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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Meraux Foundation and Valero Make Generous Donations in Support of Performing Arts

Each community partner gave $10,000 in support of the ongoing work taking place at the Chalmette High School Cultural Arts Center.

Photo Courtesy of St. Bernard Parish School Board

Contributed by the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Parish School Board

The Sound of Music turned into a song of gratitude recently when the Meraux Foundation and Valero surprised the district’s cultural art program with a pair of checks. Each community partner gave $10,000 in support of the ongoing work taking place at the Chalmette High School Cultural Arts Center.

Rita Gue, President of the Meraux Foundation, said the gifts were a tangible reminder of the importance of art education. 

“We are so proud to support the work taking place each day at Chalmette High and so excited to have the theatre up and running again,” she said. 

Superintendent Doris Voitier said doing such a big production is truly a team effort. 

“From the orchestra and costume teams to the tech crew doing lights and sound, such a big show like “The Sound of Music” requires a huge effort by a lot of committed people. But none of it is possible without financial support,” said Voitier. “We are truly indebted to the Meraux Foundation and Valero for their generosity and support of our student performers.” In other Meraux Foundation news, the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts (LACD) recognized Meraux Foundation Coastal and Environmental Program Manager Blaise Pezold with the 44th Guy Caire Award at the annual LACD conference awards banquet. The award is presented each year to an individual who has displayed leadership, goodwill, and personal involvement in the promotion of soil and water conservation.  

“Blaise is prolific in his work to protect and restore our coast, and this recognition is well-deserved,” said Rebecca Livaudais, Chair of the Crescent Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), who nominated Pezold for the award.

As the Meraux Foundation’s Coastal and Environmental Program Manager, Pezold is involved in a range of soil and water conservation activities across Southeast Louisiana. He also serves on the Crescent SWCD board, on the LACD Forestry committee, as treasurer of the Coastal Resources committee, and as one of two directors for Area V.  

Guy Caire was an outstanding supervisor for Lower Delta SWCD and actively involved with the conservation movement within the state and district. When Caire passed away, the district initiated this award in his memory in 1979.  

“I’m honored to receive this prestigious award and share it with everyone at the Meraux Foundation and all our partners in this important work to conserve our soil and water,” said Pezold. “This is much more than a job for me, it’s a passion. I get to engage with so many dynamic people, to be part of envisioning big ideas, and to, literally, get my hands dirty. So while I’m extremely grateful for this award, the real prize is what we’re achieving together on the ground and in the water!”

To advance the Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish, Pezold helps plan and execute the nonprofit’s work to preserve, protect, and restore the area’s natural environment — especially its vulnerable coast. His work includes field projects, strategic partnerships, community engagement, and public awareness. He serves as a liaison on coastal matters between nonprofit, government, and strategic partners. He helped design several multi-million-dollar projects that have been approved or are currently being considered for Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) funding. He works with Nunez Community College and other organizations on The Chandeleur Living Shoreline project. Additionally, he spearheads, participates in, and lends his technical expertise on dozens of coastal planting projects and educational programs throughout the year. 

Prior to joining the Meraux Foundation in 2017, Pezold was an Agriculture Environmental Specialist III for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, where he designed and implemented numerous coastal projects across southeast Louisiana. Notably, he designed the $29 million Bayou La Loutre Ridge and Marsh restoration CWPPRA project, for which he won two awards for outstanding service in 2016 from the St. Bernard Parish president and council, respectively.

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