United Way of St. Charles had a lot to celebrate at their Victory Celebration on Feb.15. Campaign Co-Chairmen Ron Guillory (Valero) and Snookie Faucheux (Motiva) recognized Texion Chemicals, New Sarpy Kindergarten and St. Charles Community Health Center in particular for contributing the largest increases to the total $2,347,581.01 donated. Valero was also recognized for their employees large contributions to United Way.
I remember just a few weeks ago, Frances Laurent, wife of first United Way Director Alcide Laurent, told me, “You know, Alcide brought in the first million dollars for United Way. I hope they are still doing well today.”
After Mr. Laurent, George Williamson served as director and after his retirement, current Executive Director Denise Brodsky came on board, as she says “from the midwest, over 2000 miles away.”
At the Ormond Plantation on River Road in Destrehan on Thursday evening, Brodsky smilingly greeted everyone in her lace 50’s style dress, cinched in and flattering her small waist. She proceeded to go back in time to the year 1955 (actually before she was born) when the United Giver’s Fund was started,
Mr. George Bleakely and Mr.Aubin Songy who started this precurser to United Way in St. Charles Parish were saluted posthumously for their pioneer-ship in our community.
This gave way for their families to be honored in their behalf and to share a piece of history about these two community-minded educators.
Mr. Bleakely’s daughter who was one of seven children shared that “spank” was not in her dad’s vocabulary.
Even though he was sick with leukemia, she remembers how caring her father was of others. She said his effects on the people he touched resonates today.
Mr. Bleakely was a founding father, athlete, teacher, coach, personnel manager, friend, and truly an educator.
George Williamson who had lived nearby in Norco while growing up remembers his sisters and Mr. Bleakely’s daughters playing together. Williamson added that he had a real appreciation for Mr. Bleakely as a pioneer and for the help he provided different people.
Mr, Aubin Songy was an educator and teacher and Superintendent of Schools. A.A. Songy School is named after him.
Mr. Songy’s son told the gathering that his father was a physics major.
It was World War II and the State Department of Education wanted to offer a course in Aeronautical Aviation…”so they called my dad. Strange thing, you couldn’t drag my dad on an airplane, but he could tell you how it ran. He went to Baton Rouge to learn how to teach this. He taught math and physics and if the coach had trouble he would take over the coaching too.” The son continued, “Sometimes he had to teach a class in Destrehan at one school and come back across to teach at another school…and believe you me, there was no Hale Boggs Bridge then. He was a busy, busy man.”
Wall of Success plaques were awarded to the two families in recognition of the men who started United Way’s vision for partnering assets and resources to improve the quality of life for citizens of St. Charles Parish.
Beautiful music was played and sung by talented Blanch Newsome for the event and a quick skit on German Pioneers was performed by Arlene and Henry Friloux.
United Way Board members include Dennis Nuss, president; Kathryn Ostadal, vice president; Audrey Raziano, treasurer; Eddie Boyd; Jeff Funkhouser; Ken Hopkins; Dan McNeill; Todd Hallman; Lily Galland; Tab Troxler; Rochelle Cancienne; Ron Guillory; Jim Kimes; Ken Lambert; Mark Keiser; Bill Watson and Jeff Jones. Marie Scantlebury serves as director of community development.