One of the amazing things about Acadiana and St. Landry in particular are the good samaritans.
There are so many people that go above and beyond to make the parish and the city of Opelousas a place to that everyone wants to live.
Tim Marks, just one St. Landry samaritan, who gives the phrase care for your neighbors a whole new meaning.
Sharon Fontenot originally opened New Hope Christian Academy in 2001 with a desire to teach students in a Christian environment. With about 20 students enrolled, the school moved to different locations across Opelousas.
“Most recently, she was at another campus where the landowner had other plans for the property, so they weren't going to be able to utilize that property anymore.” said Marks.
During this time, Fontenot was taking care of her son, Trent suffered from lymphoma, at St. Jude's Hospital. Wanting to support his aunt during a difficult time, Tim Marks purchased land and give the academy a permanent home.
“It was hard to see her dream just get washed away. I hadn't owned any property before and I wasn't even really sure I could do it.” said Marks.
The school now serves almost 90 students, K through 12, who learn in small groups, taking advantage of in depth music and art lessons all on a campus with a montage to a special hero. But Marks works doesn't stop at
purchasing property. Jason Huguet of Steamboat Warehouse, Chip Burleson of Frank's Downtown and Marks co-pilot the city's annual gumbo cook-off.
“We select a child in out community who has cancer or some type of severe illness that they are battling and we do, basically it's a benefit fundraiser for that child and their family.” said Marks.
57 teams participated on January 25th of this year which resulted in the second highest donations collected in the cook-off's eight year run.
“It's amazing when you see there is so many people that come out, so many people that help all along the way, so many bands that donate their time.” said Marks.
Marks, a registered nurse and clinical trials coordinator at Opelousas General also sits on the board of the St. Landry/Evangeline United Way. The husband and father of two, works with Opelousas Mainstreet, St. Landry/Evangeline Sexual Assualt Center, has served on the chamber board, and was recognized as the Chamber's Citizen of the Year in 2013. Finding the time to give back to his community is this St. Landry samaritan's second-nature.
“Well, first of all it's home. and that's what it's really all about, doing things that show our culture, show off our heritage here and show all those neat characteristic things and do it in a way that's conducive to business and family and to events that are fun and have good causes.” said Marks.