Leadership Livingston Graduates 23 on June 30th

Contact: April Wehrs | april@livingstonparishchamber.org | (225) 665-8155
Leadership Livingston Graduates 23 on June 30th

On June 30, 2020, 23 graduates were added to the list of Leadership Livingston Alumni.  Typically, the ceremony would include a room packed with classmates, alumni, sponsors, peers and graduate’s family.  This year accommodation of guests was limited due to the governor’s announcement that our state would be staying in Phase 2.

“We felt it was important to move forward with a ceremony for this year’s class.  Class sessions were adjusted to online platforms after the February session, which was the last time the class was able to meet in person.  It was an adjustment that they class understood needed to happen, and they willingly embraced the opportunity to finish the sessions.  We’re proud to add them as program graduates.” states April Wehrs, chamber president. 

The event was held with social distancing including spread out seating of the class and attendees.  Masks were in place following current guidelines when social distancing was not an option including when group photos were taken.  

The program included words from sponsors, members of the class, project presentation, graduate announcements and a presentation of the classes adopted community service projects.   

Three community service project groups dedicated a combined 515 of volunteer hours, financial impacts to date of $74,116 and a projection to impact over 18,000 residents, LPPS students, clients and their families and visitors to Livingston Parish. 

The project group “Leadership Accepts the Challenge” has been working to renovate the outdoor pavilion area behind the building which houses the Louisiana Association of Challenged Adults (LAC). Aaron Ellis, an LAC board member is a member of the project group. “After Aaron arranged a tour of the 35-year-old pavilion we all decided as a group that we wanted to be involved” said Jim Chapman, another group member. The project is expected to cost around $25,000 and is being funded by sponsorships and in-kind donations. The pavilion will be used by the LAC’s 60-80 clients who attend their Day-Hab program, and will also be available for outside rentals.

The project group M.E.A.L.S. (Meal Education & Awareness for Livingston Students) will result in a food serving trailer that will make its rounds to Junior High and High Schools in Livingston Parish. It will provide an opportunity for students to try new foods before adding to school menus, allow the schools to collaborate with local farmers and chefs for fresh and healthy alternatives, and will provide an outlet for ProStart students to develop menus and show off their culinary skills in a real-world setting. “We are happy to be able to help the school board bring to life an idea that they have been exploring” said John Dillon, a M.E.A.L.S. group member. The cost of the trailer will be around $16,000 and it is funded by sponsorships and personal donations. The school board will outfit the trailer with the necessary equipment.

A final project group is in the beginning stages of building a new playground in French Settlement. “Several of our group members live in French Settlement and recognized that this was something missing from the area” said Jeremy Aydell, a group member. Plans have been drawn up, and a fundraiser was hosted in early March. The playground is expected to cost around $32,000 which will be funded by donations. Plans are underway to get the equipment ordered so that construction can begin soon.

Each project group selected the member they agreed went the extra mile to see their project through to completion. The four graduates were recognized at graduation with Above & Beyond Awards. From Leadership Accepts the Challenge, Jim Chapman, from M.E.A.L.S., Christine Patrick and from the French Settlement Playground, Jeremy Aydell and Chasity Chauvin were selected.

In addition to community service projects, the graduates completed a retreat with a simulated society game, received in-depth personality assessments, attended an event in the community and attended a field trip every month exploring the history, culture, government and education of Livingston Parish. After jokingly referring to it as the “COVID Class”, class spokesperson, Gary O’Neal, Jr. said, “The lessons we learned as we visited with our local leaders, businesses and institutions came to life in a very real, tangible sense for both me and I know our classmates. All of us as we sit here today are impacted and will continue to be as we move forward through this season of our lives. In that sense the people and experiences we were exposed to here within this program will have a lasting impact on each of us.”

Leadership Livingston program sponsors, North Oaks Health System, First Guaranty Bank, Jefferson Financial Federal Credit Union, and Holmes Building Materials each had representatives that addressed the crowd at graduation.  Sponsors allow for the program to go next level in addressing the community needs and educating more class students on how the parish functions and what they can do to make it better. 

The class of 2020 includes Jeremy Aydell, Sport Clips; Courtney Chaney, Livingston Parish Council; Jim Chapman, Farrell Calhoun Paint Company, Inc.; Chasity Chauvin, French Settlement Elementary; Jeanette Clark;  John Dillon, All Star Automotive; Joffrey Easley, Forte & Tablada, Inc.; and Aaron Ellis, Aaron Ellis, Attorney at Law, LLC.

Also, Nicole Gautreau, Bank of Zachary; Richard Hill, LaPorte CPA’s & Business Advisors; Lance Landry, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office; Tim McMasters, Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office; Vanissa Murphy, Quality Engineering & Surveying, LLC; Chris Neal, Pelican State Credit Union; Gary O’Neal, Jr., Quality Engineering & Surveying, LLC; and Dev Patel, First Guaranty Bank.

Also, Christine Patrick, Livingston Parish Chamber; Kevin Pope, Livingston Parish Clerk of Court; Todd Price, Holmes Building Materials; Amanda Seals, Ochsner Medical Center; Joel Stern, Our Lady of the Lake RMC; Sandy Teal, Livingston Parish Council; and Kelly Westmoreland, Neighbors Federal Credit Union.

About Leadership Livingston: Leadership Livingston is a community leadership program designed to teach and engage participants and increase their understanding of the inner workings of their parish community. Service projects, where class members get involved in making Livingston Parish better, enhance the experience for students and the Parish. Leadership Livingston is a program of the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce for more information visit the Chamber’s website www.livingstonparishchamberofcommerce.org, also follow Leadership Livingston’s Facebook page and the Chamber’s Facebook page.