September 30, 2016 – Sue Strachan
It was 10 a.m. and the wait staff in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel Empire Ballroom were ready with the champagne and mimosas for patron party attendees at the St. Elizabeth’s Guild 46th annual Volunteer Activist Luncheon.
Early birds also got a jump-start on the silent auction, the parade of prizes (with 80 items to win), and the raffle of two tickets on Southwest Airlines.
Emcee Tommy Capella was entertaining and engaging throughout the luncheon on Sept. 23. He started the official program by introducing St. Elizabeth’s Guild President Cindy Wooderson, followed by Irma Thomas singing the National Anthem. Archbishop Gregory Aymond gave the invocation, and also spoke to the crowd about the Catholic Charities program that St. Elizabeth’s supports: Padua House (residential program for those with intellectual disabilities who are medically fragile), St. John the Baptist Head Start (children and family development), Cornerstone Kids (mentors children who have at least one incarcerated parent), Isaiah 43 (parenting and mentoring program) and Therapeutic Family Services (matches children with behavioral or developmental problems, or medically fragile with families who provide specialized foster care).
Capella and Archbishop Aymond stayed on stage to introduce the 2016 honorees, chosen for their community work: John Besh, Karen DeBlieux, L.E. Eagan Jr., Diane Hollis, Jonathan Kernion, Natasia Kissinger, Doris Rappold, Darlene Robert, Pat Shane and Steve Stumpf. Previous honoree Marilyn Dittman was placed into the guild’s Hall of Fame. Separately honored with proclamations were three local officials from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office: Capt. Greg Lonero, Chief Deputy John Thevenot and Col. John Fortunato.
After lunch was served, The Mystics – resplendent in silver sequined jackets – performed Motown favorites, which has many of the ladies dancing by their tables. Another crowd favorite was the fashion show presented by Dillard’s, featuring celebrity models such as Arthur Hardy, Liz Reyes, Kathleen Robert, Jennifer Van Vrancken, Greg Reggio, Simone Crouere, James Michalopoulos, Genny Mae, and Darlene Costanza.
Those in the audience (many of whom were previous guild honorees) cheering them on were event co-chairs Nancy Colomb and Erin Shea Stahnke, Yvonne LaFleur, Christie Mintz, Virginia Eckholdt, John Boyd, Katherine Saer, Paul Leaman, Frank Stewart, Caroline Nabors Rosen, Kit and Fred Lipps, and Sr. Marjorie Hebert, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities.