Live jazz music, a silent auction, raffle, open bar and buffet dinner were all available to patrons April 1 when the St. Charles CARE Center hosted its third annual CARE Affair at Martin’s Nursery.
Executive Director Lauren Johnson said that in many ways this year’s event felt like a reintroduction of the CARE Center because, like so many other people and organizations, the center and its staff has spent the last two years growing and evolving in the face of hardship.
Over 200 people attended CARE Affair 2022, which was sponsored by Martin’s Nursery & Landscape, J&K Office Supply & Printing, United Healthcare Community Plan, Valero, Birdie’s Food & Fuel Cospolich Inc. and Cypress Land Developments LLC. The night’s buffet was provided and served by the Satellite Center’s Culinary Arts and Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism programs. Johnson said the CARE Center also collaborated with the Satellite Center’s digital media and interactive media classes during the planning and execution of the fundraiser.
“We work with that population and their families, so we just love that partnership so much,” Johnson said.
Since 2014 the CARE Center, which is a United Way St. Charles partner agency, has worked collaboratively with a network of organizations across and beyond the parish to engage, empower and uplift young people and their families through programs that promote strengths, address challenges and guide toward lifelong success.
Johnson said the center’s staff advocates for youth and families, helps them navigate the network
of services, coordinates social services across the public and private sectors and refers youth and families to services and resources based on assessed needs.
“We help over 1,000 community members every year get their needs met by breaking down barriers to access,” she said.
In 2018 the center established their flagship program, CARE Navigator, which is an innovative assessment service for young people and their families. The program is designed to identify and address health and wellness challenges leading youth to struggle at school, home or in the community. Navigators work with families to assess their strengths and needs, motivate them to recognize where they may need support, and empower them to begin the difficult process of change. Since its launch, CARE Navigator has served over 500 families — a 5-fold increase since the last CARE Affair in 2019.
“While we’re incredibly proud of this growth, we’re already busy setting goals to make an even bigger impact,” Johnson said. “With the help of partners like United Way of St. Charles and the Valero Energy Foundation, the CARE Center is working to deepen our presence across St. Charles Parish in order to connect directly with families in the community.”