merican life is built on a foundation of independence and freedom. Some in our community face challenges to becoming the best version of themselves, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Holy Angels has been empowering those individuals with the love and support they need to excel since 35 children arrived on the south Shreveport campus in 1965.The Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows who launched Holy Angels made it their mission to provide value to the residents and the community. “The sisters were the original entrepreneurs,” said Laurie Boswell, executive director of Holy Angels. “They started with enterprises where the residents made crafts and sold them.”
That mission continues today with about 100 people in the Angel Works program. “We took that and made a business plan,” Boswell said. “We have developed enterprises focused on the talent and creative genius of those we serve.” Those enterprises include a paper shredding operation, horticulture, and ceramics. Some residents participate in creative arts, where they paint, make jewelry, and sew, then sell their creations. Others learn the culinary arts by making lasagna, cookies, biscotti and even dog biscuits that are sold at retail outlets across Shreveport and Bossier City.
Holy Angels also partners with local businesses that provide job training and employment for residents. Rhino Coffee blends and sells Holy Rhino coffee for Holy Angels. “We find that a painting or a cookie has intrinsic value,” Boswell said. “The community has embraced Angel Works in a tremendous way.”
Two years ago, some of the artists from Holy Angels participated in a juried art show, “A Beautiful Life,” at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. Next spring, the Norton will host “A Beautiful Life 2” with more work from the artists of Holy Angels. “It’s an expression of the joy and friendships they build, as they create a life of independence,” Boswell said.
With the help of Microsoft and a former resident’s family, Holy Angels recently upgraded the Natalie and Jane Gottlieb Technology Center. Residents can use the center to learn computer design. One resident uses the center to design and create his own line of fishing lures.
Holy Angels takes a holistic approach to fostering independence for its residents. The campus includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a wellness center where staff and residents can work out together. Holy Angels also has a choir and several social and services clubs.
As a faith-based organization, Holy Angels welcomes and celebrates spirituality in all faiths.
All the work of Holy Angels is possible, in part, because of volunteers, Boswell said. “Holy Angels is a jewel of the community,” she said. “It’s often a hidden jewel. We invite local artists and craftsmen to come out and volunteer. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come out and have a great experience.”
Boswell said Holy Angels is unique in that it does accept Medicaid, but that funding does not cover its operating costs. Holy Angels looks to raise more than $1.5 million a year to cover the expenses Medicaid funding does not meet. Boswell said the organization holds several fundraising events each year, including the Angel Run, scheduled for April 24.
“Medicaid does not provide the funding to operate at this level of excellence,” Boswell said. “We have an operating shortfall between what we receive and our cost to operate. We thank the community for supporting us, and hope everyone would consider giving. It’s a great investment for anyone looking for a worthy cause to support.”