Jan 112018

Sister Jane Remson and Deacon John talk in front of the Jax Beer mural at Rock N Bowl where they are hosting an 8Oth birthday party for Allen Toussaint Sunday night that will raise funds for the New Orleans Artists Against Hunger & Homelessness. (photo via Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Sr. Jane Remson, O’Carm, has devoted her entire life to serving the community. Descended from a line of hearty Germans who brewed Jax Beer and owned Frey Meats, Remson took her vows right out of Mt. Carmel Academy as an expression of her faith.

A trained medical technologist who opened hospital laboratories in the Philippines and was a leukemia researcher at Tulane, Remson was director of Bread For The World at Loyola University when Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville approached her about raising money to feed and house New Orleanians in need. With support from former Mayor Dutch Morial and his then city attorney Michael Bagneris, the New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness NOAAHH), held their first benefit concert which took in $30,000.

More than 35 years and $3 million dollars later, NOAAHH will celebrate Allen Toussaint’s “Legacy of Caring” with a benefit concert Sunday evening at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl. Marcia Ball and Deacon John and the Ivories will headline the show. “As a co-founder, Allen Toussaint was incredibly instrumental to the success of the NOAAHH all these years. Because of his generosity and the support of dozens of other musicians, NOAAHH has been able to help feed thousands of people and address the problems of homelessness in our community,” said Remson, who now serves as NOAAHH’s president emeritus.

In addition to Toussaint and Neville, other celebrities who have worked with NOAAHH include Irma Thomas, Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffet, Ry Cooder, John Goodman, Charmaine Neville, Frogman Henry, Huey Lewis, Joan Baez, Boz Scaggs, Elvis Costello, The Neville Brothers, Troy Andrews and Maria Muldaur. Jazz impresario Quint Davis has traditionally produced each event. “We rely on Quint for his leadership. He has always been very helpful to us,” said Remson.

NOAAHH is run by an all-volunteer board headed by Pete Hilzim, the originator of Crawfish Monica, along with Sandra Cordray, Beth Landry, Brooke Duncan III, John Pope, Rachel Guttmann, and several others. NOAAHH has no staff and distributes almost 100 percent of funds raised to non-profit organizations at a Red Beans and Rice dinner each year. NOAAHH gave out $58,000 last year to 50 qualifying organizations including Project Lazarus, Bridge House/Grace House, Jewish Family Services, Ozanam Inn, and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

“Events like our benefit concerts are good for the community because they bring people together to help one another,” said Rensom. “I want to thank the people of New Orleans and the artists for all their support over the years” Remson continued. NOAAHH is also planning an early April benefit concert in New York which will reach a broader audience and include many of Toussaint’s East Coast connections.


Local feminist icon Felicia Kahn was only trying to unload her sundries from the drug store when a family of petty thieves snatched her purse last Sunday afternoon on Carondelet Street. A spry 91-year-old who still drives and keeps in shape by attending fitness classes at the JCC every week, Kahn was no match for the unassuming couple with a small child who must have considered her an easy mark. Kahn spent yesterday buying new glasses, replacing her cell phone and wondering if she should install security cameras.

No matter the neighborhood, everyone needs a person protection plan complete with the training and supplies to implement it. Many of the suggestions are simple and effective. Most plans start with personal awareness of you, your surroundings and potential threats. Always act with confidence, even if you are afraid. A confident individual is less likely to become a victim. Rely on your gut instincts. If a person doesn’t “feel right,” get away from him or her. Keep your personal possessions (purse, phone, etc.) close to you. Don’t speak with or open your door to strangers who might approach. Your car is a mode of transportation, not a place to put on make-up or check your social media. Keep your doors locked and your car rolling.

Consider enrolling in a self-defense class. Several are offered across the city including through members of the Home Defense Foundation. Many women also feel comfortable using pepper spray, mace, taser guns or every knives. These are also weapons a person must be trained to use. For individuals who might consider a firearm necessary, the Home Defense Foundation offers free firearm training and safety classes. A concealed weapons permit is also recommended.

It is up to all individual to take the proactive steps necessary to protect themselves. No one is going to do it for you. Stay safe.


Criminal Court Judge Robin Pittman is hosting a fundraiser tonight at Basin Street Station for what is shaping up to be a tough race against Civil District Court Clerk Dale Atkins for an open seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. State Senators Wesley Bishop and Troy Carter are serving as Honorary Co-Chairs along with event chairs Phil Wittman, Charles Rice, Mark Suprenant, Dwayne Bernal, Nandi Campbell, Ralph Capitelli and others. Also signed on are Jay Batt, Dr. Marc Behar, Blake Jones, Craig Mitchell, Cesar Burgos, Rico Alvendia and former Lt. Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris.

Richard Perque is kicking off his campaign tonight for Civil District Court at Café Reconcile. Only two other candidates remain in that race.

Finally, political insiders are already wondering who will replace CDC Judge Clare Jupiter, now recovering from a serious illness and not expected to return to the bench. Governor Edwards should call the replacement election for the fall. Let us pray for Judge Jupiter’s speedy recovery.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

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