Laughs, Love, and ScholarshipsApr 8th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: Top Story
Hundred turn out for Chamber’s Roast of Doris Voitier
The St. Bernard Parish Board of Education in conjunction with The Chamber of Commerce hosted the first annual Chamber Roast in the Fredric Sigur Civic Center’s North Hall on Thursday March 31. St. Bernard Parish’s Superintendant of Schools Doris Voitier was the star of the evening.
Voitier was honored as the first roastee for this new-annual tradition because of her role as Superintendant, one she’s held for many years, and to help draw attention to the evening’s true purpose: establish a college scholarship fund.
The Chamber hopes future roasts will contribute to the fund as well, “So our children will hopefully become business people in our community,” said Joey DiFatta.
DiFatta was Master of Ceremonies for the evening, also co-chairman of the roast.
In accordance with the Friars Club motto, “We only roast the ones we love,” the panel of roasters was selected for their close relationships to Voitier.
DiFatta said that Voitier was “really the most incredible superintendant of any community… And I’ll be picking on her all night.”
The rest of the roast panel consisted of:
Parish President Craig Taffaro, Sheriff Jack Stephens and Associate Superintendent Beverly Lawrason.
Humility not required
When President Taffaro took stage, he characterized Voitier as a tough woman of character, but mused about Voitier’s humility. Taffaro said that when the decision was finally reached to offer Voitier the position of Queen of the Irish Italian and Isleños Parade, and he’d asked her officially, Voitier said, “What took you so long to ask me? Don’t you know what I’ve accomplished?”
And though Taffaro said Voitier was “never to shy to play the It’s for the children card,” he had to admit, “She’s good at what she does.”
He then passed a basket to the crowd for Voitier to raise more money for the schools.
It’s what’s underneath that counts
Jack Stephens talked more about Voitier personally than as a superintendant, but also highlighted how intertwined the two personas were. Sheriff Stephens said that whenever he was about to go on-camera to talk with the people of the parish, Voitier would always be there to tell him, “Don’t Slouch.”
“And I’d say I’ve done this before, Doris,” Stephens continued. To which Voitier invariably replied, “Not well.”
And Voitier also professed during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “In an event like this,” Stephens quoted Voitier, “have things there to challenge you.”
The sheriff then presented his hurricane readiness kit, consisting of a coloring book and crayons, clean underwear with his name stitched on the rear, some anti-frizz cream “for my hair” he said, pointing at his bare scalp. And finally, to “broaden my horizons,” Sheriff Stephens presented a 1976 edition of Playboy. He also presented Voitier with her own lace underwear to start her own kit, “for special occasions.”
But some of her advice was useful to the Sheriff, and Voitier lived the example, “Jack, come to work prepared to go to work.” And for that, Stephens said he could not think of anyone “who had done a more heroic job” after the storm than Voitier.
A loose cannon can hit its mark
Roaster Beverly Lawrason spared no one on stage. Starting right out with, “I finally worked my way to the Sheriff’s table, and he’s a has-been,” said Lawrason of the Sheriff, who recently announced that he would not seek reelection in the Fall.
When Lawrason focused on Voitier, it was clear how close their work had brought them over the years. “I know she’s seen as this horrid, tough, charging woman,” said the associate superintendent, who said Voitier would occasionally muse of her staff, “Sometimes I think they all hate me.”
“Don’t be silly,” Lawrason said, “they don’t all know you.”
As for Voitier, the leader, “You go in with a question, and come out with 155,” Lawrason said. But also that Voitier was fiercely loyal, dedicated, and “she had a cold wet nose.”
When Voitier was allowed to take the podium and rebut, her first comment was, “I guess I’m supposed to thank the three of them.”
On her retiring colleague, Sheriff Jack Stephens, Voitier poked at the Sheriff’s propensity for handing out commendations, saying that he hands out so many why bother taking a census? “At least we’d know how many registered voters there were.”
As for Taffaro, Voitier wanted to extend the offer to work with him more often. “He can come over to my office for tutoring.” Voitier also provided insight into Taffaro’s leadership, “Craig is heavily influenced by the advice of his hair dresser.”
And Voitier was not done there. She said that Joey DiFatta was an excellent choice for Master of Ceremonies because he “never met a microphone he didn’t like.”
But Superintendent Voitier was thankful. With 250 tickets sold to all those attending, and the proceeds earned from the silent auction, the event raised thousands of dollars for the chamber and the scholarship.
“I love St. Bernard Parish,” Voitier said of her 40 years here. Calling her work “passion, not a job,” and saying of everyone on the panel, all of them committed to rebuilding the parish, “We’d do anything… What can we offer our children? How can we make their lives better.”
And her thanks were extending to the Chamber as well, not just for the money earned that evening, but for the success they bring to the community. “Kid’s need people to look up to.”