Westlake teen on mission to ‘restore’ community

Olivia Delano, a junior at Westlake High School, is using her leadership in the Future Business Leaders of America club as an opportunity to literally “restore” the community. As part of the club’s state competition, Westlake FBLA will host “Restore the Community” 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at the Westlake High School football field.

“Restore will give attention to the mental well-being of the people in this community and all that we’ve endured and give hope to achieving restoration,” Delano said.

Restoration is more than ongoing hurricane repairs; it encompasses many of the tragedies of the past two years with a special focus on the region’s mental health.

“It all started with COVID.Everybody is still messed up,” she said.

Speaking of friends who had dance recitals and sports activities canceled, “their whole lives came crashing down. Then after we got back into school, the hurricanes hit and that was just another thing on top of it.”

In addition to the global and regional tragedies students and adults alike have had to endure, the Westlake student body, in particular, has endured the loss of a classmate. “We had a loss in our own community and it was very impactful. But our community really came together in support of the family with wrist bands, the cheer team T-wore shirts, the football team brought out this jersey and dedicated it to his number … all of those things inspired me to pick mental health for our project.”

Featuring a live band, speakers from youth organizations, churches and local mental mental health agencies, “Restore the Community” will offer practical and spiritual resources to help bringing wholeness to all of Southwest Louisiana, she said. “We’re going to be focusing on the well-being of people mentally, physically and spiritually — reach people on all those different levels.”

Equally important to the project, Delano said, is the $5 entry fee, which will generate funds for The Vessel Project, co-founded by Roishetta Ozane. “They’re (Vessel Project) fulfilling the needs of people in our community. She (Ozane) raises money and helps people that reach out to her. In fact, she’s cooking for the homeless today and has gotten a lot of other people involved, as well. I just really believe in and admire what she’s doing.”

While top honors in the competition are certainly one of Delano’s goals for the club, bringing hope to a struggling community is also paramount, she said.

“I definitely want to win this competition but I also want this project to reach as many people as possible.”

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