By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – When a couple dozen community business leaders put their heads together to create lasting projects to benefit the Slidell area you can bet the variety of ideas are far-reaching.
That is the case again with the 2017 class of Leadership Northshore, a non-profit organization that offers a nine-month whirlwind of educational opportunities about the community for upcoming and established business leaders.
A key component of Leadership Northshore each year is for the class to be broken down into smaller teams where all must develop an idea for a “lasting community project.”
For over 20 years the Leadership teams have contributed an incredibly amazing array of community projects for Slidell that can be seen all over town to this day. This year’s class unveiled four new ones for 2017.
Among the projects are a final resting place for indigents who currently have no one paying for them to be buried, a snoball on wheels truck for local law enforcement to connect with area residents and children, an Olde Towne history project that involves a walking tour of the area, and an Easter event to engage first responders with children.
Cruisin’ for a Cause
Team One explained their project that will have a two-fold purpose: first is to raise money to bury indigents in St. Tammany Parish who otherwise are left on a shelf in the St. Tammany Coroner’s building, and the second purpose is to raise money to sponsor one of the rooms in the Hospice House of St. Tammany, where families with financial hardship need assistance to have a place to live as they deal with a terminal illness.
The team is made up of Tanya Allen, Maritza Perez, Gayle Green, Wendy Shipley, Mel Carter and Ashleigh Taylor.
Cruisin’ for a Cause will be a car show at the Northshore Harbor Center on Sunday, April 30 that will raise $6,000 for a mausoleum to be used for burials of indigents, while also funding sponsorship of the room at the Hospice House.
The group said they were drawn to end-of-life issues facing St. Tammany residents with financial hardship. Probably most shocking was when they learned there are currently 125 boxes of cremains at the parish Coroner’s Office of indigents never buried, or remains that were never claimed by any relative.
“No one should have their cremains abandoned on a shelf somewhere,” said one team member.
The group found that a Covington funeral home will erect a mausoleum for cremated remains at a cost of $6,000, and that will then become the place for anyone in St. Tammany who die, and never have a relative claim their remains.
Additionally, the group will sponsor one of the three rooms operated by the Hospice of the South Foundation at their Hospice House, which accepts terminal individuals in the final days of their life for free, since there are some people in that situation who don’t have the means to go to a nursing home, or be taken by a family member.
Team two was guided to the issue of law enforcement image after their discussions about a project highlighted the need to get the community to connect more with police officers.
“Our goal is to create a fun way to open conversations between the community and law enforcement, while delivering public safety information,” team member Noelle Williams said.
Other team members are Karen Taylor Delhom, Eva Moore, Ralph Morel, Jennifer Cenci and Melissa Kappel.
In light of public attacks on police officers across the nation, the team researched the topic to find ways to improve that relationship. They found a story about the Dayton, Ohio Police Department that had purchased a vehicle and turned it into an ice cream truck. The officers made regular appearances around town and gave out free ice cream, which opened the door for dialogue with residents and children.
Opertion Sneaux will tweak that idea by outfitting a Sheriff’s Office and Slidell Police vehicle with an ice machine to make snoballs. The team will supply all the cups, straws, flavorings and more to make the snoballs.
“This especially will introduce officers to young people and build the trust factor,” another team member said. “It seems simple, but it opens up conversations.”
The group will sell car magnets as one of their fundraising ideas, while also soliciting sponsorships and holding gift basket raffles.
They suggested one idea of a business putting their name on the cups as a way to increase sponsorships.
Olde Towne Slidell
History Scroll Stroll
Team three is approaching a topic that no previous teams have taken on and that is a walking tour of Olde Towne with metal scrolls posted throughout the region to teach locals about the history of Slidell’s beginning.
Contracting with an Olde Towne business, artist Joel Geiger of I.D.eel Design Gallery, the group is also working with graphic designer Tommy St. Clair to design a vinyl decal that will overlay metal scrolls created by Geiger.
The scrolls with history information will be erected at key spots in the Olde Towne area, and combine with a walking tour that will tell the history of different buildings and regions.
Team members are Alex Carollo, Bethany Anderson, Kristi Boudreau, Sharon Hosch, Jess Steelman and Lenny Williams.
The team is partnering with the Olde Towne Slidell Main Street group to maintain the project after this year, while Bonnie Vanney, a local historian, has helped with information from the Slidell Museum.
Carollo said he came upon a Facebook post of a fourth grade Girl Scout troop who wanted to take a walking tour of Olde Towne, but didn’t know where to learn the history to go with it. That led to the group’s plan that currently includes stops at City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, the Slidell Museum, the Mardi Gras Museum, the train depot and more.
Team four will engage first responders with the Boys and Girls Club young people in an Easter event that will be held on Saturday, April 1. The idea is to build on the connection of young people to policemen, firemen and other first responders to improve the trust between the two groups.
Team members are Alison Rooney Mitchell, Ann Duvic, Kevin Power, Tonya Zeigler and Valerie Buckingham.
The special day will include activities for kids from kindergarten to the eighth grade, an Easter egg hunt, music, and many other games. There will be displays set up in the parking lot of the Boys and Girls Club to educate the young people on all the first responders do. Additionally, free concessions will be given out.