly clear that limiting energy development will stifle Louisiana’s economic growth and threaten thousands of jobs,” says LMOGA President Tyler Gray. As a result of the industry’s longstanding commitment to the environment and billions of dollars’ worth of investments in infrastructure and technology, total emissions have fallen dramatically while production has significantly increased. “The narrative that citizens and policymakers must choose between energy and the environment is fundamentally flawed and we need solutions that protect the environment while encouraging economic growth,” says Gray. While LMOGA did not have specific economic numbers for particular regions in Louisiana, Ashley Cain, public affairs manager, says, “It can be implied that a region as heavily dependent on the industry for its economy as Southwest Louisiana is, an affordable, reliable supply of natural gas is critically important.”

Keiland. We Build it Better. Keiland Construction delivers building excellence on each and every project, and we are proud to work to rebuild, restore and improve multiple buildings across the region that were damaged by last year’s hurricanes. Our clients deserve the highest quality project, at the price they expect and the agreed-upon schedule. We deliver our clients’ expectations by relying on over 200 years of combined

12-11-2020: Topping-Out Ceremony for MSU Frasch Hall & Frazier Library (170,000 sq. ft.)—repairs completed in 41,000 man hours just 105 days after devastating hurricane storm damage, and one month ahead of schedule. Keiland brought together a 200-plus man team of the most talented Louisiana craftsmen in 72 hours to restore the campus.

expertise in construction, along with industry knowledge, skillful planning, open communication and quality people finishing exceptional work. As Keiland Construction, we weave the fabric of the future, tirelessly building structural masterpieces, vital schools, parks and neighborhoods in which memories are made. We craft a future the communities we serve will cherish for generations to come.

Knowledge | Experience | Ingenuity | Leadership | Ambition | Nobility | Dedication

This is what it takes. This is what we represent. This is KEILAND. | (337) 436-6846 600 Bayou Pines East, Suite G | Lake Charles La 70601


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

Port Sending Louisiana Rice to Africa


The Port of Lake Charles not only connects with the world, it helps feed the world. Soon, it will reach out even more to help people in need — by sending ships to Africa loaded with Louisiana-grown rice. Food aid is only part of the diverse cargo mix handled by the Port, which saw record numbers for certain key cargoes in 2020 despite a global pandemic and record damage from two hurricanes. The rice shipments, though, illustrate the Port’s local and global impact in a personal way.

HELPING GLOBALLY The latest rice cargo is linked to the World Food Program, which helps people in the conflictridden Sahel region of Africa. Contracts totaling more than $55 million have been awarded to the Port of Lake Charles and other ports to get food to the region. “All the rice was grown and milled, and will be transported by Louisiana companies and workers,” said Therrance Chretien, the Port’s director of trade and cargo development. The Port will send 19,356 short tons of rice to Burkina Faso, Niger and Cameroon. The cargo will ship out in late April or early May for ports in Togo and Cameroon. The Sahel region is described by the Norwegian Refugee Council as “the world’s most neglected and conflictridden area.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Perhaps Southwest Louisiana, which feared being forgotten after unprecedented destruction from two hurricanes, can partly understand. Despite the distance, the relief effort may show it’s a small world. “We were once, and still, displaced — from Hurricanes Laura and Delta,” Chretien said. “Now, we’re sending aid to those who are displaced — from conflict in the Sahel region. It’s connecting the Port with the rest of the world.”

RECOVERING & THRIVING LOCALLY Meanwhile, the Port continues to serve local industries and worldwide shippers after a rapid post-storm reboot and its own ongoing recovery. Certain Port cargoes saw new records for volume or growth rates in 2020.

PORT STATISTICS SHOW THAT: • Handling of project cargo — such as

liquified natural gas (LNG) equipment and components — rocketed from 178 cubic feet in 2019 to 58,847 cubic feet last year, a whopping 32,960 percent increase. • Wind energy cargo set a record with 105 percent year-over-year growth. Having handled wind-turbine blades in 2019, the Port added windmill tower units to the workload — and raised the 2020 total to 1,092 wind energy components, a record.

GROWTH WAS ALSO RECORDED IN OTHER AREAS: • Port customer Southern Ionics handled

221,000 tons of alumina trihydrate — a powder with multiple industrial and manufacturing uses — in 2020. The figure represents a 40 percent increase. • IFG’s export grain terminal handled 20 percent more grains and rough rice. • Finished lumber jumped 800 percent. • Cameron LNG, a Port tenant, handled seven million tons of LMNG in its first year. • The new Peloris Terminal, in its first partial year of operation, handled 76,000 tons of sodium hydrosulfide — a compound with multiple industrial applications.

Violent unrest in western Africa has created a humanitarian crisis. The Port of Lake Charles is sending Louisiana-grown rice to that area as part of the World Food Program’s food aid efforts. The Port installed a new, larger mobile crane at Bulk Terminal 1 as part of its swift post-storm recovery efforts.

The Port of Lake Charles will soon ship Louisiana rice to help people in strife-torn western Africa. Rice remains a mainstay cargo at the Port — with multiple destinations.


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE


are Grounded in Same Principles Chennault International Airport is following “the three R’s” as it charts its course as a national hub for aerospace. “Recovery, resilience and relevance,” said Executive Director Kevin Melton, who rode out two hurricanes with his team in 2020 and has steered his energy fully to the future.

HERE’S THE RUNDOWN: Recovery. For months after the storms, Chennault served as a massive central hub for regional resources, people and vehicles for hurricane response — and sustained record damage of its own. After both Laura and Delta, Chennault had the airport open within hours for emergency access. Now, “we’re focused on recovery to minimize work/business interruption,” Melton said. Resilience. “We need to be resilient —

open to change and growth,” Melton said. “Our mission is to build a program that is resilient to positive and negative changes —

38 Thrive Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

in our community, state, nation, and world — that minimizes negative impacts and capitalizes on positive impacts for the common good of our region and state.”

Relevance. A successful airport is a busy airport — in terms of its jobs, service quality, tenant partners and pursuit of additional development. “Chennault must continue to be relevant — to the taxpayer, our region and the aerospace and transportation industries — by creating an environment that supports jobs and economic development,” Melton said. In the past year, Chennault has greeted everything from Air Force One to relief shipments to general aviation. Now, and throughout 2021, it welcomes the sight of construction, ranging from hurricane repairs that leave buildings even stronger to the re-imagining of the entrance plaza off Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Avenue. Chennault’s two-mile-long runway has served the needs of civilian and military aircraft for decades. Chennault is home to a variety of tenants, including Northrop Grumman, Landlocked Aviation, Louisiana Millwork and Citadel Completions.

“As a center of aerospace activity, Chennault is attracting more companies that benefit from our location, our big runway and the synergy between our aerospace tenants,” Melton said. All efforts are intended to generate positive growth.

In the year ahead, Chennault will:

• Continue aggressive efforts to develop its properties.

• Take first steps to enter the commercial air cargo

business with the groundbreaking for its new air cargo facility • Welcome projects that will improve its infrastructure and capacity, such as the Merganser Street rebuilding and widening work that is already under way at Chennault’s main entrance. • Host the Chennault International Airshow on June 5–6 — with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the F-22 “Raptor” fighter jet as the headliners. Melton is president of the airshow’s volunteer board of directors. • See construction begin on a Louisiana National Guard readiness center. The Chennault International Airport Authority (CIAA) maintains and markets the Chennault facility. The Board of Commissioners governs the functions of the CIAA. Members of the board are appointed by various local bodies and serve four-year terms.

Air Force One

Together we are stronger than any storm! (337) 775-5206

Clair Hebert Marceaux, Director

Board commissioners include Denise Rau, president; Rico Guillory, vice president; and Charles Dalgleish, secretary/treasurer. Other commissioners are James G. Gobert, Andy Hankins, Bill Hankins and Tad Martin.

SWLA Strong Over 80 Years of Serving the People of Southwest and Central Louisiana

For more information about Chennault International Airport, follow its LinkedIn page, “like” its Facebook page and visit



1010 East First Street P.O. Box 970 DeRidder, LA 70634 Toll Free: 800.367.0275 Phone: 337.463.6221 Fax: 337.463.2809

975 North Perkins Ferry Road P.O. Box 12783 Lake Charles, LA 70611 Ph: 337.855.6684 Fax: 337.855.0073

Chennault Director Kevin Melton and Gov. John Bel Edwards


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

Kyle Edmiston was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, a small community that placed significant value on family and religion. He attended Louisiana Tech University and majored in finance with a minor in accounting. While at Tech, he worked with former University President F. Jay Taylor, helped coordinate special university events, and learned how to advocate to our state elected officials. After college graduation, Edmiston worked in retail for several national brands before returning to his alma mater as Director of Alumni Relations. In 2005, he accepted the position of President/CEO of the Ruston Lincoln CVB and has been involved in the travel industry since then. In 2012, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne offered Edmiston the position of Director of Tourism for the State of Louisiana. He accepted, moved to Baton Rouge, and began to lead the efforts of the Louisiana Office of Tourism. This gave him the opportunity to work with destination marketing organizations (DMO) from every corner of Louisiana.

first person with

Kyle Edmiston, President/CEO Lake Charles SWLA CVB/Visit Lake Charles

by Angie Kay Dilmore


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Edmiston served Louisiana for six years in this capacity and for each of those years, his office set new records for number of visitors and economic impact from tourism. In January 2018, Edmiston came to Southwest Louisiana as the Chief Operating Officer for the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau as part of a transition strategy with the impending retirement of Shelley Johnson, who had served in her role for over 31 years. Johnson retired in April 2019 and the board of directors promoted Edmiston to the position of President/CEO, where he currently serves. Edmiston and the organizations he has led have won numerous awards over his accomplished career. He was named the Rising Star by Southeast Tourism Society in 2010, named a Top 25 Extraordinary Mind for Sales and Marketing in the United States by HSMAI, and was awarded the National State Tourism Director of the Year in 2017. Visit Lake Charles was awarded the DMO of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Association in 2019. Edmiston serves the travel industry and garners valuable information for SWLA as a member of several national organizations. He currently chairs Brand USA, the national DMO whose mission is to increase incremental international inbound visitation to the United States. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Louisiana Travel Association and is on the boards of U.S. Travel Association and Destinations International. Thrive magazine recently caught up with Edmiston, and he talked about travel, tourism, and the challenges the industry faced through the devastating events of 2020.

What type of travel did you experience as a child?

My family traveled the south via car when I was young, and my favorite activity was to go to theme parks. We visited Astro World, Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags over Georgia, and others. I enjoyed seeing the small towns and unique offerings along the roadways, and that sparked my travel curiosity as I have grown older.

In what ways has COVID-19 and Hurricanes Laura and Delta affected CVB operations and overall tourism in SWLA?

The CVB is poised and ready to begin the sales and marketing efforts to bring back meetings, conventions, groups, international and leisure visitors when appropriate. However, until our casinos, museums, attractions, and restaurants can be at 100% occupancy and our live music and entertainment can resume, we will remain in a holding pattern. Our hope is to move forward with these plans in April or May as the vaccine becomes more widespread around the South.

What are your goals for the CVB moving forward?

Without a doubt, 2020 was the toughest year ever for the travel and tourism industry in SWLA. The world-wide pandemic effectively shut down all travel in mid-March and negatively impacted every business in the travel sector. The CVB shifted its focus from inspiring visitation to informing the community regarding restaurant hours, take out, delivery, and other pertinent data to engage the locals with our open businesses. During the summer, SWLA as a destination returned to a more normal visitation mix but at only 50% of the volume. After the devastation of Hurricanes Laura and Delta, we had to pivot again after our lakefront office suffered substantial damage and has been closed since August 25. The building is currently under construction and we hope to open to the public soon. Over 70% of the available hotel/motel rooms in Calcasieu Parish were closed after Laura and every travel/tourism business received some damage. In the six months since, our destination is now up to approximately 60% of previously available rooms now open and every day a business in SWLA reopens, expands their hours, or increases their capacity. There is still an uphill battle to return the community and the destination to pre-storm marketability, but I am truly excited about the possibilities that stem from rebuilding! We must be smart and take the time necessary to reimagine the destination as it can be and not necessarily just rebuild as it was.

Our vision – to be a world class destination where residents and visitors can stay and play – as well as our mission – to advocate for the tourism industry and promote Lake Charles/SWLA as a dynamic destination serving our visitors and community – remain the same. The CVB is currently in a three-year strategic plan, facilitated by The Coraggio Group and approved by the board last March, that runs through 2023 and while the pandemic and the hurricanes have changed our timeframe, they have not lessened our passion, drive, and determination to achieve these lofty goals. We are fortunate in SWLA to have a culture and a product that visitors desire, and we will continue to market and sell those attributes that make this such a special place!

What still needs to be done to return to business-as-usual?

Name your top three bucket-list travel destinations in the world.

The largest hurdle to begin the process of returning to the 2019 baseline of economic impact of tourism remains Covid-19. Despite the physical setbacks we have endured, there is pent-up demand for visiting our destination.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I currently spend most of my spare time chasing my stepson in pursuit of his passion – baseball. Parker is a senior at St. Louis Catholic High School and will continue his academic and athletic career at Nicholls State in the fall. Right now, his teammates' focus is to play at McMurry Park in Sulphur on May 12-15 at the LHSAA State baseball tournament. I also enjoy duck hunting with friends and playing golf. My wife, Leslye, and I like to travel, which we have missed very much during the pandemic and look forward to resuming soon.

With travel such a large part of my work experience, my bucket list of locations is probably more remote than most. I want to spend time in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas experiencing the natural wonders of the National Park System; I'd like to see Australia; I have been to Milan, but I would like to revisit Italy – especially the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Florence, and Venice.

Kyle Edmiston and stepson Parker


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Announces

NEW CLINICS, EXPANDED SERVICES Southwest Louisiana is emerging from many challenges – the pandemic and two hurricanes – and West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital underscores that resiliency with expanded services. “We’re proud to have continuously provided exceptional healthcare services to our community throughout these trying times,” says Janie Fruge’, chief executive officer of WCCH. “As we look ahead, we’re excited about several new developments in our service area.” WCCH recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new WCCH Primary Care Clinic in Carlyss. “Carlyss continues to be one of the fastest-growing area in our service district,” explains Bobby LeTard, chairman for the WCCH Board of Commissioners. “Because of this continual growth, we knew we needed to develop a plan to meet the growing healthcare needs of this community.” The clinic will be located next to Iberia Bank on the corner of LA 27 and Walker Road. The over 4,700 square-foot clinic will be equipped with eight patient exam rooms, laboratory draw capabilities and a minor procedure area. WCCH plans to house two to three primary care providers along with a full-time support team. The architect for the $1.475 million project is King Architects. Gunter Construction will serve as general contractor. Construction has begun and is slated for completion in early 2022. 42

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Another exciting addition to the WCCH slate of medical services is the new Community Health Center of WCCH. Expected to open in the spring of this year, the center will provide a variety of healthcare services to this community. This includes those who are on Medicare, Medicaid, uninsured and insured. The new center will offer services for primary care, walk-ins, and specialty care for general surgery, gynecology, and fracture care with plans to expand service lines in the future. The Community Health Center of WCCH will be located on the WCCH campus at 703 Cypress Street, Suite A in Sulphur. WCCH continues to navigate through COVID-19 treatments, providing both monoclonal antibody treatment - which has been successful at limiting hospitalizations

for some patients, as well as administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those who meet current vaccine administration guidelines. Additionally, WCCH is still making facility repairs due to damage from Hurricanes Laura and Delta, but the hospital is operating at full-service capacity, providing all services to patients and the community. "This is a challenging time, but we're looking to the future and know that brighter days are ahead," says Fruge'. These additions to our medical services are exciting and are further proof that our commitment of providing exceptional healthcare services to our community continues." For more information, visit

Dedicated to supporting the communities of SWLA

Lake Charles Petro Site

Lake Charles North Site

Westlake Chemical is the largest petrochemical employer in SWLA, operating four sites in Calcasieu Parish. Lake Charles South Site

Lake Charles Poly Site

SWLA Strong


employees and contractors at Westlake Chemical’s Lake Charles facilities.

Largest Campaign Donation United Way in 2018 and 2019.


donated to hurricane recovery efforts after Hurricanes Laura and Delta.


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana


In honoring a commitment to the community of Lake Charles, CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana quickly responded during the hurricanes and in the aftermath, priority-driven on providing exceptional health care, even in the midst of crisis.

The call to respond was answered during the darkest hours as Hurricane Laura ravaged the region causing untold damage to homes, businesses and hospitals. Because of the destruction, CHRISTUS Ochsner Health leaders made the decision to consolidate services to CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital. Leaders, associates and CHRISTUS medical teams from across the organization traveled to Lake Charles to ensure the doors of CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital remained open to provide care to those in need. The weeks and months following proved challenging as services like power and water were brought back to operational order. Staging the comeback breathed life into complex plans for growth in the ministry. Both the CHRISTUS and Ochsner Health Systems, which serve the Lake Charles community as a joint venture, are investing a projected $30 million dollars to fund repairs and improvements.


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

“We are invested in this community as a major employer. We will meet our commitments to serving the economy, to growing our health services and bringing new capital and new infrastructure as part of the wonderful story of the rebirth of Southwest Louisiana,” said Paul Trevino, Chief Executive Officer, CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwestern Louisiana. The most demanding part of rebuilding is strengthening the infrastructure and facilities where the healing work is done. At CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick projects include extensive work to replace rooftop exhaust systems, domestic supply water heaters, and a chiller. At CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area several air conditioning units in Building G have been replaced. They are also re-investing in technology for facilities. A state-of-the-art CT scanner has been purchased for CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area and they are making other technological improvements at both campuses. “The storms, and recovery thereafter, amplified the need for improvement and growth. Out of all the chaos, very good things are happening for our health system and for Southwest Louisiana,” said Jim Davidson, President and Chief Operating Officer, CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana. Beyond the necessary repairs, services throughout the ministry will benefit from the investment. Clinical work spaces are being evaluated with a team of architects and designers who will assist on upgrades and modernization projects.

At CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital, the surgery department facilities are being renovated with the addition of new sterilization equipment for surgical instruments. CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwest Louisiana recently updated its entire ultrasound platform for all imaging sites across the Ministry with the Cannon Aplio i-series, which is a unit designed to deliver outstanding clinical imaging precision and crystal-clear images. It also provides an abundance of new tools to assist in a faster diagnosis. This technology comes in handy when used for biopsy, abdominal, and pediatric exams. There are also exciting plans for Labor and Delivery, which will be announced later this year. These improvements are just the latest in CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana’s ongoing investment in growing health care. In recent years, the addition of Lake Area Medical Center and the Imperial Calcasieu Surgical Center, along with adding more than 30 providers to the physician network, have made it even easier for patients to have access to high-quality medical staff, surgeons and care. CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana is focused on the future and the mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Coming back stronger means preserving its 110year legacy for patients, associates and the community.

Need a physician?

Finding a physician has never been more convenient.

CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana physician referral service connects you to quality care in Southwest Louisiana. By calling us, you will be referred to someone with the credentials and experience your family can trust. Our services operate at your convenience - receive a referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and choose that referral based on physician specialty, location or insurance carrier.

To access our physician referral service at any time, call


45 21-0329

Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital


The year of 2020 challenged us in many ways with a pandemic and two hurricanes. It challenged the way Memorial delivered healthcare, cared for patients in storms and most of all: how to adapt and keep moving forward. However unexpected, chaotic or devastating 2020 was, Memorial didn’t miss a beat. Memorial was right here during it all, doors open and continuing to deliver healthcare to the community. “We learned a lot through this pandemic and the recovery from two hurricanes,” says Chief Medical Officer/Interim CEO Manley Jordan, MD. “Our team was determined to care for our community despite all the adversity. Now we are pressing forward, and working to prepare for the next storm.” Investments are being made to bring back facilities stronger than they were before, make the main Memorial Hospital more self-sufficient and less reliant on the outside in the event another catastrophe rolls ashore. These events have made us take a step back to focus on the future, and how and where to expand services. “We want to be in a position where we can shelter in place for a hurricane, only to open once it passes and not miss a beat,” says Chief Financial Officer/Interim CEO Charles Whitson. “We are important for the health of this community and we take that responsibility personally.”

Changes, expansions and upgrades are on the drawing board for Memorial for Women, which has become a hub for women’s healthcare. Memorial Hospital continues to be the regional leader in acute-care services with the largest ER and area’s only trauma center, and Moss Memorial Health Clinic is still providing access for the uninsured and underinsured and plays an important role in the healthcare future for our community. Renovations and plans to expand the Memorial footprint physically are in the works as the health system moves to improve service access in SWLA. That includes more convenient locations, access to more specialties and improved care journey. “What we are witnessing here in Southwest Louisiana is a rebirth and Memorial is no different,” Dr. Jordan says. “Last year was tough and it came with a lot of challenges. Now, 2021 is our time to shine. I’m excited for this community and excited for what we have to move Memorial forward too.” This continued growth means Memorial remains a huge economic driver of the Lake Charles community as one of the area’s largest employers. Being back at capacity and the future growth of services has led to an increased demand for nurses, and for workers in all areas, both medical and support staff alike. Those interested in joining the Memorial team can apply at

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital

Archer Institute


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

SAFETY & SECURITY These have become a major issue. If my father is elected: • He will sit with the Lake Charles Police decrease crime. • Increasing police presence in our neighborhoods. • Recruit volunteers for neighborhood watch. • Encourage community meetings monthly to discuss safety issues. Safety is a city and parish wideissue that needs to be reexamined. Working with law enforcement at the city and parish level, we can merge our interests and help each build better and stronger communities.

-S ha d i Ta ha

Please vote for Khalid Taha City Council District G #60 on 3/20/2021 Memorial for Women

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Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

Calcasieu Parish Details Long-Term


Natural disasters like Hurricanes Laura and Delta are becoming more common according to climate and weather experts, leaving communities like Southwest Louisiana to continually seek recovery from environmental catastrophes. However, according to state and local elected officials, disaster forecasting, event management and immediate post-event response is always improving. Calcasieu Parish’s Long-Term Hurricane Recovery Framework Press Conference, held January 26 at the Burton Complex in Lake Charles, had a mission: “To restore, redevelop, and revitalize local resiliency in Calcasieu Parish by uniting as a ‘Whole Community’ to develop and maintain a comprehensive Recovery Plan in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Disaster Recovery Framework.” All participants agreed that lessons learned from past events like Hurricane Rita in 2005 48

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

have been essential in learning how to prioritize assistance once high winds and flood waters recede, public safety stabilizes and additional support arrives. Long term recovery is a challenging, complex and lengthy process, with governmental entities, business and industry, community organizations and individuals working collaboratively to determine how best to restore and rebuild lives and property in the communities they know and love. Calcasieu Parish Administrator, Bryan Beam, opened the recent conference, noting that the current CPPJ emphasis is on long-term recovery plans that align with FEMA’s protocol. The focus is on how all involved entities must provide “governance, oversight and structure to recovery operations in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies while ensuring Calcasieu Parish leads and manages its own recovery process.” Resilience and sustainability were the anticipated outcomes underscored by each speaker. Governor John Bel Edwards stressed that his office remains dedicated to raising consciousness about the storms throughout the rest of the country, as well as with the new Biden administration. What happened in August and October 2020, coupled with the COVID pandemic, left Louisiana with an unprecedented catastrophe, he stated. Recovery involves rebuilding homes and businesses; creating rental housing; mitigating hazards; recovery for agricultural losses; modernizing infrastructure; and planning and implementing mitigation against future disasters.

by Madelaine Brauner Landry

Stating that the funding already received has been “substantial, but insufficient to do everything” following both storms, the Governor detailed the dollars that have come into SWLA from federal agencies such as FEMA, SBA, Public Assistance, the National Flood Insurance Program and others. The state has requested a $3 billion appropriation in CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding from the federal government. Governor Edwards said he hopes this occurs in early spring 2021, allowing the state to move forward with its planned long-term recovery efforts. With over 18,000 original evacuees, currently 684 families remain sheltered in various cities in Louisiana. Local governments also turn to programs authorized by the Stafford Act to help. The presidential declaration of a state of emergency triggers an initial response by FEMA. Tony Robinson, FEMA Region 6 Administrator, highlighted his agency’s ability to handle disaster preparation, storm response, and immediate emergency response post-events. Along with other conference participants, he emphasized continued cooperation is vital to ensure that federal and state dollars are appropriately spent, while addressing the myriad concerns and needs of all affected SWLA communities.

Working together. Working stronger. At Entergy Louisiana, we see the power of community at work every day. In the wake of hurricanes Laura and Delta, your incredible strength, resilience and perseverance were on full display. The press conference demonstrated the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s “multi-faceted approach to incorporate input” from various partners, including local municipalities. Mayors Nic Hunter, Lake Charles, and Mike Danahay, Sulphur, also addressed attendees. Hunter spoke of the original “dark and worst-case scenarios” that were thankfully avoided. He also stressed that officials must acknowledge the many citizens that are still hurting, even as others are further along the road to full recovery. “We absolutely were dealt a devastating blow by Hurricane Laura, only to turn around and have insult added to injury six weeks later with Hurricane Delta,” said Hunter. “We’ve made significant progress, but there are many still in need and there is still much work to be done before we can even begin to consider our community whole again. We will continue to fight for the recovery needs of our residents.” Mayor Hunter also commented on the advice his office received from meetings with officials of other cities who’ve experienced similar natural disasters. He further stressed that in meetings with major regional employers, SWLA has been fortunate. “None have said they’re leaving our community,” noted Hunter. Job creation and retention remain critical factors to recovery. Lake Area Industry Alliance (LAIA) Executive Director, Jim Rock, addressed attendees representing major industry and the community through his role as a Community Foundation of SWLA board member. Rock admitted that the unprecedented nature of these events “has taught us a lot of new lessons.” To assist in recovery for the current population, as well as for “families who come here, live here, work here, and want to raise their families here,” Rock agreed this comprehensive plan must address six key areas: Economic Planning, Hazard Needs, Health and Social Services, Natural and Cultural Resources, Housing, and Infrastructure. Police Jury President Brian Abshire vowed that the CPPJ will continue its collaborative work with all stakeholders involved in the framework planning and implementation, as well as ongoing recovery. Before opening the conference to media questions, Beam announced that Alberto Galan, Assistant to the Administrator, has been tasked with coordinating continuing efforts on behalf of the CPPJ. Insurance claims, debris removal and home ownership issues are areas that require ongoing attention and solutions.

Neighbors helping neighbors. Businesses working together. Everyone supporting southwest Louisiana. We’ve made considerable progress in recent months, but there’s more work to be done. Thank you for your support as we continue to build a brighter future for our communities. Together, we power life.

A message from Entergy Louisiana, LLC ©2021 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE


EMPIRE OF THE SEED Empire of the Seed is comprised of a trio of event centers, namely Historic Calcasieu Marine Bank, The Cash and Carry building, and the Paramount Room. Ashley Gatte, President of Empire of the Seed, filled us in on what’s been happening with them since the events of 2020. In what ways has COVID-19 affected Empire of the Seed properties and what steps were taken in response?

This year has been monumentally different for us, as well as the entire wedding industry! I think it has forced us to think outside of the box to ensure safety for our guests, while still allowing them to have their events. We have also learned to be flexible, allowing guests to reschedule if they see fit. We have utilized streaming services and live feeds to accommodate at risk guests and to encourage social distancing. We have also been able to use our outdoor space at the Calcasieu Marine Bank more than ever! In addition, we have made sure to take the temperatures of each guest upon entry, encourage social distancing, provide hand sanitizer motion activated stations throughout our facility, and have 50

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Historic Calcasieu Marine Bank

encouraged masks. The Governor has set out very clear instructions for venues statewide, and we have done our best to follow the guidelines.

Describe the damages Empire of the Seed properties incurred due to Hurricanes Laura & Delta.

The Calcasieu Marine Bank had some roof damage as well as some exterior damages. The Courtyard was a complete mess after Laura. The Rotunda space at the Calcasieu Marine Bank required a complete gutting and re-roofing. The Paramount Room fared the best! Minimal damage to that space as it is tucked away nicely at the back of the courtyard of the Calcasieu Marine Bank. The Cash & Carry had some roof damage as well as kitchen damage. All in all, I am thankful our buildings are tough. It could have been much worse for us! These buildings have been standing strong since the 20s and 30s, so it was encouraging to know they weathered BOTH storms with great resilience.

What was involved with repairs/rebuilding? We had construction crews in the buildings very quickly. They were able to get our facilities up and running by the end of October to accommodate couples who got married in early November.

How did the businesses stay connected to the community after the storms and during the reconstruction phase? I stayed in constant contact with our brides so I could keep them posted on the condition of the buildings, as well as COVID-19 guidelines. It was nice to offer them reassuring news as our buildings were repaired so quickly. Also, I tried to stay connected with my wedding industry friends to see if they needed anything. It was definitely a time that highlighted camaraderie amongst our local wedding industry. Cash and Carry Building

What is the current status of the properties?

The buildings are up and running according to the statewide COVID guidelines. They actually look better than ever as we have taken the time to do some nice aesthetic updates, and we are working on more updates even now. Cannot wait to show off our “new and improved” spaces to potential and existing clients! For more information, contact Ashley Gatte at or call her at 337-310-0405. The Paramount Room

Empire of the Seed appreciates Southwest Louisiana’s support and business. Together, we are SWLA Strong!

8/12/19, 2(03 PM For booking, call (337) 310-0405 or email


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE


Task Force Provides


Southwest Louisiana – The Quality of Life Task Force of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance is distributing bike racks to high cyclist areas in our region. The first round of racks was greatly delayed by Covid-19 and then the dual storms of 2020. The first three racks of ten are now out in the community with the remaining seven to be put out by the end of the year.

The first rack in Sulphur was placed at Care Help located at 200 North Huntington Street. Care Help assists families in need with food, household items, bills, and more. “This bike rack is really a blessing to Care Help,” said Jody Farnum with Care Help. “It will be used by people who ride bikes in our community. Care Help has one of the largest food pantry and assistance offices west of the river. We assist a lot of people with bikes, transportation, food, rent, and so on.” Visit for more information and to find out how you can help. “We are very mindful that our region is – like most of our nation – very car centric and we wanted to make it safer and easier for people who ride bikes as their main means of transit,” said Jessica Duhon, Quality of Life (QoL) volunteer and Chair of the QoL: Healthy Lifestyles Task Force. “Our projects are geared towards making our region more livable for Southwest Louisianians and to make it more attractive to people looking to relocate. The Quality of Life Task Force usually works on one or two projects a year and with the setbacks from last year, we are so happy that these are finally making their way out into the community. To date, our group raised money and helped design the downtown Lake Charles Dog Park – Bark du Lac, as well as a Better Block project.”


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

The bike rack project was a collaboration between the SWLA Economic Development Alliance Foundation, SOWELA Community Technology College, Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition & Polaris Engineering with assistance from SWLAHEC. The next round of bike racks to be distributed depends on donations made to the Quality of Life fund at the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana. This fund is also set aside for public art and other projects that can bring our community together. Donations can be made at

Pictured: Rupert Araiza with SWLAHEC, Jody Farnum, Executive Director of Care Help of Sulphur, and Amanda White, VP, The SWLA Economic Development Alliance over the Quality of Life Task Forces.


Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal at Cameron


by George Swift

While 2020 was a year that no one will forget for the challenges it brought us, 2021 shows signs of opportunity and improvement. By now, we thought we would be well into the second wave of announced industrial projects for our region; however, a global pandemic and two major hurricanes have slowed project starts.

George Swift is President/CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.

The second wave began with Venture Global starting construction in December 2019 on their Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal at Cameron. The construction on that facility has continued from then until now and appears to be on schedule. This company is in the early stages of a potential expansion at that site, but it will be many months before making an official announcement. The Alliance is monitoring several other industrial projects totaling approximately $60 billion in capital investment. Some of those active projects include Energy Transfer – Lake Charles LNG Exports, Tellurian – Driftwood LNG, and Global Energy Megatrend LTD. – Magnolia LNG, to name a few. Each of these projects is actively working through the process toward Final Investment Decision (FID). Once a positive FID is reached, construction may begin on the facility, bringing thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of high skill high wage operations and maintenance jobs to our region. LNG remains as a commodity with a growing global demand. Economists’ models reveal that the global demand will exceed the global supply for natural gas in 2022. Once additional long term contracts to buy and sell natural gas are signed, we expect more FIDs from the LNG owner companies. So, while 2020 caused some delays in our progress, we add optimism to our resiliency and foresee prosperity on the Southwest Louisiana horizon.

Lake Charles LNG Animated Video


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE


Provides Grants to Help Area Businesses Recover

Community Foundation Southwest Louisiana, in partnership with thousands of individual and corporate donors, provided economic relief efforts for area nonprofits and small businesses, in response to impacts of Covid-19 and two major hurricanes. “Our Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter,” said Sara McLeod Judson, President/CEO. “Since small businesses and nonprofits are integral to each community, this is a cause that matters in the recovery and rebuilding of Southwest Louisiana.”

We are fortunate to have strong nonprofit organizations across SWLA and many applied and received relief grants to aid them in working remotely, providing services in a remote or touchless manner and filling gaps created by lack of in person fundraising events. The many missions of these nonprofits contribute to our overall quality of life in the region, so it is critical that we help them thrive. Fortunately, when Hurricanes Laura and Delta created more challenges for the nonprofit staffs and volunteers, the improvements some had made through their Covid-19 relief grants allowed them to work from outside the region and stay connected with their staff and clients. The Cameron Council on Aging purchased tablets allowing their senior citizens to communicate with family members and attend telehealth medical appointments. The Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and Project Build a Future updated their phone and computer systems allowing their staff to work remotely during Covid and post-hurricanes.

Sara McLeod Judson, President/CEO 54

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Small businesses of all types had major challenges in 2020. Are you aware that forty percent of the nation’s shrimp is harvested by Louisiana shrimpers? Many of those are in Cameron Parish. Some of those shrimpers moved their boats to the Port of Lake Charles for safe harbor, but Hurricane Laura was too much for them to bear. The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana granted $60,000 to the Iberia Development Foundation to assist shrimpers whose boats were salvageable. Shrimping is a way of life for many in Cameron Parish. These funds helped their careers continue. “The speed of success that happened from the funds being granted to the Iberia development group to assist the shrimpers was something I’ve never seen in my entire career,” said Clair Marceaux, Cameron Parish Port Director. A joint effort to aid locally owned small businesses was coordinated by the Alliance SWLA Foundation and supported by several companies and the Community Foundation’s Hurricane Relief and Recovery Fund. The “Pathway to Small Business Recovery” Grant Program presented grants of $3,000 to 50 Southwest Louisiana businesses to help them get back to business with the funds granted by the Community Foundation.

2021 Housing Market


GO! by Kristy Como Armand

In a year of economic doom and gloom, residential real estate was a surprising bright spot across the country. Home sales soared after a brief dip at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, reports that home sales and prices hit decade-plus highs following decade lows in the span of just a few months. According to Zillow, 5.64 million homes were sold in 2020, up 5.6% from 2019. Experts attribute this growth to low mortgage rates combined with people spending more time at home during the pandemic and deciding they needed to make a move. This trend is expected to continue. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts new home sales will jump 21 percent in 2021 and existing home sales will climb nine percent. Here in Southwest Louisiana, 2020 delivered economic challenges in addition to the pandemic. The region also experienced two major hurricanes in late summer/early fall, one of which – Hurricane Laura – was the worst hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana in over 150 years. This storm resulted in over $19 billion in damages. The region was devastated and overall recovery will take years. But, according to Tobie Hodgkins, Associate Broker/Owner with Century 21 Bessette Realty, Inc., “The real estate market in Southwest Louisiana proved to be as resilient as the people who live here. She says the local real estate market really did not see much of a change due to the pandemic. “We had a very strong market prior to the pandemic and that continued through the summer of 2020. If you compare the total sales volume from January to August of 2019 to January to August of 2020, there was actually about a 3 ½ % increase in 2020.”

Tara Demarie, Broker/Owner with Century 21 Bessette Realty, Inc. adds, “Unlike other parts of the country, particularly large cities, we didn’t see much change in consumer behaviors as far as their wants and needs. Buyers here have always wanted single family homes with a nice back yard so we didn’t have a mass exodus to the suburbs like many large cities have experienced during the pandemic.” Even after the hurricanes, Demarie says buyer demand remained strong. “The biggest issue our local real estate market has faced is a lack of inventory, mainly because so many homes were damaged.” Historically, there are typically between 1000 to 1100 active residential listings in the MLS from month to month. She says they saw that number steadily decline in the months after the hurricanes as homeowners had difficulty getting funds from their insurance carriers and finding contractors to repair their homes. “Today, there are only 535 active listings and as soon as those listings hit the market, they often have multiple offers and are under contract within days.” Hodgkins adds, “Inventory is so low, there are properties that went under contract prior to the hurricanes that still need repairs, but buyers are willing to wait because there are so few alternatives.” So far, she says median sales prices remain steady. “But if the low inventory continues for too long, we could see an increase in prices. Anyone that has been thinking about selling their home, now is the time to list. There are still some challenges to overcome to get to the closing table, but an experienced Realtor can help sellers navigate the process.”

Remarkably, Demarie says even with the year’s multiple disasters, closed sales volume for all of 2020 was virtually the same as 2019 in our market. “All indications point to a strong real estate market continuing in 2021 here in Southwest Louisiana. We expect a robust economy fueled by our many large employers in the area and the tremendous amount of rebuilding that will be taking place over the remainder of this year. Coupled with historically low interest rates, buyer demand should remain very high.” For more information about buying or selling a home, visit or call (337) 373-2185.

Tara Demarie, Broker/Owner with Century 21 Bessette Realty, Inc.

Tobie Hodgkins, Associate Broker/Owner with Century 21 Bessette Realty, Inc.


Places & Faces | 2021 ECONOMIC UPDATE

NEW I-10 BRIDGE Moving Closer to Reality

by Kristy Como Armand

The process to construct a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge is underway. In January, the state of Louisiana announced plans to solicit a developer for the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Project in Lake Charles. For members of the Chamber SWLA I-10 Bridge Task Force, this announcement came exactly two years after the group released their recommendations for an action plan that would replace the aging, inadequate structure. The Task Force’s plan was the result of two years of extensive research and due diligence regarding infrastructure financing, design and construction. Now, members are seeing that plan move forward. “It’s such a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure and the replacement has been delayed for different reasons for over 30 years,” says Keith DuRousseau, chairman of the Bridge Task Force. When the current I-10 Calcasieu River bridge opened for traffic in 1952, it was designed for a traffic load of 37,000 per day and a 50year life span. Today, the average daily crossings are over 90,000. The National Bridge Inventory (NBI) has rated the bridge a 6.6 out of 100. Replacing the bridge has been a topic of concern and debate for decades. DuRousseau says every year the project is delayed results in about $25 million per year in increased costs due to inflation. “This isn’t just a Southwest Louisiana issue,” he adds. “Regional growth and our future economic stability are at risk because of this weak link in our infrastructure. Continued delay will also have national and international impacts on all of the production, manufacturing and transport that takes place along the I-10 corridor.” DuRousseau says this is why the Chamber formed the Task Force nearly four years ago – to have a group of local business leaders working persistently to keep state and federal attention on this bridge, not stopping until a new one is built. “We could not be more pleased and excited about the state’s decision to move forward on this project,” he states. 56

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

With the support of Governor John Bel Edwards, LA- DOTD applied for and received approval in December to procure a public-private partner to deliver the bridge project. Just three weeks later, the NOI (Notice of Intent) process was started, further signaling the state’s commitment to the project. “The state has issued a Notice of Intent, seeking interested partnerships for the bridge, the state’s third P3 project,” said LA-DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, PH. D. “This department is committed to using innovative procurement methods and following industry best practices for infrastructure projects to meet the needs of our motorists and communities.” The limits of the P3 project extend from the I-10/I-210 west interchange to the Ryan Street exit ramp on the eastside of the bridge. The major elements of work are in line with the original recommendations of the I-10 Task force and consist of:

• Replacement of the Calcasieu River Bridge

• Reconfiguration of interchanges • Interstate widening • Complex maintenance of traffic

and sequence of construction in a congested and confined urban freeway environment • Demolition of the existing bridge • Automated tolling and back-office services • Railroad relocation • Right-of-Way appraisal and acquisition services • Utility coordination and relocation With a P3, bids will be obtained from private companies to construct a new bridge. The company will collect a toll to pay for construction. A P3 with tolling is a proven solution for infrastructure projects across the country. According to DuRousseau, a P3 essentially harnesses private expertise

for public benefit. “This bid process will take two years and the project will be awarded based on various criteria, one of which will be the amount of the toll. The Task Force and the state favor the lowest toll possible for the shortest period of time.” The state has already committed $85 million for the project, with additional state funding possible. Other options for funding the bridge are not currently available, but DuRousseau stresses that replacement cannot continue to be delayed. “We are hopeful the recently installed Biden administration will follow through on federal commitments to infrastructure funding that will help fund the new bridge,” he says. “We are working with our federal delegation to keep our project in front of new Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has recently emphasized the importance of investment in infrastructure.” He adds that the I-10 Task Force will continue to help pursue any and all available funding, such as federal grants, possible federal infrastructure bills, state funds and environmental settlements to lower the amount financed, which will lower the toll amount. “Support from our community leaders remains critically important as well. We need local leaders to continue advocating at the state and federal level for funding of this project. Our voices need to be heard to keep it moving forward.” Currently, the bridge project is in the environmental phase. Three alternatives have been identified and will be evaluated in the Environmental Impact Statement. A fourth public meeting for the entire corridor will be scheduled in spring 2021 to present preliminary findings that will determine which of these alternatives is preferred. A Record of Decision is anticipated by early 2022.

Learn more about the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Task Force's efforts to securing a replacement bridge at

Patricia M. Beasley Joins Fuerst, Carrier & Ogden as Partner Patricia brings criminal defense experience to the firm, and she also handles all legal issues relating to family law and adoption law. Born to a Swiss father and Peruvian mother, Patricia is trilingual. As a native Spanish speaker, she dedicates nearly a third of her practice representing Hispanic clients. MEMBER OF THE SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA BAR ASSOCIATION


LSU, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Juris Doctor, 2015 LSU, B.A., 2010 Honors: Magna Cum Laude

Honors & Awards

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, Best Lawyers, 2020 Top Lawyer in Family Law & Criminal Defense, Acadiana Profile, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Southwest Louisiana Bar Association Family Law Section Past-President

Serving the following parishes: Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, Beauregard, Allen, Cameron, Vernon, Lafayette, Vermillion, and Rapides


Community Involvement



Patricia M. Beasley

Southwest Louisiana Bar Association Women’s Law Section Co-founder and Executive Board representative Lake Charles Racquet Club Tennis Committee Board Member

127 W. Broad Street, Suite 300, Lake Charles, LA 70601


Places & Faces

The Children’s Theatre Company:

Playing it Safe During COVID

by Stefanie Powers

Thanks to COVID-19, just about every aspect of our lives has changed. Businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and have had to think outside the box to remain viable. The Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is no exception. Not only did Artistic Director Kerry Onxley have to cancel two seasons of performances, the backto-back hurricanes of 2020 were another blow. With extensive damage to their space at Central School due to Hurricane Laura, Onxley said he was grateful that the theater group was eventually able to relocate to a renovated conference room in another part of the building. It didn’t matter that the space was smaller than the previous one, as they were already limiting classes due to COVID restrictions prior to the storm. With performances shelved for the time being, Onxley is excited about his new concept of educational theatre learning. “The BRAVO! Series engages students in their passion for theatre and is presented in a safe, fun environment,” he explains. “The curriculum differs from previous seasons, with the concentration on acting techniques and not a performance. We are often too busy using class instruction to prepare for a production instead of teaching students the actual process of acting, and appreciating all of the arts.” With this new format, students are able to study and perform scene work through music, movement and non-music pieces. Beginners are learning basic acting tools, while returning students are studying more advanced acting techniques. Topics of learning include character development, monologues and duets, movement and playwriting, which CTC has never offered before. 58

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Most important are the COVID precautions that are being taken to keep the learning space sanitized: • All parents, students, and friends entering or exiting Central School must wear masks.

• Hand sanitizer stations are located at the entrance of Central School and are available in the studio.

• Gathering in hallways is discouraged. Once students are dismissed, parents are asked to pick their child up immediately from the parking lot located behind Central School. • Hand washing with soap will be highly encouraged. • Stage properties will be cleaned before each class.

Local theatre professionals are invited to participate and share their knowledge with the students. BRAVO! Series is available for students ages 5-18. Classes are offered Mondays and Wednesday from 4:00-6:00 p.m. with a limit of 15 students per class. CTC is located at Central School of the Arts & Humanities Center, 809 Kirby Street, Lake Charles. For more information, email


Places & Faces

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana... Who’s News? You tell us! Send press releases to

Taha Announces Candidacy for Lake Charles City Council Khalid Taha has announced his candidacy for Lake Charles City Council, District G. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in Khalid Taha 1965, Taha has lived in Lake Charles for 38 years. He graduated from McNeese State University in 1983 with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemistry. A Senior Chemist at Westlake Chemical, Khalid has worked in the SWLA chemical industry for 32 years and earned the 2019 Westlake Chemical Employee of the Year award. As a citizen in South Lake Charles, District G, Khalid is concerned with the outcomes of new construction that may affect traffic flow and city services. The addition of commercial properties in residential areas increases problems associated with excessive traffic and can create an added burden on already-taxed services like drainage and road conditions. Although Khalid's primary concern is to improve the quality of life in District G, he is equally concerned with economic development and growth of the City. He supports lakefront development and community beautification efforts. Khalid is an active member of the McNeese Alumni Association and the McNeese Cowboy Club and supports both academics and athletics. He believes that strong connections between the local university, local businesses and industry, the City and Parish are critical to the growth and stability of our community. Call or email if you have any issues or concerns. 337-540-0312


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

First Federal Bank Welcomes Russell Castille First Federal Bank of Louisiana’s board of directors is proud to announce the addition of Russell Castille to its Business Russell Castille Banking Team as Vice President, Business Relationship Specialist in the Southwest Louisiana market. Castille will be servicing the Bank’s Carlyss Branch, located at 2940 Ruth Street. Castille has been in banking for over 20 years. He will work to expand the Bank’s business client portfolio while delivering quality service to existing customers looking for business loans and cash management solutions. Castille graduated from McNeese State University in 1998 and from the LSU Graduate School of Banking in 2010. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1993 to 2000. Castille currently serves on the West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is the Treasurer of the Sulphur Kiwanis Club. He is the Chairman of Our Lady School’s Trust Fund and a board member of the Calcasieu Parish School Board. Avail Hospital Adds Seasoned Nurse Practitioner, Jaylin Miller to Primary Care Team Jaylin Miller, DNP, APRN, FNP-C has joined the Primary Care team at Avail Hospital. Jaylin Miller The Primary Care Clinic was created to serve the needs of Avail’s non-emergency patients seeking medical care in a safe environment, designed for patient comfort and convenience. Primary care services offered include everything from standard checkups and

physicals to monitoring and management of more serious medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and more. Miller is an experienced Registered Nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner who has been caring for patients in Southwest Louisiana for almost 10 years. She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) in 2017 from Loyola University in New Orleans and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from McNeese State University in 2012. The Primary Care Clinic at Avail Hospital is accepting new patients and available by appointment Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. To schedule an appointment with Jaylin, call 337-656-7630. Family Foundation of SWLA Announces Board of Trustees; Gehrig Reappointed Chair Doug Gehrig is reappointed as Chair of the 2021 Family Foundation of Doug Gehrig Southwest Louisiana Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is composed of 13 diverse community leaders committed to investing in families to secure the future of our community. Alongside Doug, the Executive Board Committee is compiled of Vice Chair, Steve Kuypers of Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel; Secretary, Theresa Barnatt of Lorenzi & Barnatt, LLC; Treasurer, Poncho Seaford of Business First Bank; and Immediate Past Chair, Ben Marriner of Southwest Beverage. Our additional dedicated 2021 Board of Trustees are: Leslie Harless, Community Volunteer; Leo Reddoch, Reddoch Land Surveying; Richman Reinauer, Reinauer Real Estate; Kevin Melton, Chennault; Jackie St. Romain, Pinnacle Entertainment; Kim Strong, The Wine Storel; Tommy Eastman, Flavin Realty; Mark Hanudel, R&H Refractory.

Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Centers Welcome Dr. Van Alan Snider

Ben Stine

Jennifer Istre

BBB serving SWLA announces 2021 board of directors and officers Family Foundation of Southwest Louisiana serves as the endowment and philanthropic arm of Family & Youth, connecting donors to the priorities that enhance the quality of family & community life for generations to come. Investing in families secures the future of our community. For more information, call 337-436-9533. Patricia Beasley Joins the Law Firm of Fuerst, Carrier & Ogden as Partner The law firm of Fuerst, Carrier & Ogden is pleased to announce that Patricia Manetsch Beasley has joined the Patricia Manetsch Beasley firm as a partner. Patricia focuses her practice on Family Law, Adoption Law, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury. Her experience includes being an Assistant District Attorney for Calcasieu Parish and while there, she was promoted to manage the Domestic Violence Division. Patricia is admitted to practice law in all Louisiana state courts and in the U.S. District Western District of Louisiana. She has experience handling cases in Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Beauregard Parish, Allen Parish, Cameron Parish, Vernon Parish, Lafayette Parish, Vermillion Parish, and Rapides Parish. Passionate about leadership, she most recently served as the President of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Family Law Section. In 2018, Patricia co-founded the Women’s section of the Southwest Bar Association. Patricia is also bilingual, allowing her to assist the growing number of Spanishspeaking clientele in Louisiana. To learn more about how Fuerst, Carrier & Ogden can help you, call 337-436-3332 or visit the website at www/

Ben Stine of McElveen Insurance was elected president of the board of directors of Better Business Bureau Serving Allen Jarvis Southwest Louisiana at the board’s January meeting. Jennifer Istre of Iberia Bank was elected vice president, Allen Jarvis of Knight Media, treasurer and Cheyenne Boudreaux of Mission Flares and Combustion, secretary. John Bostick of B1 Bank previously served as president and will now serve as ex officio this year. The following individuals will serve as board members at-large: Ryan Abell of Abell & Sons, Randy Billedeaux of Family Auto & Quick Lube Services, Tim Broussard of J&J Exterminating, Stacey Corbello of Terrell & Associates, Kay Fox of Beauregard Electric, Adam Guinn of Port Aggregates, Michael Papania of Coaching for Success, Wendy Stine of Stine Lumber, and Jason Williams of Pat Williams Construction. Visit for more information.

Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Centers are proud to bring more primary care to Lake Charles with the addition of Van Alan Snider, M.D. He Van Alan Snider, M.D. sees patients at Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Center, located at 401 Dr. Michael Debakey Drive. After graduating from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1987, Dr. Snider completed a residency in internal medicine at Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans. He practiced in the New Orleans area before moving to Lake Charles in 1993. He joined CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital in 2008. Since 2013, Dr. Snider has served as a volunteer physician at Health Connection, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s onsite medical clinic in Lake Charles. Dr. Snider is currently accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment with his office, please call (337) 513-0004, or visit doctors to schedule online. For more information about healthcare services and scheduling appointments at an Ochsner CHRISTUS Health Center throughout the Lake Charles area, call 337-656-7876.

March 13th

“Easy Steps to Better Photos”

April 10th


Saturday at the Gallery ART EXPERIENCES

“Let’s Pour Some More!”

May 15th

“Acrylic Painting with Ronnie Collins”

June 12th & July 10th “TBA”



Gallery by the Lake Inc. Now in our new location in the Central School

809 Kirby Street, Room 312 - Display your work at the Historic City Hall Visit - Receive discounts on Saturday classes to register and see all our programs & more! Visit us on Facebook.


JJ-LC_Thrive-hlfpg,vert-APR_2-22-21_JJExt_LC_Thrive-hlfpgvert-March-Apr_2-22-21 2/22/2021 9:37 AM Page 1

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Lafayette •Crowley •Baton Rouge •Hammond Mandeville •New Orleans •Houma •Lake Charles DeRidder •Monroe •Shreveport •Alexandria •Natchitoches 62

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Home & Family

Take Back your Yard Outdoor Living

If you survived Hurricane Laura with no debris or downed trees in your back yard, you are either very lucky or live in the middle of a very large field. For most, yard cleanup was a major undertaking after the storm, and one you may still be dealing with. Whatever the current state of your property, chances are it could use a bit of sprucing up – maybe some new trees, landscaping, or pest control. This special section has got you covered!

De-Bug your Post-Hurricane Home & Backyard

by Lauren Jameson

After the 2020 hurricanes, thousands of Southwest Louisiana homes sustained damage and are still being repaired and restored. No matter what type of repairs you might have in the works, now is a good time to consider products that keep pests at bay. For residents who need new attic insulation, consider a type that is energy-efficient and also repels bugs. Robert Soileau, Lake Charles branch manager at J&J Exterminating, says. Thermal Acoustical Pest Control, or TAP, insulation – a loose-fill insulation made of cellulose and recycled newspaper – is affordable, soundproof, energy-efficient and fire retardant. “Not only does upgrading your insulation add value to your home, but this also provides better protection against cold and heat – and insects.” TAP is infused with boric acid that will kill all insects – including formosan termites. It is the only pest control product with an Energy Star Rating. “If your attic insulation was damaged, it will need to be replaced to rid your home of any health risks,” Soileau says. “Properly insulating your attic can reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 30 percent. Upgrading your insulation also adds value to your home.” If you’re making post-hurricane repairs, another way to help combat pests going forward is to build with lumber that is treated with Bora-Care with Mold-Care. Lumber treated with this product can repel both insects and mold. It can be applied as a one-time preventative application during the new construction phase of a home or applied post-construction to high-risk areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and crawl spaces. “It’s a wood preserver,” added Soileau. “Lumber is treated with it and it holds up against moisture to prevent mold. Termites won’t go near it. Ants and bees won’t get into it. If your walls are opened up, this may be the only time to be able to treat areas where moisture gets in.” Since the hurricanes, J&J has been inundated with calls about mice and rats. “They have been a big problem since the storms,” Soileau said. “Many homes are damaged, and they are getting into areas that aren’t sealed up.” Fire ants also continue to be an issue with residents. “Fire ants pop up like mushrooms,” Soileau said. There are treatment programs that can control them for a year. J&J can also help control other unwanted insects, including spiders, flies, household ants, roaches, fleas, bedbugs – and more. To learn more about J&J’s treatment options, visit or call 844-334-2055. Also, check out J&J’s informative blog posts at


Home & Family |

Take Back Your Yard

Re-Greening the Landscape of Southwest Louisiana

by Angie Kay Dilmore

According to the LSU AgCenter, Hurricane Laura will go down in Louisiana history as one of the most destructive and costly storms ever recorded. Beside the devastating toll to our community and way of life, trees took the brunt of Laura’s fury. By some estimates, it is said that Southwest Louisiana lost up to 75% of its trees due to the ravages of this horrific storm. Unlike Hurrricane Rita, which caused excessive damage due to flooding in 2005, Laura’s destruction was driven primarily by powerful winds up to 150 mph. LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry and forestry specialist Michael Blazier estimate that Laura destroyed 757,538 acres of timber from the southwest to northeast regions of Louisiana. That estimate includes national forests as well as privately owned land. The AgCenter estimates Calcasieu Parish alone suffered $76.7 million in timber losses on 188,292 acres – the greatest loss of any region in the state. According to Buck Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, Laura felled over 40 million tons of wood that could have been turned into 2.8 billion board feet of timber. “That is enough material to build 28,000 brand new homes,” says Vandersteen. These statistics are terrible news for Southwest Louisiana. Trees benefit communities in many ways. Matthew Sleeth, MD says in his book, Reforesting Faith, “Without trees, life on earth would be impossible. Trees give us food, clean water, shelter, shade, and clothing.” Other benefits include lower energy costs, better air quality, increased property values, and the beautification of a community. Fortunately, there is something we can collectively do as citizens. We can plant trees to help replace the ones we lost! Alexis Allured, co-owner of The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles, says when replanting trees in our area, native plants are the way to go. “Louisiana native trees and shrubs occur naturally in our region, are well-suited for our humidity and high rainfall, and have adapted to our soils and pests. Native plants also provide food for native birds and insects and restore their habitats.” 64

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

When choosing trees and shrubs to plant, Allured recommends the LSU AgCenter’s list of Super Plants. “The Louisiana Super Plant Program highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. These plants have a proven track record, having gone through several years of university evaluations and observations.” Allured suggests the willow oak, southern sugar maple, and evergreen sweetbay magnolia, which have adapted to live in the hot, wet climates of southern Louisiana. “Unfortunately, no tree species has perfect wind resistance, but live oak, bald cypress (our state tree) and southern magnolia are less likely to lose limbs or blow over during hurricanes.” Prime season for planting hardy trees in Louisiana is October to March. “October through early December is an especially good time because the soil is still warm, which encourages vigorous root growth, and trees will have several months to get established before next summer’s heat,” Allured says. “During these months, the weather is cool, the trees go dormant, which reduces stress. The ideal tree planting season does extend until March and is a great time to plant an evergreen tree. The temperature is generally mild, but there is a danger of root rot and fungus in areas having excessive rainfall. Staking new trees is also important during the initial growing season, but the support should not stay in place longer than nine months. “Keep the area two feet out from the trunk mulched but pulled back slightly from the base of the tree and free of weeds and grass to encourage the tree to establish faster,” advises Allured. Alexis Allured is a Licensed Landscape Horticulturist and Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional. She and her husband, Nathaniel, co-own The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles. For more information, call them at 337-513-4118 or see their website, https://www.groundsguys. com/lake-charles.

“Planting a tree is the only thing you can do in your own backyard that makes the whole world better.” From Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s book, Reforesting Faith.

Acorns of Hope The non-profit organization Acorns of Hope was started after Hurricane Rita in 2005 and continues today. Their goal is to repopulate the trees that have been lost in SWLA by planting a variety of 10,000 trees, including live oaks, magnolias and hollies. They are currently seeking volunteers. Contact Brandi Cox at


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Home & Family |

Take Back Your Yard

Spring Spring at last… almost! The official first day of spring is March 21, but in Southwest Louisiana, we are already feeling spring in the air. That means there’s no time like the present to get your yard ready for the growing and blooming season. Chad Everage with Landscape Management says the earlier you can invest some time and attention preparing your yard for spring, the better your results will be. “As the plants and ground ‘wake up’ from their dormant winter state – especially with the harsh winter storm we experienced in February – there are steps you need to take to welcome them back. Some plants that died during the freeze need to be replaced. Now is the right time to do this.” Many people don’t give their yard a second thought until the grass starts growing and shrubs and flowers start budding. By then, Everage says you are well into the growing season and you’ve missed a short window of opportunity to do some simple prep work that can make a big difference throughout the spring and summer. He recommends going on a scouting inspection as soon as you can. “Walk your entire yard and look for any damage that occurred to trees, shrubs, fencing, lawn and other areas over winter. That will give you the starting point for your spring landscaping to-do list.”

6666 Thrive Thrive Magazine Magazine forfor Better Better Living Living• March • March 2021 2021

into Yard Work He offers the following guidelines to help you get started:


It probably doesn’t look like much at this point, but it won’t be long before the grass is growing out of control. Rake away all the dried up dead grass and weeds first. “This is very important,” Everage says, “because anything you add, such as new seed or fertilizer will simply sit on the top of the dead grass and any other debris, rather than getting down into the soil.” If your lawn already needs a mowing, set the mower blades at their highest setting, just to trim off the top. Spread grass seed over any bare spots in the yard. Consider adding slow release fertilizer and/or weed stopper to your yard. Most lawns need this, according to Everage. “If you are uncertain about what to use, just ask. There are a variety of grass fertilizer options to address specific issues you might be having in your yard.”


If you need to prune ornamental trees and shrubs, Everage says the best time to do so is before growth starts. “The exceptions to that rule are spring-flowering shrubs. For those, you need to wait until after they finish flowering.”

Clean Your Garden Beds

Cut down any perennial foliage remaining from last year and clean the beds out. Remove all of the old mulch, leaves and branches. Everage says it’s important to remove as much of the old mulch as possible so that it doesn’t build up and smother your plants. You should also check around the base of any woody trees and shrubs to make sure there is no mulch left around the trunks. If there is, remove it so that it doesn’t cause

the wood to rot. Define the edge around your beds and then put down a fresh layer of mulching material before adding any new plants.


This is a good time to remove as many weeds as possible before they have the opportunity to flower and seed. Everage says if you need an incentive, consider this: some weeds can produce as many as 10,000 seeds each. “If you don’t take care of it now, you’ll have a lot more weeding to do in the hot, humid months ahead.”

Plant & Transplant

March is a good time to plant new roses, berries, fruit trees and most deciduous (leaf-shedding) plants. If you’re still not sure what to plant, Everage says ask for advice. “If you want to move a plant from one spot to another, do so as soon as you can. It’s best to do this before annual spring growth begins.”

Pick your Perennials

Take a look around your yard and decide if you can brighten it up with a few new colors. Everage says to be sure to pay attention to the amount of sunlight and the soil conditions in the area of your yard you are planting before you make any purchases. For a complete landscape design and installation, call Landscape Management at (337) 478-3836 or stop by Landscape Management’s retail nursery in Lake Charles.

Spring Fever. CATCH IT! Spring is coming and Landscape Management can help you make sure your yard is ready to bloom. Our experienced team can create a custom design for your yard and outdoor living area. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, we can create a plan, help you choose your plants from our retail nursery, lay out your beds and guide you as you transform your yard from drab to dreamy. Call us or stop by today.

Plants damaged by the freeze? We are your plant replacement source!

5005 Cobra Road, Lake Charles | (337) 478-3836 M-F: 7am – 4pm Sat: 8am – 2pm (Seasonal Hours)


Home & Family


Got your COVID-19 vaccine? Great! But don’t share a photo of your vaccine card on social media. The selfidentifying information on it makes you vulnerable to identity theft and can help scammers create phony versions.

Don’t Share Y COVID our Vaccin -19 on Soc e Card i Media al

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


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 • March 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.


You got your COVID-19 inoculation, and you are wanting to share the news. You take a selfie holding your vaccination card and post it to Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform. Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine. If your social media privacy settings aren’t set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use. Sharing your personal information isn’t the only issue. Scammers in Great Britain were caught selling fake vaccination cards on eBay and TikTok. It’s only a matter of time before similar cons come to the United States. Posting photos of your card can provide scammers with information they can use to create and sell phony ones.


• Share your vaccine sticker or use a profile

frame instead. If you want to post about your vaccine, there are safer ways to do it. You can share a photo of your vaccine sticker or set a frame around your profile picture. • Review your security settings. Check your security settings on all social media platforms to see what you share and with whom. If you only want friends and family to see your posts, be sure that’s how your privacy settings are configured. • Be wary of answering popular social media prompts. Sharing your vaccine photo is just the latest social trend. Think twice before participating in other viral personal posts, such as listing all the cars you’ve owned (including makes/model years), favorite songs, and top 10 TV shows. Some of these “favorite things” are commonly used passwords or security questions.


For more information about privacy concerns on social media, see BBB’s Scam Alert on Facebook quizzes and Like farming. BBB has identified many ways in which scammers cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about vaccine scams, clinical trial scams, contact tracing cons, counterfeit face masks, and government agency imposters. If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at


Home & Family


Recruiting Big Mentors and Littles During the Month of March Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana (BBBS) has spent nearly 40 years connecting adult mentors to youth in Southwest Louisiana through one-to-one mentoring relationships. Their organization serves Big mentors, Littles, and families of those Littles for Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis and Vernon parishes. Unfortunately, due to the events of 2020, their Littles need positive connections and mentoring more now more than ever. Their mission of creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth has a heavy focus on youth safety and the mental health and traumainformed care of our Littles. The youth in SWLA are experiencing both emotional and mental trauma every day because of recent events over the last year. From living through a global pandemic (COVID-19) and the difficulties that it may have caused their families through job security, safety, and health and wellness; the potential loss of family members due to COVID-19; two backto-back catastrophic hurricanes that damaged their homes and schools, disrupting their way of life; they need support. Over 80% of the families served at BBBS of SWLA are ALICE families. ALICE® is an acronym coined by United Way that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The ALICE population represents those men, women, and families who work hard and earn more than the official Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living. Many of our Littles live in single-parent households, are raised by a family member or grandparent, or are dealing with overall general difficulties that have directly and negatively impacted their lives. Many of our parents work multiple jobs or have multiple children and are doing the best they can but reach out because they know their child could massively benefit from a mentor and strong role model in their lives. 70

Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the country’s largest evidence-based mentoring organization. National Research has shown that positive relationships between Littles and their Bigs have a direct and measurable impact on children’s lives. By participating in our programs, Little Brothers/Sisters are:

• • • • • • • •

More confident in their schoolwork performance Able to get along better with their families 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs 27% less likely to begin using alcohol 52% less likely to skip school 37% less likely to skip classes 33% less likely to hit someone 81% reported that it changed their perspective on what they thought possible in life

Enrollment is now open for Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA. Parents and guardians with youth ages 6 – 18, should visit to enroll their children. They also invite adults age18 years and older to apply to become a Big mentor. The cost to enroll a match and support a Little is $1,600 per year. We invite you to donate directly to our mentoring mission, because without you, we may not be able to sustain our mentoring services in SWLA or mentor more youth in a time where they need us the most. Donations are being accepted at, venmo @BBS-SWLA, or via PayPal to For more information on how you can get involved as a Big Brother or Big Sister, visit BBBS will hold a fundraiser, Bags & Brew Cornhole Tournament on March 27 at Crying Eagle Brewing. The community is invited to get involved by organizing two-person teams or by becoming event sponsors. Visit For more information, contact Alex Stinchcomb, Marketing & Development Manager at 337-478-5437, ext 114 or


for life


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

Learning to Be Still, Part I “Things are not getting better fast enough.” “I’m tired, mentally and physically.” “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” Just a few things I have heard from my clients recently. And I’m right there with them. You too? Well, at least you know you are not alone. I have shared in my recent articles the things I am doing to maintain sanity during these trying times. Believe me, I am having to use all the tools in my toolbox to keep my head above water, and I have a lot of tools! One of the tools I am using more and more is meditation. This process of training the mind to be fully present in the moment has so many benefits. And, you don’t have to do it long for it to be helpful. When I first decided to try meditation, I knew I would not be able to sit for a very long amount of time. It’s just not me – I have too much to do and why would I waste 30 minutes a day doing nothing? So, I went on a quest to figure out how to get the advantages of mediation without the time commitment.

We know meditation is helpful in the following ways: It improves your mental health. Taking a few moments

to re-center yourself decreases stress and boosts your mood. The longer you practice meditation, the more likely depression and anxiety will decrease.

It can help with cravings. Snacking too much? Trying to stop smoking? You might want to give meditation a try. The practice can help break the link between having the urge and acting on it. By meditating on the sensation of the craving, many people find they can actually reduce its strength.

So, have I convinced you? Ready to give this meditation thing a try? This month, I’m going to teach you to do some breathing exercises. Yes, focusing on breathing is meditation. And, they don’t take much time. Next month, we will learn other forms of quick meditation. Let’s get started.

A NOTE – you can’t mess this up. Any amount of time you spend meditating is an improvement over no time at all. Don’t worry about being “good” at it. If you feel your mind wandering, and it absolutely will initially, simply acknowledge that your mind is wandering and shift back to being focused.


Anywhere is fine – a chair, the floor, lying down, even standing up.

BUBBLE BREATHING. Begin to inhale through your nose, from your diaphragm. This means your stomach should stick out, and your shoulders should remain still. Breathe out through your mouth, the same way you blow bubbles. Not too hard (the bubbles will burst) and not too soft (you’ll never form bubbles). As you breathe in say the word “in”. As you breathe out, say “out.” 4,7,8 BREATHING. Using the same diaphragmatic breathing, breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, then breathe out for 8 counts. Counting keeps you from getting distracted and keeps you in the moment. There is something about holding your breath at the top that is particularly relaxing.

It can make you smarter. Studies have shown that regular

LION’S BREATH. This one sounds weird, but it is really effective.

It can help slow down aging. Since unmanaged stress is one of the leading causes of aging, meditating to manage stress translates into a “fountain of youth.” Experts don’t know exactly how, but studies have shown that meditating to reduce stress is more effective than just relaxing.

See you next month when we will continue this important discussion. I promise to share quick, easy ways to get yourself refocused and re-centered.

meditation improves standardized test scores and may actually make parts of your brain thicker. A thicker brain translates into more brain power.

It can help deal with pain. Meditation doesn’t stop pain, but it can help you manage it better. Actively observing what you are feeling without recoiling actually helps you “ride the pain wave” better.

Breathe in through your nose, filling your belly all the way up with air. Open your mouth wide, and breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat several times.


IndustryInsider Straight Answers to Your Questions on Industry and the Environment

Q: A:

What products do local industries make? Is it anything I use? The industries here in Southwest Louisiana make ingredients for products that are used in travel, healthcare and around the house.

Many of the end products are easily recognizable in our everyday routines. For example, local industries produce ethylene, an ingredient in food wrap. They also produce ingredients for vinyl, widely used in the healthcare industry for things like heart catheters and IV’s. Ingredients for synthetic alcohol are produced here, resulting in hand sanitizers and liquid soaps. Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, motor oil and specialty additives are made locally, making it possible for us to travel, enjoy a day on the water or just drive across town. Local industries have a part in producing many products to enrich our quality of life.

Roman Thompson

industry representative


Thrive Magazine for Better Living • March 2021

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

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