Family & Youth award Youth, Humanitarian of the Year honors

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Jennings High School graduate Emma Lecompte and St. Louis Catholic High School sophomore Benjamin-Isaac Alcantara Duplechin were named the Youth of the Year during Tuesday’s Family & Youth annual meeting at L’Auberge Casino Resort.

“They have given their time, talent and leadership skills to making the future chapters of our community brighter and more prosperous than the ones before,” said board member Lorena Ceasar. “This award honors them for their commitment and patience to becoming the true leaders of tomorrow.”

Lecompte maintained a 4.0 grade-point average during high school while being actively involved in activities such as Beta Club, Leadership Experience Opportunity (LEO), Student Council, Foreign Language Club, Coffee House Club, Arts & Crafts Club and the Octagon Club. She was also the volleyball team manager.

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“One of Emma’s most significant contributions is her support for Rosco’s Room at Jennings High School, a space where students in need can access donated personal hygiene items at no cost,” Ceasar said.

Lecompte has also volunteered with the Junior League of Lake Charles, Family & Youth Children’s Advocacy Center and the Keep Louisiana Beautiful initiative.

“Her involvement with the organizations is a testament to her dedication to service and her desire to better Southwest Louisiana,” Ceasar said.

Kevin Melton, executive director of Chennault International Airport and a trustee of the Family Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, said Duplechin recently won two national awards for community service and is also a 4.0 student.

He’s a member of his school’s Chess Club and World Languages Club as well as the St. Michael Society of Altar Servers. He’s also a member of wrestling and power-lifting teams and mentors younger children at a local jujutsu training center.

Duplechin has also volunteered with the Junior League of Lake Charles, Keep Louisiana Beautiful and Rise Against Hunger.

“The one thing I noticed about Ben when he came up to the airport is his quiet, humble leadership,” Melton said. “He’s not worried about being out front; he’s that foundation for the youth in the Career Exploration Program. You don’t have to be out in front always, you don’t always have to be the loudest; it’s being that individual with a certain heart that truly wants to serve this community. That’s what makes a difference in life.”

L’Auberge was presented the Humanitarian of the Year award. The resort has donated more than $336,000 to area nonprofits through its Ticket In Ticket Out program as well as $6,310,000 in overall donations to area initiatives since 2011.

Harold Rowland, vice president and general manager at L’Auberge, accepted the award.

Family & Youth, established as a non-profit organization in 1970, provides affordable and professional family services in Southwest Louisiana. Eight agencies work under the umbrella of Family & Youth — Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Human Services Response Institute, Children’s Advocacy Center, Performance Employee Assistance and Business Services, Children & Families Action Network, Shannon Cox Counseling Center, Nonprofit Impact and The Leadership Center for Youth.

“Family & Youth believes every neighborhood, every family, every community has the capacity to solve their challenges as long as we are giving them the tools available for that,” said Treasurer Travis Furs. “Our umbrella business model has allowed us to be a catalyst for change for thousands of individuals and families, no matter their background or what stage of life they may be in.”

Furs said these eight divisions collaborate within the community to increase access for individuals and families to vital services in one location.

“Through our services of advocacy, counseling and education, we’re building stronger communities for Southwest Louisiana,” he said.

Family & Youth Vice President David Duplechian said in 2023 the Shannon Cox Counseling Center provided more than 6,600 counseling sessions, an average of about 550 sessions a month.

He said the Performance Employee Assistance and Business Services partnered with 26 companies in Southwest Louisiana, providing management training and consultation and confidential counseling services to 5,000 employees and their families.

“Our CAC, as it is known, provides forensic interviews and comprehensive services to children who are victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, witness violent crime or victims of human trafficking,” Duplechian said. “In 2023, our CAC worked with 590 children in the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana.”

CASA worked with 294 children in foster care last year and 146 of them received that “safe, learning, permanent home that all children in foster care long for,” Duplechian said.

“We are stronger together and our Nonprofit Impact, the newest division of Family & Youth, recognizes that a strong nonprofit sector benefits everybody,” Duplechian said. “To that end, Nonprofit Impact is dedicated to equipping nonprofit leaders with the tools necessary to develop the skills, increase capacity and master competencies in the nonprofit sector through training, consultation and networking. In 2023, there were 25 nonprofit organizations that participated.”