There are twenty local chapters for The Arc throughout the state, all of which help employ individuals with intellectual disabilities and also provide them with the necessary training to get those jobs.

The Arc serves over one million people with intellectual disabilities.

There are more than 50,000 volunteers, 4,700 service locations, and about 7,000 board members contributing. It is part of the oldest charitable organization that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities.

On January 25, The Arc of Louisiana held its Annual Awards Banquet to recognize those within the organization who have done so much.

"Before, many of these people were just put into institutions," CEO Peter Burns of the Arc of the United States, who was in attendance at the event, said. "Together with The Arc, we establish basic income support, healthcare, and long-term support. We help move individuals out of institutions and into community settings."

There are twenty local chapters for The Arc throughout the state, all of which help employ individuals with intellectual disabilities and also provide them with the necessary training to get those jobs.

LCE Board president Liz Fussell presented the Direct Support Professional Awards. Winners of these awards include: Luke Barilleaux, Wanda James, Donna Session, Sandra Knockum of Donaldsonville, Jeanette Winfield of East Ascension, Licia Bruard, Junelynn Allen of Iberville, Arlinda Brown, Jeanette Firmin, Laurie Boquet, and William Jackson.

After these awards were presented and the individuals were recognized, lunch was served to the guests. This included a salad, entree, and dessert.

To close the event, the current Arc of Louisiana President Larry Pete presented The Arc of Louisiana Awards. Award recipients included:

--Educator of the Year, Margena Lewis, nominated by The Arc of Caddo-Bossier;

--Jeff & Nellie Guidry Volunteer Award, Elaine and William Boyle, nominated by The Arc of Baton Rouge;

--The Nick Berggreen Family Award, Sharon Blackburn, nominated by The Arc of Baton Rouge;

--Professional of the Year, Veronica Booksh, nominated by TARC, and Roma Kidd, nominated by ARCO;

--Media Award, WAFB Channel 9 News, nominated by The Arc of East Ascension;

--Community Achievement Award, Eugene Lee, nominated by TARC Caddo-Bossier;

--Lelia Shaw Award, Dennis 'Black' Roussel, nominated by TARC of St. Charles, and Willie Gibbons, nominated by TARC;

--The Reception Award, Camp Conquest, nominated by TARC Caddo-Bossier;

--Chapter Innovation Award, Upstart Camp, nominated by TARC St. Charles;

--Employer of the Year, Stage of Gonzales, nominated by TARC East Ascension;

--Lillian Walker Award, Ashley McReynolds and Liz Gary;

--Largest Membership Award to TARC Caddo-Bossier;

--Most Improved Membership to Beauregard Arc;

--Self-Advocate Award, Samantha Bourdier, nominated by Tarrebonne Arc;

--President's Award, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, nominated by the president of TARC of Louisiana.

Sponsors of the banquet included Thomas and Farr, Gulf Coat Office Products, TWRU, and Sterling Pharmacy.

"The DSP Awards are given to those who work as an attendant, a caregiver, or support worker among many of the jobs," Fussell said. "Those who are recognized have the skills that are needed to advance our organization, as well as the values that we truly believe in."

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