This October, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation will present The Angel Award® to nine everyday Louisianians doing extraordinary good for the state’s children. However, the format will be very different from past Angel Award celebrations.
For the last 26 years, the Foundation has hosted its honorees at a live gala event in October. This year, in response to COVID-19 and in order to tell the stories of the honorees, the Foundation has partnered with Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) to present a one-hour special on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.
The Angel Award will air on LPB statewide and be streamed online at LPB.org, the LPB App and both LPB’s and the Foundation’s Facebook pages. It will feature segments on each honoree that tell the story of their work, their lives and the children for whom they have made a difference.
This year’s honorees were chosen from more than 150 nominations submitted from across Louisiana and will each receive a $25,000 grant to the nonprofit of their choice to support their work.
“Our Angels have improved the lives of tens of thousands of children and have distinguished themselves by going above and beyond,” said Foundation President Michael Tipton.
“Even in uncertain times, these advocates get up each day and work hard to make life better for our kids — especially those children living with disabilities, who have endured abuse and neglect, or who are victims of inequity in health, education and justice,” he added.
This year’s honorees are:
- Ben Bowie of Lafayette, who has faithfully volunteered at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana for 14 years and served as a father figure and mentor to hundrends of children and dozens of junior staff members. At 97, Bowie is also the oldest Louisianian to be recognized with The Angel Award.
- Sarah Broome of Baton Rouge, the founder and executive director of Thrive Academy, a boarding school where children who face challenges in other school settings can get the attention and resources they need to succeed.
- Dr. Marybeth Lima of Baton Rouge, a professor of biological & agricultural engineering at Louisiana State University and founder of the LSU Community Playground Project, which collaborates with communities to design, raise money for and build playgrounds in places where disinvestment has left a gap in safe, equitable play.
- Dr. Calvin Mackie of New Orleans, the founder and CEO of STEM NOLA, whose mission is to create innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs through inspiration, engagement, and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) engaging and empowering thousands of young people each year.
- Lucinda Miles of Shreveport, crisis program coordinator with Volunteers for Youth Justice has pioneered new methods of trauma-informed care for foster children including the use of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® methods, along with creating an innovative Calming Studio at the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court.
- Johnny Robinson of Monroe, NFL Hall-of-Famer and founder of Johnny Robinson’s Boys Home, which provides residential care, counselling, mentoring and community-based support for young men who have interacted with the juvenile justice system.
- Levar Robinson of Baton Rouge, the founder of Fathers on a Mission, a network of fathers who provide mentoring for young people without fathers, as well as supportive training for other dads in order to promote engaged fatherhood as a pathway to bright futures for children.
- Syrita Steib of New Orleans, the founder of Operation Restoration, a rapidly-growing organization that supports currently and formerly incarcerated women and girls through vital services, helping women and families access food, shelter, transportation, employment opportunities, child care and much more.
Each year, the Foundation also honors a “Blue Angel,” an employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana who has shown extraordinary commitment to children. This year, the Foundation has selected David Longstreet of Baton Rouge, a volunteer with Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA). BACA riders support children who have been victims of abuse by showing up as friends, mentors and guardian angels. Their tough image gives courage to children facing dire circumstances. BACA will receive a $10,000 grant in Longstreet’s name.
More information about the Angel Award is available online at www.BCBSLAFoundation.org. Viewers may stream the live broadcast on Oct. 19 at www.facebook.com/BCBSLAFound.