‘I love this city,’ says Poco Sloss, Times-Picayune Loving Cup recipient

By John Pope

Source: The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

May 27, 2021

Surrounded by friends who crowded the courtyard of the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Poco Sloss on Thursday was presented The Times-Picayune Loving Cup for 2020.

The Loving Cup has been given since 1901 to men and women who work for the public good without hope of a reward. But in his acceptance remarks, Sloss, 67, said his motivations for public service on a long list of nonprofit boards haven’t been altruistic.

“I have benefited hugely from volunteer work,” he said. “I have made good friends, enjoyed partnerships and collaborations, felt the exhilaration of reaching a group goal, learned about people and organizations which I otherwise would never have known.”

Then he added one more reason for his service: “I love this city.”

Sloss’ activism has included leadership of the boards of the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Children’s Museum and the Audubon Nature Institute, which he chaired twice.

He also has been a member of the City Planning Commission, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad board, the Board of Liquidation, City Debt, and the Sewerage & Water Board, where antiquated equipment and frequent malfunctions have made the agency the object of frequent, pointed commentary.

“Nothing more purely constitutes working unselfishly without recognition than serving on the Sewerage & Water Board,” Peter Kovacs, editor of The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, said to chuckles from the audience in introducing Sloss.

Sloss was quick to point out that Mayor LaToya Cantrell is working to get money to modernize the system.

“My time on the Water Board has been demanding but very educational,” he said. “I am confident that the team in place now has the desire and ability to turn the agency around.”

“Solving problems and working together to make the city a better place clearly bring him joy,” Kovacs said.

In her invocation, Anne Milling, a former Loving Cup recipient, praised Sloss as a “volunteer extraordinaire who has selflessly and quietly given of his time, talents and resources to improve the quality of life for those of our city.

“As a diligent and trusted leader, he serves as a role model, not only for his peers but for younger generations of New Orleanians.”

About 250 of Sloss’ friends attended the ceremony, which was held in the museum’s Jaeger Courtyard overlooking the lagoon in New Orleans’ City Park. The museum, which has been closed because of the pandemic, is scheduled to reopen Saturday.

In his speech, Sloss cited the museum as a “one-of-a-kind children’s museum,” which was erected with $27 million from the state and $19 million from private money.

“It was such a blast to work on that campaign,” he said.

The fundraising continued after the building was completed, Sloss said, citing a philanthropist’s contribution to cover museum fees for children from low-income families.

“The ability to adapt to a changing environment as quickly as the Children’s Museum has been able to is a function of the organization’s structure,” he said. “This combination of public and private funds managed by a nonprofit is the recipe for success.”

The evening ceremony had two refreshing characteristics: None of the guests was masked, and people were hugging, just as they had done routinely before going into pandemic-forced lockdown.

In his opening remarks, Kovacs couldn’t help noticing the phenomenon: “It’s great to be back together with friends and supporters after what seems like a 15-month winter.”

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