Special Events

Zonta Rose Day

In conjunction with International Rose Day, each spring the Zonta Club of Lafayette chooses a Community Woman of Achievement for her outstanding giving of self, time and monies through out her life. 

2016 Woman of Achievement Award Winner

Billi Lacombe, Executive Director, Faith House

 


Mary Neiheisel, Immediate Past President;

Billi Lacombe, Woman of Achievement;

and Kay Rockweiler, President.

 

Ms. Lacombe has been selected as the Zonta Lafayette Woman of Achievement for 2016. Billi is the Executive Director of Faith House. Faith House is a private, non-profit program for survivors of domestic violence and their children. The program has seven components: an emergency shelter, non-residential program, a transitional housing program, permanent housing program, 24-hours crises line, a public education program and two Family Justice Centers. Faith House supports services for domestic abuse survivors and their children in seven Louisiana parishes, Acadia, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Lafayette, Rapides, St. Landry and Vermilion. The shelter is located in Lafayette.
Billi is an exemplary steward of the resources and program at Faith House and a leader in the state for domestic violence advocacy.  She has served the community for 18 years at Faith House and worked as Legal Advocate, Survivor Advocate, Outreach Advocate, Program Director and Executive Director. She has been Executive Director for the last 14 years. Her soft spoken demeanor and attitude are a welcome change from usual leadership styles. She is respected and admired by her board of directors and her staff. Her expertise is regularly requested by other shelters and advocacy groups around the state. She was instrumental is working with supporters and advocates in the Alexandria area in the development and fruition of the Justice Center. Her staff was also successful in opening a Justice Center in Lafayette. Faith House was recognized by the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence as the Organization of the Year for 2016!
Billi will be honored at a dinner in November. Please check back for more information.
Learn more about Faith House at faithhouseacadiana.com

 

The following October 23, 2015 article in The Advocate by Patricia Gannon talks about the
g ood works accomplished by Sr. Carmelita Latiolais, S.E.C., and Broussard resident Pam Zuschlag, who is raising funds for the education of the African girls Sr. Carmelita is helping.


Broussard woman sews quilt to aid teen girls in Africa

 

 


Sister Carmelita Latiolais with her African girls

 

Pam Zuschlag with the qulit she made for the raffle to support Sister Carmelita Latiolais' girls

 

Growing up isn’t easy for high school girls, but it shouldn’t be as hard as it is in Kibera, Africa.
Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, there are a million residents crowded into Kibera’s nearly 600 acres. It’s through this densely populated slum Kibera girls must walk everyday to school. Sister Carmelita Latiolais would like to change that.
“When you see the men sitting on the side, you know these girls are at risk,” said Latiolais, who works at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville.
Assault is not the only danger lurking on the way to school. Government resources are limited, sanitation is poor and the water is unclean, Latiolais said. Not encouraged to study at home, only 5 percent of east African girls finish secondary school although studies show if girls are educated, the entire family fares better, she said.
“Kibera girls are in need of safe housing and education,” said Latiolais, a teacher with Sisters of the Eucharistic Covenant, a Lafayette diocese order whose mission is to create a sense of dignity and presence in the community of people they serve.
The only member of her order to ever travel there, Latiolais has visited Kibera three times with the Kenyan Children Foundation, and, inspired by a trip in 2014, realized what these girls really needed was a dormitory.
The dorm will be built in Soweto.
“Children are happy to go to school, happy to learn,” she said. “It’s a safe haven for them. The single most effective way to raise standards is to educate girls.”
The work is costly as materials have to be transported. The new dorm will include a laundry, kitchen and bathroom and will replace a small, makeshift room of wall-to-wall bunkbeds that serves 40 girls, Latiolais said.
Thus far, Latiolais has raised $40,000 in donations toward construction, which is estimated will cost at least $200,000.
“We are closing in on $50,000 and hoping to get a matching grant, but one hasn’t come through,” she said.
Broussard resident Pam Zuschlag went to Kenya with Latiolais and after seeing the extreme poverty first hand, came up with the idea to make a quilt. She’d never quilted before and had to consult Helen St. Amand at the A & A Sewing Center in Broussard.
“They showed me what to do, and I went home and did it,” said Zuschlag. “Once I got the colors together, I was on a mission to get it done. It’s my way of expressing all the best in the women of Africa.”
She has completed the African-inspired 57-by-72-inch quilt to help raise funds to house the teen girls. Chances to win the quilt before Christmas are being raffled for $5.
Zuschlag and Latiolais are also making jewelry from 50 pounds of Kazuri clay beads given to them by a donor on their last trip with a request “to do something for the girls.” Kazuri means “small and beautiful.” It is an artisan operation employing single mothers, and the handmade bead factory is located on part of what used to the Karen Blixen estate made famous in Out of Africa.
“We just women trying to give back,” said Zuschlag. “After seeing it (Kibera), you feel like you want to do something. It’s a hard thing for an American woman to experience. They (the girls) need the tiniest things. It’s hard to open yourself up to it, but then you can’t look away.”
Tickets for the quilt raffle will be on sale until early December. The quilt will be shipped to the winner before Christmas.
For raffle tickets or more information, call Zuschlag at (337) 298-2080 or Latiolais at (337) 278-1410. Checks and donations may be made to Kenyan Children Foundation, Dorm Project, P.O. Box 631116, Highland Ranch, CO 80163.

 

Previous Women of Achievement Award Winners

1984
Dr. Mary Dichmann (deceased)  
1999
Clara Burke
1985
Lydia Fontenot  
2000
Ellen Landreneau
1986
Kathleen Blanco  
2001
Judy H. Broussard
1987
Maria Placer  
2002
Mary Moss
1988
Dr. Patricia Rickles (deceased)  
2003
Dr. Karolynn Echols
1989
Dr. Sarah Brabant  
2004
Rose H. Cormier
1990
Dr. Maureen Brennan  
2004
Linda Boudreaux
1991
Catherine Guilbeau  
2006
Dr. Doris Bentley
1992
Nancy Mounce  
2007
Ida Nezey (deceased)
1993
Jeanette Barras  
2008
Mary Neiheisel
1994
Sylvia Oats   2009 Marcelle Citron
1995
Carolyn French   2010 Dr. Marcia Gaudet
1996
Viva Periou
  2011 Dr. Amelie Hollier
1997
Patsy Martin      
1998
Mary Ellen Stegall