This August, the people of Baton Rouge, Louisiana were battered with unprecedented rainfall producing 7 trillion gallons of water — three times the rainfall total of Hurricane Katrina — causing $8.7 billion in damages and destroying more than 60,000 homes, over 160,000 buildings.

Even after approval of $55 million in federal aid, local families, schools, and businesses in Baton Rouge continued to struggle to rebuild and return to normalcy in the wake of the flood’s destruction. With the devastation of the community overshadowed in mainstream media, Tina Knowles-Lawson, knew that just donations alone would not suffice.

After traveling to Baton Rouge in September to meet with the Governor’s Office and state legislators, Mrs. Knowles-Lawson was moved to host a Thanksgiving dinner to honor the resilience of the city’s residents as they prepared to head into the holiday season. In an effort to alleviate some of that struggle and provide support to a community close to the hearts of the Knowles-Lawson family, 'Love On Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute' was born.



In collaboration with ESSENCE , and  with Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland and support from BeyGOOD, Mrs. Knowles-Lawson joined together to celebrate the strength exhibited by the Baton Rouge community in the face of the devastating floods.  The event  shed a deserving light on those committed to doing good for others in their own times of need.

Since the beginning of the flooding on August 11 th , an estimated 30% of the school-aged population in Louisiana has been unable to attend school due to damage to schools in addition to the displacement of both students and teachers displaced by the floods.

The Love On Louisiana fundraising dinner and awards ceremony, with support from the City of Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana, honored some of those exemplary students and teachers who displayed inspiring dedication to rebuilding their communities notwithstanding their own hardships. The goal is to raise $1million to help rebuild home in partnership with Habitat For Humanity of Baton Rouge.

Honorees included Payton Martin, a young man who used his family’s boat to rescue families before traveling to Texas to Transport a truck full of much-needed supplies to his neighbors in need in Baton Rouge, as well as twin brothers Jeremiah and Jermain Robinson, high school students who despite having recently lost their father, pitched in to help people clean up their damaged property.

The 800 attendees enjoyed a seated dinner while they listened to speeches from Mrs. Knowles-Lawson,   ESSENCE Editor-In-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca, Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, our own Ivy McGregor and Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and performances by local talent Quiana Lynell and the Westdale Middle School Dance Group.

Each attendee left the dinner with a pair of Jordan Brand sneakers generously donated by Nike’s Brand Jordan, and a Thanksgiving turkey courtesy of our partners at GUCCI and Project 70805.

As we move into the holiday season, it is important that we take the time to give thanks, as well as the time to BeyGOOD and give back as all of our generous partners graciously demonstrated.

While the people of Baton Rouge have began to rebuild, their journey is far from over. In the spirit of giving, you can show your support for the Baton Rouge community by donating HERE and join in the conversation with #LoveOnLouisiana.

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A sincere thank you to partners Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge, Essence, BeyGOOD, NIKE’s Brand Jordan, GUCCI, Project 70805 and Sam’s Club for contributing to the overall success and support for this event.

Photo Credit: Daniela Vesco
Copy by: Rachel Hislop