Proceeds from St. Elizabeth's Guild help kids
The welfare of children has always been the focus of St. Elizabeth’s Guild, whether it was caring for orphaned children when St. Elizabeth’s Home on Napoleon Avenue was open or helping those with intellectual disabilities or underprivileged youth as it does today.
“We have always supported children,” past president Suzette Herpich said. “That has been the constant in what we have done.” St. Elizabeth’s Guild is holding its major fund-raiser – its Volunteer Activists Luncheon – Sept. 25 at the Sheraton New Orleans.
It will feature a Dillard’s fashion show with celebrity models, entertainment by The Mystics, a parade of prizes, a silent auction, door prizes and, of course, the honoring of community volunteers.
St. Elizabeth’s Guild president Cindy Wooderson said the luncheon, which debuted in 1971, has experienced tremendous popularity in recent years. It is a collaborative effort between members and the community.
“There’s been a lot of work from people who have St. Elizabeth’s at heart,” Wooderson said.
Three major ministries
St. Elizabeth’s Guild was founded in the 1950s when the orphanage was still operating Uptown. When it closed, the guild continued to support the youth who were relocated to Hope Haven and Madonna Manor in Marrero with birthday and holiday parties. Today, the guild concentrates the majority of its efforts on three ministries of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans: the Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) for young adults; Padua House residential program for those with intellectual disabilities; and St. John the Baptist Head Start, which provides educational and social services and health screenings to infants to preschoolers.
Wooderson, who has been involved for the past eight years and chaired the luncheon, finds satisfaction in helping children.
“I just love our mission – the children’s programs,” she said. “That’s what bring you into it, and once you start working with children, it’s just incredible.”
Not only does the guild raise money to fund projects at the three ministries, members are hands-on as well. Last year, St. Elizabeth’s Guild members and friends repainted, carpeted, added blinds, cleaned windows and did gardening at the ILSP house in Gretna. A tour of its ministries by members highlighted all the good its hard work results in for children.
Wooderson said many people are unaware of how other children and young adults struggle. Members saw how a quality wheelchair helped Padua House residents, and how new laptops with Internet service enhanced the lives of residents of the ILSP.
“I wanted to connect members where the money was going and show we can make a difference,” she said.
As Wooderson travels throughout New Orleans, she often discovers the many connections people have with St. Elizabeth’s Home. The guild has invited former residents of the home – that cared for girls ages 6-18 – to speak at the luncheon and meetings about how the guild helped them grow into the successful people they are today.
“We’ve grown in the last five years tremendously,” Wooderson said about the organization’s membership now at 315, with 100 lifetime members. “It’s these success stories that keep you going.”
Herpich is on her 13th year chairing the luncheon auction. This year she co-chairs with Lisa Baynham. What started off small, with members walking the pavement for donations, has turned into a huge part of the luncheon.
“Now, I am so blessed,” Herpich said. “This is going to best the best auction we’ve ever had. It is humbling to see how the business community has supported us.”
Luncheon tickets are still available at $75 each. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. Guild dues are $30 annually, and meetings are held quarterly. The next general meeting will be Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at Andy’s Bistro. Another is scheduled Jan. 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Plimsoll Club. For details, call 236-8720.
St. Elizabeth’s Guild 2015 volunteer activists luncheon
Fund-raising event to benefit the Catholic Charities’ ministries of Independent Living Skills Program, St. John the Baptist Head Start and Padua House.
➤When: Sept. 25, doors open at 10:30 a.m.
➤Where: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal St., New Orleans.
➤Cost: $75; 236-8720.