This month, the Community Foundation of Acadiana celebrates 20 years of creating legacies and improving communities by connecting all giving people to the causes they care about.
Unlike other non-profit organizations, CFA is generally not the ultimate beneficiary. Rather, the foundation helps donors establish funds and direct funds to make grants to nonprofits, churches, schools, or other entities. Additionally, the foundation helps organize civic engagement opportunities for the betterment of communities across Acadiana.
This year, the main mission has become more important than ever. The foundation activated its Acadiana Disaster Response Fund after Hurricane Laura and kept it active after Hurricane Delta. Donations to the fund are used to support organizations working with the people and communities most affected by the storms.
“We are not a disaster organization, but over the years we have come to realize that a significant number of dollars that people entrust to us would benefit organizations that help people affected by disasters and emergencies,” declared Raymond Hébert, president and CEO of the foundation. Over a 20-year period, CFA has awarded over $50 million in disaster/emergency response funds.
Additionally, the foundation continues to work with organizations helping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year, the CFA has disbursed more than $1.5 million in pandemic-related grants.
The effects of the pandemic and hurricanes are expected to last several months. It’s one of the reasons CFA is already making plans for South Louisiana Giving Day. Registration opens in January and Giving Day will take place on May 6, 2021. In the meantime, there will be a giving period of approximately six weeks.
“South Louisiana Giving Day is not a CFA fundraiser,” Hebert explained. “This is a CFA Champions fundraising tool that provides access to all area nonprofits, churches, and schools. It’s a powerful social media-driven business that these organizations can put to good use as a strategic part of their own fundraising efforts.
Even after two decades of work, the foundation isn’t slowing down anytime soon. A major project underway is the establishment of local affiliates in each of the parishes CFA serves – Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin and Vermilion.
Additionally, the CFA has partnered with the Brown Foundation of Metairie this year to create the Leaders in Law Enforcement Awards. Hebert said the annual awards were given to a Louisiana sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office that do innovative, creative and effective work. This year’s awards went to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office and 40and Office of the Public Prosecutor. Each received a cash prize of $25,000 underwritten by the Brown Foundation.
“In those 20 years, we’ve learned a lot of things we can do that were never on our radar before,” Hebert said. “We live in a very entrepreneurial region. People aren’t afraid to take risks and be creative, and I think that spirit comes through in their philanthropy. We’re quite creative and quite nimble, so we’re able to do a lot to help people achieve their philanthropic goals.
FAQ: What you need to know about the Acadiana Community Foundation
What is the Acadiana Community Foundation?
The foundation was established in 2000 and is today the third largest community foundation in Louisiana. Its work falls into two main categories: stewardship and civic leadership.
“Stewardship is really at the heart of our business,” said CEO Raymond Hébert. “Individuals, families and businesses will come to us and set up charitable and philanthropic funds to fulfill their purpose. These funds benefit churches, schools, causes and non-profit organizations.
In terms of civic leadership, Hebert said the CFA tries to get involved in as many community projects and initiatives as possible. “We are able to participate in these initiatives thanks to the generous support of our members. Membership is an annual financial support of CFA’s civic leadership.
How many people regularly participate in the CFA?
The foundation has 7.5 staff members, 19 people on its board of directors and more than 50 volunteers on committees, including its affiliated parish councils. He also works with many professional advisors, including CPAs and financial advisors.
What is the primary mission of the foundation?
“Our standard primary goal is to create legacies and improve communities by connecting all giving people to the causes they care about,” Hebert said. “We want to grow and increase philanthropy. We want people to give more and we want more people to give. Our job is to meet donor goals and create legacies.
What are the main misconceptions about the foundation?
“We are fortunate to be in a beautiful building at River Ranch, and a misconception is that we spent a lot of money on this facility. In fact, the building was given to us,” Hebert said. Another misconception is that only very wealthy people can be part of the CFA, which is not true. Many people also think that they can only grant money locally. We can actually help with donations anywhere in the United States.
How can I find out more about the foundation?
Meet the leaders of philanthropy
For nine consecutive years, the Community Foundation of Acadiana has appointed leaders in philanthropy from each of the eight parishes it serves.
“It’s about honoring people who have contributed or helped rally the troops to tackle projects in their communities,” said CEO Raymond Hébert. “The feedback we’re getting is truly remarkable. Sometimes people don’t know what other people are doing, so this is a great way to share lots of good news about Acadiana. It’s very inspiring.
Due to the pandemic, the foundation has decided not to host Leaders in Philanthropy for 2020. However, the awards are expected to resume next year. In the meantime, here’s a look at all the previous Leaders in Philanthropy honorees from 2011 to 2019.
Parish of Acadia
Nancy Broadhurst, Donna Shetler Corley, Thelma “Te” and BI Moody III, Peggy and John Daniel Gielen III, Charlotte and Joe Freeland, Bobby and Molly Hanks, Raymond and Katherine “Kitty” Hensgens, Michael G. Francis, Ted and Judy Carmichael
Joan and Eugene Fontenot, Mary Alice and Leonard Fontenot, Rhonda and Frank Butler, Anita Fontenot, Kermit and Sheila Miller, Gervis LaFleur, Suzy Bulliard Lemoine, Dr. Charles J. Aswell III, Tim Fontenot
Parish of Iberia
Becky Gerami and Stewart Shea III, Mary Carol and Thomas R. LeBlanc, Sr., Lisa and Patrick Norris, Phil and Renee Haney, Johnny and Cathy Indest, Donald “Doc” Voorhies, Jerry and Harriet Shea, Sr., Ernest Freyou, Dr. Mike and Mrs. Tommye Halphen
Carolyn Doerle and Dr. William Schumacher, JoAnn and Nick Pugh, Emily Hamner and Michael Hamner, James Devin and Ruth Moncus, Paul Hilliard, Bob Lowe, Dwight “Bo” and Jerry Ramsay, Paula Woodson Blanchet, James “Jim” H. Prince
St. Landry Parish
The Walking Ladies, Bruce Gaudin, Patricia Mason-Guillory, Sue Soileau Brignac, Pat and Alice Morrow, Dr. Joe Wilson, Keith and Ginger Myers, Reggie and Marie Dupre, Bobby Dupre
St. Martin Parish
Cheryl and Michael Robicheaux, Lydia and Cyril Guidry, Coatney and Johnny Raymond, Ray and Catherine Poche, David Buck, Virginia Yongue, Jane G. Bulliard and Patricia D. Resweber, Ray Pellerin, Kenneth L. Fournet, MD
St. Mary Parish
Joy and Frank Guarisco, Alice and William Pecoraro, Gail and Alfred S. Lippman, Dr. Alan M. Hoberman and Dr. Mildred S. Christian, Sylvia and Fulton C. “Butch” Felterman, Jr., John and Mary Lou Conrad, Dr. Thomas F. and Mrs. Glenna G. Kramer, RE “Bob” Miller, Gregory J. Hamer, Sr.
Charles Sonnier, Drs. Padmini “Pat” and Jagdish “Jack” Gupta, NR Broussard, Patrick Patout and Paul Patout, Mary Ellen Sonnier, Jim and Charlotte Doyle, Nathan Granger, Eugene M. Sellers
Community Impact Award
Margaret H. Trahan, Dr. Terry Cromwell
Cleco, Travel Machine, Berard Transportation, Acadian Companies, Chevron – Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Cabot Corporation, Van Eaton & Romero, LLC, a Latter & Blum Company; stone energy