By Holly Duchmann, Opelousas Daily World - November 3, 2016 - online here
Local nonprofit Hope for Opelousas received a $20,000 grant on Wednesday from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation after community leader and executive director of Hope for Opelousas Loren Carriere was chosen as one of the foundation's 2016 Angel Award honorees.
Hope for Opelousas is an organization that aims to support hardworking, low-income families in Opelousas with mentoring, tutoring and community support for the children.
"One of the things about working with kids, especially kids in poverty, is that they've had relationships that start and get broken up for some reason," said Carriere. "So for us to have continued support from our donors, and even checks like these, it gives us stability to give that solid relationship to kids and families long term."
Carriere was one of the founding members of the organization and continues to serve as the program's executive director.
"When we began, it was under the idea that many people leave to other parts of the world to do mission work, but often times we can drive past some of our neighbors and not really think about deeply what we can do to love and support them where they are," said Carriere.
Eight Angel honorees are chosen each year to highlight people who go above and beyond to help Louisiana's kids, foundation President Michael Tipton said, and those honoree's have the opportunity to choose a nonprofit for the foundation to give a $20,000 grant to. In this case, Carriere chose Hope for Opelousas.
"We named it the angel award because these are the everyday angels, the unsung heroes who are doing incredible work," said Tipton.
Nominations are made from across the state and can range from volunteers, executive directors for nonprofits to teachers, and the honorees are chosen by a committee of past Angel award recipients.
"What the (choosing committee) highlighted in this case was the systemic way (Hope for Opelousas) is trying to support kids not only academically, but socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually," said Tipton.
Carriere said receiving the award was a confirmation that people see what the organization is doing and the grant will go towards continuing to give quality instruction to the children in the program.
"Some of the challenges we face were all of the difficulties our kids would encounter on a daily basis, some things like poverty, poor education, opportunities," said Carriere. "Some of the challenges we faced was how do we convince people we have a program that can work."