Almost all of us have heard that question asked from our kids while on the road. Most of us have heard it several thousand times! Usually the answer is, “No, not yet”.

I’ve been asked the “Are we there yet?” question about funding our Vo-Tech Building. The answer is “No, not yet.” To date, $350,000 has been pledged toward the $1.5 million needed for completion. The amount to be raised is still huge at $1,150,000. We need the help of those who have been blessed with financial resources. Already several of our board members and donors have stepped up to get us to $350,000 but there is a big gap to fill. Please consider your church, UMW, UMM, or small group holding a fundraiser and give the proceeds to help us meet the challenge.

The Vo-Tech Program has proven itself to be a worthy addition to serve the educational needs of the youth in our care. The program gives youth an opportunity to learn a skill to become employed when they leave our care. Before the Vo-Tech Program, youth had the opportunity to earn a GED, but when they left our care they had to take unskilled, low paying jobs without a future. Now, youth are given the opportunity to learn a skill and take advantage of higher paying jobs that lead to a better future. In addition to the skill, the youth have increased self-esteem and are better equipped to be tax-paying citizens.

The program was first housed in a former church building adjacent to the main campus. However, the state fire marshal deemed the building not up to code for use in vo-tech training. The Board of Directors decided to construct our own building on the main campus, because the program was so successful and the need so great. Construction is ongoing and we are on target to occupy the building this summer. Learn more about the 11,000 square foot John H. Allen Career and Vocational Center.

Currently, skills being taught are carpentry, barbering and hairstyling. When the new building is complete welding, small engine repair and other skills will be added to the curriculum. Youth begin skills training at age 16.5 and earn a National Certification in Safety before embarking on one of the specialty fields.

For the past three years we have received earnest help from Louisiana legislators; specifically Rep. Jim Fannin, Sen. Bob Kostelka, Rep. Hollis Downs, and Rep. Rick Gallot; who have worked hard to see that the program was funded. If not for these legislators we would not have the Vo-Tech Program. Because the state faces a shortfall and no new items are allowed in the state budget, we are again at the mercy of our Legislature to fund the Vo-Tech Program another year.

Are we there yet? No, not yet. Is the Vo-Tech Building completely funded? No, not yet. Is the Vo-Tech Program funded for next year? No, not yet. But I pray that my appeal will stir your heart to see this project to completion. Naming opportunities in memory or honor of a loved one are available. Please contact me if you have questions or need additional information: 318-243-4325 OR

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