Yvonne Norman and Shaunn Callier-Harden
Community Local News

Women at Heart

Photo: Yvonne Normand presents Shaunn Callier-Harden with the 2022 Women With Heart award during a Thursday event at the Opelousas Civic Center.

Photo by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer

Contributing Writer

The two 2022 United Way Women of Heart recipients – Shaunn Callier-Harden and Dr. Gwen Fontenot — honored Thursday at the Opelousas Civic Center have each displayed high levels of community involvement in the parishes they continue to represent.

For Caillier-Harden, elected as Opelousas city judge last year, the thematic thread that ties together her community projects is based on fostering human relations.

“We need people to come together and see and treat other people as who they are and recognize them as human beings,” Caillier-Harden told the large audience that gathered for the annual program hosted by the St. Landry and Evangeline United Way chapters.

Caillier-Harden referenced the social media postings and television programs which she said promote too much negativity.

Focusing on humanity as a guiding concept Caillier-Harden maintained, provides what she described as “an easy solution” for solving world issues.

Caillier-Harden urged those living in Opelousas to become part of the movement begun by community members to embrace the area’s diversity.

“We need to bring back Opelousas and get our children off the streets. We are inviting you to go everywhere with us all over Opelousas and the community and help us in this effort,” Caillier-Harden said.

The March 27 Opelousas Love Fest event at North City Park was emblematic of what the city’s community leaders are hoping to accomplish in human relations that reflect diversity, equity and inclusion, Caillier-Harden said.

Women of Heart Caillier said, represent individuals who are active and provide others with the necessary resources to achieve success.

Gwen Fontenot was unable to attend the event because of a conference commitment associated with her role as a University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor, according to presenter Suzy Lemoine.

Lemoine outlined Fontenot’s extensive participation in charitable activities in Evangeline Parish that included hurricane and disaster relief and assisting with schools with numerous projects.

“Nothing is too small for (Fontenot) to become involved,” said Lemoine.

Katina Semien-Smothers was the keynote speaker for the 10th annual presentation event.