“225 Gives” to Support Local Nonprofits

Despite the various events and challenges that have been brought to Louisiana this year, there’s still an opportunity to support about 200 Baton Rouge-area nonprofit organizations in the form of 225 Gives, a year-end opportunity for people to give online support and donations to local nonprofits, as detailed in an Advocate article earlier this month.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation recently teamed up with the Capital Area United Way to promote 225 Gives, a donation-based campaign that began with a week-long giving period, leading up to the 24-hour event known in nonprofit circles as ”Giving Tuesday.” This is an annual day for dedicated donating that takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, once the commercialized events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are out of the way.

The nonprofit community was hit particularly hard by the rescheduling of spring fundraisers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Most fundraisers rescheduled to the Fall were delayed once again, prolonging the support that many in the community have come to expect. Ethan Bush, the director of 225 Gives believes that this combined effort from BRAF and CAUW couldn’t have come at a better time.

“A lot of the nonprofits I’ve worked with or discussed are somewhere 40% to 60% down on their fundraising efforts. They’ve been heavily affected this year,” Bush told the Advocate.

The 225 Gives campaign seeks to raise approximately $4.225 million for the charities, a giving goal that was determined by analyzing how much was earned in the first year of other Giving Tuesday programs in cities with a similar size to Baton Rouge. That figure was estimated through thorough analysis and “marketing savvy” to be $4 million, and the decimal number is reflective of the region’s area code and the community needing the support, Baton Rouge’s 225.

With this effort, Baton Rouge becomes the fourth metro area in Louisiana to create an official “Giving Day.” The other nonprofit donation efforts heralded across the state are: the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s GiveNOLA,which raised approximately $7.2 million for 835 organizaitons from over 68,000 donations; the Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s Give For Good, which raised roughly $2 million for 237 organizations from over $10,000 donations; and the Community Foundation of Acadiana’s “South Louisiana Giving Day,” which has raised $867,000 for 95 organizations from more than 2,500 donations.

Baton Rouge’s 225 Gives is a welcome addition to Louisiana’s statewide spectrum of Giving Tuesday efforts, and similar to its neighboring programs, it will provide financial incentives to those participating organizations and an online platform allowing them to see just how much is being raised by donors and other nonprofits.

The Nonprofit organizations earning the most in their “size category” on Giving Tuesday as well as nonprofits meeting special criteria in various other categories (such as most unique donors or most donations within a certain time period) will be rewarded with financial incentive from a dedicated “Challenge Fund,” estimated to be about $500,000. This fund is contributed to by 225 Gives sponsors such as BRAF, CAUW, the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, thePennington Foundation, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Though it’s just beginning this year, Director Ethan Bush says that 225 Gives will become an annual event, and it won’t always be ties to a specific date like Giving Tuesday, saying, ““We should find every avenue and resource to help our nonprofits collaborate, create a spirit of giving, really energize together with our community with our donors and our supporters, and we don’t want to ever take away from each one’s individual fundraising goals. We just want to be an added resource within their plans, their struggles and the things they have going on year-in and year-out.”

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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.

Benny Cenac of Houma Donates to the Oh La La Theatre Series at Nicholls State University

Benny Cenac, CEO of Cenac Marine Services of Houma, Louisiana, was happy to announce a donation to Nicholls State University’s second annual popular Oh Là Là theater series. The event, which has attracted a variety of audiences in the region, includes music originating in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s from the beaches of California to the heart and soul of Motown, all held at the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Thanks to the gracious gift by Benny Cenac, a Houma native, the donations were puts towards several funds and projects necessary to make the show a reality, including renovations on the Mary and Al Danos Theater totaling upwards of $9.6 Million. In addition, Benny Cenac, who has always been a major proponent for the arts and education, was grateful to see the growth of the event that started the year prior.

In a statement by Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls State University President, the name Oh Là Là is an homage to Al Danos, who enjoyed conversing in French. The Danos family, whose parents graciously donated $1 million toward the theater’s renovation, released a statement in support of Nicholls’ upcoming series.

“Mom and Dad would have loved this and attended every show,” The Danos family said. “Oh Là Là is exactly what Dad had in mind when he started raising money for the theater.”

Benny Cenac: Supporter of the Arts & Conservation Efforts in Houma

Benny Cenac, who is a graduate of Nicholls State University himself, expressed his gratitude to his alma mater in putting on this incredible event for the community members of Houma, and is always grateful for the opportunity to contribute to events that bring the community together. Benny Cenac has also served on the Nicholls State Foundation board, Nicholls State College of Business Advisory Board, and previously donated golf carts to the Nicholls State University Bridge to Independence Program.

Benny Cenac Houma donates to Nicholls State Oh La La Theater Series in Louisiana
The first half of the Series began in October of 2018, featuring Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute, The Victory Belles, and The Diamonds who performed an incredible holiday

The first half of the Series began in October of 2018, featuring Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute, The Victory Belles, and The Diamonds who performed an incredible holiday show. The second half of the series will kick off with The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. Then it’s The Chipper Experience: Where Comedy and Magic Collide at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 before the series closes with Shadows of the 60’s: A Tribute to Motown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 16.

According to an article by Nicholls State University, The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is a full-scale symphonic orchestra located in New Orleans. Founded in 1991, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest full-time musician-governed and collaboratively-operated orchestra in the United States.

Chipper Lowell brings his popular show, the Chipper Experience, which combines clean, but edgy, comedy with quirky magic and hilarious banter with audience members. His shows, which have been admired by many, have been known to include a flying turtle, juggling medieval weaponry, tossing body parts, bizarre stunts, mind-reading and zany inventions. Lowell’s television appearances include Masters Of Illusion, Don’t Blink, The Tonight Show, Disney Channel, Empty Nest, The MDA Telethon, Show Me The Funny!, General Hospital, America’s Funniest People and Everybody’s Talking.

As an avid philanthropist and Houma native, Benny Cenac is always fortunate for the opportunity to support the arts and educational inspirations of those in his beautiful community of Houma. In addition to managing several local businesses, Benny Cenac also manages his own refuge in Houma where he cares for a variety of different animals at Golden Ranch Farms – Louisiana’s largest privately owned animal refuge.

In addition, Benny Cenac has also donated to conservation efforts in Houma, where he has taken a leading role in protecting the states’ pristine coast from coastal erosion. Even on several of his own properties in Houma, Benny Cenac has instilled these conservation efforts as he continues to protect the land with flood control structures.

In regard to this incredible event, upper-level season tickets are available for $150 and single tickets are $30, while lower-level season tickets are $180 and single tickets are $35. To purchase tickets for the upcoming series, call Jeanne-Morgan Gernon at 448-4270 or email at jm.gernon@nicholls.edu.

For more on Oh La La, click here.

To learn more on Benny Cenac philanthropic efforts, click here.

To learn more about Benny Cenac’s conservation efforts, 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.