Ashley Bennett DeJean’s tribe of family and friends is making sure her life is not forgotten, and their work has most recently reached out to families facing serious areas of lack in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
DeJean lost her battle with cancer January 26, 2014. She was 30 years old and a teacher at Luling Elementary School.
“She loved her job and her students,” Shelby Dube, DeJean’s sister, said.
DeJean’s family and friends started The Ashley Bennett DeJean Foundation to honor DeJean’s passion for teaching and for her daughter, Molly, to see her mom’s legacy continue. The foundation’s reach extends into many areas that DeJean loved.
“We knew we wanted to start a scholarship for a kid going into elementary education just like Ashley,” Dube said, explaining that each year the foundation awards a graduating senior at Hahnville High School with a $1,000 scholarship.
Dube said another branch of the foundation is a by-product of DeJean’s love for an art program that she saw at MD Anderson when she was going there for a clinical trial.
“Ashley kind of fell in love with that … so part of the foundation is we donate art supplies to hospitals,” Dube said.
Most recently the foundation has collected school uniforms for local Hurricane Ida victims.
“We don’t normally buy uniforms, but we knew so many people lost their clothes and don’t necessarily have the funds to buy them so we bought a lot of uniforms,” Dube said. “We also had uniforms donated.”
Dube said she and her family grew up in Luling and that DeJean loved teaching in St. Charles Parish.
“Ashley always wanted to be a teacher. Ashley knew everything she was going to do for as long as I can remember … she was someone with a plan … always. She picked out Molly’s name when she was like 12,” Dube said of DeJean. “She had cancer twice … she had a different form when she was a teenager and the second time we found out was when she was five and a half months pregnant. Ashley was just always very aware when something was off with her body.”
Molly was 3 and a half when DeJean died.
“She remembers so much about Ashley,” Dube said. “We’re so surprised she does. We didn’t expect her to because she was so young. We do the foundation to honor her life and in memory of her. She just wanted to make sure that Molly knew her and what she thought was important. Molly is getting older now and she’s starting to get more involved in the foundation.”
For more information on or to donate, visit www.abdfoundation.org.