New Iberia

In 1980, Sister Helen Vinton went to work in New Iberia for the Southern Mutual Help Association (founded in 1969, SMHA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating viable, healthy, rural communities through affordable home ownership for some of Louisiana’s poorest families, as well as comprehensive sustainable economic development for farmers and fishers. She and her friend Lorna Bourg worked together for SMHA on pesticide safety issues in south Louisiana. They were successful in getting buffer zones established around area hospitals, schools, and homes to protect children and families from aerial pesticide application. In the late 1980s, Sister Helen served on Commissioner Bob Odom’s Department of Agriculture Environmental Pesticide Committee and used this venue to advocate pesticide safety. She received the Mother Theodore Guerin Medallion from her alma mater, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Today, she is currently working with the Vietnamese communities in Louisiana on fishing issues and their needs to recover from the hurricanes and the BP disaster.