Recap: Project Front Yard 2017 Awards

October is always a busy month for community events, and one of my favorite October events is the Project Front Yard awards. The fourth annual award presentation was held last week at IBERIABANK in Downtown Lafayette. (Check out my recaps of 2014, 2015 and 2016's presentations!)

This year, four awards were given out for Cleanliness, Beautification, Education and Overall Effort. Cleanliness, beautification and education are the three pillars of Project Front Yard's mission, and are what drive every initiative under Project Front Yard.

As a quick side note, this is the second year Project Front Yard gave out Golden Gnomes, and I love these trophies so much! They were 3D printed locally at the Lafayette Science Museum!

While the awards have been held in the IBERIABANK lobby since their inception, this year started a new tradition - going almost completely zero-waste! Project Front Yard Coordinator Skyra Rideaux has been working to reduce waste in City Hall and has transitioned the mayor's office to reusable coffee mugs for employees and visitors.

Skyra, award winner Catherine (spoiler alert!) and myself joined another zero-waster, Amanda, for a Facebook Live zero waste lunch earlier this year as part of the Festival of Service, and I love how Skyra has truly embraced the zero-waste concept!

She ensured that the event's caterer, iMonelli, brought reusable plates and silverware instead of disposable ones.

Drinks were served in reusable glasses, and all soft drink cans and water bottles were collected for recycling. I think the only actual trash generated during the event were paper napkins, and I believe I heard Skyra say something about getting cloth napkins for next year. ;)

I absolutely loved the centerpieces on each table - small floral arrangements in the mayor's office reusable coffee cups! Zero-waste, thrifty, on-brand, and super cute!

Pat Trahan, Vice Chairman-Lafayette of IBERIABANK, opened the program before turning it over to Skyra.

Skyra first provided a recap of the PFY projects over the past year, including the Festival of Service this past April, the passing of HB111 for environmental education in Louisiana schools and new business partnerships.

Now, onto the award winners! All 2017 award recipients were nominated through a community-wide, open submission process.

Best in Cleanliness

Photo courtesy Project Front Yard
Cindy Dilena with Love Acadiana was recognized for her efforts with Eight Days of Hope. She worked with Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Diocese of Lafayette, United Way of Acadiana and Acadiana VOAD to bring more than 2,000 volunteers from 40 states and multiple countries to assist with the recovery efforts following the great flood of August 2016.

In all, more than 135 homeowners received much-needed help in gutting and rebuilding their flood-wrecked homes. Cindy also brokered a groundbreaking partnership with RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) to provide new furniture to 80 flooded families. In total, her efforts culminated to more than $4 million in completed flood recovery and community-based projects.

Mickie Hughes accepted the award on behalf of Cindy.

Best in Beautification

Photo courtesy Project Front Yard

Tina Bingham, chairperson of the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie, won the Best in Beautification award. As chairperson, she has worked to mobilize residents to revitalize McComb-Veazey as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lafayette.

Tina has successfully applied for and received grant funding totaling $295,000 from the Kresge Foundation and Keep America Beautiful to transform an adjudicated property into a neighborhood community center. The center will offer nearby residents access to fresh fruit growing from trees and plants on the property. A small amphitheater with live music is also planned for the community center.

Best in Education

Photo courtesy Project Front Yard

Catherine Comeaux was selected as the Best in Education for Project Front Yard. She has helped to start up the Lafayette chapter of No Waste Louisiana and was instrumental in getting Lafayette Parish School System’s recycling program implemented. (And it was very successful in its first year!)

No Waste Louisiana is an environmental education organization that works with individuals, businesses and government to reduce needless and avoidable waste in our daily lives.

Catherine is also providing support to Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in becoming the first green festival in Louisiana, which you can read about in my blog post from last week!

In addition, Catherine was a big part of a recent City Hall waste audit, identifying areas where waste can be reduced. The audit has helped the mayor's office transition to reusable coffee cups instead of single-use ones.

Best Overall Effort

Photo courtesy Project Front Yard

Keller Williams Realty of Acadiana partnered with Project Front Yard and the McComb-Veazey Neighborhood Coterie to plant its first crop at the new McComb-Veazey community farm.

With nearly 100 individuals giving more than five hours of their time, Keller Williams volunteers planted more than an acre of produce. Upon harvest, the crop created the neighborhood's first farmer's market and providing access to fresh produce for the community which is currently in a food desert.

On the same day, Keller Williams volunteers also pressure washed and repainted the Heymann Park Pavilion, benches and playground equipment.

In other beautification and cleanliness efforts, Keller Williams Realty of Acadiana adopted the Beaumont, Texas, area to support relief and recovery work for Hurricane Harvey victims.

Wesley Stonicher, Tara Bienvenu and Lance Kelehan accepted the award on behalf of the company.


A Side Note

The award ceremony happened to fall on Mayor-President Robideaux's birthday, and the whole room sang him Happy Birthday before the program concluded. Definitely a fun and unique "Lafayette" moment!

Congratulations to all of this year's award winners! As Skyra said in her closing remarks, progress is made through the effort of everyone working together, from individuals to businesses to government. This year's award winners are a true testament of the good that can happen when everyone works together!

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