How RSVP volunteers make a difference

Athletes ready for the games.

For RSVP volunteers Maddie Fabre and Ronnie Theriot, the act of helping others takes on deeper meaning.

“It makes me proud I’m able to do that,” said Fabre, 77, of Luling. “I’m healthy enough to work those hours and replace other people having surgeries or who are sick” at the St. Charles Parish Hospital’s Lagniappe Gift Shop in Luling.

A retired kindergarten teacher, she has been at what she calls her “second home” for 12 years.

“I’m a people person,” Fabre said. “I just like being here with other people. Otherwise, I’d be staying at home not doing much of anything other than taking care of my house and whatever.”

Kicking off the UW campaign at Valero.

It’s her way of giving back to the community she loves so much.

Whatever profits are made at the shop go back to the hospital for the patients.

“We’re a nonprofit organization,” she said. “We have bake sales with just volunteers who do this. We give two scholarships each to Destrehan and Hahnville high schools’ graduating seniors.”

Although Fabre is a native of Lafayette, St. Charles Parish is her home.

Maddie Fabre at the hospital gift shop.

“I’m helping people of the parish and enjoy giving back to the community,” she said.

Having worked as a kindergarten teacher for 25 years at Luling Elementary, Fabre has a longtime sense of working in the parish toward giving to people and working with the children and people of the parish.

In the 12 years Fabre’s been an RSVP volunteer, she’s clocked 7,700 volunteer hours as of Dec. 18, 2018. She’s also been involved in Girl Scouts and serving on committees at Holy Family Catholic Church.

Fabre, like Theriot, is a volunteer with RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) and both say volunteers help make many things happen.

The two were recognized by RSVP for the most hours. Additionally, these people were also honored: Herman Louque, Sal Digirolamo, Edward Picou, Thomas Jones, Kay Spruill, Roberta Bailey, Elza LeBeauf and Curtis Taylor Jr.

“I’m helping people of the parish and enjoy giving back to the community.”— Maddie Fabre

For Theriot, volunteering means helping the Special Olympics and his son, Kurt with an intellectual disability, and he also ranks among RSVP’s top volunteers. The Special Olympics is a volunteer-based organization.

He and his wife, Theresa, got involved in 1988 to increase their son’s sports choices and they did it. At age 49, Kurt has competed in the Special Olympics and in more events than previously was offered. They are certified coaches.

Bayouland Area athletes walking in the Special Olympics opening ceremony

Some 28 years later, Theriot said it’s a time consuming effort but one he’s proud to say has elevated into one that’s become more than just helping their son. They also assisted by BETA Club in LaPlace, St. Charles Catholic High School and Anytime Fitness.

“It’s not because of him,” he said of why they volunteer. “We made a lot of new friends through Special Olympics and met a lot of young children who didn’t have a sport.”

School sports can restrict a disabled student from playing in sports, although there’s some inclusion with unified sports.

Theriot with his son, Kurt, for their first-place win.

“It was a desire on our part to get my son involved,” he said. “When we first moved here, we lived in Destrehan and kids would come over to play basketball with Kurt and from there he could play.”

It convinced Theriot his son could play in the game so they got more involved to help get him in the game.

“We didn’t know how big it would get,” he said of Special Olympics. “It just gives you a very warm feeling to see children with disabilities excel in their abilities – and beyond.”


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