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2016 Jack V. Doland Award Winner 

Geri Christ Landry

 

The Jack V. Doland award was established in 1991 in honor of the late Senator, who was a strong supporter of women’s issues.

This award is presented to an individual whose contributions to civic, volunteer service and community endeavors have made a difference in the lives of the people. It is a great honor to receive this award.

Each year, the Women’s Commission nominates and then selects a recipient from a slate of candidates nominated based on their reputation in the community, humanitarian efforts volunteer services and contributions made to the lives of people she touches. Voting is by secret ballot and the identity of the winner is kept secret until announced at the Fall Conference. We believe each past recipient is an outstanding role model and a valuable asset to our community and this year’s recipient is no exception. The Women’s Commission proudly presents a $1,000.00 donation to the recipient’s charity of choice.

The 2016 Jack V. Doland Award was presented at the Women’s Commission of Southwest Louisiana Fall Conference to Geri Christ Landry. She has been an advocate for persons with autism for over 45 years.  A retired Special Education teacher with the Calcasieu Parish School Board, she goes with parents, guardians or persons with autism to all meetings with school systems, agencies, etc. as needed. With her special educational background, she is able to prepare new parents as they start the maze of programs provided by the public school system, state and local agencies and she has provided all these services free of charge.  She has been a full-time volunteer with Autism Services of SWLA and its partner non-profit agency, Direct Care,Inc.,for more than 10 years. She has served as president of both the Autism Society of America Louisiana State Chapter and the SWLA Chapter which she founded. In 1966, she received the prestigious Angel Award from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of LA Foundation for her extraordinary volunteer efforts to improve the quality of life of children.

Other Awards she received from 1992 through 2012 include the following:

  • Honored by the Calcasieu Parish School Board as an Outstanding School Volunteer which was sponsored by the National Association of Partners in Education.
  • The "Friend of Autism" award presented by the SWLA Autism Chapter for dedicated service. 
  • The Louisiana State Autism Chapter Award for Exemplary Efforts on behalf of all people with autism. 
  • The J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award for Outstanding volunteer work and for top female volunteer. 
  • The first Distinction of Monsignor DeBlanc Fellow from the Knights of St. Gregory the Great for outstanding contributions to church & community.
  • The Public Citizen of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers for dedicated services to persons with disabilities. 
  • The Family Humanitarian Award from Family and Youth Counseling Agency for supporting family life and supporting the Community.
  • The Life Achievement Award from the Louisiana State Autism Chapter for many years of service.
  • In 2009, the Creole House was named for her.  It serves as a home to 4 adults on the autism spectrum.  Under her leadership, Autism Services of SWLA has purchased and opened three additional houses in Lake Charles, all of which provide a home to adult women and men with autism. Most notable, the actor, Dustin Hoffman studied for his role as Raymond in "Rain Man" after developing his passion for autism from her nephew who has autism.