Restoring the Image

Emmanuel Baptist Church youth hold hands while pulling trash out of the ditches on Sagona Road in Donaldsonville last weekend.

Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Captain Ricky Bergeron said it best when he spoke at the Emmanuel Baptist Church Saturday in regards to recent shootings in Donaldsonville, “my heart is heavy, but it is not broken.”

Emmanuel Baptist Church led by Pastor Charles Brown, Sr. partnered with the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District and other entities to host a prayer rally followed by a Stash the Trash cleanup event. Before going out into the community, elected officials, pastors and citizens all joined in the church for prayer and worship all in effort to “restore the image of Donaldsonville” spiritually and physically.

After the service Captain Bergeron said he spoke from the heart when he said Donaldsonville is not a broken city after the tragic events that resulted in a double-homicide, a police injured in gunfire, and a teen injured in gunfire.

“If we, as leaders, don’t have confidence that we will respond, how can we expect the community to have confidence,” Captain Bergeron said.

Captain Bergeron said the APSO is already doing its part to help restore the image of Donaldsonville and “that’s evident by me being here this morning.”

“I do have a young daughter and I have other responsibilities but now she’s in college and I can give myself even more to this community and I will,” Captain Bergeron said, who was newly appointed as Captain.

Rev. Brown, who is also Donaldsonville City Councilman for District 4, said he was upset with what was put out in the media after the recent shootings. He said the message got out that Donaldsonville is a bad place.

“The program today was to clean up our image and recover what the enemy has stolen,” Rev. Brown said. “We united many different denominations and religious leaders, public officials and people from every walk of life because they have a concern for the community and I believe God really heard and answered what we wanted to do and I’m very pleased at what happened today.”

Rev. Brown said Emmanuel Baptist Church will be continue to be involved in the community and see what the leaders are doing in their elected offices and “making sure they are supporting the community in action.”

“If a tragedy doesn’t bring you out then nothing will bring you out. I have a problem with people we vote into office and never see them in our community,” Brown said. “To me that’s a slap in the face that our community needs to come out and really start looking at people and recalling people who really have no love and concern for their community.”

“If we put you in office, you aren’t there to just collect a check,” Brown said. “If you can’t help me when I’m down, you’re not going to help me as we try to go up. It’s time for the church, the community and leaders to make all leaders accountable.”

Missy Jandura, Executive Director of the DDD, has never had a problem stepping up to push a positive image for the City of Donaldsonville. For the fourth year, the DDD has been working with “Keep America Beautiful” to clean up Donaldsonville’s look with Stash the Trash events.

“It’s about serving the people and letting them see us care about the community,” Jandura said. “It fosters community spirit and fellowship. We start all of our DDD events with prayer, but this was a magnificent program that Rev. Brown put on for this district and brought in the community.”

Jandura said the DDD and Mainstreet Donaldsonville are using their best efforts to promote positive things going on in Donaldsonville via the Internet and using social media to hashtag the city’s uniqueness.

“Post wonderful pictures of you, your family, your community and pictures of buildings and shopping in the shops to let people know Donaldsonville is open for business,” Jandura said. “This was an unfortunate moment and time for Donaldsonville, but it’s been here since 1806 and we will recover but let’s take over the Internet.”

Jandura added: “It seems this is the largest amount of volunteers we’ve had so I give a big shot out on that. I like that I’m seeing a lot of the kids coming out. We’ve had adult volunteers which is awesome, but I like to see the children because if we can change the behaviors of the children and as they learn giving back people can see you caring and it will be a ripple effect.”

Bergeron added: The Sheriff’s Office has always stepped and we always will.”

Rev. Brown added: “I want to thank everybody that came out, the pastors, the elected officials, Missy Jandura and all of those who helped out and who came together to make the program what it is. I pray and hope it doesn’t stop here, we continue to go on and we’ve already set up a prayer station here at church every Monday after lent. We have prayer stations, we want people to know they can call and continue doing what we’re doing.”

Emmanuel Baptist Church is also set host the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march on Donaldsonville’s Railroad Avenue. The date will be Jan. 18, 2016 at 11 a.m. and the church has begun partnering with other entities to ensure the success.

Rev. Brown said, “We’re just trying to do what’s right for the City of Donaldsonville and keep this community together.”

“We start all of our DDD events with prayer, but this was a magnificent program that Rev. Brown put on for this district and brought in the community,” Jandura said.