Bless Your Heart

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Bless Your Heart for POV 2022 (Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy) [date}

Southern Louisiana has always been, and always will be, a tight-knit community—but one local organization is going above and beyond to provide support and connection for families.

Bless Your Heart is a nonprofit organization founded in 2020 by lawyer Jeray Jarreau. The foundation has since become a cornerstone in the lives of those living in Larose, Cut Off, and many other towns located throughout Lafourche Parish—Bless Your Heart provides immeasurable support to local families, constantly identifying and developing new and exciting ways to respond to community needs. 

Although the organization was officially started in response to the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, board member Ross Jambon, brother of founder Jeray, stated that a need for community outreach in the bayou was identified as early as 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Ross shared that while funds were quickly organized and allocated to a devastated New Orleans, locals in Lafourche Parish discovered that donations for further down the bayou were not as easy to obtain. With this revelation, the seeds of Bless Your Heart were planted, and in 2020 the organization was brought to life.   

“We realized that we needed a funnel for donations in this area of Louisiana,” Ross said. “We became a way for bigger nationwide companies to donate money to help us with our local causes.”

Bless Your Heart’s role as a channel for donations from larger companies became essential following Hurricane Ida in 2021. The foundation was at the center of rebuilding the community after the deep damage left in Ida’s wake, working tirelessly to get Lafourche Parish back up on its feet—particularly children back in school and a sense of normalcy returned to locals. The foundation partnered with two nationwide companies, Shell and Chevron, to receive 100,000 dollars’ worth of school supplies, all to be given directly back to the community. Bless Your Heart was also able to use donations to purchase up to 4,000 school uniforms for local students to help them return to school following the hurricane—this included two shirts, two pants, and a new pair of shoes for each child. 

While its nationwide connection is invaluable, what makes Bless Your Heart truly special is its conscious ability to connect and bring together all those who call Southern Louisiana home. Ross mentions that one of the most inspiring aspects of the foundation is how the foundation works as a focal point to bring people of the Lafourche community together.

“Members of our local community often want to help contribute to nonprofits, but don’t know how to go about it,” Ross said. “Bless Your Heart gives them a reliable way to contribute funds or talents to their community.”

Ross further went on to detail a recent situation in which a local community member had repaired several computers and wished to donate them to the local community but was unsure of the best way to go about this. He was soon put in contact with Bless Your Heart, and those computers were able to be further refurbished and distributed to local grade-school students in need—allowing them to better complete and access their online school assignments. 

“This is just one example of how Bless Your Heart is acting as a central organization in the community, linking people together in helpful and constructive ways,” Ross concluded.

This past Christmas season, Bless Your Heart furthered its commitment to connecting members of the community through its yearly event, “A Merry Twist on an Open House.” On December 10, 2022, Bless Your Heart put on an exciting, cheerful, and completely free event for families all throughout Lafourche Parish at the Cut Off Youth Center. The open house included a variety of Christmas-themed craft tables, a face painting station, multiple interactive games, and even backpacks filled to the brim with school supplies and local uniforms for students. However, the main event of the Merry Open House was the ever-popular family pictures with Santa — which included a free gift for each child to take home with them after the event. These gifts were purchased with local donations given to Bless Your Heart and included all kinds of toys for kids to enjoy together with their families, such as board games, Play-Doh, art sets, and dolls or action figures. 

“Christmas can be a difficult time financially for a lot of families,” Ross explained, gesturing towards the large pile of expertly wrapped presents next to Santa’s chair. “Having events like this can really help community members provide a special experience for their kids, especially if they are not able to do so at home.”

Alongside all the Christmas cheer spread during this Merry Open House, Bless Your Heart included a special twist to a traditional holiday event—the nonprofit organization partnered with eleven local first responder crews, such as Lafourche Fire District 3 and Lafourche police, to include them as a focal point in the event. When driving up to the open house, families were greeted with the impressive sight of a dozen fire trucks and a variety of other first responder vehicles accompanied by friendly crew members and operators, ready to put on demonstrations for families and children. 

Chief Devin Dedon of Lafourche Fire District 3 explained the importance of this partnership between local first responders and community outreach organizations such as Bless Your Heart.

“We believe it is so important for families, especially kids, to interact and be familiar with their first responders,” Chief Dedon said. “We have an all-hazards approach to the community, and we will be the first ones there to help with any emergency. For example, we were personally on the scene following the events of Hurricane Ida helping families. It is very important to us for kids to be familiar with us and what we do in the community. We want them to know we are here to help, and we are able to do that better when invited to participate in community events.” 

Bless Your Heart is an organization working every day to enrich the lives of those living and raising families on the bayou. The welfare of the Southern Louisiana community is deeply at the heart of their work, and it shines through in the foundation’s commitment to organizing local events that spread joy and bring the Parish closer together. Bless Your Heart is an organization breathing fresh life into its vision daily: “To build a community where no family feels alone and gets every possible help they need as soon as possible.”

For more information and future events, visit their website: 

Bless Your Heart for POV 2022
(Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy)