A Force for Good

August 27, 2015
Created from Need

The seed for starting a new charitable organization had been planted before the storm, but it was the power and impact of Hurricane Katrina that compounded the need for the organization’s formation. The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation (LHF) was founded in 2006 to support the varied needs of members of the largest employment sector in Louisiana – the hospitality industry.

Before the Storm

A handful of industry leaders had been working together on other charitable efforts that focused use of the industry’s resources for educational programs. But there was a desire to do even more for the community and to provide greater access for financial assistance to members of the hospitality industry.

David Blitch and Tony Abadie (soon-to-be Co-Founders, President and Vice President) began the official path of forming a new charitable organization.

Identifying Needs & Building Resources

In spring of 2006, efforts were well underway to understand the effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana’s hospitality industry. There was a need for help and support literally everywhere you turned, so it was mandatory to create a fundraising mechanism quickly.

The Foundation operated an event concept called the Champions Club. It was a ticketed VIP area, a tent inside the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (a PGA tour event), which was developed into an annual funding program for the Foundation. The LHF received a portion of ticket proceeds in exchange for operating the tent’s food and beverage, as well as other logistics to provide a premium guest experience.

Proceeds from the 2006 Champions Club at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans were used to support the Foundation’s initial benevolence.

A Force for Good

Hurricane Katrina had physical and mental impacts on society. People that returned were struggling to find normalcy. Businesses wanted to get open, to create normalcy. The LHF realized if they could help create more “normal” moments, it could help the community.

The Foundation’s initial outreach included rebuilding efforts.

  • St. Dominic School, which was stricken with floodwaters near rooftops, received assistance from the Foundation to rebuild their student kitchen, which was used once a week to cook meals for the homeless.

  • Funds were given to the Boy Scouts ro rebuild their arsenal of cooking equipment.

  • Mrs. Leah Chase and her iconic restaurant Dooky Chase needed to reopen, which would also help bring back what we knew as “normal” for the residents of New Orleans. The Foundation purchased a new POS (point of sale) system that was crucial to opening the restaurant.

Continuing the Giving

Since 2006, the Foundation has continued its charitable efforts and given over $1.3 million to support its mission to provide support for the education, health and social welfare of the community. The Foundation has provided support to many hospitality employees, funded culinary scholarships through Louisiana Pro Start, helped to build teaching kitchens at St. Paul’s Episcopal School and Columbia Parc at the Bayou District, and supported University of New Orleans’ Hotel, restaurant and Tourism Administration program.