Taxi Fair
by Anitra D. Brown

Planting Seeds
by Mary Rickard

Lead Me On, Let Me Stand

by Orissa Arend

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George Curry
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To Your Health

LaCare, AmeriHealth Mercy build playground at Capdau

More than 80 volunteers, including some community members, joined representatives from the AmeriHealth Foundation and LaCare, in late October to install a playground and fitness center at Pierre Capdau Charter School on Canal Street.

LaCare, a member of the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies, is one of the health plans that participate in Bayou Health, Louisiana’s Medicaid managed care program. It currently has more than 155,000 members across the state.

The project at Capdau includes a playground, an outdoor fitness center, two basketball courts, and hopscotch. The playground is the fourth built by the Foundation’s Safe Playground Build program. With others in Columbia, S.C, Philadelphia, Penn., and York, Penn., the Capdau site marks the first in Louisiana by the organizations. And it proved to be one of the group’s most industrious undertakings.

“This is the first time we are building a playground, fitness center and two basketball courts in the same day,” says Maria Pajil Battle, president of AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation.

Capdau students presented representatives of LaCare, AmeriHealth and other volunteer groups with handmade thank-you cards just before the ribbon on the new playground was cut, at which time, the energetic students hurried onto the playground to test out the new equipment.

Capdau’s principal J’Vann Martin was moved to tears as a result of the donation. Martin says her students have needed a playground facility like the one donated by AMFC and LaCare and installed by dozens of volunteers for a long time.

The project is the latest demonstration of AMFC’s commitment to building a healthier Louisiana. AMFC also sponsored the 20th anniversary celebration for Shreveport’s David Raines Community Health Centers in August and has helped fund college scholarships for health-related education programs at Southern University in Shreveport.

But when the time came to build a playground for children, New Orleans stood out.

“We looked at which communities in our service area could most use a recreational facility, and New Orleans was an obvious choice for our first build with the AmeriHealth Mercy Foundation,” says Kathy Stone, executive director of LaCare. "Having this safe place to engage in physical activity will help put children in the school and the surrounding neighborhood on the path to good health and quality of life.”

Community honors Justice Bernette Johnson

After a racially-tinged legal battle to assume her rightful seat as the state Supreme Court’s next chief justice, Justice Bernette Johnson was recently recognized for her enduring spirit and leadership at a service at Christian Unity Baptist Church.

Dozens of community leaders including pastors, activists, elected officials and community members were on hand for the affair which was split into two parts. The first half of the evening was a “rally for justice and righteousness” that featured local activists calling on lawmakers to end educational injustice and corruption. The second half was a celebration in honor of Johnson’s innumerable accomplishments and historical appointment as the Louisiana Supreme Court's next chief justice. the first African American to serve in the post.

Orleans Parish School Board member Ira Thomas, sang a gospel tribute alluding to Johnson’s steadfast position in leading the fight for the seat.

The audience stood to their feet in resounding applause as Chief Justice Johnson took to the podium. She offered gratitude to supportive media outlets for fair coverage and praised the efforts of the local chapter of the NAACP, as well as, lawyer and activist Tracie Washington, an integral member of Johnson’s legal team. Johnson humbly thanked the church community.

“All of the faith community has undergirded me; your prayers have been heard and felt,” Johnson said scanning the room. “I truly appreciate what you’ve done for me throughout this long struggle.”

AmeriHealth establishes scholarship in honor of Gen. Honoré

AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies’ (AMFC) recently announced that it has endowed a professorship at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSUHSC-NO) School of Public Health in the amount of $100,000. The professorship will be named in honor of General Russel L. Honoré, who commanded the task force that coordinated relief efforts in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The endowment was officially announced at LSU’s Health Sciences Center in New Orleans in early November.

“This endowment will help LSUHSC-NO train the next generation of Louisiana’s public health leaders and is in line with our mission to build healthy communities,” said Michael A. Rashid, president and CEO of AMFC. “Improving public health education will play a critical role in helping the state improve access to quality care for the underserved.”

This commitment to Louisianans’ health and welfare dates back to Rashid’s grandfather, David Raines. A prosperous farmer, businessman, community builder and philanthropist, Raines donated 22 acres of land in Shreveport in 1934 for a facility to help troubled boys set a course for improving their lives. That land is now home to the main campus of David Raines Community Health Centers (DRCHC), which celebrated its 20th anniversary as an independent, federally qualified health center on Aug. 23.




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