Laura Poché – Cause: HOPE Ministries of Baton Rouge

Laura Poché works to ensure that the city’s poorest residents are never forgotten.

Ever since she first donned the DG letters as a young Delta Gamma member at LSU, Laura Poché has tried to live by the sorority’s simple motto: “Do Good.”

She has served as president of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, works with the Catholic Social Teachings ministry at her church, and chairs the board of City Year Baton Rouge, all in an effort to help others and effect change in our community. But perhaps her most impactful involvement is her work with HOPE Ministries of Baton Rouge, an organization devoted to preventing homelessness and promoting self-sufficiency and dignity in the Capital City.

It was actually through her service to the Junior League that Poché first got to know the leaders of HOPE Ministries, and she felt an immediate calling to get connected. “I was hooked on their direct grassroots approach and their significant impact on the lives of residents of the 70805 ZIP code,” she says. “I was drawn to their reason for being: to ‘offer a hand up and not a handout’ to families who so desperately sought hope.”

Through her service on the group’s board, including a recent term as chairman, Poché has worked to promote HOPE Ministries’ myriad programs, including a food pantry that operates in a grocery-store-like setting, a series of workshops that help families at risk of homelessness, a unique infrastructure for family mentoring, and crime-prevention efforts in tandem with local law enforcement.

Even with a busy career as a banker and an active family, including husband Jay and sons Trey, Lewis and Lane, Poché says she will always prioritize her charitable efforts. “I find time and make time because all of this matters to me, my sons, my family, my friends and our community,” she says. “There is no option but to make time.”

Poché has experienced dozens of unforgettable moments during her work with HOPE Ministries, but she sums them all up with a quote from a book called Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle, who spoke at a HOPE fundraiser earlier this year: “If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives. … Turns out this is what we all have in common, gang member and non-gang member alike: we’re just trying to learn how to bear the beams of love.”

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How is your cause making a difference?
HOPE has done its great work “under the radar” on Winbourne Avenue in the 70805 ZIP code for years. Because of our community’s focus on the north Baton Rouge area, HOPE has been “found” to be a true diamond in the rough and is now one of the only nonprofit organizations to be actively involved in education reform, poverty awareness and prevention, and crime reduction.

What do you hope to achieve?
Accomplish our mission of preventing homelessness while promoting self-sufficiency and dignity in the greater Baton Rouge area.

What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
I love meeting people, having fun and really making a positive difference in my life and the lives of others.

What is something we don’t know about your cause?
Although our Client Choice Food Pantry (the only one of its kind in Louisiana) is limited to residents living in the 70805 ZIP code, HOPE’s services are available to all people and companies in the greater Baton Rouge area.