Clap-N-Praise Seasoning & Products is the newest brand to hit the Acadiana market. (Photo: Courtesy of Clap-N-Praise Seasoning & Products)
Two local veterans are “still serving” the Acadiana area in a unique way.
Husband-wife Navy veterans, Rollen and Lakondra "Connie" Hines, are the duo behind Lafayette’s newest seasoning brand: Clap-N-Praise, seasoning that will have your taste buds clapping and praising for more!
Each seasoning combines fresh Louisiana herbs and spices and contains no MSG. This company's edge lies in its variety of low-sodium and no-salt options.
Clap-N-Praise seasoning currently offers the following bold flavors:
Each shaker seasoning is $4.99, and “mix” bags range in price from $2.99 to $3.05, the Hines' personal favorite shaker is Cajun Heat.
Clap-N-Praise seasoning is currently sold at Nunu’s Grocery Stores in Youngsville, Scott, and Milton or on their website at clapnpraiseseasonings.com.
Rollen, 47, and Connie, 42, are New Iberia natives who formed C&P's Clap-N-Praise Seasoning from recipes they developed during date-night cooking competitions with family and friends.
One day, the thought sparked that they turn their home spice recipes into a brand as a way to help fund their family-run project. For the last five years, the couple has fed and sheltered local homeless citizens completely out of their pockets, playfully calling themselves “2 Navy Vets Still Serving.”
It all started Thanksgiving 2014 when they decided to bring their complete holiday meal to a local men's shelter. Feeling the positivity of what they had done, Rollen and Connie made a commitment to continue the tradition every holiday going forward.
But they didn't stop at holidays. Their tradition expanded, and soon they were bringing food and care packages to shelters on a monthly basis, using their personal income and food from their freezer to fund the cause. Breaking beyond their normal routine, the couple often sits on the curbside to get to know and mentor locally displaced citizens and veterans and even find them a hotel room during inclement weather.
"A plate of food will open up a conversation and tear down walls," said Rollen. "We believe one single act can make a difference. That is why we do what we do."
When the veterans grew to feed up to 200 people monthly, they decided to organize into an L3C they named the 2 Navy Vets Foundation, 2navyvets.org.
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Through the foundation, Rollen and Connie help to connect local veterans and non-veterans to homeless shelters, rehab programs and VA medical centers. They also educate those in need on benefits available to them from agencies such as CASA, Smile, VFW and the DAV.
They run their foundation in memory of Connie's oldest brother Wilfred A. Polk Jr., a U.S. Army veteran.
The Hines explained that often most veterans are unaware of the benefits they are eligible of through the VA or that they can access their personal medical records.
As veterans who have experienced PTSD and the strife of returning to normal life after serving in the forces, being the foundation to help raise fellow veterans up is the heart of their mission.
"If you don't have a foundation to help you through it and you feel alone, you can't survive," said Connie. "Any success we have through our organization is a great success. We don't want any individual left behind or not know how to get access to help."
The couple has success stories from over the years — from saving the lives of veterans on the brink of suicide to helping others rehabilitate from addictions such as alcoholism — but they do not boast in their good works. To the Hines, it's just daily living and the right thing to do.
Faith is a foundation to the Hines who named their brand accordingly.
"None of what we do would be possible if we didn't keep God first," said Connie.
Through their seasoning brand, they have helped to raise funds to continue their organization.
"This brand isn't really about the seasoning but about the people we help through the 2 Navy Vets Foundation," said Rollen. "When you purchase our seasoning your helping lift the less fortunate of Acadiana."
The Hines' 10-year plan with the brand is the first of it's kind for the Acadiana area.
"We want to be the first line for helping individuals get back on their feet," said Rollen. "We hope that our seasoning brand can grow enough that the individuals that we come across, especially veterans, can come to our warehouse, work around other military people and get re-acclimated back into society so the foundation can run full circle."
The Hines are currently traveling every weekend to a different location to set up a vendor booth for their seasoning brand and foundation.
Want to donate to the 2 Navy Vets Foundation? Purchase a Clap-N-Praise shaker from clapnpraiseseasonings.com or grab a 2 Navy Vets T-shirt or wristband.
You can follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/2navyvets.org and their Clap-N-Praise Seasoning Brand at facebook.com/clapnpraise.