Area coalition holds meeting, honors essay contest winners

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Washington Parish Coalition on Human Services (WPCHS) held its October meeting at ADAPT. The guest speaker was Paul Thibodeaux from the Washington Parish Coroner’s Office. Thibodeaux has served as an investigator for 13 years with the Coroner. Part of his responsibility is to determine the cause of death.

Bogalusa AARP Chapter 4032 and WPCHS jointly announced the 2020 Census High School Essay Contest Winners. First place winner, LaShayla Jones, a Bogalusa High School student, received a check for $500. Second place winner, Faith Warren, a Franklinton High School student, received a check for $250. Third place winner, Shavantae’ Sims, a Bogalusa High School student, received a check for $100. Emma Dixon, AARP president, congratulated the winners, and thanked all of the committee members, and ADAPT for its support. She recognized representatives from the school systems which included Paul Kates, Bogalusa City School Board president; Nicholas Mcintosh, Bogalusa High School principal; Frances Varnado, Washington Parish School Board superintendent; and Mike Ingram, Washington Parish School Board supervisor of child welfare and attendance.

Reports were given by members. Tiffany Crain, ADAPT Administrative Assistant, announced that ADAPT is continuing to offer all services, including the sexual assault services which are free. ADAPT has opened an office in Franklinton on Cleveland Street to primarily provide sexual assault services. Rhonda Gunnell, ADAPT/PFS Director, reported that Prevention Connection/Partnership for Success meetings are held each month at 8:30 a.m., prior to the WPCHS meeting. The meetings are open to anyone who would like to join forces in reducing underage drinking and substance use by youth.

Regina Meyerchick, WPCHS Drug Free Communities Director, announced that 80 youth have completed applications to be a member of the Washington Parish Youth Coalition, which is a branch of WPCHS. Ginger Champagne, ADAPT/PFS Epidemiologist, reported that churches are being asked to form partnerships with and provide substance abuse/misuse prevention materials for congregation members. Outdoor movie screenings with a prevention message are also available for churches that are interested.

Gloria Kates gave a brief overview of the attempts being made to bring a Hookah Lounge to Bogalusa. WPCHS supported the comprehensive smoke free ordinance which was adopted by the City of Bogalusa in 2016. According to the CDC, hookah is not a safe alternative to tobacco and can cause some of the same health issues that are caused by tobacco. The Bogalusa City Council will hold a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m., at Bogalusa City Hall. Members are invited to attend and voice their opinions.

Glory Davis, WPCHS president, reminded everyone to vote in the upcoming election. She also asked members to complete a nomination form for WPCHS officers and committees for the 2021 year. Greta Williams, Regina Coeli/Bogalusa Head Start, announced that they are serving smaller numbers of children who are 3 and 4 years old, due to COVID-19. Emma Dixon, AARP president, announced that AARP is partnering with Southeast Legal Law Services (SLLS) to aid the low-income population. Wendy Henley, Beacon Behavioral Health, announced that outpatient therapy for substance abuse is being provided at the Bogalusa Office. Katasha August, Bogalusa High School Health Center, reported the continuation of services to students who have health needs.

Attendees at the October meeting included Rhonda Gunnell, Ginger Champagne, Glory Davis, Emma Ross, Regina Meyerchick, Frances Varnado, Faith Warren, Dawn Warren, Kelvin Warren, Tiffany Crain, LaShayla Jones, Alfred Jones, Gloria Kates, Paul Thibodeaux, Maddie Champagne, Greta Williams, Paul Kates, Nicholas Mcintosh, Shavontae’ Sims, Mary Sims, Mike Ingram, Katasha August, Emma Dixon, Elbert Buckley, Jr., Buffie Passaro, Alice Sherrard, Bruce Sampson, Valerie Jordan, Wendy Castillo, Wendy Henley, Alicia Blades, Donna Davis, Dana Walker, Toni Staton and Lori Chopin.

The next scheduled meeting for WPCHS will be on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 9:30 a.m. at ADAPT, located at 216 Memphis St. in Bogalusa. Meetings are open to the public. For more information, contact Rusty Fornea at 985-735-0160.