September 22, 2016
232-HELP, Inc. is proud to announce that Richard Zuschlag has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award. This award recognizes those individuals of substantial humanitarian accomplishment who exhibit a deep compassion for those less fortunate, a desire to improve the lives of the people of Acadiana, and whose life’s work has positively advanced these ideas.
Founded in 1965 by Jewell Lowe, her husband Bob Lowe and other community leaders, Southwest Louisiana Education and Referral Center (SLERC) – now 232-HELP – exists to help people in need return to productive and healthy lives by connecting these people with community resources and social services that address their needs.
Since 1965, the organization has assisted more than 10 million callers and has had an estimated economic impact of more than $170 million throughout Acadiana. Today, 232-HELP serves approximately 800,000 people in 10 south Louisiana parishes – Avoyelles, Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne and Vermilion.
When making the announcement of Richard’s selection, Jim Roy, president of the 232-HELP board, had this to say, “As one of its early board members and past presidents of 232-HELP, Richard’s commitment to our organization spans decades. Richard’s leadership has played a significant role in improving the lives of many through 232-HELP, as well as through his efforts with other 501(c)(3) groups such as the American Heart Association, Miles Perret Cancer Services, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Acadiana, Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, Boy Scouts of America, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation, Louisiana State University, Ascension Episcopal School, One Acadiana and Opus Christi Magnum among many others.
Mr. Roy went on to say, “Often it is hard to pick one person out of many to recognize as the recipient of the Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award. However, this year the selection committee decision was an easy one. The Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award was inspired by the life of Jewell P. Lowe who served as the executive director of 232-HELP for its first 42 years — most of it without a paycheck. She was determined to motivate a community to help those in need. “Like her, for decades Richard has been committed to making Acadiana a better place to live and work. His involvement has helped a number of charitable organizations better fulfill their missions. He has certainly helped 232-HELP become the agency that it is today – a leader in information and referral services and as an incubator of community programs, ensuring those in need for any reason find resources to improve their lives.
“This award is very special to me. As Jewell’s son, it is a pleasure to identify and recognize those who have contributed to the success of the organization she built. Richard’s influence continues today. He taught us the power of marketing, the innovation needed in fundraising, and the strategic selection of board and staff to ensure a strong, healthy and ever-green organization. We are forever in his debt.
“Importantly, his leadership and visibility have been a role model to others throughout his organization, this community and his family for giving back. Today, his daughter Beth LeBlanc carries on his commitment to 232-HELP as a current board member, and his family and employees continue their generous support of our organization.”
When notified of his selection, Mr. Zuschlag said, “I am humbled to receive the Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award from 232-HELP. Community involvement and charitable work have always been important to me.
“As Acadian Ambulance celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, I reflect on how many lives we have touched since we began providing pre-hospital emergency care. We are proud of our success as a local business, now with a national reach, and more proud of the opportunities that success has provided to us so that we can share with our community and those who need help,” Zuschlag added.
“As a young man, my parents taught me the value of giving one’s time and talents in appreciation for God’s blessings. Having served as a board member and president of 232-HELP has allowed me to focus on those in need in our community and provide a valuable service to many of our residents.
“I especially value the friendship and mentorship from Richard D’Aquin, a founding board member and past president of 232-HELP.”
Mr. Zuschlag is the chair and CEO of Acadian Ambulance Service, one of the nation’s largest privately owned ambulance companies, with more than 4,300 employees, 500 ambulances, six helicopters and five airplanes, serving a population of more than 20 million residents in 34 Louisiana parishes, 37 Texas counties and Jackson County, Mississippi. He went on to say, “We continuously build a culture of giving within today’s Acadian Companies. I am most proud to see Acadian’s employee-owners giving back to this community and others across our service areas in this same spirit of my work with 232-HELP, reaching out to help those in need. So many of our individuals volunteer their extra time, even when no recognition is involved.”
Zuschlag has been honored by many local, state and industry organizations for his decades of commitment and service to the community. In addition to the Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award, he has received the Lafayette Civic Cup, the Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America, the Golden Mike Award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, and the Marketer of the Year award by Sales & Marketing International of Greater Baton Rouge. He was also named Businessman of the Year for the State of Louisiana by the U.S. Small Business Administration, a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the healthcare and healthcare services category for the Gulf Coast Region, and a Junior Achievement Laureate. He most recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Pinnacle EMS Leadership Conference.
Richard’s community involvement reflects his strong family and community values. He and his wife, Elaine, have three children, Beth, Blair and Blaise, and their spouses, and eight grandchildren.
The Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award was presented to Richard Zuschlag the evening of Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at the annual major fundraiser for 232-HELP: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. The event featured a dozen of Lafayette’s finest chefs, live and silent auction, and an hour of Married to Broadway direct from New York singing the very best of Broadway.