Redefining Corporate Giving

Community Foundation of Acadiana spreads its giving message with a new campaign this holiday season. By Erin Z. Bass

Giving back frequently enters into the lexicon this time of year. While crossing names off their Christmas lists, shoppers often make time to volunteer at a community organization or make a donation before the New Year. Some may even consider making donations in others’ names, and businesses and corporations will encourage their employees to donate to a charity or purchase a gift for a child in need.

This holiday season, the Community Foundation of Acadiana is kicking off a new program that will make giving quick and easy with the click of a button — and hopefully spread throughout the community. Described as “retail gift cards with a twist,” CFA’s Giving Card Campaign encourages giving a gift of giving that’s also tax deductible. (CFA conducted a successful trial run of the program last year with Home Bank.)

Anyone can log on to CFA’s website at and purchase “giving” gift cards in increments of $25, $50 or $100. Cards arrive by mail within five days, and the giver can then wrap them up to give out as gifts. Card receivers redeem their cards on CFA’s site by choosing which nonprofit, charity or organization they want their funds to go to. (Cards can be redeemed to benefit any 501(c)(3) public charity in the U.S., including schools and churches, or any fund administered by CFA.)

To make it easy for card receivers to find the charity of their choice, the campaign goes hand in hand with CFA’s new DonorSense database. A work in progress, the database will eventually be a comprehensive list of all organizations in need in Acadiana, each with its own page and information, ranging from current programs to financial statements and names of board members.

CFA Director of Donor Relations Kate Wynne estimates that there are more than 900 nonprofits in Acadiana, a daunting number when people are trying to decide what to support. “In order to connect donors to needs and increase giving, we definitely need to be the bridge, the connector between all other nonprofits,” she says. “We’re trying to build understanding and awareness and make it easier to give.”

A big part of the Giving Card Campaign is corporate philanthropy, which Wynne says can attract new employees, boost employee morale and even increase revenue. “This whole corporate giving is a proven way to earn customer loyalty and trust,” she explains. “Customers want to see you stand behind something.”

Fenstermaker & Associates is the first company to sign on and, in lieu of a fruitcake or honey ham, will be giving its clients Giving Cards this season. “Every year we look for different and creative ways to send a gift of thanks to our clients,” says Fenstermaker Director of Business Communications Sherie Burton. “In the past we have made charitable contributions on their behalf, but this year, with the Giving Cards, we will be able to let our clients choose which charitable group they would like to support,” Burton continues, calling the cards an “opportunity to give a gift that captures the true spirit of the season.”

CFA is hoping other companies will sign on. For a small, per-card fee, Giving Cards can be labeled with a company logo or message so that businesses get the advantage of customization, while CFA handles all the printing and handling.

Wynne expects CFA’s giving message to spread through social media channels, much like Facebook’s Causes application has. Through Causes, Facebook users can mobilize their network of friends to support their own charities or organizations, and, as of October, Californians have the option of purchasing “Causes Charity Gift Cards” at grocery stores across the state.

While Facebook does its part to give back, large corporations like Chase and Pepsi have also jumped on the “do good” bandwagon with online programs to raise money for nonprofits. Chase’s Community Giving Program has upwards of 2.5 million fans on Facebook and has given more than $500 million to nonprofits by letting fans vote for the projects they want to support. Pepsi’s Refresh Project is similar, and anyone can submit an idea that the public can then vote for to receive funding.

“This is an effort where we see things are moving to social media, things are moving online, people are wanting to be more educated about where they’re giving,” says Wynne. “We also think the Giving Cards are more of a unique, nontraditional giving type of option. Anybody can literally take that hotlink and pass it on to a friend.”


Meadows chairing chamber in 2011

Commercial real estate executive Flo Meadows will succeed Stone Energy President and CEO Dave Welch as chairman of the board of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

Meadows is a CPA, and a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Commercial Worldwide. She has been a chamber member for 10 years, is serving her second term on the board, and is a member of the Executive Committee. She also previously served as chairman of both the Education and Innovation committees and chaired the 2005 reaccreditation task force, which was successful in attaining accreditation with four star honors through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to chamber of commerce activity, Meadows has leadership background in organizations such as Lafayette General Medical Center, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Council for a Better Louisiana and Acadiana Chapter of LCPA.

Meadows’ term as chairman begins Jan. 1. Also elected to the Executive Committee are Jerry Greig, chairman-elect, David Welch, immediate past chairman, Elise Bouchner, Don Briggs, Donna Landry, Steve Oubre, Jan Swift and Bob Miller. Chamber President and CEO Rob Guidry also sits on the Executive Committee.

Meadows will advance the chamber’s advocacy for the implementation of a comprehensive plan for Lafayette Parish. As chair, she will lead the board’s program of work in innovation, public policy and workforce development.

Fowl fuel flows from La. plant

Tyson Foods, the nation’s biggest purveyor of chicken, beef and pork products — and the second largest in the world — generates a lot of fat and grease. Now those processing byproducts are being put to good use at a plant south of Baton Rouge.

Tyson and Syntroleum Corp. announced Nov. 8 that operations are under way at their joint-venture Dynamic Fuels plant in Geismer, which is converting animal fats and grease into high quality renewable diesel fuel. This renewable fuel has a carbon footprint 75 percent below that of petroleum diesel, according to company officials. Much of the research and development of the fuel has been done in coordination with the U.S. military, including a jet fuel that is being tested by the Air Force Research Laboratory. The plant began production in early October and is now producing 2,500 barrels per day.

The companies say the plant is also producing renewable specialty distillate products for applications in dry cleaning, drilling fluids and ink cartridges. — Walter Pierce

W. Interiors expands to  

Baton Rouge

In 2007 a young couple took a leap of faith when it brought a fresh, modern, classic design style to Lafayette. After a market analysis showed economic strength and growth throughout the Acadiana market, the husband and wife creative team of Rene and Nina Ward left what remained of their Katrina-battered home, along with their 2-year-old twin boys, to establish a fresh retail and design store, W. Interiors (W for Ward) on Kaliste Saloom Road in River Ranch.

Fast forward three years, to late 2010, to find the Wards opening their second store — on Bluebonnet Road in Baton Rouge, between Perkins and Highland. Building on the success of the Lafayette store, the couple introduced their signature “Livable, High Fashion, Comfort” style of home furnishings to the Baton Rouge market. The retail showroom features a full representation of designer Candice Olson’s mix of custom furnishings, fabrics, wallpaper, lighting and fine woven rugs, making W. Interiors & Design the exclusive Baton Rouge retailer of the collection. Olson hosts the popular TV show, Divine Design, and authors a weekly syndicated column. Her book, Candice on Design, is the first in a series.

The new design studio in Baton Rouge provides a vibrant atmosphere for shopping, placing a custom order, or getting personalized advice from the in-house design team. In addition, W. Interiors & Design offers complimentary in-home design services.

The Wards got their start in the home furnishings business as owners of Villa Vici in Covington.

W. Interiors & Design Studio in Baton Rouge also offers the company’s own signature collection, Studio by W. Other brands include Bella Notte Fine Linens, Pine Cone Hill Bedding and American Leather upholstery. W. Interiors has been featured in national trade publication, Furniture Today, and operates a blog called “W. Loves Design.”

Nina Ward says customer demand drove the decision to expand east. “Our Baton Rouge customers were regularly asking when we planned on opening up a store in the area,” she says. “We listened to their feedback, took a risk, and it has paid off.” 

— Leslie Turk

False advertising

On Nov. 9, Melissa M. Arnaud of Lafayette was arrested and charged with seven counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft. Detectives with the Lafayette Police Department arrested the 57-year-old after eight businesses filed complaints, alleging Arnaud, the owner of A Little Something Extra/Lagniappe, an advertising business, failed to provide services after they paid her. A Little Something Extra was hired to create advertisement for the businesses, but no services were received, according to police. All eight businesses are pursuing charges.


Additionally, detectives are asking any business owner who may have had dealings with Arnaud and did not receive services to contact the Lafayette PD at 291-8600.



Johnston Street Java now brewing

Peter Martin, Marie Darby, Jeanine Cheramie and Randall Martin are part of the Judice family so deeply rooted in Lafayette’s foundation. The siblings, four of Jean and Rosemary Judice Martin’s children, have operated J&R Educational Supplies since their parents handed it over to them in 1990. Now, they’ve opened the doors (and window) to their newest venture: Johnston Street Java.

The shop, located in a 2,500-square-foot building just outside the Grand 16 Theatre, opened Nov. 1 with a few surprises after months of extensive renovations to the former vet clinic and anticipation from Lafayette’s coffee connoisseurs and caffeine junkies.

Originally, as first reported by ABiz in the June story “Coffee Time,” the local owners intended to brew coffee and espresso provided by Baton Rouge-based Community Coffee. Instead, says manager Nathaniel Johnson, the shop is serving coffee from Orleans Coffee Exchange based in the Crescent City.

Johnston Street Java not only offers a full line of espresso and brewed coffee drinks including au laits, lattes, cappuccinos and frozen drinks called sucré, all of which can be enhanced with a host of flavors from MONIN (which makes premium natural syrups, and other gourmet and organic flavorings), but also serves hot teas, smoothies, milkshakes, Italian sodas, iced teas and a 24-hour cold-brewed iced coffee.

To complement these choices, Nicole Stalnaker, the baker in residence, is turning out standard coffee house fare like homemade scones, biscuits and muffins. The shop has free Wi-Fi and a drive-thru. It’s open Monday-Thursday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 6 a.m.-12 a.m.; and Sunday 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Hope Rurik

Jackie Edgar Ford becomes Courtesy Ford Lincoln

Don Hargroder’s Courtesy Automotive Group, primarily a GM dealer, has added the former Jackie Edgar Ford in Breaux Bridge to its portfolio of dealerships.

First reported in the September-October issue of ABiz, (“Courtesy Ford?”) Courtesy has been managing the Breaux Bridge dealership since late September while it awaited Ford approval of a buyout.

That approval brings Ford back into the Courtesy group, the state’s GM sales leader for the past several years. ABiz’s “Dealmaker of the Year” in 2009, an award presented in connection with the publication’s Top 50 Privately Held Companies event, Hargroder once owned a Ford dealership in Morgan City for a short time. Hargroder has also decided to move his Lincoln dealership from its location south of the Mall of Acadiana to Breaux Bridge, creating the new Courtesy Lincoln Ford.

Courtesy is headquartered at 4750 Johnston St., where it sells GMC and Buick; its Lafayette Cadillac dealership is on Ambassador Caffery, and it also has dealerships in New Iberia, Morgan City, Franklin and Abbeville.

Taking over Jackie Edgar Ford is the latest strategic buy for Hargroder, who’s been in the retail auto business for almost 30 years. — Leslie Turk






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