Eunice literacy activist Jean McManus has been named one of eight recipients of the 2009 Angel Awards, presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
The award includes a $20,000 grant for each honoree’s chosen charity; in McManus’ case, the Eunice Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which McManus brought to the city last year, and which is sponsored through the St. Landry-Evangeline United Way.
“I’m so excited; I don’t know whether to laugh, scream or shout,” McManus said shortly after being notified.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation from the bottom of my heart. I’m really grateful for this award, but it’s not about me, it’s about the many, many children of our community who will benefit from this, and develop a love for reading,” she added.
McManus was nominated by Myra Miller on behalf of The Eunice News.
McManus is the first St. Landry Parish resident honored with this award, now in its 15th year.
Eunice became the first community in Louisiana to take part in the program in 2008, providing a free book a month to all registered children under the age of five.
The Library celebrated its first birthday on Saturday, July 18, with a special program at City Hall.
To date, McManus said 840 children have been registered; given Eunice’s population, it is estimated that the city has approximately 1,000 children of eligible age.
Funding for the program, which equals approximately $30 per child per year, comes from community donations and grants.
McManus has been a tireless promoter and organizer for the program, which is now being copied by several other parishes.
“Making a difference in our communities requires time and money, and that’s why the Blue Cross Foundation is pleased to recognize Jean with a $20,000 grant through the Angel Award,” said Christy Reeves, BCBSLa Executive Director. “With the Angel Award, we’re partnering with outstanding volunteers to support Louisiana communities and create a healthier state.”
A committee of past recipients of the Angel Award considered 62 nominations from throughout Louisiana before selecting this year’s winners.
Rounding out this year’s eight winners are Betsey Baldwin of Gonzales, Vicki Ellis of Baton Rouge, Jill Rigby Garner of Baton Rouge, Lynn Hobbs-Green of New Orleans, Janet Leslie of Maurepas, Minh Nguyen of New Orleans, and Phillip Thomas of Monroe.
The winners will be honored at a presentation ceremony on November 5 in Baton Rouge.
Earlier this year, the Eunice Rotary Club named McManus their 2008 Citizen of the Year.