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Duck Race to benefit LightHouse

duck race-logoThousands of ducks will float down the Red River June 6, each one carrying a wish to better the life of a child.

Tickets are now on sale for the annual Bossier Rotary Duck Race, to be held at 3 p.m. June 6 at The Louisiana Boardwalk. Ducks can be purchased for $10 and the winner receives $10,000.

Volunteers of America’s LightHouse Program and the Gingerbread House will benefit from sales of the tickets.

Tickets will be on sale Saturdays at the Boardwalk until the race. Or they can be purchased online at bossierduckrace.org.

Title: Give for Good Celebration
Location: Frank’s Napoletana Pizza, 6950 Fern Ave., Shreveport
Description: Celebrate North Louisiana’s day of online giving with fun, family and philanthropy. Enjoy appetizers courtesy of Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin and Roberts and learn about the power of doing good!
Start Time: 5:30 p.m.
Date: 2015-05-05
End Time: 7:30 p.m.

Title: June 3 – Tour the Bossier LightHOuse
Location: 2101 Scott St, Bossier
Link out: Click here
Description: Nearly 40 percent of Caddo Parish 8th graders will not complete high school. Visit a program changing those statistics and meet the kids who benefit. The tour will only last an hour and we will not ask for money.
Start Time: 11:00
Date: 2015-06-03
End Time: 12:00

Sailors celebrate Navy by serving

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A Navy Veteran at the Safe Haven greets Read Adm. Keith Jones, as he toured the facility.

Crisp, white uniforms turned the heads of Veterans who used to wear them and children who someday hope to as the Navy came to Volunteers of America Wednesday.

As part of Navy Week, a week to raise awareness of the Navy in places like Shreveport where the service doesn’t have a large presence, sailors spent time volunteering and also learned more about challenges facing Veterans.

Rear Adm. Keith Jones, Reserve Director, Logistics Programs and Business Operations, visited Volunteers of America senior managers to hear about the needs of local Veterans. Then he toured two of the Veterans programs, where he warmly greeted Vets. A few eyes grew wide as they noticed the stars on his shoulder, but Jones just introduced himself as “Keith.”

“Volunteers of America plays a vital role in helping veterans transition out of the military and into more productive lives,” Jones said. “Their passion and leadership is impressive.”

SONY DSCSailors also spent time giving back to the community through our programs. A group spent the morning playing Bingo with seniors at the Adult Day Health Center.

“People think the military is just about offense, but the Navy does a lot of human service,” said Petty Officer Clay Titus, a recruiter from Houston.

Jones was particularly excited for the sailors to visit The LightHouse and share their experiences with the kids.

“I hope they see examples of people that look like them and have opportunities,” Jones said. “They can be part of a long line of American heroes, and serve their fellow men and women through the military.”

The children at Forest Hill Elementary were suitably impressed when they saw sailors dressed in 1812 period uniforms and learned all about the USS Constitution. The sailors are assigned to the ship and shared its history with the students, taught them how to tie knots, and allowed them to try on coats and hats.

“They were funny and helpful,” said 10-year-old Aliyah. “I learned how the Navy takes care of us.”

navy week admiral

navy week admiral
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Rear Adm. Keith Jones visits with Veterans at the Safe Haven.

 

senior technologySeniors learn technology with volunteer

Volunteer Derrick Copeland believes three words stop many seniors from learning about modern technology – “give it here.”

Too often, he said, family members don’t have the patience to teach seniors how to use their smart phones or computers and they miss out on all the possible benefits. So he is using his skills as an adult educator to teach the seniors at the Adult Day Health Center.

“I have a passion for teaching,” Copeland said. “I want to introduce techonology to them.”

Each Friday he gathers with a group of seniors to explain how the technology works and how it can work for them. A recent session had him with a white board and a complex diagram of how the cellular network works.

His students piped up with questions about billing and led to a discussion of satellites and GPS. After the formal discussion, Copeland huddled with a man and show him how to adjust the voice settings on his phone so it would be easier for him to use.

“Classes like this are very helpful,” said Michael, a client. “Technology is out of this world and old folks have a hard time catching up.”

But Copeland thinks any gap is the fault of younger generations who don’t have the patience to teach.

“(Seniors) need to start saying ‘show me how,’” Copeland said. “They’re not incapable of learning. I want to bridge that gap.”

Volunteers honored at annual lunch

Humanitarian Award

A ukulele band, high school students and long-time supporters were among those honored for exceptional service to Volunteers of America of North Louisiana during the annual Volunteer Luncheon today. About 160 people gathered for the celebration at East Ridge Country Club.

“Together we are changing our community for the better as children learn to succeed in school, people with disabilities reclaim their dignity, seniors live more independently and our national Veterans rebuild their lives,” CEO/President Chuck Meehan told the crowd. “We could not do what we do without your sacrifice and support.”

Last year, about 2,300 volunteers donated more than 5,000 hours to the organization.

Altrusa Award: Ukulele Gumbo

The Ukulele Gumbo Band first approached us asking to do a Christmas community service show and they quickly became part of the family. The music seems to strike a special chord with our senior adults. Some who don’t even remember their address will recall every word to the songs. Always Ukulele Gumbo brings a kind spirit and love for their art, proving music is a universal language.

Ellen Brown Spirit of Volunteerism Award: Caddo Magnet High School

This award honors the first director of the Highland Center, and continues to honor those who invest in the Highland Community. Magnet High students organized a partnership with the Highland Center LightHouse last year. They surpassed our expectations, spending 270 hours in the last year doing homework, reading and playing with our kids. Program coordinator Dewanna Lovelace called them “marvelous.” “I’ve found the volunteer spirit is deep seated at Magnet and we’re thankful for the opportunity,” student Cameron Wallace said.

Simple ChurchChampion of Dignity Award: The Simple Church

A small group from The Simple Church made a shelter feel like home in honor of a member’s father who was a Veteran. They contacted Gary Jaynes, who suggested sprucing up the common room in the new Safe Haven. Within a week, the team from The Simple Church had paint for the common room plus lamps, rugs and artwork for each of the resident’s rooms. Those simple touches remind the Veterans that someone believes in their worth.

Rachel Sparks Memorial Award: Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier

Named for Volunteers of America’s longtime executive director, this award honors those who continue her legacy of leadership and excellence. Throughout our archives, the Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier appears as volunteers and contributors to the Pregnancy Service Center, The LightHouse and always by training young women who have gone on to become some of our most ardent supporters and leaders. This year we honor them for a several projects they are leading with our LightHouse youth teaching them healthy habits, babysitting skills and life skills for young women.

Beacon of Hope Award: The David and Peggy Murphy family

This couple understands many children don’t have the finances to pursue dreams and may not have a parent reminding them of the possibilities. Through their support of the LightHouse, they ensure children have a place to dream. Additionally, Peggy has coached our graduates and reminded them they have lots of people in their corner. And they have also passed on their passion for education and service to their children. Their daughter, Carolyn, now volunteers two days a week at the Highland LightHouse, where she has become indispensable.

Humanitarian Award: Brammer Engineering and Keith and Karen Evans

Brammer Engineering proudly displays its motto of “Service. Service. Service.” They have regularly proven that idea extends far beyond customers. Last spring Brammer offered eight employees a chance to spend an hour of their workday once a week tutoring LightHouse children. The employees were paired with children and they did homework, read books and played games. The children had a new role model and the employees left feeling like they had gained far more than what they gave. The Brammer model continues this year with 10 employees helping children prepare for the LEAP test. “It’s been an honor to be associated with The LightHouse,” said Ellen Alley, director of human resources for Brammer. “We have been blessed.”

Meals needed for college volunteers

Once again the national group Students Today, Leaders Forever has chosen Volunteers of America as a stop on their Spring Break tour.

These students have paid to travel the country doing service projects instead of laying on the beach for Spring Break, and we want them to feel welcome. But we need your help!Every year, you help feed these students who provide invaluable assistance to our programs. This year we have three groups staying at the Highland Center. The groups will arrive the evening and then work the next morning.

March 3-4: John Carroll University (30 students)
March 10-11: University of Illinois (40 students)
March 16-17: University of Iowa (40 students) – lunch is covered!

Each group has requested breakfast and bagged lunches. The group from Iowa also asked if we could provide dinner when they arrive.

Meals do not have to be extravagant. Cereal/bagels for breakfast and sandwiches they can take on the bus to their next location will be great.

Contact Tricia Jowell at tricia.jowell@voanorthla.org to volunteer!

Elderly Apartments accepting applications

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South Pointe Place, the new elderly housing complex of Volunteers of America is now officially accepting applications.

The 50-unit complex will house low income seniors, who can live independently. Located at 1133 South Pointe Parkway in Shreveport (behind the Shreve City Walmart), South Pointe should open later this spring.

All units are one-bedroom and include a living area, kitchen with granite counter tops, refrigerator, pantry, built in closets, and heat and air. Community rooms will be located on each floor, and the facility is non-smoking.

As well, the Volunteers of America Adult Day Health Center will move to the complex and be housed on the first floor.

Rent will be based on the family’s income.  Tenants will pay 30% of monthly adjusted income for the family.

To qualify for the apartment, resident households must include at least one person who is 62 years of age or more at the time of occupancy and whose household adjusted income is at or below $20,400.

Prior to completion, applications will be mailed to those on the waiting list first and then to others.  Contact Linda Jarrell at 318-221-8404 ext. 176 for more information.

LEAP Tutors needed

Local fourth and eighth graders need the community’s help to get ready for the LEAP test. It only takes two hours a week and you can make a huge difference.

Volunteers of America of North Louisiana is seeking tutors for students who will be taking the LEAP test in April. Tutors will be assigned to a particular student, and the pairs will review skills the students will need for the test. A workbook is provided.

Last year, those who received the extra help were more likely to pass than their peers at the same school.

Tutoring begins Feb. 17 and will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 30. We will not have tutoring during the first LEAP testing week (March 16- 20) and Spring Break week (April 6- 10). Volunteers can choose to tutor at one of the following places in Shreveport:

  1. Lakeshore Middle School (1807 San Jacinto Avenue)- 3:00 to 4:00 PM; 8th grade students
  2. Forest Hill Elementary (2005 Francais Dr)- 3:30 to 4:30 PM; 4th grade students
  3. Travis St. Downtown LightHouse (802 Travis Street)- anytime between 4:00 to 5:30 PM; 4th and 8th grade students.

Because of the testing format this year and the recent change in school curriculum, we are requiring all interested tutors to attend a one-hour LEAP tutoring training on Thursday, Feb. 12, at either noon OR 5:15 p.m. at the Highland Center, 520 Olive Street, Shreveport (parking is available in the back parking lot off Stephens Street).

If you are interested contact Tricia Jowell at Tricia.Jowell@voanorthla.org or call 318-221-2669.

LightHouse alumni share advice, stories

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It’s been 20 years since Myron Harris was spending Saturdays at the LightHouse, but he still remembers the lessons he learned.

“Focus and keep aiming high,” he said.

He was among about two dozen alumni who came back for the annual LightHouse reunion to share updates on their life and some advice with the current group of seniors.

Harris works for State Farm Insurance, traveling the country after disasters, and he is thrilled to know the LightHouse is there for the next generation of children who need a little direction.

His advice to them: “Be a blessing to someone else.”

The Rev. Don Webb began the program of lessons learned and New Years Resolutions with a childhood story about a Christmas Pageant gone wrong when the innkeeper said there was plenty of room. But he said someone started to laugh and all the children knew it would be OK.

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Alumnus Myron Harris catches up with CEO Chuck Meehan.

“If things go wrong this year, laugh it off and love life anyway,” he said.

The students followed with often short but poignant advice: “Do better.” “Don’t give up.” “Be on time.”

Most of the students are still in college, and the dangers of procrastination seemed to be the lesson learned as many resolved to avoid it in 2015. Sarah Noe, a senior at LSUS, presented her Dean’s List report card as proof of what can be accomplished with planning ahead.

Noe will complete her psychology degree in May and said The LightHouse inspired her to her chosen profession. She hopes to be a school psychologist and encourage others.

“You can start from nothing and you can be someone,” she said.