Thrive May 2024

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MAY 2024 Look inside for the WCCH Insert! first person with KIM MONTIE PUBLICATION FOR SPRING 2024 IN THIS ISSUE GI Care Close to Home SurvivingSeasonalAllergies Care When and Where You Need It FuelingYourBodyforBetterHealth quality care to Convenient access
2 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Rehabilitation Hospital of Jennings 24 Hour Nursing Care • Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy • Nutritional Counseling and Monitoring Case Management Call for a free assessment today. • Brain Injury • Strokes • Amputations • Burns • Major Multiple Trauma • Rheumatoid Arthritis • Joint Replacements • Hip Fractures • Osteoarthritis/DJD • Neurological Disorders • Spinal Cord Injury • Congenital Deformities • Systemic Vasculidities DIAgNOSeS THAT we TReAT Others who can benefit from inpatient rehabilitation are postoperative patients, accident victims and cancer patients. One Hospital Drive, Ste. 101 • Jennings, LA 70546 • Phone: (337) 821-5353 • Fax: (337) 821-5355 or 5366 •


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4 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives – family, health, home and career. Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Assistant Editor Kerri Cooke Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Design & Layout Kyra Labrie Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions Contents @thriveswla | In This Issue Wining & Dining 6 SUMMER COCKTAIL TRENDS 8-9 SEASONAL SUMMER SWEET TREATS Mind & Body 10-19 WOMEN'S HEALTH MONTH 12 BALANCING SCALES OF INFERTILITY 14-15 BREAST CANCER INNOVATIONS 16 HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE 19 FEMALE HAIR LOSS Style & Beauty 24 HAIR REMOVAL FOR SUMMER 26 SUMMER-IZE YOUR SKIN Home & Family 28-39 SUMMER GUIDE 29-33 SUMMER CAMPS & CLASSES 38 KIDS SPORTS PHYSICALS 40-47 CRUISING IN CAMERON PARISH 48 IS YOUR CAR ROADTRIP READY? Places & Faces 50-59 SALUTE TO FIRST RESPONDERS 54-55 OPIOID OVERDOSE 56-57 PREVENTING WILDFIRES 58 COOL JOBS: GULF COAST FORENSIC SOLUTIONS Money & Career 62-67 RETIREMENT ROUNDUP 63 ESTATE PLANNING 65 3 WAYS TO PASS DOWN A HOME 66-67 SENIORS LIVING THIER BEST RETIREMENT 68-69 BUSINESS BUZZ SPONSORED BY: 10 28 40 50

Be here for the moments that matter the most.

Mammograms save lives. Get screened for breast cancer.

Mom, you care for so many. Now’s the time to take care of you. Today, take a moment to schedule your mammogram, because when you prioritize your health, you can continue to be the amazing mom you’ve always been.

Detect breast cancer early:

• Call 337.426.1248 to schedule your mammogram at CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana

• Determine your risk of breast cancer in minutes by taking our online risk assessment 5 24-659075
Call or take your risk assessment today!

Wining & Dining

The warm weather is here! Time to head outdoors and enjoy springtime in Louisiana with good friends, good food, and good drinks!
Thrive asked Gus Olah, president and owner of Hokus Pokus Liquors, what libations are trending this season.

“Agave spirits are HOT!” he says. “Tequila and mezcal are the biggest market gains this year by far. These spirits have been on the rise for several years now and show no signs of slowing down. Their mixability is endless, and with the premiumization of this category, drinking them neat or on the rocks is trending as well. There are some amazing brands to look for. Check out Tapatio, El Luchador and Casa Mexico Tequila; and Quiereme Mucho, Craneo, Granja and Reyes Mezcal."

Olah says the No. 1 trending cocktail is a classic or spicy mezcal margarita. Or try the Paloma, a tequila-based cocktail prepared by mixing tequila, lime juice, and either fresh grapefruit juice or a grapefruit-flavored soda such as Fresca, Squirt, or Jarritos. It's served on the rocks with a lime wedge, and salt can be added to the rim of the glass. So refreshing!

During warmer months, Olah says the lighter spirits (vodka, rum and gin) tend to have an uptick in consumption. "Of the three, gin is the biggest gainer in this category," he explains. "It's showing its artisanal side, and higher-ended brands are becoming more popular. There are so many profiles of this unique spirit that the possibilities are endless for creating craft cocktails. Also, barrel-aging gin is on the rise, which is creating more


¼ ounce simple syrup

2 dashes bitters (such as Angostura), or more to taste

1 cup ice cubes, or more as needed

1 (3 inch) piece orange peel

1 ounce mezcal

1 ounce añejo (aged) tequila

1 Luxardo maraschino cherry (optional)

Combine simple syrup and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Fill the glass with ice. Squeeze orange peel over the glass to expel oils, then place peel in the glass. Add mezcal and tequila; stir until the drink is ice cold and alcohol has mellowed, about 20 seconds. Garnish with cherry to serve.


2 parts gin

¾ part salted simple syrup

¾ part lime juice soda water

6 mint leaves, garnish

To make salted simple syrup, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. salt in a saucepan. Heat until sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake for 3–4 seconds and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with mint leaves.

unique profiles and hitting that bourbon consumer to enjoy the lighter side of spirits.” Olah recommends Apostles, Porters, Green House, Apium, Turmeon Blue, and Shot Tower Barrel-Aged Gin.

Hosting a barbecue? Serve Bourbon Lemonade! Bourbon goes great with ribs and brisket and the lemonade adds a touch of summer! Pour 2 ounces (¼ cup) of bourbon in a glass, then pour in 6 ounces (¾ cup) of lemonade. Stir to combine. Add ice and garnish with a lemon wheel, mint sprig, and/or a maraschino cherry, if desired.

We haven’t forgotten the wine drinkers. “Rose’ is the ultimate versatile spring and summer wine that has nice structure and can be drunk cool,” Olah says. “Our two most popular ones are from France and Spain. Look for Notorious Pink Rose’ and Vie Vite Rose’ from France; and Astobiza Txakoli Rose' from Spain.” Bring a bottle or two to the next dinner party you’re invited to, and enjoy!


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Wining & Dining

Summer break is upon us, so get ready for a new menu of fun flavors from your favorite local eateries. Hot weather snacks are all about cooling down, so ice cream, snow cones and popsicles are always a hit. However, fruity snacks are also popular and offer a cocktail of summer flavors.

There’s a reason why people think of watermelon and peaches during the summer. They are refreshing on a long, summer day. Gabrielle Wainwright, owner of Bayou Boards by Gabrielle, says their fruit board is the top-selling product of the season. “The fresh, juicy seasonal fruit is a perfect way to cool down in the summer heat. Fruit is the perfect poolside snack to keep you hydrated and refreshed.”

Twanie’s Terrific Treats offers a variety of rotating fruit-flavored cookies and cheesecakes. Flavors include Chantilly, lemon, key lime, strawberry and white chocolate raspberry. Twanie’s also offers milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream.

Neveria Michoacana creates a variety of Latin American snacks. The shop recently released a limited edition rose petal popsicle and has added coffee ice cream to their menu. The melon and pineapple delights are perfect choices for a sweet, healthy treat.

Helen St. Bakehouse sells fruity refreshers to quench your thirst. One notable drink on the menu is the strawberry dragon fruit green tea refresher. Other refresher varieties are made with strawberries and blueberries.

Snow cones are a summer snack staple, and SWLA has a few outstanding locations that offer a little extra pizazz. Lulu’s Specialty Snocones and More sell out of their Gentilly snow cone regularly. They also have a dill-flavored snow cone for pickle lovers, a birthday cake flavor, and more.

J&J Snowballs and More offers a wide variety of snow cones, but also sell a mean banana split. A recent addition to their menu is candied strawberries.

The Buzz Coffee and More not only sells hot and cold seasonal coffees and energizing teas, but snowballs for warmer days. And an ice cold matcha latte is good any day.

Beignets are ubiquitous in Louisiana, and Coffee:30 is the one stop shop for all your beignet cravings, as they are known for having some of the best beignets in Louisiana outside of New Orleans. Beignet flavors include s’mores, cookies and cream, strawberry cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, glazed and French toast. The newest beignet flavor, southern pecan pie, is sure to please patrons.

The Bekery also offers a delicious pecan treat in the form of their pecan sticky buns. Two new cruffin flavors include lemon berry Danish and tiramisu. For a refreshing drink, the vanilla berry spring soda is a perfect brunch pick-me-up.

The Village Coffeehouse has a new variety of drinks to sample, including a wedding cake latte, Irish cream cold brew, a cherry and lime spritzer and a brown sugar shaken expresso. The coffee shop has also debuted a chocolaty cookies and cream cookie that looks like a giant Oreo, but better.

SWLA boasts a wide range of cafes and bakeries, so if you’re looking for a treat on a fun, summer day, you’re sure to find something to fit your craving. 9
(337) 474-3651 | Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm & SPORTS BAR DARRELL’S TO-GO NEW DELIVERY AVAILABLE THROUGH

Mind & Body

May 12-18 marks National Women’s Health Week, and Thrive magazine reminds women to take care of themselves! In their many roles as wives, mothers, daughters, and friends, women often are so busy tending to others, they forget the importance of self-care. In this special section on women’s wellness, we raise awareness on topics such as breast health, infertility and hormones, hypertension, and hair loss.

Lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement or treadmill can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being. It’s one type of exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment – other than shoes –and you can do it just about anywhere or anytime it is convenient for you. Numerous studies have shown that running increases life span as the result of the many health benefits it delivers, from decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and better sleep to better memory and improved knee and back health, just to name a few.

The downside to all of that running? According to Dr. Alex Anderson, primary care sports medicine physician with the Center for Orthopaedics, all those miles can take a toll on your joints and muscles over time, particularly if a few preventive guidelines aren’t followed. “There is no doubt that running provides many great health benefits, but if you push yourself too hard and don’t listen to your body, you may be setting yourself up for injury.”

Increasing the speed and/or distance of your run too quickly, running up hills and running intervals are a few reasons running injuries occur. Body mechanics also play a role. “The way your body is shaped can make you more susceptible to running injuries,” explains Dr. Anderson. “Also, most running injuries occur when you first start running, and the hips, knees, legs and feet are the most vulnerable.”

Dr. Anderson provides a run-down of the most common running injuries: Runner’s knee is a common overuse injury with several different causes. It is commonly due to the kneecap being out of alignment. Over time, the cartilage of the kneecap can wear down, leading to pain around the kneecap, especially when going up or down stairs, squatting or sitting with the knee bent for a long time.

Stress fractures are characterized as a small crack in the bone. These fractures cause pain and discomfort and typically affect runners in their shins and feet. “Stress fractures are often caused by pushing too hard before your body is used to a new activity,” says Dr. Anderson. Shin splints usually occur after a change in activity, like running a longer distance or increasing the number of days you run too quickly. The pain is felt in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone. People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon attaching the calf to the back of the heel. “Pain and stiffness are typically experienced in the area surrounding the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity,” Dr. Anderson explains. “It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, often after increasing the distance of your runs too quickly.”

Muscle pulls or strains are small tears in the muscle, often caused by overstretching a muscle. The most common muscles pulled or strained by runners include the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf and groin. An ankle sprain is described as the stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle and often occurs when the foot twists or rolls inward. Dr. Anderson says sprains typically get better after rest, ice, compression, and elevating the foot.

Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia, is another common runner’s injury. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot extending from the heel to the toes. “Those with tight calf muscles and a high arch in their feet are more prone to this, according to Dr. Anderson. He says calf stretches, rest and icing the bottom of the foot can help ease the pain associated with plantar faciitis.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) causes pain on the outside of the knee. The iliotibial band is a ligament running along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee, and Dr. Anderson says ITBS occurs when the ligament thickens and rubs the knee bone, resulting in inflammation.

“Whether you’re looking to lose some weight, increase your fitness level or just clear your head, running can be a great option,” stresses Dr. Anderson, “just make sure you start out slow and listen to your body along the way.”

Learn more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Anderson for running injury or training concerns at 11

Balancing the Scales of Fertility

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 10 percent of American women ages 15-44 are affected by infertility, yet it is rarely talked about. Some of the most common causes include ovulation disorders, fallopian tube issues, uterine abnormalities and endometriosis. Infertility can also be related to lifestyle choices, such as alcohol consumption, weight and hormonal imbalances.

“Some of the most common risks for infertility include age, smoking and obesity,” says Dawn Hinton, APRN with Revitalized Health. “Anorexia and other eating disorders can interfere with ovulation and a patient’s sexually transmitted disease (STD) history can also play a role.”

According to Hinton, lifestyle changes are considered the first line of treatment for infertility. “Increasing physical activity to 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is a great first step. Smoking cessation and a decrease in alcohol intake are also some important behavioral and lifestyle changes to consider. And I always encourage a quality prenatal vitamin with methylated folate, B vitamins and iron.” The CDC also recommends a healthy bodyweight, with a BMI ranging from 18.5 – 24.9.

Hormone imbalances can also be a factor affecting fertility. “Women with symptoms of irregular periods or amenorrhea (absence of periods), spotting and/ or bleeding between periods, male pattern baldness, facial hair, acne, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, PMS, and pronounced mood swings, depression or anxiety should discuss hormone imbalances with their provider,” explains Hinton. A few common imbalances that affect fertility include polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, obesity, thyroid disease and hyperprolactinemia.

“PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women,” Hinton says. “It causes irregular periods and anovulation, along with excess androgen levels and a decrease in progesterone levels. Women with PCOS are three times as likely to miscarry.”

Obesity increases the likelihood of insulin resistance, says Hinton. “Insulin resistance increases the chances of developing Type-2 Diabetes and PCOS, both of which affect ovulation by impacting hormone levels and fertility.”

The thyroid plays a crucial role in the body’s metabolism. “Thyroid disorders can affect female infertility by causing irregular periods, anovulation, luteal phase defect and hyperprolactinemia,” Hinton explains. “Women with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune thyroid disorder, are at a higher risk of miscarriages.”

Thyroid disorders do not only affect female fertility. “Men with thyroid dysfunction can also suffer from low sperm counts and reduced sperm motility,” adds Hinton.

Lastly, hyperprolactinemia is an overproduction of the hormone prolactin, commonly caused by pituitary tumors, hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, and certain drugs.

Hyperprolactinemia is found in about one-third of women experiencing amenorrhea.

Hinton concludes that there are some steps that can be taken to help balance the scales on fertility. “We can look at medications that reverse insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes and work through steps for medial weight loss. We can also work to optimize thyroid levels with the goal of increasing metabolism and assisting with ovulation. Finally, progesterone is needed to make the lining of the uterus thick and ready for implantation, so optimizing these levels is a key step.”

To learn more, visit

12 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Mind & Body | WOMEN'S HEALTH MONTH

Health & Wellness Done Differently

At Revitalized Health, we take the time to get to know each patient and their unique needs. We then develop individualized treatment plans to help improve quality of life. Join the thousands of people thriving with Revitalized Health today.


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- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

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- Dawn Hinton, AGPCNP-BC

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have an integrated approach to wellness that includes not only education, but evaluation of the individual patient as a whole rather than just a specific problem.”

2024 Breast Cancer Treatment Innovations

As we move through 2024, the landscape of breast cancer treatment is promising more effective, less invasive, and psychologically considerate options for the millions of women battling this disease. From groundbreaking immunotherapies to advances in cosmetic restoration, these innovations are not just about extending life but significantly improving the quality of life for survivors. Here’s what to look for in the coming year to offer new hope and improved outcomes to women facing breast cancer:

CAR T-Cell Therapy:

A leap forward in Immunotherapy Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy represents one of the most exciting advancements in cancer treatment. This revolutionary approach harnesses the patient's own immune system, reprogramming T cells (a type of immune cell) to better recognize and attack cancer cells. Traditionally used in blood cancers, its application in breast cancer is showing promising results. Clinical trials indicate that immunotherapy could also be effective against two less-common and aggressive subtypes; HER2-positive and triplenegative breast cancer. The most exciting aspect of this therapy is the immune system’s ability to remember what cancer cells look like, so it can target and eliminate the cancer if it returns. Further breakthroughs hold promise in 2024 that could make CAR T-cell therapy a standard component of breast cancer treatment, offering hope to those with advanced cancers.

A Shot to Replace Chemotherapy

One of the most anticipated innovations in breast cancer treatment is the development of injectable medications designed to replace traditional chemotherapy. These targeted therapies aim

to minimize the notorious side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as hair loss, nausea, and extreme fatigue, by focusing on cancer cells while sparing healthy ones. In 2024, we are likely to see the introduction of new, injectable drugs that offer a more tolerable, outpatient alternative to chemotherapy, significantly easing the treatment burden for patients and potentially offering a more targeted attack on cancer cells.

Improved Breast Cancer Surgical Techniques

Surgical intervention remains a cornerstone in the treatment of breast cancer, but the methods and techniques are continuously evolving. In 2024, expect to see less invasive surgeries with a focus on preserving as much of the breast and surrounding tissue as possible. Innovations such as intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) allow for a targeted approach, minimizing damage to healthy tissue and reducing the need for subsequent treatments. Additionally, advancements in sentinel lymph node biopsy techniques are reducing the risk of lymphedema, a common and debilitating side effect of breast cancer surgery. These surgical innovations aim not only to remove cancer but to do so with minimal physical and emotional impact on the patient.


Mammograms save lives. Get screened for breast cancer.

Mom, you care for so many. Now’s the time to take care of you. Today, take a moment to schedule your mammogram, because when you prioritize your health, you can continue to be the amazing mom you’ve always been.

Detect breast cancer early:

• Call 337.426.1248 to schedule your mammogram at CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana

• Determine your risk of breast cancer in minutes by taking our online risk assessment


Also known as Datopotamab Deruxtecan, keep an eye on this new drug working its way through the FDA approval process. Dato-DXd is showing great promise in the treatment of patients with metastatic hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer who have received prior therapy. Drug trials indicate Dato-DXd could be a better tolerated alternative to chemotherapy in slowing disease progression and extending survival for women.

The Art and Science of Nipple Tattoos

Post-mastectomy nipple reconstruction has long been a part of breast reconstruction, but the innovation in tattooing techniques is bringing a new level of realism and satisfaction to survivors. Highly skilled tattoo artists, working in conjunction with surgical teams, are now able to create 3D nipple tattoos that are incredibly lifelike. These tattoos not only enhance the aesthetic outcome of breast reconstruction but also play a crucial role in the emotional and psychological healing process, helping women regain a sense of wholeness and self-confidence post-surgery. These artistic techniques are finally becoming widely accessible. 15 8 x 4.875 inches Be here for the moments that matter the most.
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How many numbers do you keep track of in your daily life? From phone numbers and birth dates to account numbers and pass codes, numbers are a big part of our lives. But there is one number many women don’t pay enough attention to: their blood pressure.

According to Dr. Effat Rasul, internal medicine physician with Imperial Health, a common misconception is that high blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely affects women. However, nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. In fact, women who are just 20 pounds or more overweight, have a family history of high blood pressure, or have reached menopause have an increased risk of the condition.

“While high blood pressure isn't directly related to gender, throughout a woman’s life, certain female-specific health conditions, such as pregnancy, using birth control and menopause can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure,” says Dr. Rasul. “Women need to understand their risk and know their numbers.”

She explains that having high blood pressure forces your heart to pump harder, and it can also narrow and harden your arteries over time. “This increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and a number of other health conditions."

Unfortunately, high blood pressure is considered a "silent" disease that can exist with few symptoms, sometimes even none. Dr. Rasul says high blood pressure symptoms can be subtle, especially in its early stages. The most common symptoms in women include headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest discomfort.

“It's easy to see how a woman could ignore these symptoms that are easy to confuse with the stress of everyday life, or, if age appropriate, signs of menopause. And, in some cases, a woman with high blood pressure might not have any noticeable symptoms at all,” she cautions. “The best way to monitor your risk for high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure regularly and have annual medical exams.”

Once you do get your blood pressure checked, it's important to know what your current numbers mean. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifications are:

• Normal blood pressure: Lower than 120/80 mmHg

• Elevated blood pressure:

Between 120-129/<80 mmHg

• Hypertension, stage 1:

Between 130-139/80-<90 mmHg

• Hypertension, stage 2: 140/90 mmHg or higher

"If your blood pressure is elevated, we need to take steps to prevent progression into high blood pressure," says Dr. Rasul. "The higher your blood pressure gets, the harder it becomes to control and the more likely you are to experience complications."

She says the good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented. "There are some cardiovascular risks we can’t control, but blood pressure is one risk factor we can manage effectively. The keys to preventing high blood pressure are to focus on making healthy lifestyle choices and avoiding the habits and behaviors known to be unhealthy.”

High blood pressure prevention tips include:

• Regularly monitor your blood pressure

• Maintain a healthy weight and lose weight if you are overweight

• Eat a well-balanced diet that limits highly processed foods

• Limit your salt intake

• Get 150 minutes of physical activity per week

• Limit alcohol

• Quit smoking

• Have regular checkups with your primary-care physician

"If you already have high blood pressure, the steps above become even more immediately important for managing the condition," recommends Dr. Rasul. "Getting high blood pressure under control helps prevent it from progressing, and the earlier it's diagnosed and managed, the better.”

For more information or to schedule a medical exam to assess your blood pressure, call Dr. Rasul’s office at (337) 433-1212.















WE ARE YOUR PEOPLE. Ask for help today. David Murdock, MD Behavioral Health Zachary Ryder, MD Behavioral Health Mario Valencia, MD Behavioral Health Michael Wright, MD Behavioral Health This is the TIME. This is the PLACE. 337.480.7800
18 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Mind & Body | WOMEN'S HEALTH MONTH Care is woven into the fabric of our organization. From each member of our team to the services we offer, we are committed to providing exceptional care. Every day, compassion and healing happens within our hospital and in the outpatient services and programs we provide. A Commitment to Our Services: Breast Health Cancer Care Cardiology Community Health Center Ear, Nose & Throat Care Emergency Care Endocrinology Family Medicine Home Health Care Laboratory Nutrition & Wellness Obstetrics & Gynecology Orthopaedics Pediatric Care Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Pulmonary & Respiratory Care Radiology & Diagnostic Imaging Rural Health Centers Sleep Medicine Surgical Services Wound Care Get started now to look and feel healthier by summer! We offer America’s most successful weight-loss shots, as well as hormone replacement treatments for women. HOT

Getting to the ROOT of Female Hair Loss

It may sound surprising, but it’s normal for women to lose 50-100 strands of hair a day! As we age, hair loss can accelerate, and by menopause, approximately 50% of women suffer some degree of female pattern hair loss (FPHL), generally a genetic malady. “Female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, can be inherited from either or both parents,” says Dr. Kerri Davis-Fontenot, dermatologist and owner of the Gallery of Dermatology & Advanced Aesthetics in Lake Charles.

While FPHL is the most common reason women shed their tresses, Dr. Davis-Fontenot says female hair loss can also be caused by a variety of other factors:

Fluctuations in hormones, such as during pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid disorders, can lead to hair loss. Testosterone replacement in females can also contribute to hair thinning.

Emotional or physical stress can trigger temporary hair loss, known as telogen effluvium.

Certain medical conditions like alopecia areata, autoimmune diseases, and scalp infections can result in hair loss.

Nutritional deficiencies such as inadequate intake iron, vitamins, and proteins can contribute to hair loss.

Some medications, including those for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, weight loss, testosterone replacement, and high blood pressure, can cause hair loss as a side effect.

Hairstyling habits, for example, excessive use of heat styling tools, tight hairstyles (like ponytails or braids), and chemical treatments can damage the hair and lead to breakage and hair loss. Be gentle with your hair when brushing, grooming, and styling.

Certain hair products can impact the health of hair and hair loss, depending on the product and how it's used. “While coloring your hair can cause temporary damage and weaken the hair shaft, leading to breakage, it typically doesn't directly cause hair loss unless there is an allergic reaction to the dye or excessive chemical damage from frequent coloring,” says Dr. Davis-Fontenot. “Products containing harsh chemicals, such as sulfates, parabens, and formaldehyde, can strip the hair of its natural oils and weaken the hair shaft, potentially leading to breakage and hair loss. Use gentle, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners suitable for your hair type to help maintain scalp health. Look for products containing ingredients like biotin,

niacin, or keratin, which can support hair strength and growth. Using heat protectant sprays or serums before using heat styling tools can help minimize damage and breakage, which can indirectly contribute to hair loss.”

Dr. Davis-Fontenot stresses that she’s currently seeing many patients suffering hair loss due to weight loss medications and testosterone replacement. She says rapid weight loss or extreme dieting can result in nutritional deficiencies leading to hair loss. “Severely restricting calorie intake can put the body into a state of stress, triggering changes in hormone levels. Elevated stress hormones, such as cortisol, can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to increased shedding. Not everyone who loses weight will experience hair loss, and the severity of hair loss can vary depending on individual factors. Thankfully, hair typically regrows once nutritional deficiencies are corrected, and the body adjusts to the new weight and dietary habits.”

How can hair loss be treated?

Several treatments are available for addressing hair loss, ranging from topical solutions to surgical procedures, Dr. Davis-Fontenot says. Treatments may include topical minoxidil (available over the counter), oral prescriptions, replacement of vitamins if deficient, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, low-level laser therapy, and hair transplant. “The most appropriate treatment depends on the underlying cause of hair loss and individual circumstances.”

Want to hang onto your hair?

Dr. Davis-Fontenot offers the following tips:

• Eat a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like vitamins (especially biotin and vitamin E), minerals (such as iron and zinc), and proteins.

• Manage stress with activities such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.

• Wear a hat or use a scarf to protect your hair from UV damage when spending time outdoors for extended periods. 19


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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.







20 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Mind & Body
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Are you reAdy for

According to Forbes, nearly half of Americans (40%) plan on traveling more this year than they did last year with 36% planning a beach vacation and 13% intending on taking a cruise. Pool parties, barbeques, concerts, festivals . . . for most summer events, your skin plays a major role in your beauty routine.

Before you have fun in the sun, make sure to get your skin in optimal condition for the warm weather and book appointments to get beach body ready so you can enjoy your outdoor activities to the fullest. 23 3093 Contraband Pkwy., Ste. 125, Lake Charles, LA 70601 www.The Follow for grand opening details and deals! SHE’S BACK! Hannah Grogan, FNP & Aesthetic Injector is back! Coming June 2024! Neurotoxins | Fillers | Lasers | Hydrafacial | Microneedling | Peels | Skin Tightening | BBL @TheSculptry

Style & Beauty | BEAUTY BOOTCAMP

WAX ON, WAX OFF Hair Removal for Basking in the Sun

In the 1933 film Dinner at Eight, while talking about a Florida beach vacation, Jean Harlow declares, “You know, my skin’s terribly delicate and I don’t dare expose it,” before turning around to show her exposed back in her party dress. While winter is all about keeping skin dryness at bay and covering up in warm cashmere layers, the arrival of spring temperatures encourages dreams of summer beach days. These fantasies mean it’s time to book a waxing appointment if you don’t already have a regular waxing schedule.

Jacquelyn Kraemer, a licensed esthetician and CEO/founder of BARE Body Waxing Studio, says that while BARE is busy all year, “during the spring and summer, we certainly see an uptick in online bookings and a flood of phone calls asking questions about body waxing, specifically Brazilian waxing. If we see new faces at BARE, it will definitely happen during the spring and summer.”

If you’re new to body waxing, you’ll want to follow a few steps to make your first appointment as smooth and painless as possible. First, make sure hair is at least ¼-inch long. You need to have enough hair for the wax to easily grip on to. Also, exfoliate one or two days before your appointment to clear away any dead skin cells and prep the skin for a clean sweep. Avoid scheduling your appointment right before, during, or right after your monthly cycle (if you’re opting for a Brazilian wax) when skin is more sensitive. It’s also best to avoid sunbathing or tanning beds prior to your appointment. Kraemer also suggests applying lotion the night before and the day of your wax, avoiding caffeine prior to your appointment, and wearing loose fitting clothing.

Why choose waxing over shaving? The top reason people choose waxing is because it will take weeks for hair to resurface through the skin. Waxing eliminates hair at the root, while shaving just cuts off the top layer, requiring frequent maintenance. Waxing is also a great exfoliating method. Kraemer says, “By giving your skin this type of exfoliation treatment, any lotion or creams you apply after will be absorbed more efficiently, and your skin will be smooth and radiant.”

It is recommended to schedule waxing appointments every four to six weeks for optimal results. The good news is that the more you wax, the less uncomfortable it will be. (Kraemer calls it “more of a sensation than a pain.”) Waxing weakens the hair follicle, so hair will slide out more easily with each successive visit. If you’re still apprehensive about ditching your razor, Kramer encourages you to wait to schedule a waxing appointment until you feel ready. “Do it for yourself, and don’t overthink it.”

If you’re eager to hit the Gulf Coast beaches or stay at an exclusive island resort, ditch the razor and choose waxing for smooth, glowing skin on those days spent in your favorite bikini.

24 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024

While attaining your optimal beach body, don’t forget to also tailor your skincare routine to specific needs that appear with summer weather. Winter is all about slathering the skin with layers of heavily moisturizing ingredients to offset dry air, but your summer routine requires a different approach. Thinner moisturizing layers are optimal for warmer weather when skin is battling harsh rays from the sun, humidity and sweat.

Whether you do a double cleansing routine or a single cleanse, opt for a cleanser that won’t strip the skin so your skin barrier will remain strong. While toners are usually known for being astringents, using a hydrating toner will clean the skin while also imbuing it with a light layer of moisture. When it comes to serums, you can use a single serum or multiple serums, depending on your specific needs. Just make sure the serums are thin and buildable. If you’re looking for an extra layer of moisture and protection, add an essence to your routine after cleansing. And if you need an immediate skin boost, there are innumerable brightening sheet masks on the market.

When stocking your bathroom shelf with moisturizing products, look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides, Vitamin C, squalene and glycerin. Hyaluronic acid is great for year-round use as a moisturizing ingredient that helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a naturally occurring acid found in the eyes, joints and skin. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and protects the skin against sun damage and pollution and combats hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C brightens the skin, helps prevent UV damage and increases collagen production. Ceramides prevent your skin from losing vital moisture, while squalene and glycerin are two great hydrators.

Heavier moisture during the summer months can lead to more breakouts as it can clog the pores. You want your skin to be able to breathe in the heat. The notorious Louisiana humidity means sebum (the oil that causes breakouts) production increases. Amp up your facial exfoliation routine to facilitate cell regeneration.

Sugar scrubs are good, but chemical peels are also a must. Find a product with BHAs and AHAs in it to keep your skin clear and hydrated. AHAs, such as glycolic acid, slough off dead skin cells and BHAs, like salicylic acid, cut down oil production. The aestheticians at Bauhaus Salon + Spa, say two facials they offer are especially good for the summer months— the Hydrafacial and the OxyTrio. “They are great for cleaning out the pores that can get clogged from excessive humidity and increased sweat and oil production.”

The most important routine to remember during the summer months is to wear sunscreen. Bauhaus aestheticians say, “Make sure SPF 30-50 (made specifically for the face and neck area) is applied in the morning, 365 days a year.” Sun damage is the primary cause of premature aging, so if you want to

minimize wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, remember sunscreen, especially in the summer when UV rays are the most brutal. And, if having a day outdoors, reapply the SPF every 60 to 80 minutes.

If you want great skin, remember to also work from the inside out. Drink plenty of water and take vitamins. Indulging in a relaxing facial is also a wonderful way to give your skin a much-needed boost before a summer vacation. 25

Style & Beauty | BEAUTY BOOTCAMP

Summer is here and it’s time to break out the swimsuits, shorts and tees! But first, consider the condition of your skin. Is it dry and flakey? Are you troubled by that one spot that just won’t firm up?
According to Richelle Cannon, medical aesthetician at Renaitre-A Williamson Cosmetic Center in Lake Charles, there is hope. “We offer a ‘Bod Squad’ of noninvasive, non-surgical treatments to rejuvenate your skin and give you the confidence you need to feel your best this summer.”

CoolSculpting is a revolutionary procedure to drop those frustrating extra bulges of annoying fat that seem to linger even after dieting and exercise. “This pioneering technology identifies and combats undesirable fat cells in the selected area to prompt a visible reduction in fat pockets,” says medical aesthetician Brooklyn Gunter. “Unlike other fat reduction options, CoolSculpting involves no surgery, needles, or recovery time. Our clients often spend the duration of their treatment relaxing, reading a book, or watching Netflix.”

This FDA-approved treatment can target multiple areas of the body and reduce fat layers by 20-25% per treatment. “Patients are pleased with their look and begin to notice changes in as little as three weeks after the procedure, although the optimum results are realized one to three months after their appointment,” adds Gunter.

How does CoolSculpting work and what can a client expect? After the device is positioned on the target area, the machine pulls the fat cells up between two cooling panels with a firm tug and a squeeze – enough pressure to guarantee the designated soft tissue will effectively cool. The exposure to cooling causes fat cells to begin a gentle process of natural removal through the body’s metabolism, gradually reducing the thickness of the fat layer. The results can last about as long as those of invasive procedures, such as liposuction. Ideal candidates for CoolSculpting are relatively fit but have some modest-size fat bulges not easily reduced

26 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024
CookSculpting Before & After Richelle (L) and Brooklyn (R)

through diet and exercise. They desire fat reduction for specific areas but are not considering a surgical procedure. The CoolSculpting procedure is not intended for weight loss or obesity, and it is not a substitute for invasive methods such as liposuction.

CoolTone is a great summer starter because it shapes and contours the body. Gunter says this FDA-approved treatment uses magnetic muscle stimulation technology to tone and strengthen muscles. “The purpose of CoolTone is to improve muscle definition and firmness in the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks only – not as a treatment for weight loss, muscle atrophy, or weakness. Ideal candidates are people with a healthy weight and an active lifestyle who wish to tone their muscles for an aesthetic look.” Each session takes about 30 minutes, and most clients require four to eight treatments for best results. Renaitre is the only provider of CoolSculpting and CoolTone in Lake Charles.

Other skin-enhancing services include:

The Diamond Glow. This dermabrasion device uses diamond tips to gently exfoliate the top layer of dry, damaged skin. A high-power suction extracts debris from pores; then serums are infused into the skin to deliver professional grade results. This is a great facial to have throughout the summer to keep your glow going.

Laser Hair Removal. Cannon says Renaitre offers the only medically proven treatment for the removal of unwanted facial and body hair in Lake Charles. “It’s quick and effective with long lasting results and can treat any skin tone. Clients who purchase any laser hair removal area also receive free underarm hair removal.”

Morpheus8. This laser treatment targets subdermal fat by penetrating deeper into the skin than any other micro-needling device. It remodels and contours the face and body, transforming the skin into a smooth, sleek appearance and is effective for all skin tones. Gunter says it can be used to treat wrinkles, acne or surgical scars, stretch marks, and more. “It also gives the appearance of a more ‘snatched’ jawline and sculpted cheekbones. Skin looks firmer, tighter and lifted.” Renaitre is the No. 1 provider of Morpheus in Lake Charles.

Need more for your body boost? Alastin Skin Care’s TransFORM Body Treatment with TriHex Technology helps reduce the appearance of crepey skin anywhere on the body, including arms, hands, and knees. The formula hydrates skin from the inside out with key botanicals and supports the appearance of tighter more youthful-looking skin.

For more information or to make an appointment, call Renaitre A Williamson Cosmetic Center at 337-508-2559.

• An injectable, non-surgical treatment option

• Reduced the appearace of fine lines and wrinkles

• Can be used to address teeth gringing and symptoms of TMJ discordrs

• Enhances the final result of cosmetic dentistry 27 4750 NelsoN Road, suite 100 | (337) 210-8864 d e N tistsoflakecha R We offeR botox & deRmal filleRs benefits of botox®
Diamond Glow Before & After

Home & Family

As of May 22 in Calcasieu Parish (the 24 for parochial schools), the kids will be home for summer break and parents will be wondering how to keep them busy. We have the issue for you! This month’s cover section is bursting with exciting things to do, see and learn. You’ll read about camps, classes, road trips, and tips to keep them occupied at home. The summer months are also a great time to get caught up on health check-ups and sports physicals before the start of the new school year, so look for Kristy Como Armand’s story on that topic. Thrive magazine wishes you all a fantastic, memorable summer!


Calcasieu Parish Public Library 2024 Summer Reading Program

The theme for the 2024 Summer Reading Program is “Adventure Begins at Your Library.” Early registration begins on May 20 and the official start begins on May 24. The program runs for 7 weeks and will officially end on Friday, July 12. Sign up at www.calcasieulibrary.

Bright Star Theatre Presents “Jack’s Adventure in Space!”

• Monday, July 8, 10:00 a.m.

Vinton Branch

• Monday, July 8, 3:00 p.m.

Iowa Branch

Crescent Circus –Experience the Magic!

• Thursday, June 27, 10:00 a.m.

Central Library

• Thursday, June 27, 3:00 p.m.

Moss Bluff Branch

• Friday, June 28, 10:00 a.m.

DeQuincy Branch

The Dinosaur Experience –Ranger Martin visits with his Dinosaur Friends!

• Monday, June 3, 10:00 a.m.

DeQuincy Branch

• Monday, June 3, 3:00 p.m.

Sulphur Regional Branch

• Tuesday, June 4, 10:00 a.m.

Central Library

• Tuesday, June 4, 3:00 p.m.

Moss Bluff Branch

Hattricks Magic

• Monday, July 15, 10:00 a.m.

Iowa Library

• Monday, July 15, 3:00 p.m.

Carnegie Memorial Library

• Tuesday, July 16, 10:00 a.m.

Westlake Library

• Tuesday, July 16, 3:00 p.m.

Starks Library

Jimez AlexanderThe Mezzy Mezz Show

• Wednesday, June 12, 10:00 a.m.

Sulphur Regional Library

• Wednesday, June 12, 3:00 p.m.

Epps Memorial Library

• Thursday, June 13, 10:00 a.m.

Westlake Library

• Thursday, June 13, 3:00 p.m.

Carnegie Memorial Library

LA Division of Archaeology

• Thursday, July 18, 10:00 a.m.

Carnegie Memorial Library

• Thursday, July 18, 3:00 p.m.

Central Library

Lady Chops

• Wednesday, July 17, 3:00 p.m.

Hayes Branch

• Thursday, July 18, 10:00 a.m.

Central Library

• Thursday, July 18, 3:00 p.m.

Sulphur Regional Branch

• Friday, July 19, 10:00 a.m.

Vinton Branch

• Friday, July 19, 3:00 p.m.

Moss Bluff Branch

Mitch the Magician

• Thursday, July 11, 10:00 a.m.

DeQuincy Library

• Thursday, July 11, 3:00 p.m.

• Moss Bluff Library 29

Home & Family | SUMMER GUIDE

Library Classes continued

Schoolhouse Safari

• Thursday, June 20, 3:00 p.m.

Central Library

• Friday, June 21, 10:00 a.m.

Vinton Branch

• Friday, June 21, 3:00 p.m.

Westlake Branch

Author: Gayle Webre “When I Was An Alligator” with special guests, LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

• Tuesday, July 16, 10:00 a.m.

Central Library

• Tuesday, July 16, 3:00 p.m.

Moss Bluff Library

Adventures in Cooking! - with Brittany Khamille

Adults are invited to an adventure in cooking with TikTok personality and Louisiana cookbook author, Brittany Khamille. She will be demonstrating how to prepare mini crawfish quiches. Registration is required. To sign up, call the Moss Bluff Library at (337) 721-7128.

• Saturday, June 15, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Moss Bluff Library

SOWELA Culinary Arts

8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Cost: All camps are $290 per camper and include breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register, visit camps or call 337-421-6560.

Camp Schedule:

• Culinary Camp (Lake Charles Campus)

June 17 – June 21

• Culinary Camp (Lake Charles Campus)

June 24 – June 28

• Culinary Camp (Jennings Campus)

July 15 – July 19

• Culinary Camp (Jennings Campus)

July 29 – August 2

Beaumont Children’s Museum

All camps are open to campers entering 1st grade through 5th grade, with the exceptions of Imagineering (Full Day), Robotics 1.5, and Robotics 2.0 (Full Day). There will be a morning camp, afternoon camp and an all day camp.

• Week 1 – Robotics 1.0 (June 10 – 14)

• Week 2 – Imagineering: Super Mario Brothers (June 17 – 21)

• Week 3 – Camp Half-Blood: Percy Jackson (June 24 – 28)

• Week 4 – Robotics 1.5 (July 1 – 3)

• Week 5 – Art Exploration (July 8 – 12)

• Week 6 – BASF Kids’ Lab (July 15 – 19)

• Week 7 – Robotics 2.0 (July 22 – 26)

• Week 8 – Critter Camp (July 29 – August 2)

Cost depends on camp chosen. Visit https://www. camps for more information and to register. All camp registrations close the Wednesday before the camp starts.

Calcasieu Parish School Board Tech Camp

July 15 – 19, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Grades 2-10

Cost: $475, includes iPad, iPad cover, t-shirt and daily snacks. Location: CPSB Technology Training Center, 1724 Kirkman St. For more information, contact Joyce Hemker at (337) 217-4120 or joyce.


Lil Art House Camps

Ages 7 – 12

$150 per student

• Week 1 – Walk on the Wild Side, June 3 – 7

• Week 2 – Beautiful World, June 10 – 14

• Week 3 – Walk on the Wild Side, June 17 – 21

• Week 4 – Beautiful World, June 24 – June 28

• Week 5 – Walk on the Wild Side, July 8 – 12

• Week 6 - Beautiful World, July 22 – 26 Register by calling (337) 990-5257 or visiting

Niche Summer Camps

Art Lab Camp

• June 17 - 19

• July 22 – 24

In My Crafting Era Camp

• May 27 - 29

• July 15 – 17

Squish Squad Camp

• June 10 - 12

• July 8 – 10

30 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024
5250 Lake Street Lake Charles (337) 990-5257 Come on in and create with us!
art studio repurposing & upcycling different materials
Foundations Pediatric Center LLC 4330 LAKE STREET | LAKE CHARLES, LA Coming Soon to SWLA! JUNE 2024 JOIN OUR EVALUATION WAITLIST SUMMER CAMP SIGNUP @foundationspediatriccenter Foundations Pediatric Center PROVIDING PEDIATRIC SPEECH THERAPY SERVICES

The Magic of Creating Camp

• June 3 - 5

•June 24 - 26

For more information, visit

Julieart School Art Camp Up, Up, And Away

• June 3 – 7

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. \ $110

Art week based on things that fly Altered Books

• June 10 – 14

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. \ $110

Children will alter books with collages, paint and doodles. Earth, Wind, and Fire

• June 17 – 21

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. \ $110

Children will create artworks based on nature.


• June 24 – 28

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. \ $110

Create art based on the ocean and beach. Visit www.julieartschool. com/classes for more information.

Calcasieu Parish Plastic Model

Contest and Expo

• May 18, 9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.

West-Calcasieu Arena and Events Center

40 Arena Rd., Sulphur, La.

The Southwest Area Modelers of Plastic (SWAMP) will host a full day show to display plastic models, kits and accessories. There will be raffles, an award ceremony and a vendor area. Snacks and drinks will be available on site.

Christian Youth Theatre Group

Sea and Sky

• June 17 – 21, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Ages 4-5 and 6-7 \ $210.00

Broadway Bound

• July 8 – 12, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

• Ages 8-9 and 10-12 \ $210

Teen Showstoppers

• July 8 – 12, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. \ $210 Visit camps/ to register.

Children’s Theatre Company

Extreme Theatre

• June 10 – 14

Ages 8-18 \ $150

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Children will learn about costumes, stage makeup, acting, singing, dancing and set design.

Wild Things

• July 8 – 10

Ages 5-8 \ $65

10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

Young children get introduced to theatre through games, movement and music.

Kidz In Showbiz

July 22 – 26

Ages 5-8, 10:00 – 11:15 a.m. \ $85

Ages 9 -18, 10:00 a.m. – noon

Participants sing, dance and act to scenes from Broadway shows. Visit workshops for more information. 31

Home & Family | SUMMER GUIDE

SWLA Music School

Lake Charles Young Band Nation is offering three sessions this summer for a cost of $350 each. Minimal experience required. Kids can play in a live band and perform a rock and roll show for friends and family.

• Session 1 Band: June 10 – June 14

•Session 2: Songwriting July 8 – July 12

(Workshops with songwriters, write, record, and perform original music)

• Session 3 Band: July 29 – August 2

• Sessions are 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Monday through Friday with a gig on Friday afternoon. Call 337-5137905 to reserve your student’s spot.


Lake Charles Yacht Club

Free Sailing lessons

• June 10 – 14

• 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

1305 N. Lakeshore Drive

Students should bring a life jacket,

clothing and shoes that can get wet, and plenty of water. To register, call Ship To Shore at (337) 474-0730.

Splash Pads

The splash pads at Prien Lake Park and River Bluff Park are now open. Prien Lake Park, located at 3700 West Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles, and River Bluff Park, located at 543 Theriot Road in Moss Bluff. Both parks are open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.

Camp Smiling F.A.C.E.S.

• June 3 – 6, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Genesis Therapeutic Riding Center, 886 Landry Road, Sulphur

Ages: 4-12 \ $65

Children with physical and mental challenges, such as autism, spina bifida, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other are invited to attend the West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital’s fishing, arts and crafts and equestrian skill camp.

You can download registration forms at in-the-community/camp-smilingfaces.

Lake Charles Racquetball Club

Tennis Camp

• Ages 4-11

• 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

• Cost: Members $420 for two sessions; Nonmembers $490 for two sessions; $190 per additional session for member; $215 per additional session for nonmembers This camp will focus on tennis but also focus on arts and crafts, cooking, lawn games and kickball. Two sessions minimum. Each child should bring sunscreen, a towel, a swimsuit, a hat, and a tennis racquet.

• Session 1: June 3 – 7

• Session 2: June 10 – 15

• Session 3: June 17 – 21

• Session 4: June 24 – 28

• Session 5: July 8 – 12

• Session 6: July 15 – 19

• Session 7: July 22 – 26

• Session 8: July 29 – Aug. 2 For more information, visit www.


Kicker Kutie


• July 22 – 26

Ages 5-11

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

McNeese Rec Complex

• $250, includes camp t-shirt and opportunity to perform with Cowgirl Kickers at first McNeese home football came in 2024 Children are required to bring a lunch, drink and bottle of water daily. Visit https://www. kickerkutiecamp to register.

Lake Area Adventures

Adventure Kids Camp

• July 15 – 19

8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Ages 6 and up

$350 for one child; $300 per additional child Children will learn cooking, lifeguard training, kayaking and science. They will have access to pool time, obstacle courses and a gamers’ lounge. Visit www. for more information.

Graywood Golf & Racquet Club

Tennis and Pickleball Camps

• Ages 6 – 13

June 17 – 20

June 24 – 27

July 8 – 11

July 15 – 18

Contact Kevin Gillette at 337-562-1206, Ext. 4 for registration.

Golf Summer Camps

• Ages 8 – 13

June 10 – 13

June 17 – 20

July 8 – 11

July 15 – 18

Contact Herb Piert at 337-562-1206, Ext. 1 for registration.

Calcasieu Soccer Club

Soccer Camp

• Monday 24th, Tuesday June 25th, Wednesday June 26th

Main Camp for Ages 4 years through 12 years old: Cost $95

Morning Session: 8:30 - 11:00am

Mini Camp for 3 year olds: Cost $50 Morning only for 1 hour, 8:30 - 9:30am.

Visit for more information.


SOUTH CAMPUS 33 Two Years Through 12th Grade Now Enrolling EDS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, or gender in admission of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and athletic and other school administered programs.
Two Year Olds - 6th Grade 803 N. Division Street Lake Charles
7 th to 12 th Grade 5665 N. Gray Market Drive Lake Charles Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School provides academic excellence to a diverse student body in a Christian environment. 337-433-5246

Summer in Southeast Texas (SETX) is much like summer in Southwest Louisiana – a little hot and humid but filled with never-ending activities. From unique bakery camps to free yoga classes, there are good times for anyone and everyone. Here's your ultimate guide to sizzling summer fun in Beaumont.

Unleash Your Inner Explorer

Cattail Marsh in Beaumont is the coolest place to be during the summer. With air-conditioned van tours every Tuesday and Thursday, it’s easy to beat the heat here. Home to nearly 300 bird species, a pair of bald eagles, and oodles of alligators, the marsh offers free yoga classes and kids’ craft activities in the education center overlooking the wetland oasis.

Splish and splash in the wading pool at Gator Country while holding real life alligators! Home to the oldest and largest alligators in Texas – Big Al and Big Tex – Gator Country is part rescue facility, part animal theme park, and you can get to know these reptiles in this interactive feeding show.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Big Thicket National Preserve by kayaking through the many paddling trails or enjoying a hike viewing carnivorous plants. On May 18, Big Thicket will host its first Science Symposium free to the public with guest scientist speakers.

Museum Hop

Beaumont, once known as the Museum Capital of Texas, boasts a treasure trove of unique museums, so explore the legacy and history throughout special museums like the Art Museum of Southeast Texas or the wellpreserved Chambers House.

Learn about the history of firefighting and the bravery of firefighters at the Fire Museum of Texas. This unique museum houses a collection of antique fire trucks and firefighting equipment. Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant, donated by the Walt Disney Company in 1999. Celebrate its 25th anniversary on May 24 with a special fire hydrant splash pad and activities.

Spark curiosity and ignite young minds at the Beaumont Children's Museum. This interactive museum features exhibits designed to encourage exploration, creativity, hands-on learning – perfect for a fun-filled family outing. Check out their webpage for weekly themed events and summer camp STEAM activities.

Blast from the Past

The McFaddin-Ward House, a beautiful, historic mansion, has a lineup of summer events. On May enjoy "Art Crime and the FBI" with Bob Wittman, a renowned art detective. Starting June 6, catch movies like the 1998 Parent Trap at their Movie at the McFaddin’s series, held on the museum lawn.

Spindletop Boomtown is boomin’ with summer fun. Step back into time with a replica of the 1901 Lucas Gusher and explore the start of the oil industry in Southeast Texas. With weekly food trucks and activities, you can catch a Gusher Reenactment or stay for a special jazz themed evening in the in the Log Cabin Saloon.

Cool Off and Culture Up

Downtown Beaumont has been transformed into a gallery of large-scale murals. With over 40 murals in the area, you can rent a bike ($5 for 3 hours) at the CVB office and ride around solo or with friends to explore these masterpieces while enjoying the sunshine.

Artventures Art Camp at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas runs from June 3 to July 18, offering diverse workshops in woodwork arts, mixed media, jewelry making, clay, and more. Held Monday through Friday, children aged 5-14 can select from various classes for a rich art education experience. Taught by artists and professionals, each class costs $80 per child.

Grab your apron and chef hat and head to Rao’s Bakery & Coffee Café for a unique baking experience that helps children explore the fun and thrills of baking. Offering two class options, kids will learn how to read recipes, follow directions, let their creativity blossom, and enjoy snacks and games.

These are just a handful of the summer-long activities in the area, and no matter where you go or what you do, all times lead to good times here in Beaumont. So, pack your sunscreen, grab your adventurous spirit, and get ready to experience Beaumont's sizzling summer offerings.

To find a full comprehensive list of events, visit the Beaumont CVB event calendar at

34 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Home & Family | SUMMER GUIDE
Take a selfie with the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant.

Progress on Port Wonder’s Children’s Museum

Great strides are being made in the Port Wonder project along the Lake Charles Lakefront. Construction is almost finished for the complex, which will house the new Children’s Museum facility and a new Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Nature and Science Center.

“We have seen tremendous progress both on the construction project as well as behind the scenes with the exhibit design and fabrication,” says Children’s Museum executive director Allyson Montgomery. “The Lemoine Company has been terrific to work with on this monumental project for our community. We have weekly update meetings and are nearing the end of construction with interior work wrapping up. Landscaping will soon begin, and we will see the Port Wonder area come to life! It will be a wonderful outdoor area to enjoy a picnic or fly a kite.”

Montgomery has been working closely with designers and fabricators from Cambridge Seven out of the Boston area and 1220 Exhibits out of Nashville. “Exhibit designs are coming to life and content panels are rolling into production,” she says. “Each exhibit has been carefully designed with our region in mind. We hope visitors will enjoy learning through play in each of the interactive areas.”

Exhibit installation and final touches will take a few months to complete but they hope to open the doors early this fall. The Children’s Museum will begin the hiring process this summer so watch for job opportunities to be posted on their social media pages as well as in their newsletter and website.

Meanwhile, community support is needed. Contributions to the “Here Comes the Sun” campaign will support their programs and operations once open. The Children’s Museum also hosted the inaugural Chad Thielen Memorial Golf Tournament May 4-5 at Mallard Golf Club. Money raised through these efforts will help support a broad array of programming throughout the year. “We hope the Children’s Museum at Port Wonder will become a hub for families and learning at any age,” Montgomery adds. “We want to offer programs for toddlers and all the way up to activities for senior citizens to enjoy.”

For more information or to make a donation, visit 35
More Experience. More Services. More Resources. More Convenience. Two Convenient Locations: COME SEE US FOR: • colds • cough • sore throats • earaches • fever • flu • stomach ache/pain • sprains and strains •
cuts • rashes and
• allergies
reactions • other non-emergency medical concerns Lake Charles 4201 Nelson Road (337) 310-CARE Moss Bluff 277 Highway 171 (337) 217-7762
bug bites
and allergic

In the carefree months of summer vacation, you’d expect that kids would naturally be drawn to the local pool or running around outside with friends. Instead, they often spend their summers sitting around, engaging in obesity-related behaviors like watching TV, playing video games, and eating sugary snacks and fewer vegetables, according to a study from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Although children have returned to their normal levels of pre-pandemic physical activity, the World Health Organization recently reported that kids are not moving enough to be considered healthy. During summer vacation, children lose up to 74% of their cardiovascular fitness. With the laziest time of year for youth upon us, it’s important to think about how your kids will stay busy as temperatures climb.

Gregg Murset, CEO of BusyKid, recommends that parents take control of the situation, use the following tips to help kids stay active all summer long, and cut down on that phrase parents dread to hear . . . “I’m bored”.

Communicate Expectations

Sit down with your children and lay out a plan, as well as what you expect. Clearly older kids will have more responsibility but that doesn't mean the little ones get off easy.

No Laying Around

Kids need to be active everyday so don't leave home projects, chores or personal activities for the weekends. Make sure there are a handful of projects to be completed every day.

Create a Busy Calendar

Use an online tool like BusyKid to create a “Busy Calendar”. Each day, kids can see what needs to be done and can click projects and activities one at a time. This will help teach them responsibility, accountability, and time management.

Assign by Strengths

Different kids are good at different things. Maybe one of your kids hates doing things outside. Maybe another loves the sunshine and fresh air. Besides assigning things by age, look at what they enjoy doing and build the calendar from there.

Find Balance

Make sure the "Busy Calendar" has a good balance of chores and fun. For every hour of chores, try to have one hour of another activity where your kids can enjoy themselves. After all, it’s their summer too.

Reward Success

If all goes according to plan, your kids will be moving around a bunch this summer and plenty of projects will be done. Make sure to reward them for working hard or staying with the plan. Paying an allowance is a great way to reward your kids and teach them how to save, spend, and invest it wisely.

Gregg Murset is the co-founder & CEO of BusyKid, and a groundbreaking inventor, father of six, certified financial planner, and consultant who is a major advocate for sound parenting, child accountability and financial literacy.

For more information about BusyKid, visit http://

Home & Family | SUMMER GUIDE 37 Lake Charles, (337) 474-3636 | Moss Bluff, (337) 429-5057 Summer is the perfect time to schedule your child’s dental exam, and at Robinson Dental Group, we provide experienced dental care for the entire family. This summer, we’re offering a FREE GIFT to NEW patients age 5 – 17: their choice of an electric Oral B toothbrush or free bleaching tray and whitening gel!* We accept most insurance and flexible benefit plans, and offer affordable, convenient payment plans to fit any budget. Call us today to schedule your child’s summer dental exam. *Cannotbecombinedwithanyotheroffer.Valuedat$85.00. Give your Kids a Bright, Healthy Smile this Free gift offer available June –July, 2024 D0150

Summer is the Perfect Time for School and Sports Physicals

As summer break approaches and children eagerly anticipate the freedom of long sunny days, it's easy to put thoughts of the upcoming school year out of your head. But these months when kids are out of school provide an ideal time to schedule an annual health exam, which can also serve as a sports physical for those students who plan on participating in school athletics.

“While well baby visits are common for infants and toddlers, many school-aged children only see a doctor when they have a health problem, so annual comprehensive health evaluations never take place,” says Kali Holt, nurse practitioner with Imperial Health’s Deridder Primary Care Clinic. “Most schools require a physical before a student can participate in school sports teams, but a yearly exam is also recommended for all students to help develop good health and wellness habits, as well as to identify any health issues that need attention.”

Holt provides an overview of some of the key reasons for scheduling school and sports physicals over the summer:

Convenience and Flexibility:

With fewer academic and extracurricular commitments, parents have greater flexibility in arranging appointments that accommodate their family's schedule during the summer. If a sports physical is required, taking care of this early helps parents avoid the rush and stress of completing this to meet school deadlines as each season begins.

Preparation for the School Year:

Various aspects of a child's health, including immunizations, growth and development, and overall well-being will be evaluated during the exam. By addressing any health concerns, parents can take proactive steps to ensure that their children start the school year on the right foot, both physically and mentally.

Assess Risk for Sports Participation:

These examinations evaluate a child's physical fitness, assess for any underlying health issues, and identify potential injury risks. By completing sports physicals during the summer, children can obtain clearance to participate in sports activities without delay, allowing them to hit the ground running when the season begins.

Preventive Health Measures:

Summer physicals provide an opportunity for healthcare providers to discuss preventive health with parents and children. From promoting healthy lifestyle habits to discussing injury prevention strategies, these examinations empower families to prioritize their health and well-being, providing a foundation for a successful school year.

“For middle and high school students who need a pre-participation sports physical, we’ll also assess their flexibility and strength, discuss nutrition and fitness, and complete any required forms,” says Holt.

Holt says a student wellness exam will typically include:

• Head-to-toe physical examination

• Family history review

• Medication review

• Developmental screening

• Vision screening

• Hearing screening

• Blood pressure screening

• Anemia screening

• Urinalysis

• Immunizations, if needed

• Health education

Wellness and sports physicals can be scheduled at DeRidder Primary Care Clinic, and walk-ins are also welcome. Call (337) 202-7850 for more information.

38 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Home & Family | SUMMER GUIDE 39 Termites, Pests & Mosquitoes • JJEXT.COM 1.800.737.2847 S a v o r t h e O u t d o o r S e a s o n s ! . . . G e t t h e S h i e l d ! • F R E E INSPECTI ON • TREATMEN T OPTIONS • MAI NTENAN CE B e c a u s e o u t d o o r s i s I N a n d i t ’ s T e r m i t e A N D M o s q u i t o S e a s o n a g a i n . . . EXTERMINATING JJExt_LC-Thrive--3rdpg-SavrOutdrDng_4-24-24_JJ_LC-Thrive_3rdpg.MAY-SavrOutdrs_4-24-24 4/24/2024 11:45 AM MASS SCHEDULE Saturday Anticipated Mass 4:00pm Sunday Morning Mass 9:00am Wednesday and Friday Daily Mass 7:15am Tuesday & Thursday Daily Mass 4:30pm Holy Hour Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament Thursday at 3:30pm, followed by Daily Mass at 4:30pm Confessions available before all Masses.
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experience beAches, birds And greAt burgers

Cameron Parish is one of the most ecologically diverse parishes in Louisiana, with its lush marshland and innumerable species of birds and butterflies. The parish is often overlooked by residents in other local parishes unless one is an avid hunter or fisher, as Cameron Parish is known as a sportsman’s paradise. But with its recovery efforts from Hurricane Laura in 2020 and new developments in local industry, I decided, as a native “Cameronite,” to revisit Cameron and make a trek through the parish on a beautiful spring Saturday.

I began my trip by driving south from Sulphur on Hwy. 27 and stopped by the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point I discovered information on Louisiana's rice production, the types of animals found in the wetlands and an interactive display complete with Cajun instruments such as the accordion and fiddle.

The Creole Nature Trail is a designated All-American Road and National Scenic Byway. Continuing south, I had forgotten the solitude of driving miles and miles through nothing but marshland. I passed several lookout points, including Blue Goose Walking Trail

When I arrived at Holly Beach, I headed west, through Johnson Bayou to the Texas border. I found the Sabine Pass Lighthouse, currently undergoing restoration. To see the lighthouse, I had to first check-in at the Johnson Bayou Library because visitors must pass through Cheniere’s gate to access the road that leads to the lighthouse.

I made a 40-minute stop at Mae’s Beach, one of the smaller beaches along the western Cameron Parish coast. The beach was clean, quiet and perfect for some self-care time. I found a lightning welk shell half-submerged but close to shore and a piece of petrified wood. I also came across an American purple gallinule – perhaps the most colorful and beautiful bird I have ever seen.

Home & Family | CAMERON PARISH

After washing off some sand, I returned east and passed Constance Beach, Little Florida Beach and Peveto Woods Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary. While bird migration wound down last month, I expect Peveto Woods will soon be blossoming with butterflies. Monarchs begin their trip south around the middle of August and pass through Peveto Woods on the way to their winter habitat. The collection of wildflowers alongside the roadway from Johnson Bayou through Holly Beach and to the Cameron Ferry was diverse and gorgeous.

The Creole Nature Trail attracts approximately 300,000 tourists each year, according to Visit Lake Charles. On the ferry crossing the Calcasieu Ship Channel, I was situated next to a vehicle with a family from Georgia. However, my main focus was on dolphins. I was on the lookout for Pinky, the famous albino dolphin that swims those waters, but I failed to see her or her baby. I did spot a different bottlenose dolphin and plenty of pelicans skimming the surface of the water for their next meal.

I passed through the center of Cameron and saw a plethora of shrimping vessels on my way to Lighthouse Bend, the new restaurant, market and marina opened and staffed by Venture Global. The establishment is built on property owned by the prestigious Henry family. They are the descendants of Samuel P. Henry, known as the “Father of Cameron Parish.” I sat on the outside deck of Lighthouse Bend, overlooking the boat launch, which was

quite busy that day. The restaurant was bustling, even after prime lunch hour, so I took in the nice view while I waited for my Cameron Cheeseburger. My entrée was quite good, and I learned the server, Tiffany Wilson, is also a native of Cameron. Family names were exchanged back and forth, as it goes in Cameron. We might not know you specifically, but we definitely know your relatives.

The Cameron Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) park, now open and continuing to develop, benefits local fishermen and the Cameron Parish economy. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and biologists from Sea Grant chose a 48-acre area for sustainable oyster farming in the southern Calcasieu Lake/ Big Lake area. The park will eventually be open as a tourist destination, allowing visitors to attend tastings and learn about the oyster park. For now, the park offers oyster farmers a steady, year-round supply of oysters for market.

I ended my trip by traveling through Creole, past Pintail Wildlife Drive and Boardwalk, and Grand Chenier, where my Cajun grandparents used to live, and left by way of Little Chenier. The trip was a nice little getaway and Cameron Parish is a neighbor which shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District boasts a superior mid-Gulf Coast location for companies in the maritime industry.

The Cameron Parish Port offers ideal positioning at the mouth of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, with access to both shallow-water and deep-water connectivity to inland and global markets.

Anchor here at The Cameron Parish Port. Kim Montie - Port Director • Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District • 337-775-5206 or Anchor here PHOTOS: CHENIERE LNG

Cheniere Invests Time, Talents, and Resources to the SWLA Community

Located in Cameron Parish, Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction complex is the largest LNG production and export facility by capacity in the United States. As a vital part of the community, Cheniere regularly makes investments in the surrounding area.

Cheniere has partnerships with the Cameron Parish Beachfront Development, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Restore America’s Estuaries to support coastal protection and restoration. Cheniere employees volunteer their time to support the maintenance and restoration of Cameron Parish beachfront areas. Cheniere also partnered with the Coastal Conservation Association’s national habitat program to invest funds for Louisiana’s newest artificial reef program,

which will create a reef off the coast of Cameron. In addition, Cheniere has several ongoing coast protection projects in which they join hands with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.

Cheniere also partners with local colleges. The company established an apprenticeship program at SOWELA Technical Community College for students in process technology and industrial instrumentation. At McNeese State University, Cheniere worked with the engineering and business departments to establish the Cowboy Energy Club, which helps students understand the natural gas industry and learn about related career opportunities. Cheniere also offers scholarships and project sponsorships.

42 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Home & Family | CAMERON PARISH

At Cheniere, we support Louisiana jobs and American energy by safely providing reliable and affordable energy to the world. With operations in Southwest Louisiana, we are the largest producer of U.S. LNG, bolstering energy security while supporting the transition to a lower-carbon future.

At Cheniere, we are energizing a more secure future.


Home & Family | CAMERON PARISH

A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Kim Montie was born and raised in an extended family of farmers and entrepreneurs. “Work ethics and a servant's heart were instilled in me at a very young age,” says Montie. “My sister and I were taught that it takes effort and hard work to be successful in life no matter what path you pursue.” In high school, Montie was active in FFA, 4-H, sports, and rodeo.

She attended Texas A & M State University for two years on a 4-H Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo scholarship and completed her education at Stephen F. Austin State University, graduating with honors and earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science and minor in biology.

After college, Montie worked in pharmaceutical sales, then as a regional fund raiser for the American Heart Association, and later, as a career and technology teacher at Grand Lake High School for almost 20 years. Two years ago, she was hired as the director of the Cameron Parish Port. “My nontraditional career path is one of the qualities that serves me best in my position today,” she says. “This is my passion; this is where I am meant to be!” Montie has lived in Cameron Parish with her husband Mike, a Creole native, for over thirty years. Thrive magazine recently caught up with Montie, where she shared her love and dedication to the southwest corner of Louisiana.

Describe your role as Cameron Port’s executive director. I’m primarily tasked with economic development. I work with existing industry and businesses, while seeking new opportunities to diversify our economic impact throughout the parish. We’re traditionally an energy parish – our economy had been oilfield based, but as offshore oil business declined, the parish saw an influx of liquified natural gas (LNG) import business which quickly turned to LNG export.

Cameron Parish is currently home to three of the nation's seven LNG export facilities, and all three are in the permitting phase for expansion. Another potential LNG project is awaiting only the Department of Energy permit to export before beginning construction. Although these LNG facilities are critical to our economy in Cameron, my goal and the goal of the Port Board is to diversify our economy as well.

In your two years at the Port, what are some changes you’ve seen and facilitated?

I’ve facilitated the set-up and opening of our Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) Park, which offers area residents another opportunity to earn

a living on our bountiful waters. I’ve also facilitated the purchase of two key pieces of property for the Port – one will be developed into a Port Security Facility and the other will be bulkheaded and dredged to bring more diversity to our portfolio of businesses to produce tax dollars in the hopes of being able to roll millages back for our residents. Additionally, I see a niche to market Cameron Parish’s beauty and bounty through the tourism industry as an overlooked economic driver.

What do you love about your job? I don’t see what I do as a job, but as a mission. I take pride in seeing positive changes for our residents and parish. I enjoy thinking outside the box, meeting people and forming relationships to move the parish forward, and I strive to inspire others in the parish to see the opportunities we’re presented to accomplish things we’ve never been able to accomplish before.

What are the challenges? Cameron Parish’s greatest challenges are insurance, building regulations, slowing coastal erosion, and future hurricanes. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, but with our exemplary parish leadership and industry partners we can work through these challenges and create a more resilient parish.

What are your plans/goals for the Port moving forward? My goal is to make Cameron Parish a desired destination for both industry and tourists which in turn creates jobs and a better quality of life for all Cameron Parish residents.

Beyond the Port, what are your impressions of Cameron Parish in terms of hurricane recovery and environmental stability? As in Calcasieu Parish, ongoing recovery from the 2020 hurricanes has been slow. The difference in how we recover in Cameron Parish and the changes we make moving forward, however, affect not only

first person with KIM MONTIE

Executive Director with Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District

Cameron Parish, but the entire region of SWLA. Cameron Parish serves as a buffer between the Gulf of Mexico and the economic drivers of the region to our north. The measures Cameron Parish takes, for example, the extremely successful shoreline protection project, will not only save our coastline from approximately 310 ft/year of erosion, but will safeguard the marshes, lessening the harsh effects of hurricanes to Calcasieu, Jeff Davis, Beauregard, and Allen Parishes as well. Calcasieu Parish has been an important partner in helping with grant funding for the shoreline protection project off the coast of the Rockefeller Refuge. In my time at the Port, I’ve witnessed superior efforts of the region to partner in shoreline protection and watershed drainage issues. These positive changes and efforts unify us as a region and are key to moving future projects forward.

How do you spend your free time? I'm learning how to live as an empty nester. I’ve always been an involved mom, never missing any event my girls were involved in, whether gymnastics, piano, rodeo, livestock shows, or basketball. It’s been an adjustment, but a nice slow-down. I have a miniature Australian Shepherd that now takes more of my lap-time than my girls. I love to read and watch women's college basketball on television and attend occasional LSU women's games. I anticipate peaceful visits with my parents in Nacogdoches, and I love plants and yard work. I serve on the SWLA Economic Development Workgroup Committee, help at the local schools, and volunteer with Cameron Parish Lions Club projects.

What are your hopes for Cameron Parish? I hope to catch a break from future hurricanes and for our newly appointed insurance commissioner to implement positive changes in our state's insurance program that would lower insurance costs for our region, enabling residents the opportunity to return to Cameron Parish. Also, with lower insurances, business and industry can more easily locate here, creating more jobs and enabling our youth to stay here to live and work. My family and I have weathered four hurricanes here and I would never consider leaving. Cameron Parish residents are the most unique of all its bountiful resources! 45
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Autism Conference Vision and Hearing Needs Cameron Parish Community Events Brody Meaux Memorial Rodeo Cameron Parish Junior Livestock Show Non-profit School, Church, Community Festival Vendors and Other Charitable Endeavors 20th Annual PAGEANTS – SATURDAY, JULY 6 Little Miss, Deb, Teen and Miss Cameron Multi-Purpose Building CAPTAIN’S NIGHT -THURSDAY, JULY 25 Honoring Sponsors and Anglers Lighthouse Bend Pavilion Complimentary Fish Fry, Live Music, Giveaways SAVE THE DATES! FESTIVAL - FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, AUGUST 2-3 Lighthouse Bend Pavilion Blessing of the Fleet, Fishing Tournament Live Music, Food and Fun for All Ages Complimentary Children’s Activities: Crab Races, Jumps, Games and Giveaways!
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Is your car up to the trek?

You’ve planned your itinerary, made your reservations, packed your bags, but there’s one more important step before you set off on a summer road trip. Give your car a thorough check up! Whether you’re headed to the Florida beaches, visiting family in Colorado, or embarking on a National Parks tour, a maintenance inspection will help ensure you enjoy your vacation destination, and not find yourself sitting in a repair shop. Follow this checklist before rolling the top down and driving off into the sunset:

Chris Best, store manager at Pumpelly Tire in Lake Charles recommends you start with the tires. Check the tire pressure of all your tires, including your spare tire. Inspect the tires’ tread for wear. You may need to replace some or all of the tires before hitting the road. Alignment should also be evaluated. "As a rule of thumb, we recommend our customers have their alignment checked every 30,000 miles or once a year,” says Best. “But if you notice signs of misalignment, such as uneven tire wear or if the vehicle pulls to the left or right, we recommend an alignment check.”

“One of the simplest and most cost-effective measures to ensure your car stays in top shape is by scheduling regular wheel alignments,” adds Dustin Corbello, store manager at Pumpelly Tire in Sulphur. Proper alignment extends the life of your tire by decreasing wear. You’ll experience better handling and improved fuel efficiency, saving you money in the long run. An alignment check can take from 30 minutes to an hour to complete; but the time is well spent.

Oil and other fluids such as brake, transmission, radiator, and even wiper fluid should all be set to maximum levels.

No one can argue, brakes are vital when it comes to safety. Your brakes should not squeak, grind, or cause the car to shake when applied. Brake pads

should be replaced every 10,000 to 20,000 miles to keep wear to a minimum, and rotors should be replaced between 50,000 and 70,000 miles.

Air conditioning is especially important in these steamy southern summer climates, and the A/C and cooling systems can get quite a workout on long car drives. This is more of a comfort factor than a safety issue. If your car isn’t colling properly, it could be the air filters, a fuse, or the freon level.

The steering and suspension system determines whether your ride is smooth as you navigate your destination.

For full visibility and safety on your adventure, especially at night, verify all lights are working properly – headlights, taillights, blinkers, and brake lights.

How’s your car’s battery? Inspect the battery to ensure the terminals are clean and clear of corrosion. A car mechanic, even an auto parts store employee, can check the condition of your battery.

And while you’re inspecting the mechanical aspects of your car, take a look at your inspection sticker. Better for you to be aware of the expiration date than the policeman along the highway.

For information or to make an appointment, call Pumpelly Tire 337-477-9850 in Lake Charles or 337-527-6355 in Sulphur.

48 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024
Home & Family 49 SULPHUR LAKE CHARLES 337-527-6355 337-477-9850

Places & Faces

America’s first responders are on the front lines working to save lives and protect communities across the nation. During the month of May, there are several opportunities to recognize the hard work and life-saving sacrifices of fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and our armed services. Below is a list of May events to honor public safety.

May 4 marks International Firefighters Day, first observed in 1999 after five firefighters died while trying to contain a wildfire in Victoria, Australia. It includes an international “Sound Off” on the first Sunday in May when, at noon local time each year, fire sirens blare for 30 seconds worldwide followed by a minute of silence in memory of those who have died in the line of duty.

May 6 is National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. Everyone is encouraged to plan and participate in risk reduction and wildfire preparedness activities to make their homes and communities safer. These efforts work to protect fire service personnel and the communities they serve.

May 13-19 is National Police Week.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. The recognition offers honor, remembrance, and peer support, while allowing law enforcement, survivors, and citizens to gather and pay homage to those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

May 20-26 is National EMS Week.

Fifty years ago, President Gerald Ford authorized EMS Week to celebrate EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation's communities. The goal of the proclamation was and continues to be to recognize and improve emergency medical care across the country.

The month of May is Military Appreciation Month.

It is a time designated to honor and recognize the contributions, sacrifices, and service of the members of the armed forces, past and present.

First responders daily put their lives on the line in efforts to protect our communities. Throughout this month, we encourage you to take time to acknowledge the men and women who work or have worked in these fields and thank them for their service.

Got what it takes?

Children often dream of becoming a police officer. The allure of fighting crime and serving their community is an enticing proposition. People are intrigued by the idea of policing because it’s one of the most challenging and unpredictable yet rewarding jobs one could hold. Being a police officer offers the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the people in their community every day. But what does it take to actually become a police officer?

Most police academies are modeled on military training programs that instill a high regard for physical condition and performance, but also support formal training to introduce recruits to basic legal concepts and police procedures. The training to become an officer with the Lake Charles Police Department is no different.

The first Lake Charles Police Officer was sworn in eight days after the city was incorporated in 1868. Pat Fitzgerald was the town blacksmith and a Civil War Veteran. His military experience and strength made him well suited to handle crime and unsavory situations.

In modern times, the qualifications to become an office have changed some. To even be considered a candidate for the police academy, applicants must be a citizen of the United States, at least 21 years of age, possess a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license, pass a written civil service examination, and pass a rigorous physical agility test.

The physical agility test includes timed fitness challenges like sit-ups, push-ups, a one-and-a-half-mile run, obstacle course, and sprints. After achieving those minimum benchmarks, prospective police officers then move to more advanced tests that include polygraph examinations, oral and psychological examinations, a physical exam, and a drug screen.

A lengthy background investigation is also part of the process and may take several weeks to complete. The background check confirms the applicant meets the basic criteria and officer qualifications but also looks into their criminal, educational, driving, personal, and employment history. Detectives in charge of the background check confirm they are of good moral quality by interviewing former classmates, teachers, family members, and work colleagues.

Once all of that is completed, applicants then join the Police Training Academy where they learn all the basic skills needed for a successful start to a career as a Lake Charles Police Officer. The academy is 11 weeks long and includes training in patrolling, firearms, crime scene investigation, interrogation techniques, CPR and first aid, legal procedures, and courtroom etiquette.

Graduates then begin their service protecting the people and property of their community with the Lake Charles Police Department. While the job can be perilous, the thorough training and recruitment process leaves new cops well prepared for the responsibilities and dangers they will face in the line of duty.


Thank you, First Responders 51

Responding to RESPONDERS

Allen Cormier has worked in law enforcement for over a decade, and prior to police work, he served in the Marine Corps. He’s never experienced a job that wasn’t physically and mentally challenging. But in 2020, the stresses of COVID-19 and back-to-back hurricanes caught up with Cormier. He knew he needed help. His personal journey back to health and wellness prompted Cormier to start the non-profit, With You, last year. “This organization provides first responders access to holistic mental health treatments which allow them to be the best version of themselves, enabling them to provide the best service to our community,” he says. “Through my personal struggles, I discovered I need to take care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually, or I am useless to my family and community.”

Military personnel are trained to maintain the mindset that the mission comes first. “You give one hundred percent all the time. No days off, no stopping . . . do what needs to be done,” Cormier says. “The need for hypervigilance is a challenge. Our natural senses are heightened to observe our surroundings and watch for danger in order to survive high-risk situations. It’s a great thing when we need it! But there’s a downfall. The chemicals released by stress that prepare us for worst-case scenarios also cause physical damage to our bodies.”

Cormier says that during the events of 2020, he was one of the ‘go-to’ guys and helped wherever needed. But by November, he was beyond exhaustion and experiencing stressrelated issues. “I broke physically. I was an empty cup trying to pour into others’ lives and I

was failing as a husband, father, friend, and employee. I was too tired to keep trying to ‘figure it out’ on my own. So I asked for help. Fortunately for me, my family and friends were honest and told me I was allowing the stress of my job kill me. They encouraged me to seek mental and physical therapies.”

Cormier began seeing a licensed clinical social worker and through what he describes as “some very awkward quiet moments” he realized he lacked peace, and his body was paying a physical price. “I started physical therapy to address how stress manifests itself physically. Since 2020, mental and physical therapies have become a mainstay in my life and something I advocate for my peers.”

Cormier learned that what he needed most during that time was someone to tell him that what he was feeling was normal, given his experiences. That he was not broken, and he didn’t need to be the “hero” all the time, and it’s okay to rest and recover without feeling guilty. Too often, first responders are told that the stress and the physical and mental toll it takes is “part of the job” and “it is what it is”, or “it could be worse”. Cormier realized through his own struggles that there are limited local mental health resources, AND there is a huge and unfortunate stigma for first responders who seek mental health. “After my experience, I refuse to let that stigma stand.”

Cormier says he was fortunate that he found the help he needed, but he saw many of his colleagues floundering with the same debilitating stress. This reality prompted him to start With You.

“With You” Foundation Focuses on Wellness for First Responders

Their goal is to help first responders receive the help they need, either directly through With You or through other resources. “We approach mental health from different avenues. We’ll use hobbies and passions to help first responders connect with who they are. Healing can happen anywhere: in a hunting blind, a camping trip, over a cup of coffee, helping through volunteerism, or working side by side.”

First responders are only human, adds Cormier. “They’re not immune to emotions and limitations. They face constant intense pressure to perform flawlessly in high-stress situations. Over time, that pressure leads to burnout, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Destigmatizing mental health issues for first responders and promoting a culture of self-care and mutual support are critical steps to address our first responders’ mental health.”

For more information, visit, write to, and find With You on Facebook.

“We approach mental health from different avenues. We’ll use hobbies and passions to help first responders connect with who they are. Healing can happen anywhere: in a hunting blind, a camping trip, over a cup of coffee, helping through volunteerism, or working side by side.”
-Allen Cormier
52 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Places & Faces | SALUTE TO FIRST
Interior Designer

Becoming Part of Something Greater Air Force Veteran Finds his Place by Serving Other Veterans

In recognition of Military Appreciation Month, Brandon Lambert, former Cyber Transport Systems Specialist (3D172), SSgt for the United States Air Force and now chaplain for the Lake Charles VFW, shared his military journey and his current role with the VFW.

“9/11 probably made the biggest impact in my decision to join the Air Force,” Lambert says. He was in 10th grade on that fateful Tuesday in September 2001 and says at that time, he was looking for direction in his life. “My agriculture teacher wheeled in a TV and then sat in the corner, face in his hands, fighting back tears. This man was the definition of a patriot, a twotour Vietnam vet who volunteered for a third round in the USMC.”

Though Lambert didn’t join the military until April 2005, he cites that memory as being something he couldn’t shake. “Right there was the trigger. To be part of something greater than myself was the direction I needed in my life.”

Lambert was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana. He began his military career in a Secure Communications back shop, where he worked with now-outdated technology that gave him a foundation in the field of communications. From there, he served with the Customer Control Center, resetting passwords, recalling emails and voicemails, and maintaining computers. Next, he trained in maintaining the Strategic Automated Command and Control System, monitoring intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-armed long-range bombers, and ballistic missile submarines. Armed with this experience, Lambert was deployed as a satellite tech for the U.S. Army, on loan from the Air Force, and embedded with the 95th MP Company.

“The area we were in was not exactly friendly to Americans, especially during the elections taking place in the region,” Lambert says. “There were IEDs on roadways, and enemy combatants would shoot at us during meals; somehow, they knew our schedule and would drop mortars on us regularly.” Lambert recalls a point when they were shot at and/or mortared for 175 days straight.

After Lambert was honorably discharged in 2013, he, like many veterans, found it difficult to transition and find his place back home. “At the time, I was relieved to be out of the service, but I lacked the structure that I’d grown accustomed to. And my marriage was rocky at best. I crawled into a whisky bottle and stayed there for two years as a junior mechanic.”

In 2015, Lambert was offered a role at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas, doing the same job he’d done in the Air Force, but this time as a civilian. This was the transition Lambert needed. “Moving to Arkansas saved my life and my marriage,” he says. “I was back in a structured environment and around like-minded people again.”

When that contract ended in 2017, Lambert moved back to Southwest Louisiana and faced some of the same fears he’d had upon discharge from the Air Force. But in 2022, an invitation to the VFW changed his life. He was welcomed to the VFW by members of the Mardi Gras Krewe de Valhalla – Southwest Louisiana’s only all-veterans Mardi Gras krewe. Lambert was voted in as VFW chaplain at his very first meeting. Raised in the Catholic faith, he accepted the post as a personal challenge to get back to where he longed to be spiritually. Lambert started a peer-led support group for veterans, where they can speak freely to fellow veterans who have walked the same walk and can relate to their experiences. “It’s difficult to find someone to talk to who understands,” he says. As chaplain, Lambert serves as the VFW’s spiritual leader, leading prayers and comforting family members who have lost loved ones serving in the military. In addition to his duties at the VFW, Lambert works at CITGO as a technical analyst. He lives with his wife, Nakita, and their seven-year-old son in Lake Charles.

Now Lambert and other members want to break the stigma that the VFW is just a place for old war vets to share stories or relive the glory days. They want to create a veteran community where good times can be experienced, and friendships last a lifetime. Lambert says, “Being able to help veterans in need is my biggest goal.” 53

Life-Threatening Emergency: Opioid Overdose

In May 2023, the Louisiana Department of Health launched its statewide campaign to raise awareness about the alarming rates of fatal overdoses involving the powerful opioid fentanyl. The campaign focused primarily on education about the drug, which can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Counterfeit pills and other illicit substances laced with fentanyl killed more than 1000 Louisiana residents in 2022, according to data from the Louisiana Opioid Data and Surveillance System.

A year later, how has the state’s campaign fared? Are residents getting information to raise their awareness of opioid overdoses? What are area emergency responders doing to provide education to their patients, as well as others on the scene, in cases of opioid overdose? Is OTC Narcan, approved by the USFDA last April as an overdose treatment option, being distributed? Narcan is a branded nasal spray and currently the best-known form of naloxone. It can reverse opioid overdoses involving street drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as prescription opioids like oxycodone.

Jeremy Brown, SWLA Quality Improvement Coordinator for Acadian Ambulance, says that he was approached in 2021 by Melissa Stainback, with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), to discuss the current opioid crisis. “During our first meeting, it was revealed that we had over 100 deaths attributed to opioid overdose in Calcasieu Parish alone,” Brown says. “The revelation was shocking; we knew more must be done. We began accumulating overdose data, which we turned into heat maps, pinpointing the areas most affected by opioid overdose. Our partnership grew when the Imperial Calcasieu Human Services Authority joined our team.”

Brown says the heat maps were used to place team members in the affected areas with information on how to diagnose an opiate overdose. “Narcan was also distributed to community members, along with education on how it should be administered. Acadian Ambulance also initiated a ‘Narcan Leave Behind Program.’ We stocked our emergency response units with extra Narcan. Each time we would run a call for opiate overdose, we would leave two extra doses with the family with written instructions, as well as a hands-on demonstration on how to administer Narcan effectively and safely.”

Shortly after this, LDH started their Substance Abuse Navigators (SUN) Program, which employs people who had previously used drugs and have been successful in overcoming their addiction. “They are placed in all area hospitals and are the first contact our patients have as they arrive,” says Brown. “They work alongside the physicians to set up outpatient or inpatient resources for our patients once they are medically able to take advantage of these resources. This has been a conjoined effort, which has significantly and consistently lowered the death toll due to opioid overdose since 2021.”

911 immediately. If the victim is not breathing adequately, start rescue breathing, which is one breath every five seconds and/or chest compressions, if you’ve been trained. Louisiana’s Good Samaritan Law protects those who aid a victim in an emergency.

Additional information is available at the state’s website,


signs to look for:

• Face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch

• Body goes limp

• Fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color. For people with darker skin, their fingernails or lips may be gray or paler than usual

• Vomiting or making gurgling noises

• Cannot be awakened or are unable to speak

• Breathing or heartbeat slows or stops


Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Launches Opioid Impact Survey

Last month, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury (CPPJ) released a brief Opioid Impact Survey requesting feedback from residents to help tackle the opioid crisis within our community.

According to data from the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office, Louisiana ranks third highest nationally in overdose mortality rates. Deaths due to overdose in Calcasieu Parish doubled from 2020 to 2021. In 2023, more than 75% of overdose deaths in Calcasieu Parish involved fentanyl, making it the primary driver of overdose mortality. Most overdose deaths involve more than one substance at the same time.

The CPPJ was granted funding from a national opioid settlement to address alleged damages caused by companies involved in the marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of pharmaceutical opioids. These funds will be distributed to support opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. The Opioid Impact Survey will help inform the parish on how to allocate these resources to effectively combat the opioid crisis.

“The opioid epidemic is a serious issue that affects individuals and families across our community,” said Anthony Bartie, Police Jury president.

“We want to better understand the impact it has had on our residents so that we can develop effective strategies to address it. We encourage all residents to take a few minutes to complete this survey. Your responses will help us gain a better understanding of the extent of the problem in our community and guide our efforts to combat it."

The CPPJ invites all parish residents to participate in this brief, anonymous survey to share their experiences and address unmet needs, barriers to care, and funding priorities. To complete the survey, visit Paper copies may be completed and submitted at the following locations during normal operating hours:

• Parish Government Building, 1015 Pithon St., Lake Charles, LA

• Allen P. August Multi-Purpose Center, 2001 Moeling St., Lake Charles, LA

For more information about this outreach, visit or call CPPJ’s Department of Public Health Services at 337-721-3575. 55

Firefighters Tested in an Unprecedented 2023 Fire Season

Louisiana is accustomed to prescribed marsh burns but nothing like the fires that devoured thousands of acres in the state last year. Known as one of the wettest states, Louisiana rarely needs to worry about the danger of large-scale fires. But last summer, a combination of record-breaking temperatures, extreme drought conditions and leftover hurricane debris lead to fire hazard conditions. Prior to last year, approximately 8,217 acres of land burned per year in the state of Louisiana over the last decade. In 2023 however, over 60,000 acres of land went up in flames. The Tiger Island Fire in Beauregard Parish became the largest wildfire ever recorded in state history.

While the Tiger Island Fire was managed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, firefighters from the surrounding areas and parishes jumped in to help with the fight. But even before the Tiger Island Fire, warning signs were flashing for local firefighters.

Eric Stracener, fire chief for District 4 in Beauregard Parish, says that as they continued deeper into the summer months without significant rain, “uncharacteristic grass fires started in June.” While these fires were nothing major, firefighters noticed that the fires traveled faster and jumped fire lines, which is unusual fire behavior in Southwest Louisiana.

By late July and early August, fires left the confines of the ground and

began to burn in tree canopies. Stracener says that when fire gets into tree canopies, they are “very intense, move quickly and generate their own wind currents.” Firefighters also witnessed embers traveling from one fire and starting other fires. Stracener says the usual firefighting tactics local departments used to tackle ground fire were not sufficient for fighting fires that reached this level. The forestry service would cut fire lanes with plows, but fires were more prone to jump fire lines.

Fire District 4 was called out to help with the Tiger Island Fire around Merryville and Singer to assist with equipment and personnel. Stracener says that while local firefighters had the training to deal with this type of fire, this was the first time firefighters experienced a wildfire of this magnitude.

There was also a wildfire that began in Vernon Parish in a hay field. Fire District 4 was called out to assist Rosepine firefighters when they had a close call. Pine trees next to the highway began to burn. Then the wind direction shifted and caused the fire to head in the direction of firefighters. Stracener says it scorched a few trucks, but firefighters safely got themselves and the equipment away in time. Firefighters also prevented the fire from jumping the roadway.

While a burn ban was put in place in August, which included prescribed agricultural burns, not everyone adhered to the ban. Other causes of wildfires included people throwing cigarette butts out of their vehicle windows and sparks caused from dragging chains on vehicles. It’s important to be mindful of guidelines during a burn ban, as they help keep the community and our local firefighters safe.

56 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024

Tips On Preventing Wildfires

While we all want to have fun this summer, don’t let your camping trip or fun in the sun go up in flames. It’s important to burn responsibly to protect yourself, the community and the local environment. Here are some tips on how to practice fire safety:

Check weather apps – If conditions are predicted to be windy, save your campfire or burn until the breeze dies down. High winds can spread flames quickly and provide plenty of oxygen for fires to grow. Also, make sure there are no local restrictions on burning, such as regional burn bans. Avoid burning on extremely hot days as high temperatures encourage fire growth.

Burn away from flammable materials – Select a spot with minimal material for accidental ignition. Burn away from dry leaves, pine needs and dead limbs. Make sure it isn’t easy for your fire to spread easily. If burning debris in your yard, find a spot with bare soil and drench the ground around the pile with water from a hose.

Make sure your fire is completely extinguished – Just because a fire looks like it has died down does not mean it can’t restart under the right conditions. Embers burn hot and a tiny gust of wind can cause one to travel to an area more susceptible to burning.

Don’t run vehicles over dry grass or lawns – If conditions are so dry that grass is dying, keep your vehicle away. Exhaust pipes on a car get warm and sit low to the ground. Just a little encouragement from that heat can cause a grass fire, especially if your vehicle happens to produce a spark or two.

Tow trailers with care – Maintaining your trailer tires and oiling the axles and bearing reduces any sparks that could occur from a trailer in motion. Also, be careful to avoid any chains or metal components dragging the road.

Don’t toss the cigarette butts – A cigarette butt that’s still smoldering can be enough to start a fire on the side of the road in dry conditions. Keep an ash tray in your car for smoking. Then throw the contents in the trash instead of out the window when convenient.

Use fireworks with caution – Fireworks cause over 19,000 fires a year in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Avoid deploying fireworks under dry or windy conditions. If using fireworks in a wooded area, keep the sparks away from trees and dry debris.

While all fires are not manmade, there are plenty of things you can do to do to help lower the risk. In the words of Smokey Bear, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

At Phillips 66, supporting our people, our environment and our communities guides everything we do. 57
P R OV I DING NG LIVES. 22-0002_33 © 2022 Phillips 66 Company. All rights reserved. @Phillips66Co

Cool Jobs Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions

Local Business Equips First Responders for Crime Scene Investigation

Charles “Charlie” Hunter, Jr. is the CEO and president of Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions, a local company which not only equips first responders in the community with the tools they need to investigate crimes based on digital and physical forensics, but also provides forensic anthropology skills after large weather events such as hurricanes.

Hunter, one of Thrive magazine’s 2022 Thriving 30-Somethings, worked for the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office from 2006-2023. He started Gulf Coast Forensics as a side hustle in 2020 and operated the business full time beginning in 2023. Hunter is joined by Austin Peloquin, Gulf Coast Forensics’ chief business officer, who, as Hunter puts it, is “a Swiss army knife. He does it all.”

The business received a big boost after Hurricane Laura in 2020. The Louisiana Cemetery Response Task Force reached out to Hunter to help with the recovery, identification and reburial of remains washed out of gravesites. It can take one to two days to fully excavate remains. The process includes using sifters and water to help uncover all the bones in the body before laying them out to form a complete skeleton. Identification is first attempted by searching for any identifying factors such as dentures, surgical implants or a casket serial number. Hunter says that he helped with similar projects while at the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office, and while he originally thought he would be helping restore four or five cemeteries, that number now hovers around 90. Hunter has also responded to Florida after Hurricane Ian and has consulted with people across the country.

The other part of Hunter’s job is a true crime buff’s dream. Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions hosts a wide range of classes with experts to equip first responders with the skills they need to do their jobs correctly and efficiently. Hunter says the classes they offer, which center around death investigation, are like “crime scene A-Z.”

Class subjects are accredited and include processing crime scenes, crime scene photography and digital forensics. These classes are especially useful in a situation where a first responder might be changing divisions within the same company. For example, a patrol officer might switch to a job which requires knowledge of crime scene investigation. Gulf Coast Forensics teaches the basics, such as how to recognize a crime scene and

crucial evidence. First responders also need to learn how to secure a crime scene, properly photograph a crime scene, video a crime scene, properly collect evidence, create crime scene diagrams and sketches and how to take proper measurements. The last thing you want in criminal justice is for evidence to be cross-contaminated and therefore not viable in the courtroom. Classes also teach interview and interrogation methods and how to have an effective courtroom testimony.

When a case goes to court, the defense will want to reconstruct the crime scene with 100% accuracy in the courtroom, and that is done with diagrams which show vital evidence, such as the location of a murder weapon in proximity to a body. Gulf Coast Forensics also teaches small town police officers to leverage the power of the internet to find vital information on a person even if the department does not have the financial resources of a larger division.

58 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024
Charles “Charlie” Hunter, Jr. is the CEO and president of Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions

Hunter stresses the importance of digital forensics in crimes today. A cell phone stores a crucial amount of data and often contains evidence that a criminal might not even know is there. For example, not only does a cell phone track your location when it’s on, photos are often geotagged, Google search history is documented, and text history can contain vital information. He says it’s important to follow proper procedure because “if a phone wasn’t seized legally or a warrant is not written correctly” all the evidence can get thrown out. “It is forever evolving,” says Hunter of digital forensics, emphasizing the need to stay up-to-date on technology. Important settings investigators need to know can change with the model of phone handled.

The primary goal of Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions is to “improve the quality of investigation that will lead to safer communities,” Hunter says. He also stresses that he wants the community to understand “how much training, dedication and hours first responders spend on a case to get the outcome they want.” 59 Locally owned and operated for over 30 years DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS FOR BUSINESS copiers • scanners • printers • fax • shredders 600 W McNeese Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-9913 EVERYDAY HEROES. Thank you to all the First Responders who care for our community. LAKE CHARLES - Johnson Funeral Home | SULPHUR - Johnson & Robison Funeral Home | MOSS BLUFF - Johnson Funeral Home | JENNINGS - Miguez Funeral Home | LAKE ARTHUR - Lake Arthur Chapel Simple Traditions THE JOHNSON FAMILY OF FUNERAL HOMES
L-R, Austin Peloquin, Jerod Abshire (Digital Forensics), and Charlie Hunter



Reliable and Resilient Infrastructure is one of the five key topics integral to the Just Imagine SWLA vision. The goal is to create robust and dependable infrastructure that improves lives and safety by upgrading existing structures, developing resilient new ones, ensuring safe connections, implementing regional standards, and designing streets that work for people. Reliable and Resilient Infrastructure impacts every aspect of Just Imagine SWLA's 11 catalytic projects. Candy Rodriguez with Visit Lake Charles spoke with Alberto Galan, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s assistant to the administrator, to hear his insights on building strong infrastructure that enhances our community’s well-being and growth.

How does reliable and resilient infrastructure enhance a region’s quality of life?

Creating infrastructure that can “weather the storm” is critically important. We have experienced more severe weather events in the past few years than most will experience in a lifetime, exposing some unmet needs. As we repair or implement new infrastructure, making sure it is reliable and resilient

results in a quicker response and recovery time. Thus, it limits damage and gets people back to normal, or better, faster. It contributes to the quality of life by limiting or reducing the stress our community feels when impacted by an event.

To ensure long-term reliability, what key factors should we consider when planning and implementing infrastructure projects?

Thinking about lessons learned, as well as anticipating future needs and demands, is crucial. Calcasieu Parish continues to develop, which is a good thing in most cases; however, ensuring that our water, sewer, drainage, road systems, services, etc., can anticipate that growth as much as possible and facilitate it is important. It is also important that we work hand in hand with our development community to ensure that we are growing with the future in mind. For example, is this a good place to locate a particular development? Is the building standard able to withstand specific wind loads? Or will a structure be built in such a way that it can handle a significant flood event? While we can’t expect our infrastructure and private development to handle an event like Hurricane Laura or the May

60 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024
Alberto Galan, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s assistant to the administrator

2021 flood, we can work towards mitigating the impacts of weather events like that moving forward.

How does technology contribute to safer infrastructure?

Advanced technology aids decision-making, from comprehensive watershed planning to improved traffic and drainage technologies in Calcasieu Parish. These innovations enhance infrastructure resilience and outcomes.

A prime example for us is technology improvements for drainage and watershed management. The Police Jury invested in a comprehensive watershed master planning effort, which includes advanced modeling technology. Some of what this allows us to do is make decisions based on updated and interactive maps and models to see what the likely result will be in various weather events and plan for those events, including infrastructure implementation and mitigation. By making more informed decisions, infrastructure projects yield better results. Technology is a great way to get to those results.

Address the balance between improving infrastructure for safety and minimizing environmental impact. When improving infrastructure, you always want to minimize environmental impacts. Better solutions exist than single-use infrastructure.

We look to integrate solutions, like drainage improvements in road projects, to achieve this balance.

The Just Imagine SWLA catalytic project Coastal Risk Reduction is a good example. Those projects must consider the impacts on wildlife and fisheries and the people who rely on those areas for commercial livelihoods. It’s important to seek environmentally and economically beneficial solutions. Off the coast of Cameron, rock barriers protect coastal and marsh creation. Often, boats surrounding those same barriers enjoy a great day of fishing.

Discuss the challenges and solutions involved in maintaining critical infrastructure reliability during adverse conditions or disasters, such as a hurricane.

During federally declared disasters, there are eligible activities that can result in significant reimbursements from agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The challenge is that the process is meticulous, and you must have the funds to pay while waiting for the FEMA reimbursements to roll in. Immediate needs require immediate attention, and having enough trained personnel in a waterworks operation, drainage operation, sewer operation, etc., can also be a challenge.

The solutions to those immediate needs are found out of necessity, even if temporary. However, the long-term strategies involve repairing or replacing damaged infrastructure with better materials and creating redundancies for a swift recovery. For example, the Just Imagine SWLA catalytic project of Community Resilience Hubs. Redundancies are crucial, particularly for vital services such as first responders, law enforcement, hospitals, utilities, etc., to swiftly ensure the safety of response and recovery efforts.

Just Imagine SWLA projects largely incorporate the need for our area to have resilient infrastructure to facilitate good growth with significant economic and quality of life impacts. The Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation project is a perfect example of this. It is well underway with multiple partners that address housing needs, infrastructure improvements, economic revitalization, long-term recovery, and quality-of-life services that, as the name implies, will transform an area and impact on an entire region.

To learn more about Just Imagine SWLA and to sign up for our e-newsletter, visit 61

Money & Career

Retirement roundup

According to a study cited in Pew earlier this year, nearly 51% of Americans worry that they’ll run out of money when they’re no longer earning a paycheck—and 70% of retirees wish they had started saving earlier. Financial statistics for retired seniors can vary significantly depending on factors such as their level of savings, investments, pensions, and other sources of income. A significant portion of income for many retired seniors comes from Social Security benefits. Some retirees receive pensions from their former employers. Retirees may rely on savings in retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans, IRAs, or other investments. And some seniors continue to work part-time during retirement to supplement their income. According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly Social Security benefit for retired workers in January 2024 was $1,907. Median income for households headed by individuals aged 65 and older was $50,290 in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Other financial factors include housing costs, healthcare expenses, and debt levels. In this Retirement Roundup, Thrive offers information on wise investing and the importance of planning your estate. We also spotlight three local seniors who show us how it’s done by living retirement to the fullest.

1109 Pithon St., Lake Charles, LA 70601 • t: (337) 480-0101 | f: (337) 419-0507 •

Leave a Legacy through Estate Planning

A lifetime of hard work may have rewarded you with a nice home and respectable bank accounts, but what happens to your assets once you’re gone? Perhaps you want to leave everything to your children. Maybe a charity, your church, or a cause you feel passionate about should get a portion. And what happens if, before you die, your mental capacity diminishes, and you can no longer make decisions for yourself? Only thinking about your final wishes – or even discussing them with a close friend over lunch – is not enough.

John L. Fourcade, III, associate attorney with Sudduth and Associates in Lake Charles, says estate management – either through a will, trust, health care directive (living will), or power of attorney – is absolutely essential. “Creating a well drafted and specifically defined estate plan allows an individual to preserve and pass forward their hard-earned assets as flawlessly as possible. The only way to ensure that your estate is protected and aligned with your personal wishes is to have an estate plan.”

Fourcade explains that having your affairs in order protects both your wishes and your family. “If an individual fails to possess a proper estate plan, their estate will default to the laws of the State of Louisiana. While these laws allow some narrow protections, they likely will not protect your assets as efficiently as possible. Most notably, the intestate laws of the State of Louisiana specifically outline the heirs of the decedent. This default mechanism fails to take into consideration the family dynamic and wishes of that specific individual. Attorneys use multiple legal mechanisms that are not automatically triggered under the default laws of the State of Louisiana. An individual failing to analyze and implement, if necessary, all the possible mechanisms granted under law may inhibit them from establishing an efficient and effective estate plan.”

Draw up a will. This is perhaps the best-known document for letting your final wishes be known, yet it’s not as widely used as you might think. According to caring. com’s 2024 Wills and Estate Planning Survey, only 32% of Americans have a will; a 6% decline from 2023 and the first decrease in estate planning rates since 2020.

“It’s important to remember there is no one size fits all template to estate planning,” Fourcade says. “An estate plan must be custom tailored to fit each individual's distinct needs and wishes. When preparing an estate plan, the most common considerations fall into the categories of tax preparation and asset protection. In essence, composing a plan that passes your assets to the next generation as efficiently as possible. Some of the legal mechanisms attorneys commonly use when creating an estate plan are trust utilization, legal wills, durable power of attorneys, and beneficiary designation. These can provide individual, as well as layered, protections for an estate plan.”

To manage your estate, consider the following: Appoint a power of attorney (POA) – Fourcade recommends you choose someone who is trustworthy and who you ultimately believe has sound decision making skills. Inevitably, decisions will come to this person that could not possibly be planned for. Having a POA whom you not only trust but trust their decision-making is essential. Also, plan for alternates in case something happens to your POA (also called agent in fact or attorney in fact).

Designate beneficiaries – In Louisiana, beneficiaries for life insurance plans or retirement accounts often operate outside the succession process. Those who receive from a succession process are referred to as either heirs or legatees. So for a beneficiary, consider the same factors as those for legatees. Fourcade cautions against outdated beneficiary designations. Often, an ex-spouse will still be listed as a beneficiary. This can create a situation where an ex-spouse receives a retirement or life insurance proceed rather than a current spouse or child, simply because the person forgot to change the designation.

Secure healthcare documents such as a living will. As you near the end of your life you could reach a point where you’re no longer capable of making your own medical decisions. The right documents detail your wishes for health care and remove the guesswork.

Communicate your wishes. Ensure your heirs know where to find all your important documents, so they’re not blindly searching for essential papers when the time comes.

When is the best time to begin managing your estate? Fourcade says the best time to create an estate plan is now. “While sometimes difficult to discuss, the inevitable truth is that one's life is capable of being rapidly altered without any warning or precursor. For any potential alteration not to affect your estate plan and wishes, it is important to start as early as possible. It is recommended for an individual to actively revisit their estate plan every three to five years. This timeline can be accelerated if one experiences a major life change. Maintaining an active, up-to-date estate plan assures that your wishes are accurately reflected with what will occur.”

For more information on estate planning, contact Sudduth and Associates at 337-480-0101. 63

Perks for SeniorS

With age comes privilege, or at the very least, a few discounts. For example, some restaurants, retail and grocery stores, movie theaters and other businesses, including both franchise and locally owned, offer discounts to seniors. The minimum age requirements vary based on the company or location and can range from 50 to 65 years of age.

The deal is, these businesses don't often advertise their discounts, so ask your waiter, salesperson or service assistant. Some businesses have special days when seniors get discounts. Some require customers to have an account to receive the discount. Others give discounts to AARP members. Even establishments with no specific policies regarding senior discounts may make an on-the-spot decision to reduce your final bill by five to ten percent if you ask. Restaurants thrive on repeat business and offering a break to seniors is one way to turn you into a regular patron.

Go online and search the internet for "senior discounts" before you go out; you'll be amazed at the variety of reduced-price offerings that are out there for older Americans. The bottom line: you almost always need to ask!

Here are a few to get you started:


• Chart House – 10% with AARP card

• Landry’s – 10% with AARP card

• Saltgrass Steak House – 10% with AARP card

• Outback Steakhouse – 10% with AARP card

• Denny’s – 15% off with AARP card or age 55+ for senior menu

• IHOP – discounted senior menu age 55+

• McDonald’s – Discounted or free coffee age 55+, locations vary


• Albertson’s – see store for details

• Brookshire’s – 5%, age 60+, Tuesdays and Thursday, with some restrictions

• Goodwill – 10% for age 60+ on Tuesdays

• Kohls – 15% for age 60+ on Wednesdays

• Ross Dress for Less – 10% for age 55+ on Tuesdays

• Michaels – 10% for age 55+ daily

• Walgreens – 20% off eligible items for age 55+, days vary


• Cinemark Theaters – discounts for ages 62+, days and locations vary

• Senior National Park Passes are a fantastic deal. Ages 62+. $80 for a lifetime pass or $20 for an annual pass gets you admittance to over 2000 recreational sites and discounts at state parks across America.

• Museums, parks, zoos, car rentals, hotels, cruise lines, even services like hair salons are other great places to snag senior discounts! It pays to ask!

Disclaimer: These discounts were found online and not personally verified.

64 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Money & Career | RETIREMENT ROUNDUP
Growing to Serve You Better 113 N Washington Street, DeRidder | (337) 460-7987 CHARLIE LESTAGE | MISSY DEAR | JODI ANDREWS | RON RICHARD

When it comes to estate planning, a family home can be among the most valuable—and complicated— assets to pass down.

It’s natural to want to see a cherished home stay within the family, but you need to consider not only your own needs and wishes but also those of your heirs. Your child may love the family home and all the memories that go with it, but does he or she actually want to live there? If you have multiple heirs, is it realistic for them to coown the property, or will such an arrangement create conflict?

Also consider the role the house will play in your later years. Do you plan to stay in the home, or is it possible you may need or want to move at some point? All of this factors into how—and whether— you transfer the property to your kids.

With that in mind, here are three ways to pass along a home to your heirs—both during and after your lifetime.

Sell it.

If you want to move or put your home’s equity elsewhere, selling the home to a child or other heir could be a good option. Doing so removes the property from your taxable estate and establishes a new cost basis—meaning the capital gains on any future sale will be calculated using the value of the home on the date of the transfer rather than your original purchase price. FYI: If you sell the home for less than fair market value, the difference between the sale price and the market value could be subject to gift taxes.

Gift it.

Generosity is admirable, but gifting a home to an heir during

your lifetime could have negative tax repercussions, as such a gift counts toward your lifetime gift tax exemption. State-level gift, estate, and inheritance taxes could also be a factor, depending on where you live.

The tax consequences could be even more severe for your heirs. If you give a home to your child during your lifetime—such as through a deed transfer—the cost basis doesn’t change. That means the capital gains on any future sale will be calculated using your original purchase price rather than the value of the home on the date of the transfer.

Pass it down.

Generally in Louisiana, there are two methods for leaving a home to your heirs:

Last will and testament: You can use your will to designate to whom the home should go and in what proportions. That said, wills are required to go through probate— the sometimes lengthy and often costly legal process of validating your will—which can slow down the transfer of ownership to your heirs.

Trust: Another way to avoid probate is to transfer the property into a living trust, which has the benefit of allowing you greater control over how the property is managed and under what conditions it can be sold. The home would remain part of your estate until your death, at which time it would pass to your heirs outside probate.

However generous your intent, the bequest of a home can be an albatross if not accompanied by additional funds to help cover improvements, insurance, maintenance, and taxes— particularly if you plan to leave it to multiple heirs. You don’t want to make your kids house rich and

Ways to Pass Down a Home

cash poor. Nor do you want them fighting about the costs of ongoing maintenance and upkeep. In such cases, setting aside funds in a trust dedicated for this purpose can help ensure the home is well maintained. Regardless of the method you use to pass down the home, it will receive a new cost basis upon your death, meaning any capital gains taxes resulting from a future sale would be calculated using the fair market value at the time of the transfer. Whether you sell, gift, or pass down your property, the transfer could trigger a reassessment of the home’s property taxes, so be

sure to factor that into your plan— ideally with the help of an attorney or a tax advisor.

Talk it out.

In addition to consulting financial professionals who can help you put your plan in place, the most important thing you can do is to make sure all family members are part of the conversation. That way, everyone has the opportunity to see their needs and wishes reflected in the plan for your home, which can avoid unnecessary conflict down the road. 65
CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPS, CRPC Investment Advisor Representative Butch Ferdinandsen Securities and investment advisory services offered through Osaic Wealth, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Osaic Wealth is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of Osaic Wealth. Let us help you make a plan.

Seniors Living their Best Retirement

Mary Richardson, 77

According to a 2024 survey by Mass Mutual, the median age at which people are currently retiring is 62. What happens after that in the fabled “fourth quarter” is up to the retiree. But gone is the notion of granny and grandpa rocking idly on the front porch. Today’s Boomers are redefining what retirement looks like. They’re active, vital members of their community. They volunteer, they travel, they’re life-long learners. Here, we feature three local seniors who exemplify what it means to live their best retirement.

Early in her career, Mary Richardson was a reporter for various newspapers across the country. In 1987, she was hired in Research Services at McNeese State University. Prior to retirement, she’d served as director of Banners Cultural Series at McNeese. Richardson says she retired in 2010 at the age of 62 after her husband had retired. “He was traveling and doing fun things. I wanted to do them with him.”

Richardson says she adjusted to retirement life immediately. “I had really liked working and thought I would miss it, but it turned out I did not. I took to retirement right away and loved it from the beginning. But I was surprised by how busy I still was!” These days, Richardson spends her time traveling extensively with her husband, Joe, and writing about their adventures in American Press feature stories. She’s a gardener and an active member of the Calcasieu Orchid Society. She grows around 100 orchids and has won three national awards for them from the American Orchid Society. Richardson also supports the Louisiana Choral Society and volunteers with her church, Good Shepherd Episcopal. She walks daily and “tries” to eat healthy, “but I fail at that . . . every single day.”

Her secret to living her best retirement? “Make time for family and friends. Find community. Often this happens at a church of your choice. Read. Travel as much as you are able. Seeing other places and experiencing other cultures helps you figure out what your place is in the universe. Try to be useful. Do your best to stay healthy."

Dr. Richard Gilmore, 71

Dr. Richard Gilmore, who retired last year, came to Lake Charles in 1982 and practiced cardiology for 41 years. “I enjoyed my practice and saw it as a calling rather than a job,” he says. “Caring for my patients was rewarding, but it was exacting work with long hours that took a toll on me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had little time for other interests and hobbies. Yet I delayed my retirement as I had anxiety about abandoning my patients and wondered what I would do with myself.”

It didn’t take Dr. Gilmore long to figure that out. “I decided I would take it one day at a time and see what life had to offer outside of my profession. Soon, a tranquil peace settled over me. I realized there was more to me than my job and began devoting myself to hobbies and taking better care of myself and my family.”

Dr. Gilmore’s “prescription” includes daily exercise – biking, walking, swimming – and he says he soon found himself in the best shape he’d been in years. He volunteers as a faculty member of the LSU family practice program in Lake Charles, teaching cardiology, critical thinking, and ethics to residents. He volunteers with his church, First United Methodist, at Abraham’s Tent. Inheriting some artistic talent from his father, Dr. Gilmore takes a painting class with local watercolorist Nancy Melton. He adds, “I’m quickly reading through my extensive library of books and my classical music collection has been a source of profound enjoyment. My wife, Melissa, and I plan to travel, and I’m relearning Italian for an upcoming trip. My garden has fewer weeds. I’m even thinking of teaching a high school course!”

Most importantly, Dr. Gilmore says, “I have more time to devote to my loving wife and family, who often had to deal with an absent or at least an emotionally and mentally distant husband and father. I missed out on many joys that I have now been blessed to appreciate. My retirement has been the best gift I’ve ever given myself and I am surprised at how fulfilling it can be. I encourage others to have a plan for their retirement and see what this wonderful world has to offer.”

66 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Money & Career | RETIREMENT ROUNDUP

Denise Rau, 64

Denise Rau spent her 36-year career in the world of finance – first as a commercial banker and then as a financial planner and founder/owner of Rau Financial Group, LLC. She sold her business to Oak Grove Wealth Partners on New Year's Day, 2020, and made a gradual transition into retirement over the following three years. “You don’t just 'quit' a financial planning practice,” Rau says. “There is a transition period to help clients and new advisors forge the trusted relationships necessary to continue the lifelong financial planning process. Under the terms of the agreement with Oak Grove, I had a five-year transition structure, which gave me a smooth glidepath into full retirement.”

As much as Rau had counseled clients over the years about preparing for retirement, she was caught off guard by the challenge, even with the transition. “I was surprised at how many balls were still in the air! Life goes on with volunteer work, plans with family and friends, doctor’s appointments, weddings, baptisms, etc. I began doing some consulting/seminars at McNeese and I became treasurer at my church. My calendar isn’t nearly as clear as I had anticipated, but it is much more flexible. My whole life has been a struggle to maintain balance, and this chapter is no different. I love being active and involved, but I could be better at setting boundaries.”

Rau also enjoys spending more time with her husband, Fred. “We like to travel, but we also enjoy hanging out at home or on our pontoon here in Lake Charles. We feel so lucky to be part of this incredible community.” Rau is also committed to physical and spiritual fitness. “When I maintain a healthy spiritual life, the rest seems to fall into place.”

Her secret to a best retirement? “Visualize your ideal life. Write it down, create a dream board, whatever it takes to help you find YOU. A friend recommended a book to me when I retired, and the message really resonated with me – the first half of life is about success; the second half is about significance. Do whatever you must to use your personal gifts and find significance.” 67
Rau (center) with friend Catherine Triantis (L) and her mom Betty Emerson (R)

CSE Federal Credit Union named Diamond Awards

Recipient Amid Record-breaking Competition

CSE Federal Credit Union (CSE) was among 168 credit unions nationwide named as winners of prestigious Diamond Awards – the Marketing & Business Development Council’s annual marketing excellence competition.

CSE’s first award presented for the Annual Report category with an entry, entitled “The Grass Is Greener at CSE - 79th Annual Report” earning Category’s Best Diamond Award. The second category win was Video NonCommercial - Single, titled “Pink is Powerful,” impressed the judges with CSE’s efforts in speaking about why employees wear pink for breast cancer awareness month. CSE rounded out its honors with a win in the Email - Single or Series category, an email sent to Members asking them to leave a Google review to enter to win a King Cake. Reviews about employees were shared on social media with their pictures, making post engagements skyrocket! Design partnerships include Parker Brand Creative of Sulphur, LA, PMD Group of Houston, TX and Lundmark Creative LLC of Lake Charles, LA.

This year's Diamond Awards marked a milestone, celebrating 30 years of excellence in credit union marketing and setting a record with over 350 awards distributed – underscoring the exceptional quality of marketing work being produced by credit unions nationwide.

Mae’s Mission Announces Open Grant

Mae’s Mission, a granting nonprofit in Southwest Louisiana, has announced that its newest grant program is now available. The only requirement is for applicants to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in good standing and domiciled in Southwest Louisiana.

The grant program is funded by Mae’s Mission’s Game Night fundraiser and online donations. Applicants will be reviewed and scored by a community review panel. Applications are available online at www.

Mae’s Mission was founded in 2019, and its mission is to provide fundraised dollars to local small nonprofits through an annual grant program. For more information, visit or connect on Facebook.


Charles’ Ameilia Hebert

Elected Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Airport Managers and Associates (LAMA) Organization

The Lake Charles Regional Airport announces that Amelia Hebert was recently elected Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Airport Managers and Associates (LAMA) at their quarterly membership meeting which was held in Baton Rouge on February 2, 2024. Hebert is the Marketing and Business Development Manager at Lake Charles Regional Airport and will serve a two-year term as the Secretary of LAMA.

CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Now Offers New Innovative Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital now offers a minimally invasive and groundbreaking heart surgery to treat blockage in the coronary arteries.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.

Traditionally, surgeons must access a patient’s heart by cracking the sternum. However, the minimally invasive cardiac surgery coronary artery bypass graft is a revolutionary technique allowing surgeons to operate on the heart through a small incision in the rib cage.

The surgery marks a significant milestone for the Lake Charles community and CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick as it expands the hospital’s range of advanced cardiac services.

Phillips 66 Donates To Westlake Fire Department

Phillips 66 Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex recently provided a $176,000 grant to Westlake Fire Department to purchase a new set of portable radios and a Lifepak defibrillator. The donation will enhance community safety efforts and emergency response capabilities in Westlake.

“As fire professionals, one of the most important elements of life safety equipment is reliable, effective radio communication. The donation of new radios by Phillips 66 has insured that the Westlake Fire Department will have cutting edge technology moving into the future as we strive to give citizens our best effort to save lives and property,” said Westlake Fire Chief Jonathan Duff.

“The equipment will significantly bolster the fire department’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies in our community. These tools are vital in critical situations, potentially saving lives and ensuring a more

68 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Money & Career

coordinated response. This donation underscores Phillips 66’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our community members and supporting the efforts of local emergency responders,” said Megan Hartman, Phillips 66 Gulf Coast field communications director.

“The additional grant for the Lifepak gives our advanced life support response the ability to provide upgraded cardiac and respiratory monitoring before being transported to a hospital. The partnership we have with Phillips 66 and their commitment to the community will be felt for years to come,” said Duff.

Community Coffee Marks 105th Anniversary

This year, Community Coffee marks its 105th anniversary, a milestone underscoring its enduring legacy and commitment to quality, innovation, and community values.

Founded in 1919 by Cap Saurage in Baton Rouge, Community Coffee has grown to become the nation’s largest family-owned retail coffee brand, yet it remains deeply rooted in the values that started it all. From evolving products to reach the next generation of coffee drinkers to bringing Louisiana communities together by supporting local schools.

Today, Community Coffee continues to reach the next generation of coffee drinkers by evolving products, including its Dark and Bold line, with new Whole Bean offerings coming in May 2024. The line is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of younger consumers who are not only looking to grind their beans but also want a bold cup of coffee with a kick.

Since 1988, Community Coffee has also worked to bring communities in Louisiana together in support of local schools and has helped generate over $8.5 million through its Cash for Schools program. With the help of Community Coffee and this long standing program, schools have been able to earn money through proofs of purchase of Community Coffee products, for things like new textbooks, computers, playgrounds, and much more.

CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital Celebrates 300th Robotic Spine Surgery

CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital is celebrating its 300th spinal fusion procedure using the state-of-the-art robotic navigation platform, the ExcelsiusGP.

The spine is one of the most important structures in our bodies, supporting much of our weight and protecting the spinal cord.

Spinal fusion procedures are vital in treating a range of complex spinal conditions including herniated discs, spinal weakness, and instability and spinal deformities. Patients could experience pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, among other symptoms due to a disturbance in the spine or a bone fracture.

More than a million instrumented spinal procedures are performed each year, according to iData Research.

“The ExcelsiusGPS has revolutionized the way we perform spinal fusion procedures,” said Dr. Timothy Haman, chief medical officer of CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital. “This advanced system lowers radiation exposure, shortens operative times and enables a more precise and efficient placement of screws for stabilization.”

The device allows surgeons to plan and execute a minimally invasive spinal procedure approach. The surgeon makes a small incision along the spine and separates muscles rather than splitting them during surgery. Depending on the patient’s needs and body, the surgeon creates a surgical plan that the device fulfills while ensuring the utmost accuracy along the way.

Because of this approach, patients can return home in less than two days, exceeding the national average recovery time of nearly four days for these types of procedures.

Haman said if patients seem to be experiencing any pain or discomfort, they should seek guidance from their physician. Their physician will then discuss whether they are a proper candidate for this minimally invasive approach.

CHRSTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital has successfully completed 300 of these procedures. It is the first and only hospital in the Lake Charles community to offer this innovative technology.

“This groundbreaking technology is helping us improve lives,” said James Davidson, president of CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital. “We are proud of the work we are doing for our community. Our physicians continue to strive for the best for our patients as we fulfill our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

First Federal Bank of Louisiana Rated 5 Stars by BauerFinancial

The board of directors of First Federal Bank of Louisiana is proud to announce that BauerFinancial, the nation’s premier bank rating firm, has given First Federal Bank its highest, 5-star rating for the 32nd year in a row. A 5-star rating from BauerFinancial indicates First Federal Bank excels in areas of capital adequacy, profitability, and asset quality, as well as several other factors.

First Federal Bank has also procured a “Best of Bauer Bank” designation, which is reserved for banks that have maintained Bauer’s highest rating consistently for over 25 years.

“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary as your community bank, I am honored to announce that we have once again earned the highest (5-star) rating from the country’s leading independent rating firm,” commented Sam Wilkinson, Bank President & CEO. “This rating supports our culture of strong compliance and consistent financial management of our bank. Our focus has been and always will be to look forward with new technologies and services without forsaking our traditions and dedication to the success of the families and communities we serve.”

L'Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles Hosts Women's Panel with Local Women Leaders

L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles hosted a widely-attended Women’s Panel on Tuesday, April 23 in partnership with their PENN Women group.

PENN Women is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) initiative put forth by PENN Entertainment, Inc. to empower and support women to pursue leadership roles at their gaming facilities and corporate offices.

The panel, moderated by General Manager Harold Rowland, consisted of six local women leaders in a variety of sectors including higher education, medical, finance, fitness, non-profit, and marketing. Panelists answered questions submitted by L’Auberge team members and gave both personal and professional developmental advice.

Panelists included:

• Jenny Bono, Administrator at the Joint Replacement Center of Louisiana

• Becky Girola, Executive Director of ABC Pregnancy Resource Center

• Sierra Higgins, Assistant Professor at McNeese State University

• Katie Little, Owner/CEO of Intuitive Fitness

• Shonda Manuel, Partner at Healthy Image Marketing

• Stephanie Treme, M.D., Pediatrician and Partner at The Children’s Clinic of SWLA

To learn more about L’Auberge, visit; find us on Facebook; Instagram @laubergelakecharles; or follow us on Twitter @LAubergeLC. 69

The Facts about ITEP’s Impact on Southwest Louisiana’s Economy

In recent weeks, information has been circulating about the pros and cons of ITEP, the Louisiana industrial property tax exemption program for local industry.

Data from the assessor’s offices in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes show the facts. In 2024, the top five property taxpayers in Calcasieu Parish were Lake Area Industry Alliance (LAIA) members, who paid almost $80 million. In Cameron Parish, the two operating LNG facilities that are LAIA members paid $40 million in property tax in 2023.

“Property tax paid by LAIA members almost doubled from 2018 to 2023 and increases will rapidly continue with planned investments and as current tax abatements expire,” explains Jim Rock, executive director of Lake Area Industry Alliance. “ITEP is the cornerstone of economic development in Louisiana today because it makes our region attractive to industries that are looking to expand. Southwest Louisiana is attractive for industrial investments for a variety of reasons: access to the deep-water ship channel, rail, pipelines, and interstate

infrastructure as well as nearby educational institutions for workforce training at SOWELA, McNeese, and the ABC Pelican Chapter,” explains Rock. “Southeast Texas has many of the same advantages and they exempt qualifying investments at 100%, which could make their region more attractive to investors. We are competing both regionally and globally. ITEP is responsible for thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Southwest Louisiana industry.”

For the last eight years, the ITEP program in Louisiana has allowed investors to exempt 80 percent of the taxes on investments for machinery and equipment for 10 years, meaning

that 20 percent of taxes paid are immediate for the first 10 years and 100 percent are paid after 10 years for the life of the facility.

“These facilities have a history of operating for decades in our area,” explains Rock. “Phillips 66 has an 84-year history here in Lake Charles and CITGO Lake Charles has been here for 80 years, and many others including Westlake, LyondellBasell and Calca Solutions (formerly Arxada) have decades of longevity in our community.”

As an example, a $100 million qualifying and approved investment would pay about $2.2 million a year in property tax for the first 10 years

70 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • May 2024 Money & Career

and $22 million a year for the life of the facility. Using a 40-year life of an asset, that would yield a total of $682 million in property tax.

Property tax revenue is divided among several entities, the main ones being the sheriff’s offices, school boards and the Police Jury in both parishes. The tax dollars are spent on projects determined by elected officials in those entities. Historically the funds have been used for infrastructure upgrades for roads, bridges, stormwater systems and other facilities as well as funding for law enforcement equipment and school improvements.

LAIA member industries paid over $250 million in sales and property tax in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes in 2023, according to the assessors’ offices in both parishes. In Calcasieu Parish, LAIA member industries paid over $200 million in property and sales tax. In Cameron Parish, they paid $48.5 million in property tax.

Employment records show that LAIA member investments have continued to add direct and indirect jobs in the area. From 2018 to 2023, LAIA

“Residents with good paying jobs spend money. When they have more money to spend, the local economy benefits,” he says.

Liquified natural gas facilities in Cameron Parish have invested $34.5 billion in existing facilities with another $55 billion planned between Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes.

Higher education is important to LAIA members. Recently, significant donations from local industries include a $1 million donation to

SOWELA from Phillips 66. It will be used to expand the Phillips 66 Process Technology Center, a regional education hub for students who plan to enter the petrochemical career field.

“ITEP has and will continue to have positive and lasting impacts on Southwest Louisiana,” says Rock.

LAIA is made up of 25 members of local industries. Member industries and other information can be found at 71
LAKE CHARLES: Nelson Rd. and Oak Park Blvd. SULPHUR | MOSS BLUFF MYLKSB.BANK (337) 474-3766 If your bank makes you unhappy, come over to locally owned and operated Lakeside Bank, where the sun is shining, we have the best personal banking and our customers are always smiling. Find your way to a brighter financial future.

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