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Local philanthropists share their inspiration to give back

As the season of giving approaches, multiple Baton Rouge events honor those who give of themselves all year long. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana recognized its Angel Award recipients in October, while the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals presents its National Philanthropy Day awards November 6. Finally, the Emerge Center holds its 47th annual Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist awards luncheon November 16.

To find out more about these phenomenal Baton Rouge philanthropists, inRegister asked a few of the award winners to answer one simple question: Who or what has most inspired you to give back? Their answers, below, may just inspire us all.

Kacy Edwards

BCBSLA Foundation Angel Award

I am inspired to give back because I believe that when you help other achieve their dreams, you will achieve yours. One person can make the world a better place just by making a positive impact on one person’s life. I feel so honored to be a part of our students’ journeys through our organization, Career Compass. I am driven to achieve more and do more when I see our young people understand and realize their potential.

Julie Scott

BCBSLA Foundation Angel Award

I am inspired to give back when I see people living authentic lives while pursuing their goals and achieving greatness. So often, people think that they can’t be themselves and be agents of change at the same time. We shouldn’t have to change ourselves to make others happy or comfortable with us. When I see incredible results by people who refused to change who they were to fit a certain mold or ideal, it motivates me to want to make a difference. If they can do it, I can, too—just as I am.

John Turner

AFP National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Philanthropist

My parents, Bert and Sue Turner, inspired me to follow in their footsteps of community service and philanthropy.  I have been afforded the resources to give back, and I want to make an impact in the lives of others where possible.

Jerry Fischer

AFP National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Philanthropist

Baton Rouge is my home, and it is my home by choice. At 14 years of age, I came here from the prairies of southwest Louisiana to spend the summer, and that summer of 1969 I fell in love with the city and its people, a love that remains. The youth group of First Methodist Church introduced me to people from the greater metro area. Westdale Junior High and Baton Rouge High School introduced me to the people of 70806 and 70808. LSU introduced me to people of the world. From my early days in Baton Rouge, I was fortunate to have known and been influenced by many wonderful people who offered of themselves service to the community in many ways, and I admired them for this service. Although I have neither the talent, the influence, nor the resources these great souls had to offer, I learned by their example that we each can give of our time, talent and resources to help meet the needs of our community.

Nancy Crawford

Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist

I think rather than inspiration, volunteering is more a way of life for me. As a small child, I can remember my parents volunteering—my dad volunteering at the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Shreveport and my mother volunteering in several community organizations, wherever we lived. Giving back is just a basic instinct for me.

Richard Lipsey

AFP National Philanthropy Day Spirit of Giving Award

It’s all about giving back to your community—and by community, I mean your church, your synagogue, your alma mater, your city, state and so on. I’m inspired by great parents who lead by example, great leaders in our community who lead by example, my desire to make Baton Rouge a better place to work and live, and my desire to give our employees a chance to grow and succeed with us. Make our community a place you want to raise your children.

Susan Lipsey

AFP National Philanthropy Day Spirit of Giving Award

As a “native” of Baton Rouge since we were married almost 54 years ago, Richard has been my inspiration to get involved with the community. His parents, Anna and Joe, were knee deep in community activities and leadership all the years I knew them, and they passed that on to Richard. I have gotten enormous satisfaction from working with many charitable organizations, and I owe that drive to “do” to my husband, who amazes me with the depth of his involvement. I love this city and its people. I feel so blessed to be able to give back in any way I can.

Dr. Fatemah Malekian

Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist

What inspires me in life is my love for humanity. As long as I remember, I have always wanted to help others. My professional life has mirrored my personal by conducting community outreach and educational programs regarding nutrition and food safety. These activities have fulfilled my passion for serving others and spreading love. I have committed my life, energy, focused research, professional development and vocational interests not only to my family, but also to the improvement of health and well-being of others.

Todd Schexnayder

Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist

I am inspired to help my community because I want to make my community a better place to live and work. When I give back, I receive a gift in return, a great feeling of positively helping individuals or organizations most in need.

Coletta Barrett

Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist

My parents and my husband Buddy’s parents inspired me. Buddy’s mom, Patsy Barrett, was a Volunteer Activist in 1987. I lovingly referred to her as my “militant mother-in-law in a wheelchair.” She was relentless in pursuing access for the impaired. I believe that to whom much is given, much will be expected. I’ve been blessed with abundance—time—and loving families. Giving back is what we are called to do.  I have a plaque in my office that reads, “Leave everything a little better than you found it.”

Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes

Wendy Lipsey

Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activist

My parents, Susan and Richard Lipsey, have always instilled the importance of giving back to our community. I truly love volunteering, especially for organizations that I am passionate about. Volunteering never feels like work for me. It feels like it’s just something I am meant to do. When I  have passion for something, it makes me thrive! 

Diane Tate

AFP National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Live music is magical and serves as my inspiration, whether it be symphonic, rock ’n’ roll or any other genre. My inspiration is drawn the night the concert actually happens as I watch everyone around me enjoying themselves. For one night, under the lights in a theater, the Baton Rouge community comes together to experience the power of music. My hope is the concert provides happiness and encouragement and delivers joy as everyone gets back to their daily living. Music is the true inspiration as it reaches into our hearts and souls.

Johnny Tate

AFP National Philanthropy Day  Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

My biggest reason for giving back has been the example set by my company’s founder Lee Michael Berg. I can remember his words like it was yesterday. He sat me down and told me, “Johnny, our company has been blessed by this community, and so it’s our duty and responsibility to give back.” He has lived that credo throughout his life and in doing so has inspired me to think about what it means to think of others over self. I think when it’s all said and done, I’d like to think I tried my best to give more than I’ve taken.