Looks Bright: Lost friend’s love of animals honored

Published 12:11 am Saturday, September 12, 2015

LAPLACE — To cope with and honor a departed friend, a few sixth graders at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in LaPlace are continuing a special mission.

Mya Voiron, Chloe Genovese and Kayla Clement honor their friends by caring for animals.

Mya Voiron, Chloe Genovese and Kayla Clement honor their friends by caring for animals.

Julia Caroline Luna, 11, died June 24; however friends Chloe Genovese, Mya Voiron and Kayla Clement are keeping her memory alive by looking out for local pets — just like Julia would do.

The girls became friends through school, dance and Girl Scouts. According to friends, Julia loved animals. They said she would spend many Saturdays working at the St. John Parish Animal Shelter and PetSmart.

Mya said Julia was very helpful at the animal shelter and would always get at least three animals adopted when she volunteered.

According to Jodi Luna, Julia’s mother, even after Julia passed, Kayla continued to wake up early over the summer and go with Jodi to volunteer at the shelter.

Julia first got her friends involved with the volunteer work when she was alive.

Her friends believe Julia first started volunteering with the animals two years ago through Girl Scouts.

“She first told me about it, and I asked my mom if I could help out,” Chloe said. “Then Julia told Mya about it, then Kayla and it just spread. She brought a lot of people together.”

Chloe said when she would go home with Julia after school they would stop and play with some puppies at the shelter.

The young girls bathed the shelter animals and brought them to PetSmart to help with and encourage the adoption process.

Mya said interested residents fill out the adoption application for the animal they wish to adopt. The animals are then spayed or neutered and given to their new owners after a few days. It’s the same process she went through in adopting her chocolate Labrador.

The girls had the opportunity to name a few of the animals at the shelter, five puppies to be exact. They named three after members of their favorite pop band, One Direction.

“We named them Niall, Harry and Liam,” Chloe said. “Julia was a big fan of One Direction. We named the other two puppies Chloe and Jewels.”

Chloe and Jewels are named after the girls.

“Jewels was my name for Julia,” Chloe said.

There’s also another dog — JC, or Julia Caroline — named after Julia. JC belongs to Julia’s mother and grandmother.

Chloe, Mya and Kayla don’t mind spending four hours every Saturday giving the cats and dogs some love and attention, because they say it’s needed.

“People don’t go (to the shelter) just to see the animals,” Mya said. “A few animals had to be put down because of depression because they didn’t get any attention.”

The girls agree Julia would want them to continue her volunteer work. They feel it would have made her happy.

Jeffery Montz, principal at St. Joan of Arc, said he worried Julia’s classmates would take the news of her passing hard, but added they seem to be doing fairly well. Montz said he is proud of the girls for continuing Julia’s work by helping the shelter animals get adopted.

It’s a sentiment shared by the girls.

“We carry this on for her,” Chloe said. “She was such a sweet girl, and she loved animals.”

— By Raquel Derganz Baker