Nominations show there are angels among us

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 22, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / August 22, 2000

LAPLACE – Three people from St. John the Baptist Parish have beennominated by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Child Caring Foundation for the 2000 Angel Award.

Mt. Airy resident Elexia Henderson and LaPlace residents Harold Keller andPhillip Daily are being recognized for their work to help the children of St.

John Parish.

Henderson is the retired principal of Leon Godchaux Junior High School and has been educating children for nearly 30 years. In 1996 Henderson foundedthe St. John Parish Alternative Program. Henderson brought together all thestudents who had failed two or more years and began to tutor them. Usingcomputer-based lessons, Henderson and her staff of volunteers instructed these students in math, science and the language arts. She also hadsuccessful people come into the classroom and lecture the students on how to be successes.

“We tried to move them up, ” said Henderson, “and it worked well for many of them.”When asked about her nomination for the Angel Award, Henderson was humble.

“I’m not a person who thinks about rewards,” she said.

Harold Keller has been working to help the youth of St. John Parish for thepast 20 years. Keller is one of the founders of the “Get High on Life”program.

“We reach out to lonely and hurting youth,” explained Keller. “We try tochange lives.”Keller spends most of his time lecturing and talking to young people in area schools, rehabilitation centers and jails. In 20 years it has been estimatedthat Keller has presented his drug-awareness and drug-free programs to over 250,000 school students in southern Louisiana.

“I get very excited about what I’m doing,” said Keller. “It is very flattering tobe nominated.”A master sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, Phillip Dailey is using the skillsand knowledge he learned in the Marines to help out the youth in the River Parishes and the New Orleans metro area. Since returning to his hometownof LaPlace in 1997, Dailey has been very involved in the Young Marines of Metro New Orleans. This is a non-profit organization for youth ages 8 to 18and promotes mental, moral and physical development of young Americans.

In its sixth year, the Angel Award honors state residents who devote their time, talents and personal efforts to bettering the lives of children. Thewinner receives a stipend of $10,000 grant to be donated to the winner’s favorite charity. Seven regional finalists will each have $2,500 grant donatedto a charity of his or her choice.

An independent panel of child advocates consider the nominees from all over the state. After the field is narrowed, the winner is chosen by the membersof WINGS, the alumni group of past Angel finalists. The winner will beannounced at a black-tie dinner in Baton Rouge on Nov. 17.

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