Rotary Club program honors Matt Leblanc

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Sonny Graugnard (left) presents Matt Leblanc with the honor of Rotarian of the year.

The Donaldsonville Rotary Club installation program included naming Juanita C. Pearley as the new president. But much of it was in order to honor Matt Leblanc for exceptional leadership as president.

Leblanc began his outgoing remarks to honor those who have led the club before him, but in turn became the focus for his outstanding leadership, particularly after the August flood of 2016.

"I would like to ask all past presidents to stand," said outgoing Donaldsonville Rotary Club President Matt Leblanc. "I would like to tell you thank you. It's because of you and your commitment to Rotary Club and the City of Donaldsonville that I'm able to stand with you (in fifteen minutes or so) as a past president. Thank you for keeping the Rotary Club alive."

Leblanc named the Paul Harris Fellows for the year. Recipients included Marvin Gros, Sonny Graugnard, Cliff Ourso, Dave Dubreuil, and Matt Leblanc earning his first.

"The Paul Harris Fellows recognizes individuals who contribute or have made contributions in their name of a thousand dollars to the Rotary Foundation of International," Leblanc said.

Moreover, Robyn Penn Delaney will serve as President Elect, Dave Leblanc will serve as Secretary/Treasurer, Chuck Leblanc will serve as Speaker Chair, and Matt Leblanc will function as Past President.

Dave Leblanc spoke kindly for Matt Leblanc's effort to apply for grant money after the east bank suffered massive devastation in the August Flood. The grant money was awarded from Rotary and went to the St. Amant Vol. Fire Department.

"Matt served as president of the Rotary Club for two years, but he really is defined by one event--the flood of 2016 on our friends on the east bank," Dave Leblanc said. "We literally were high and dry. We got a lot of rain, but we handled the rain we had. Some people would have said it's not our problem. Well, Matt decided that wasn't a good response. We raised $22,000.

"You know, there's a natural divide unfortunately between Donaldsonville and Gonzales. It's called the river. And that natural divide is more than just the river. There are underlying tensions, politically and otherwise, and this, our response to the flood, led by Matt really kind of brought the sides together. And in fact it brought the Fire Chief of St. Amant to tears.

"He said, 'Donaldsonville Rotary Club is doing this for us?' I can't believe it . . . Matt looked at it like, 'Why wouldn't we?'"

Sonny Graugnard also presented Matt Leblanc with the honor of Rotarian of the Year.