Benny Cenac Jr., CEO of Cenac Marine Services, Sponsors TFAE Run for Excellence

On Saturday, May 11th, more than 755 racers and nearly 2,500 individuals from all over Terrebonne Parish braved the stormy weather and came out for the Terrebonne Foundation Run for Excellence 5K and its famous after-party in downtown Houma. Benny Cenac Jr., CEO of Houma business Cenac Marine Services, has always valued education and childhood-development and was pleased to support  Terrebonne Parish public education and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Cenac Marine sponsored both the volunteer t-shirt and the Terrebonne ARC Food Booth, which served delicious gumbo to guests. The event is the primary fundraiser for the Terrebonne Foundation for Excellence (TFAE) and has raised over a million dollars over the past nineteen years for local educators to fund their programs through grants. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink after-party was the pinnacle of the day—and people came from all over to taste the delicious Cajun specialties offered by forty local vendors and dance to THE FLAMETHROWERS, the number-one party rock cover band in Louisiana.

“Since our inception, TFAE has given more than $1 million in grants to our local public-school teachers through our grant program,” said Kate Portier, the TFAE executive director. “In this current school year alone, TFAE will have funded nearly $95,000 in supplies, innovative projects, and classroom initiatives. We provide grants for new teachers and for innovative projects to engage their students.” Grants this year have included the Houma Junior High School “Girls Who Code – Breaking Down STEM Barriers” program to purchase Chromebooks and other materials, Montegut Elementary School’s “We Are the World News Club,” where students will receive boxes each month that contain snacks, art, literature from different countries that they are studying about, and for $500 worth of classroom supplies to twenty-three new teachers in the parish.

Ainsley’s Angels, a group that pairs children and adults with disabilities with a running partner at events across the nation, sent fifteen participants to the 2019 Run for Excellence. “They work together to enjoy the race and cross the finish line,” Portier said. “It’s a great organization that shows the power of teamwork and inclusion.” Avid philanthropist Benny Cenac Jr. has contributed thousands of dollars to charities such as the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens and Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other organizations that specifically benefit children and individuals with special needs. “I am very fortunate and pleased to continue my support of regional, national, and international organizations all working to better the lives of children everywhere,” said Benny Cenac Jr., “I am deeply invested in the success of the Southeastern Louisiana region and overjoyed seeing my Houma community come together for such a worthy cause.”

Benny Cenac Houma Business Owner Sponsors Run for Excellence
More the 2, 500 Terrebonne Parish residents came out for the TFAE Run for Excellence for the 5K and all-you-can-eat-and-drink after-party.

Benny Cenac Jr., a third-generation Houma native himself, always looks forward to the Run for Excellence and appreciates the support of the community in joining to fundraise for the Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence and the local children.

Benny Cenac Jr.: From Business Owner to Avid Philanthropist

Benny Cenac Jr. often sponsors events around the community and regularly donates to schools and organizations within Southeastern Louisiana. A proud alum of Nicholls State University, Benny Cenac Jr. is most fond of his involvement with the Nicholls State University College of Business Advisory Board, Nicholls State University Foundation, the Bridge to Independence Program, and the Nicholls State University Culinary School.

Over the years, Benny Cenac Jr. has contributed to organizations within his parish, the state of Louisiana, and dozens of other national and international causes. These include organization such as the Houma-Terrebonne NAACP, O.N.E./C.H.A.N.G.E., Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Benny Cenac Jr., who continues to operate multiple businesses out of Houma, is proud to see his small fishing town along the Intracoastal Waterway grow into an economic center and cultural landmark for future generations and is happy to offer his continued support for the tremendous efforts by the TFAE and local education leaders as they instruct the next generation of Houma leaders.

The Top Threes of Houma You Won’t Want To Miss

Regional Military Museum

The Regional Military Museum is the perfect day spot to visit in Houma. Experience the history of the brave women and men who have fought to defend our country. The museum strives to remember the sacrifices all those women and men endured; past present and future.   

The Regional Military Museum is still expanding so if you have already gone, there is probably something new waiting for you. The best part is the tours; there are many hands on exhibits. You can even schedule a LCVP ride (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) just like the ones that were used to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

The museum also offers a Memorial Brick Program, giving people the option to engrave a brick that will be put in front of the museum’s new building. This is a great gift to remember a family member or friend who helped defend our country.

Southdown Plantation

The Southdown Plantation also known as The Terrebonne Museum is not only a museum but it can also be used as a venue. The museum offers guided and unguided tours. Established in 1828, the plantation has a rich history of a sugar plantation; over 10 different exhibits inhabit the museuming. So that means there is something for everyone.

The Southdown Plantation also offers it’s guest the availability of booking venues as well. Who wouldn’t want to host a dinner or a wedding on a plantation that beautiful.

Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge   

Maybe Museums aren’t your thing; Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge  gives the adventure a perfect escape. This refuge, established in 1996, is over 4,000 acres of leves, man-made canals, and freshwater marsh which is all divided by the Intercoastal Waterway. Louisiana is famous for its marshland so why not experience it in full force.

The best part about the refuge is the amount of activities you can enjoy. This is the perfect place to take that old boat out. Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to enjoy a boat ride. Or what about those old fishing poles? Pack up the tackle box and head out there.

Don’t own a boat? Don’t worry, the refuge offers an amazing nature trail that is only accessible during the day. The trail passes thru the many different habitats that make up this beautiful state. The refuge also offers its guest the option of hunting.

Make sure you check out the rules and regulations and the permits before visiting the refuge. You don’t want to get there and then have to turn back because you forgot something!

3 Places to stay

A Chateau on the Bayou Bed & Breakfast

Need a place to stay but you don’t want the traditional hotel? Look no further than A Chateau on the Bayou Bed & Breakfast, just 15 minutes away from Houma. This Bed and Breakfast is in a central location making activities endless. Enjoy the relaxing stay on the bayou.

The best part about this Bed and Breakfast is that they have so many options and packages for you to choose from. You can even plan a girls trip! Check out their website for more awesome options.

Waterproof Plantation

Traveling with an RV and need a place to park it? Hideaway Ponds is a RV resort that is located in Gibson, Louisiana, just 20 minutes from central Houma. Hideaway Ponds has their own map which can be printed out and used by their guest to find the activities on the sight.

Some of the amenities include: a dog park, a fishing pond, a catfish pond, a pool, a club house, a laundry station and paddle boats. The resort is a vacation in itself!

Courtyard by Marriott

Want to go for the more traditional route? Courtyard by Marriott offers many amenities for those who are seeking. The Bistro at the hotel has many food and drink options for its guest. There is wifi throughout the hotel, free of course. There is even an outdoor and indoor pool.

Need to host a business event? Courtyard offers more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space. Completely equipped with “state of the art audio visual equipment with multimedia capability”.

3 Places to Eat

Cristiano Ristorante

Cristiano Ristorante offers northern Italian cuisine; using only local and fresh ingredients. Located in Houma, this restaurant gives you some italian heritage while still experiencing southern hospitality. Their menu offers endless options, they even offer brunch and a brunch menu.  

Big Al’s Seafood Restaurant

Wanting a more cajun casual restaurant? Big Al’s Seafood Restaurant has exactly what you’re looking for. Offering boiled and fried seafood dishes. Even alligator is a huge hit on their menu. Recently they added Charbroiled Oysters and guest can’t stop asking for them. They even cater!

Bilello’s Cafe

Craving a Poboy? Bilello’s Cafe has almost anything you could think of. Not a fan of Poboys? Their menu also offers pasta.  All you have to do is check out their Gallery page to see some of their delicious meals. But make sure you have eaten before you look because you might end up driving to Houma to get a taste.

For more Louisiana related articles, click here.

Benny Cenac, Houma Philanthropist, Supports Local Foundation

Benny Cenac, Houma philanthropist and owner of Cenac Marine Services, has always been a big supporter of the Bayou Community Foundation (BCF). Rightfully so, as it has invested more than $1 million in grants for critical community needs since 2013. Cenac had a large part in the creation of the foundation as he secured the initial funding given from The Gheens Foundation totaling upwards of $250,000 which was used to jumpstart it.  The Gheens Foundation, Inc. was established in 1957 by C. Edwin and Mary Jo Gheens to continue their lifelong interests in education, religious programs and human services.  Mr. Gheens, a Louisville native whose father and uncle were successful in the wholesale grocery business, was the owner of a large, successful candy manufacturing company in Louisville.  The family also owned a working plantation in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana which was rich in mineral resources.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Gheens were leaders in their church and active in other philanthropic, educational, and cultural endeavors in Louisville.  After Mr. Gheens’ death in 1961, Mrs. Gheens selected several friends to serve as Foundation Trustees. The trustees continued to oversee the work of the Foundation after her death in 1982.  At that time, foundation assets were valued at approximately $23,000,000.

The Gheens Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in Kentucky.  The Trustees oversee approximately $6.5 million in grants annually. Most of the grants are made in the Louisville area and support a wide variety of endeavors, including public education, economic development, medicine, the arts and social/health services.  The Gheens Foundation has distributed over $118,000,000 in charitable grants since its inception and today is valued at approximately $147,000,000.

Their mission? Much like Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr.’s mission for his community: “To improve the quality of life for all citizens and institutions of Metropolitan Louisville and Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes in Louisiana by creative grant-making and philanthropic leadership to meet the present and emerging needs of our communities.”

Since the initial securement of funds by Cenac from The Gheens Foundation, Mr. Benny Cenac, Houma businessman and philanthropist, has donated $10,000 yearly to help ensure the program has what it needs to continue serving the community.  As an avid community enthusiast, Mr. Cenac was thrilled when the BCF announced “grants totaling $230,000 to 29 non-profit organizations working in Lafourche, Terrebonne, and Grand Isle as part of the foundation’s largest grant program to date.”

“Today is an awesome day of celebration for BCF as we award grants for nonprofits that are changing people’s lives for the better and making our entire Bayou Region an even better place to live and work. We always say that Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle are special communities, and these 29 grant awards demonstrate the care and compassion we have for our fellow residents and our commitment to strengthening this unique place we call home,” said BCF Chairman Dr. James Leonard.

Benny Cenac, Houma entrepreneur has had a passion for supporting services, education, workforce development and coastal preservation for years.  He is known for donating resources to these causes both personally and professionally.  Therefore, the Bayou Community Foundation holds a very high level of importance to the Houma, LA based entrepreneur.  Since the birth of BCF in 2012, the foundation has been focused on building and sustaining our Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle communities by supporting local nonprofits that help our neighbors in need, provide educational opportunities to residents, and work to preserve our valuable coast.  This year’s grants will fund innovative programs that fill critical needs in our community by providing mental health care and addiction recovery programs, food and medicine for the poor and elderly, advocates for children in foster care, and tutoring and mentoring programs for at-risk youth, just to name a few.

Gifts from the Gheens Foundation, local family foundations, and other generous local donors support BCF’s grant-making program, focused on addressing the region’s most critical needs. Since 2013, BCF has awarded $1,012,270 in competitive grants to local nonprofits working in human services, education, workforce development, and coastal preservation.  The organization also conducts workshops for nonprofit organizations, coordinates the “Give Bayou” online giving effort, and conducts other programs designed to sustain and strengthen local nonprofits and our precious coastal community.

For more information on the BCF, click here.

Benny Cenac, Houma Philanthropist, Provides Donation

Benny Cenac, Houma Philanthropist and CEO of Cenac Marine Services, has always been dedicated in his endeavor to providing the absolute best for children and young adults when it comes to education. It has become a natural part of his practice to donate time and funds to several different schools, charities and programs. When he came across the opportunity to assist the Stella Learning Center in Houma, Louisiana, this was no different.

Stella Learning Center (SLC) is made up of highly skilled teachers in a positive teaching environment prepared with scientifically tested tactics that are used for instructional decision-making. SLC’s highly qualified staff works with individuals with Autism and related disorders.  This school provides a program that Benny Cenac, Houma Philanthropist, feels is important to the Houma area.

When describing the growth and changes of Stella Learning Center over the years, Lead Teacher, Daisy Alviar says, “When we originally opened the center, it was the first Autism and Related Disorders Learning Center in the tri-parish area. We started out by accepting children ages 10 years and older.  Our goal was to reach a population that so easily got lost in the public school system once they entered their Junior High School years.  As time went on, we expanded by adding two daycare classrooms that we could use as a way of mainstreaming children and doing our best to get them ready for their elementary school years.  All the while, we continued to work with young teenagers. Since, our young teenagers are now young men and women.  They have begun transitioning into group homes, high school, and adult programs. We continue to offer services for families of children with Autism and Related Disorders as a public service. However, the demographics have changed from older children to a younger population.  Yet, the mission remains the same:  To improve the lives of individuals with autism and related disabilities through the provision of high quality, accessible educational programs designed to enhance the individuals’ opportunities to achieve their full potential.”

Some of the many donations Mr. Cenac made to Stella Learning center included two scholarships for older students, the purchase of a curriculum for Stella Learning Center’s Pre-School classroom, much needed mulch in their playground, 2 computers that will be used both for book keeping and classroom lessons as well as assistance with operational costs that help SLC continue to stay open.

Schools like SLC are few and far between although the need is great.  The current protocol in most school districts is to integrate children with disabilities into mainstream classrooms. Separating kids based on ability—the old model of the special-ed classroom—is now seen as discriminatory and stigmatizing. Advocates for integration say it helps children with special needs build social skills and it develops compassion among non-disabled ones. But like so many ideas that are terrific in theory, integration is often disastrous in practice.  Because of this, many children with special needs fall between the cracks once they hit junior high.

Here’s the problem: Teachers in mainstream classrooms rarely have the education or expertise to work with complex disabilities that include difficulties with behaviour. Rates of diagnoses of autism, for instance, are growing exponentially, and kids with conditions like this require very particular accommodation, including high teacher-to-student ratios, educators with extensive and specialized training, additional therapists and mental health workers, and environments designed to reduce stress.

Typically, though, integration involves simply sticking children with special needs in a regular classroom and providing them with limited and inconsistent support. Managing a busy classroom with ever-dwindling resources is demanding, and teachers are already overextended. Now imagine adding a child (or several children) who are hyper-sensitive to sound and touch, or who require one-on-one attention to decode a paragraph of text, or who are prone to explosive fits.

What’s more, research indicates that a teacher’s attitude toward integration is a huge factor in whether it will succeed or fail. Not surprisingly, a lot of teachers begrudge being assigned children with special needs—especially when they know they won’t get the resources to support those kids properly. All of this results in the exact opposite of what integration is supposed to achieve. Instead of making children with special needs feel included, they wind up feeling unwelcome and resented by both their teachers and their classmates. And instead of non-disabled children learning compassion, they end up afraid or disdainful of disabled kids.

The overuse of suspensions, expulsions and exclusions suggests that schools don’t have the funding or proficiency to meet their obligations to children with special needs. Integration—however noble the original intent—is failing both children with disabilities and their non-disabled classmates.

SLC is highly trained and knowledgeable and they know exactly what accommodations students need to succeed so that they don’t fall through the cracks.  Daisy Alviar replied to the donation with gratitude by stating, “Mr. Cenac has provided us with the funds needed to continue working toward our mission.” Mr. Benny Cenac and the Cenac Team are so happy and proud to assist this amazing educational organization that has the best vision in mind for our local youth. We look forward to seeing the growth of Stella Learning Center over the years to come.

To learn more about Benny Cenac, Houma Philanthropist, and his community efforts please visit us here.


Benny Cenac, Houma, Renews Sportfishing Membership

As the owner of Cenac Marine Services, Benny Cenac Jr.’s roots are tied very deeply to all forms of recreational aquatic activity and restoration. This explains perfectly why he has become a longtime member of the Center For Sportfishing Policy (CSP) based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The mission of the CSP “is to maximize opportunity for saltwater recreational anglers by organizing, focusing and engaging recreational fishing stakeholders to speak with one voice to shape federal marine fisheries management policy.”

The CSP is made up of a board of directors, all with a common goal in mind. They are constantly listening to the angler’s feedback not only to look out for the betterment of the fishermen but the marine life as well. Mr. Cenac has spent years as an avid benefactor for the gulf coast region and strong supporter of coastal wetland restoration. He is especially fond of his involvement with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. It is for that reason, Mr. Benny’s innate passion for marine conservation and advancement corresponds directly with the duty of the Center For Sportfishing Policy.

There is a lot of work done behind the scenes that many people aren’t aware of when it comes to recreational saltwater fishing. While there are decisions being made on Capitol Hill that could positively or negatively affect ocean wildlife, the CSP is there to bring a wealth of knowledge and preparation to fight for the best outcome.  And these decisions are not light ones absent of controversy. Recreational anglers provide a greater economic impact than industrial commercial fishermen: America’s 11 million recreational saltwater anglers make a combined economic contribution of $63 billion annually, spend $26.5 billion each year, and generate 440,000 American jobs.  Recreational anglers have led the way to maintain sustainable fish populations and protect habitats. Recreational anglers contribute to habitat restoration, and their license fees pay for management and restoration conducted by state agencies. They, along with fishing equipment manufacturers, have developed fishing tackle and best practices that reduce fish mortality. Building and preserving healthy fish stocks is in the best interest of all Americans.  This plays a huge role in the reasoning behind Benny Cenac’s support of the organization. 

Current law favors industrial commercial fishing at the expense of recreational anglers by severely limiting access to our waters. In some cases, recreational anglers are only permitted to fish a handful of days each year. This is a dramatic decrease from past policy.

A most recent issue that was shared on the Center For SportFishing Policy facebook page involves a federal decision that was made that threatens swordfish, one of the most sought after sports fish, and leaves conservationist astonished. The CSP, along with several other concerned organizations are said to be working to encourage the Administration to take another look at this controversial and contradictory decision.  The Center for Sportfishing Policy aims to make fishing fair by fixing marine fisheries management. Our goal is to sustain healthy fish stocks and ensure our ocean fisheries remain truly public resources available to all Americans.

To read more about the CSP, click here, and to read more about Benny Cenac’s support of other local organizations, please read here.

Benny Cenac Jr Provides Scholarship

Benny Cenac Jr, Houma Philanthropist, recently made  a donation that will make the 2017-2018 school year at Vandebilt Catholic High the first of many for the Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. Sacred Heart Scholarship Fund. The donation of $50,000 per year is directly provided from Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. and his foundation, The A.B. Cenac Jr. Foundation.

The Sacred Heart scholarship is inspired by Fr. Andre Coindre who established schools for the poor children in Lyon, France. He later founded the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to run the schools he began. Fr. Coindre showed concern for the dilemma of orphaned children by making available to them the education that their families could not give them as well as provide them with a trade. The goal of the Sacred Heart Scholarship is to offer quality Catholic education to children from families that might otherwise not be financially able to afford one. Benny Cenac Jr,  Houma Philanthropist and CEO of Cenac Marine Services, has long been a supporter of local education.  He believes investing in the education now, means a brighter future for our area in the future.

The amount of $50,000 will be dedicated towards tuition assistance of children from families in financial need. The awards will range from $1,000 to the total cost of tuition per year and may extend multiple years while a student is enrolled at Vandebilt Catholic High. The criteria for being eligible for this grant will be based on need, desire, recommendation and selection.

With this generous contribution, students are already being rewarded with the ability to receive or continue receiving their Catholic High School education. Tears of joy along with heartfelt thank you cards have been received by the foundation from the families of these young men and women. For one reason or another, these households are unable to afford to send their children to Vandebilt Catholic High but through Mr. Cenac’s gracious impact he has helped nine families change their lives forever, just this year. We look forward to seeing the impression this scholarship fund has in the years to come. “The influence of a great education is something that cannot be replaced. I want to make sure I am doing my part in helping these young adults achieve greatness along with building strong core values of integrity and excellence,” said Benny Cenac Jr, Houma Businessman and supporter of local education efforts.

Fr. Andre Coindre

Father Andre Coindre, founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, was born in Lyon, France, in 1787. Devoting his life to the restoration of the Church following the Reign of Terror at the end of the French Revolution, his chief mission became the moral, intellectual, and religious development of young orphan boys left in distress by the consequent disintegration of family life.

Father Coindre had envisioned a community of brothers trained to work with the poor through the establishment of schools; in 1821 that dream became a reality with the formation of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. After Father Coindre’s death in 1826 and at the end of Father Francis Coindre’s administration, Brother Polycarp, the first Brother Superior General, assumed leadership of the struggling community. His tenure was marked by a period of tremendous growth. By the time of his death in 1859, the Institute had grown to over 400 Brothers in 70 schools.

In January of 1847 at the request of Bishop Portier, five missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart arrived in Mobile, Alabama, to begin charitable and educational work. With a presence in the United States, the congregation began its transformation into a worldwide institute, spreading throughout North America in the South, New York and New England areas and into Canada.

The Brothers live by their Sacred Rule of Life #13:  To be a member of the institute today is to be believe in God’s love, to live it, and to spread it. It is to contribute as religious educators to the evangelization of the world particularly through the education of youth.

The Brothers of the Heart of Jesus will also frequently remember these words of Jesus Christ: “I have come to bring fire to the earth. How I wish it were blazing already.”

For more information on the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, click here.  For more information on Benny Cenac Jr, Houma Philanthropist, and his work, click here.