Robichaux: Perry’s Posse builds local presence

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

Almost eight months have passed since the Halloween night fire that brought the old Garyville gym up in flames. Covered in fire were rows upon rows of garage sale items projected to raise $25,000 for active cancer patients in the River Parishes.

The fire was only days before the Perry’s Posse garage sale fundraiser. I had taken photos of all the donated items just before they were lost forever.

I felt my heart drop when I heard what happened and thought about all the hours and money lost.

I didn’t how resilient the ladies of Perry’s Posse were. After the fire, they dried their eyes and put a plan in action.

The re-do spring garage sale held in the Riverlands Shopping Center crushed expectations, raising $41,000 for local cancer patients. It was a record high for the local non-profit, which provides financial, spiritual and emotional support to patients in St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes.

The organization has been active in the region since 2014.

Founding member Tanya Roccaforte’s godchild, Perry Levet, was nearing the end of his hard-fought battle with leukemia when he asked her to assemble a group to bless other cancer patients and families.

That group became known as Perry’s Posse. The nonprofit is comprised of 18 members and a F.R.O.G. mascot, an anagram for “Fully Rely on God.”

Each active cancer patient the River Parishes receives gas money, a spiritual book, care packages for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter and a birthday card.

However, the patients haven’t had a chance to meet Perry’s Posse members, until now.

Active cancer patients and River Parishes officials recently received their invitations to the inaugural Perry’s Posse Meet and Greet.

Each patient is invited bring a plus one to the event, which features music, jambalaya and raffle giveaways.

“It’s mostly for them to meet the faces behind the Posse and for the Posse to see the faces of some of our patients,” Roccaforte said. “Once they receive the care packages, people are just amazed that total strangers are doing this for them. They say, ‘We sure wish we could meet y’all.’”

Perry’s Posse member Joan LeBouef said the meet and greet is an opportunity for patients to speak with one another and bond over shared experiences, knowing they are not alone in their fight.

Those type of kindred spirit interactions helped LeBouef power through her cancer treatment.

In addition to support, patients will receive prayer quilts blessed by a priest, along with frog-shaped cookies, motivational messages and other goodie bag items, according to Roccaforte.

“We kind of want them to stand up and do a little testimony of their journey,” Roccaforte said. “That way, hopefully it will help someone else.”

She said the meet and greet will be an annual event from this point forward.

Perry’s Posse is still in need of a permanent garage sale location to host the group’s largest fundraiser.

“We just pray about it, and we know God is going to put it in our hands when He’s ready,” Roccaforte said.

Perry’s Posse is also hosting a large-scale Christmas in July raffle fundraiser. There will be 15 winners in total, and first place wins $500.

Other prizes include a new ice chest and fully stocked, themed gift baskets. Winners will be announced in a Facebook Live video in July. Call 504-452-6547 or visit the Perry’s Posse Facebook page for more information.

It’s comforting to know groups like Perry’s Posse exist in our community. It’s a testament not only to the 18 hardworking women who fuel the outreach, but also to the River Parishes community that has donated thousands to grow the effort year-by-year.