News

July 27, 2009

Blue Cross Names 2009 Angel Award Winners

 

For their outstanding volunteer service on behalf of Louisiana's children, eight men and women from across the state have been named the 2009 winners of the Angel Award®, presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The award includes a $20,000 grant for each honoree's chosen charity.

A committee of past recipients of the Angel Award, now in its 15th year, considered 62 nominations from throughout the state before selecting Betsey Baldwin of Gonzales, Vicki Ellis of Baton Rouge, Jill Rigby Garner of Baton Rouge, Lynn Hobbs-Green of New Orleans, Janet Leslie of Maurepas, Jean McManus of Eunice, Minh Nguyen of New Orleans and Philip Thomas of Monroe.

  • In an effort to promote diversity and inclusion, Baldwin founded the Ascension Parish Inclusion League, an outlet for children with and without disabilities to enjoy recreational activities together. The Inclusion League enhances self-esteem and promotes acceptance, understanding and friendship by creating an atmosphere that values diversity.

  • A visit to a Tennessee children's crisis home when she was 14 spurred Ellis to found Heritage Ranch. Heritage Ranch serves suspended and expelled youth enrolled in alternative school programs in East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes through extensive, holistic Life Skills programming developed by Ellis.


  • For 20 years, Garner has dedicated herself to transforming the hearts of children. Her program, Manners of the Heart, focuses on teaching children to be "self giving" instead of "self serving." The statewide program has served hundreds of children through classroom instruction, high school trainings, summer camp activities, teacher workshops and parenting seminars.

  • When her son's teammate was labeled incompetent, Hobbs-Green thought perhaps it was a vision problem. In helping him, the mental health social worker found her second calling. She founded The Eyes Have It, a non-profit organization that provides free eye screenings, examinations and eyeglasses for children at their schools.

  • Leslie's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in 1986. After a long and taxing battle with the disease, Jennifer died in 2001. The Leslies struggle provided the impetus to found The JL Foundation, an organization providing assistance to Louisiana leukemia patients and their families through plane tickets, gas cards, meals and lodging while undergoing treatment at cancer centers and hospitals across the country.

  • Retired 78-year-old teacher McManus was seeking a way to battle the low literacy level in Eunice. She found the answer in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a program that provides a book to each registered child monthly from birth to 5 years of age. McManus has enrolled 80 percent of the community's children in the program.

  • New Orleans, Nguyen founded the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO). The organization is dedicated to empowering Vietnamese Americans and other underrepresented youth through services, cultural enrichment and social change.

  • Thomas founded Pilots for Patients, a volunteer organization that provides free air travel for patients needing medical attention, as well as transportation for blood, tissues, organs and medical supplies. Pilots for Patients has 56 participating volunteer pilots who use privately-owned aircraft without any compensation and has just completed their 300th mission.

"Making a difference in our communities requires time and money, and that's why the Blue Cross Foundation is pleased to recognize each of these volunteers with $20,000 grants through the Angel Award," said Christy Reeves, executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. "Through the Angel Award program, we're partnering with outstanding volunteers to support Louisiana communities and create a healthier state."

To date, more than 100 Angel Award honorees, from age 17 to 93, have come from all walks of life. They are selected based on their efforts to enhance a child's life - physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. What they have in common is an unselfish focus on improving the welfare of children in their communities. With the addition of these 2009 Angels, grants to their charitable organizations will total more than $1 million.

The winners will be honored at a presentation ceremony Nov. 5 at the LSU Lod Cook Alumni Center in Baton Rouge.

For more information on the Angel Award program, visit the Blue Cross website at www.bcbsla.com and click on Community, then Angel Award. There, visitors can research information on hundreds of past Angel Award nominees, finalists and overall winners by name, year of nomination or geographical location.

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 Angel Award is one of two signature programs. The other, Smart Bodies, is an interactive education program to prevent childhood obesity. In addition, Blue Cross contributes nearly $2 million annually in financial aid to various non-profit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in our communities.  When we put dollars into Blue Cross communities, it makes Louisiana a better place for everyone. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.