It’s December … Christmas time. Think giving … presents … Santa. Think Fourchon Oilman’s Association. Yup!
There are 20 area nonprofits that think Santa and giving and the Fourchon Oilman’s Association (FOA) all at once during the month of December. That’s when the FOA awards nearly $100,000 to local, deserving nonprofits through its annual grants program.
On December 9th, the FOA presented monetary awards in the form of a big check … and a real check. You know the big checks, the ones they award at game shows and to lottery winners. They’re not made for drive-up bank windows but make for great photo ops.
Representatives from each of the 20 grant recipient organizations stood and posed with the check for a photo and talked for a few minutes as to how the funds would be used to further advance their groups’ goals.
Representatives from the various groups each echoed the same sentiment of thanks and appreciation to the FOA for their continued support of local nonprofits year after year.
Aaron Champagne with the We Can All Ring, the organization of Bayou Bell Ringers, expressed the groups’ appreciation for being selected again for a third year.
“We’ve been around for 30 years,” says Champagne. “This grant, the support from the FOA and the community is truly invaluable to us.”
The group plans to use their $5,000 grant to replace equipment and pay the expenses that are hard to overcome.
“We cracked a base bell and to replace that one bell costs us $800. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” he added passionately.
The FOA generates funds from its FOA Invitational Fishing Rodeo held annually in July. The group also funds scholarships – four yearly – two $4,000 scholarships to a four-year Louisiana college and two $1,000 to a vocational or technical school.
Not bad for an organization that began less than a decade ago and started by a group of fishing buddies.
“We are a great group of really great, dedicated guys,” says Chris Moran, FOA vice president. “We are all friends and all work in the oil and gas industry. We fished in many tournaments for years and decided that we should have our own.”
In 2010 Moran purchased Fourchon Marina. In 2011 the FOA held its first fishing rodeo and they’ve been awarding grants and scholarships since.
“We try to keep the grants as local as possible,” explains Moran. “And, we operate the grant program within the confines of our mission statement … helping local educational and charitable organizations while promoting the oil and gas industry.”
And that is exactly what they do! Only one of the 20 grant recipients were housed outside of Lafourche Parish.
Julie Bourgeois with Virtual Academy of Lafourche is equally grateful to the FOA for the generous grant. The Lafourche Parish charter school has quadrupled enrollment over the last year to 454 students and is spread across five campuses.
“We have grown and plan to use our grant for computers at our South Lafourche and Thibodaux campuses,” she says. “So, thank you for this great opportunity.”
Her sentiments were echoed time and again by representatives from H.L. Bourgeois High School, South Lafourche High School, the Lafourche Parish School Board, Holy Rosary Catholic School, etc.
The list of schools is lengthy. The FOA’s commitment to education is apparent.
“If you support schools and education … if you start there, you can’t go wrong,” says Moran with certainty.
The FOA has partnered with the Bayou Community Foundation (BCF), a community foundation specifically serving Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle. The BCF acts as the funnel through which monies, grants and donations pass through to be distributed to our community.
BCF Chairman J.J. Bouquet explained his organization as our area’s bucket – the place where funds can be put into to help during natural disasters and started after the devastation endured by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.
“The nation wanted to help and people wanted to give … there was no receptacle, or bucket, for people to put their money into to help us in our area,” says Bouquet. “The BCF is our area’s emergency bucket.”
Three years ago, the BCF was awarded $500,000 from the Gheens Foundation, to be awarded $100,000 yearly for five years. The award came with a caveat – the BCF had to distribute double that amount to receive the funds.
“It’s a win-win! Partnering with the BCF allows us get a person on their board and we can participate in the distribution of matching funds,” says Moran.
The FOA grants are distributed through the BCF and the BCF gets matching funds from the Gheens Foundation.
The Lafourche Shriners Club has been around since 1953 and spend nearly $50,000 yearly to pay for local Shriners Hospital patient’s travel. They’re using their $10,000 FOA grant to help defer those costs.
Restore or Retreat is using their $5,000 grant to pay for coastal education programs and technology upgrades.
The Bayou Playhouse is upgrading their sound system with their $5,000.
Organizations as well as schools have noticed the gifting done by the FOA at Christmas time. But, they’re not the only ones who’ve noticed lately.
The Lafourche Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the FOA by awarding the group with its distinguished Community Hero Award presented at its annual awards banquet. The award is a tribute to an individual who has displayed continual service through the years to the betterment of the communities of
Lafourche Parish or Grand Isle, and must be a non-compensatory, volunteer of service.
To learn more about the grant program, the Fourchon Oilman’s Association or the Bayou Community Foundation, you can visit fourchonoilmans.com or bayoucf.org.
The Lafourche Shriner’s Club was just one of 20 recipients of the Fourchon Oilman’s Association monetary awards.
Posted on Fri, December 12, 2014
by Marc Kimball, Contributing Writer