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Richard Emerson, an instructor of social sciences, was named one of 10 recipients of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Angel Award.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield gives this award to [10] people [throughout the state] who have done something to benefit the children of Louisiana,” Emerson said.

Emerson was honored with this award because of his work with the Emerson Center, which is currently moving to 203 South Vienna St. in Ruston.

Emerson was nominated for this award by his daughter.

“That’s the sweetest thing of all,” he said. “That’s the best award I could ever receive.”

Emerson said the center opened in fall of 1999.

The Emerson Center’s purpose is to help children with behavioral or emotional problems. The service area is in and around Lincoln Parish.

Emerson said that the center primarily focuses on children and juveniles.

“They shouldn’t have to break the law to get help,” Emerson said. “We’re interested in reaching out and helping those that need it.”

He initially opened the center because he loves working with children.

“There’s just not any greater joy than that,” Emerson said. “There’s just something special about it. You can touch their lives and make a difference.”

Along with the prestige of the award, Emerson will receive $20,000 to help continue his efforts with the Emerson Center.

Emerson said the center is currently moving from its old location to a new, more spacious one.

“In 1999, we were seeing about 30 kids a month,” Emerson said. “This year, we’ve been seeing about 180 kids a month.”

Emerson said the center is composed of five part-time employees, two volunteers and about 20 to 25 student interns.

He also said the center plans to hire at least one employee for an additional day each week.

“It’s been a real blessing that students have been involved as volunteers or interns,” Emerson said. “I think that as long as students know there is a need, they’ll respond.”

Emerson said the center is considering the possibility of expanding its services into Claiborne, Bienville and Jackson Parishes.

He also said he is planning on leaving Tech at the end of winter quarter to pursue full-time work at the Emerson Center.

“I felt like this was something I was going to need to do eventually,” Emerson said. “I really felt like it’s got to the point where the Emerson Center needs someone that can devote more time and energy to it.”

Ashley Porche, a junior political science major, said Emerson winning this award will show what a wonderful professor and person he is.

“Through his love and dedication to Emerson Center and sociology, I [now have] a passion and understanding for the center and what it does,”Porche said.

Jason Pigg, the interim department head of social sciences and an associate professor of political science, is excited about Emerson’s achievement.

“I think this is larger than the university,” Pigg said. “All of the faculty [in this department] knows he is completely well-deserving of this award. He’s put his heart and soul into getting the Emerson Center up and running.”

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