June 26, 2014

Blue Cross Foundation Names 2014 Angel Award Winners

Ten more names have been added to the list of outstanding volunteers for children in Louisiana with the selection of this year’s winners of the Angel Award presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The award is given annually to those who donate their time and talents to better the lives of Louisiana children, whether through enrichment projects in the areas of arts and education or programs addressing the direst needs of an underserved population.

The current winners bring to 160 the number of volunteers honored by the program, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year; each will receive a $20,000 grant for the charity of his, her or their (a husband-and-wife team is among this year’s honorees) choice.  

Sixty-eight nominees from across the state were considered for the award by a committee of past Angel Award winners.  They will be recognized at a presentation ceremony by invitation only Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel.  Receiving the Angel Award this year are:

Ashley Belding of New Orleans.   A pediatric social worker, Belding has volunteered for more than 20 years at Camp Pelican, a weeklong resident camp for children who are on ventilator assistance or suffer from other pulmonary disorders such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or tracheotomy. For more than half of that time, she has organized and managed Pelicanpalooza, revamping it and turning it into the camp’s principle fundraiser.

Laura Domingue of Baton Rouge. Domingue founded Trafficking Hope, which since 2007 has raised awareness in Baton Rouge and throughout the state of the modern day slavery that is human trafficking.  She has been instrumental in the development of Louisiana Hope House, a 32-acre campus that provides life skills, vocational training, faith-based counseling and medical care to victims of human trafficking.

Brian Hunter of Shreveport. Hunter is the driving force behind Common Ground, a community center serving one of the poorest neighborhoods in Shreveport. As volunteer executive director, Hunter oversees a corps of volunteers from the surrounding Shreveport-Bossier-Benton area that provides meals and groceries, afterschool and weekend programs and mentoring and tutoring to hundreds of at-risk children and their families.

Jennifer Maggio of Baton Rouge.  A former single mother herself, Maggio founded The Life of a Single Mom Ministries to work with churches and communities around the world in establishing single parent support groups. Her nonprofit business model has been duplicated around the country as well as abroad and she has written four books encouraging single parents.

Isaac McFarland of Keithville.  A high school junior, McFarland founded Game Changers, an organization devoted to educating schoolchildren on hunger in local communities and the world. The group has provided hundreds of “tackle boxes” of food to children in underserved communities. He also tutors students at a neighborhood recreation center and assists with community vegetable gardening.

Hank and Debbie Perret of Lafayette. Following the death of their son Miles from cancer in 1996, the Perrets began devoting their volunteer time to efforts supporting cancer patients and their families.  Since then, Miles Perret Cancer Services has helped thousands of families in a 10-parish area, offering wellness, nutrition and exercise classes, wigs and prostheses, support groups and family events.

Jackie Silverman of River Ridge.  After working with homeless families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Silverman founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter in 2007. The organization has provided a stable and safe home-style environment for more than 350 children and their mothers.

Nancy Zito of Baton Rouge. Zito quit her job teaching at a private school to become founder, principal and executive director of the Gardere Christian Community School, serving an area notorious for poverty, drugs and violent crime.  In four years, the school’s reputation for academic excellence has grown, even though almost all the students come from families at or below the federal poverty level.

Also being recognized is Blue Cross vice president of IT integrated services Laura Landry as the 2014 Blue Angel.  Landry serves on the board of the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of Baton Rouge, participating in planning several annual events raising funds for the organization. Her charity will receive a $5,000 dollar grant from the Foundation.

Over two decades, the Angel Award has given more than $1.8 million to charities whose purpose is to improve the welfare of the state's children. Foundation executive director Christy Reeves says, “Thousands of children have been directly impacted by the work of the winners’ chosen charities. This in turn fulfills our mission to improve the lives of Louisianians,” she said.

For more information about the Angel Award program, visit the Blue Cross website at www.bcbsla.com/angelaward.  

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. The Foundation operates three signature programs:  Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, a collective impact endeavor improving healthy eating and active living in 12 communities across the state, The Angel Award®, an annual recognition of outstanding Louisiana volunteers who improve the quality of life for at-risk children, and Smart Bodies®, a school-based interactive education program to prevent childhood obesity. In addition, Blue Cross also contributes nearly $2 million annually to various nonprofit organizations throughout the state that improve health, education and the overall quality of life in Louisiana communities. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

For more information, visit www.ourhomelouisiana.org.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is governed by a Louisiana Board of Directors.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices around the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company’s website at www.bcbsla.com or visit its social media hub to connect via Facebook, Twitter and more.