NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The FOX 8 family lost a gem of a woman earlier this month after a quick and cruel battle with cancer.
Babs Isaacson was 86-years-old and a driving force behind the FOX 8 Defenders, volunteering through the National Council of Jewish Women up until the week after her diagnosis in September. She shaped the way we help consumers.
"There wasn't a problem that she wouldn't attack and get to the bottom of," FOX 8 Defenders Executive Director Susan Tramontana said.
Isaacson was the definition of a volunteer and in a category of her own, rising to the highest level of service.
"It was Babs' mission to help anyone, everyone who needed it ... who asked for it. She was there, and she's trained myself and our volunteers to do that; to listen and listen carefully," Tramontana said.
Tramontana often referred to the consumer advocacy program as Babs' 6th child. Babs was a mother of five who also had 10 grand kids.
"She (Babs) heard of the consumer advocacy, particularly in the Midwest, and she brought back the idea here to New Orleans. She organized it. She got the volunteers who were eager once they spoke with Babs," NCJW President June Leopold said. That was 20 years ago when Babs served as NCJW President.
Since then, over the last two decades, the service project has been far reaching, from Southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi. Volunteers, with Babs always in the driver's seat, helped thousands of consumers and in the last five years alone saved our viewers more than $2 million.
New Orleans resident Michael Maples is in that number. "She called me back and said oh Mr. Maples we can help you with this.. big weight lifted off my shoulders," Maples said. He turned to the FOX 8 Defenders for help getting his termite inspection certificate from a contractor after Katrina. From the beginning, he says Babs was on the case. "He (the contractor) tried to put her off a few times, but in the long run, I got my money," Maples said.
Babs had an energy and determination about her that was contagious, and longtime friend Carol Lise Rosen says no consumer situation was too big or small. "She would come to me with a case and say you know, how do you think we should do this? and we would talk for a little while and come up with some different ideas that each one of us had not thought of independently and she was a team player," Rosen said.
While Babs' goal was always to solve consumer issues, she pushed for education along the way. "Anybody can help a person, but if you don't teach them along the way, they're gonna continue having the same problems," Tramontana said.
The Louisiana Associated Press recognized and awarded the FOX 8 Defenders for its continuing coverage of an animal cruelty case in Lafourche Parish. Babs and the FOX 8 Defenders also have a Suncoast Emmy under their belt for their coverage of a pastor and contractor accused of taking money from elderly homeowners and never finished the job.
Outside of the FOX 8 Defenders, Babs helped clothe the homeless, and for years, manned the surgery lounge at Touro Infirmary. "This involved a close contact with people, loved ones who were waiting for word from the surgeon about the operation and how it had gone," Rosen said.
She had a petite stature, but she left behind a footprint that's unmatched. "New Orleans needs something like FOX 8 Defenders. New Orleans needed a Babs for sure, but we need someone who will look out for the little guy and take care of the community," Maples said.
Babs Isaacson shaped the FOX 8 Defenders. Her legacy will never be forgotten and will live on through every volunteer and consumer we help.