Volunteers are the heart and soul of any thriving community, and Ascension Parish is no exception. This charming Louisiana parish, nestled in the heart of the Pelican State, has witnessed countless acts of goodwill, thanks to the dedication of its residents. Thanks to this blog post from Nola.com, you’ll be able to explore some of the remarkable initiatives led by volunteers that have enriched Ascension Parish over the years.
One shining example of Ascension Parish’s commitment to inclusivity and community spirit is the transformation of a former T-ball field in Gonzales into the splendid $1.8 million baseball field we know today as Ward Webb Field. This field isn’t just any baseball field; it’s designed to cater to special needs children, providing them with a safe and enjoyable space to play. What’s more, it maintains a strong connection with the renowned Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. This remarkable transformation, made possible by volunteers, stands as a testament to the parish’s commitment to inclusivity.
The annual School Tools program is yet another demonstration of Ascension Parish’s caring community. This program ensures that children in 28 public schools receive the supplies they need for a successful academic journey. The efforts of volunteers and the generosity of the community fill coffers, while dedicated volunteers sort and distribute these essential materials. It’s a powerful reminder of how small acts of kindness can have a significant impact on a child’s education.
Two organizations, Volunteer Ascension and Leadership Ascension, have been instrumental in shaping the community spirit of Ascension Parish since their inception in the mid-1990s. Volunteer Ascension, a nonprofit organization, harnesses the spirit of selflessness, channeling it into disaster recovery, local events like the Boucherie and Jambalaya Festivals, and much more. Leadership Ascension, on the other hand, is a program initiated by the Ascension Chamber of Commerce. Each year, it selects 30 to 40 community leaders for a 10-month journey of exploration within the parish, culminating in a project that betters the community. These projects often involve fundraising and require the dedication of participants from different walks of life.
Interestingly, there’s significant overlap between the members of Volunteer Ascension’s board and Leadership Ascension graduates. Gwen Price, a retired Ascension educator and the incoming president of Volunteer Ascension’s board, highlights this synergy. She emphasizes how these two volunteer organizations work in harmony, providing mutual support and understanding. This collaboration strengthens their collective impact on Ascension Parish.
While Leadership Ascension’s mission has always been noble, in recent times, they’ve shifted their focus from fundraising to service hours. Jennifer Defrances, a Leadership Ascension class facilitator, notes this shift. She explains that the organization felt the need to prioritize making a tangible difference in the community rather than merely raising funds. This change has empowered participants to engage more deeply with the challenges facing Ascension Parish.
Another vital service project undertaken by Leadership Ascension shed light on the concerning issue of food insecurity. Selina Loupe, a local real estate agent and participant in the program, shares her experience. Her group’s eye-opening work involved distributing food to those in need at various locations. This endeavor unearthed alarming statistics about food insecurity in Louisiana, even in affluent areas like Ascension Parish. Loupe’s group, deeply moved by their hands-on experience, continued their efforts, hoping to make a long-term impact.
In conclusion, Ascension Parish is a shining example of how a community can come together to make a difference. Whether it’s transforming a T-ball field into a haven for special needs children, ensuring students have the tools they need to succeed, or fighting against food insecurity, the people of Ascension Parish exemplify the power of volunteerism and compassion. Their dedication has not only improved the lives of countless individuals but has also brought the community closer together.
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