4 Local Black-led Causes Worth Contributing to
The history of West Feliciana Parish is, and has always been, inextricably tied to its Black residents, without whom no portrait of our community is complete. Though we've emphasized the importance of contributing to local philanthropic initiatives before, we want to highlight the following Black-led community organizations, all of which are based locally in West Feliciana. Three of the four are designated nonprofits, and each supports a cause worth sharing with our neighbors because their individual missions align with ours here at Bank of St. Francisville: to strive to make a real difference in our community by giving back, whether by helping underprivileged school children or restoring local historic structures for posterity. Giving back doesn't have to be limited to financial contributions, either; you can get involved by donating your time, professional expertise, or other needed resources.
The Happi Llandiers
A community service group of retired school teachers, the Happi Llandiers have been serving West Feliciana’s at-risk youth since the group's founding in 1955. That’s more than 60 years of pooling resources to provide food, clothing, and school supplies for children and families in need. In 1985 the organization became a United Way agency, expanding its operating budget and capacity. Today, they work to bridge gaps and meet emerging needs. For more information, visit the Happi Llandiers Facebook Page.
The Jungle Inn
Known for its delectable, homestyle food and mile-high burgers, The Jungle Inn is a West Feliciana hidden gem. The eatery, located at 7765 Solitude Road, has been fundraising to assist with medical expenses for Treylen Carter, a young liver transplant candidate and student at Bains Lower Elementary. For more information, call 225-245-2327 or contact the Inn’s Facebook page.
Old Benevolent Society Restoration Committee
Founded in 1883, the Old Benevolent Society is the oldest Black burial insurance lodge in West Feliciana Parish. These historically Black organizations have existed in the South since the Civil War. Usually rooted within the church, benevolent societies proved foundational for their newly freed members by allowing them to collectively pool resources to fund medical and funeral expenses. Since 2018, members of the West Feliciana Historical Society and the restoration committee have been campaigning to preserve the historic structure, and renovations have already begun. To learn more about the Old Benevolent Society building, the short documentary, The Story of a Building. Donations are now being accepted via the committee’s PayPal account.
John S. Dawson Foundation and Alumni Association
Named in honor of the leader whose educational legacy impacted generations of West Feliciana’s Black youth, John S. Dawson arrived in West Feliciana in 1890 to teach the parish’s Black children. He taught at the grade school, then segregated, until his death in 1950. In 1951, the area’s first Black high school was named after him, providing the first opportunity for secondary education to West Feliciana's Black students. Of Dawson's four children, two of his sons would go on to follow in his footsteps and serve as principal of the school. Now, his descendants and alumni are working to turn the site of John S. Dawson High School, which closed in 1969 when the school board integrated, into a multi-purpose community center. Read more about the Dawson Legacy here, and to contribute, contact Dr. Henry Hardy, president of the John S. Dawson Foundation and Alumni Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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