Having a happy and healthy community is important, and part of that is providing safe spaces and needed resources for youth. Horizon Bank cares for its local communities and the programs needed to help the quality of life for some of the youngest residents. Their compassion is also the driving force behind the bank’s $5,000 donation on Jan. 31 to the Portage Township YMCA. The donation will support the School’s Out After-School Recreation (SOAR) after school program for middle school students.
“Horizon Bank has been a big proponent of what the YMCA does. It’s nice to show that a local community bank can give and make a difference,” said Mark Ritzi, Horizon Bank VP and Market President for Porter County.
The after-school program provides students a safe and engaging place to go after school. The SOAR program was started in January when Shannon Burhans, CEO at the Portage Township YMCA, recognized the need to offer more to that age group.
“This is a tough age. The most important people in their lives are now their peers and that can be difficult and confusing for a student. This is a safe place where we have adults, who aren’t mom and dad, whom, hopefully, they can feel safe enough to confide in,” Burhans said.
Students are bussed from local middle schools, fed a five-component meal, and then can participate in a multitude of activities ranging from games to STEM activities. They can also use the gym and play basketball with friends.
The funds received from Horizon Bank will go to good use, providing staff salaries and resources for activities to engage the students. Vicki Moreau, who leads the SOAR program and interacts with the middle school students each day, knows just how much the donation will mean to the program now and to the Portage community in the future.
“This donation is huge. I was born and raised here so Portage is very important to me. To have a local business support something that I think is so important is so meaningful. This is the next generation of Portage residents, so it’s very important that the community and local business step up because it means that they care, too,” Moreau said.
Supporting communities has always been a large part of Horizon Bank’s culture. They have had a long-standing presence in Portage and the many other communities they serve and have dedicated time and resources to improve quality of life in the Region.
“We’re a community bank and have been in the community for a long time. We want to support the community, it’s in our DNA to support local community activity,” Ritzi said.
Horizon Bank AVP and Branch Manager Mike Sarver, a lifetime Portage resident, has seen how programs at the YMCA can have a positive effect on the community.
“It’s really nice to work for a bank that’s involved in all of its communities. We’re committed to the communities we serve in. I’ve seen a lot of changes in Portage and it means a lot to me to see that our company shows a lot of support,” Sarver said.
Thanks to the generosity of local organizations like Horizon Bank, the SOAR program can carry on, providing a welcoming, safe, and engaging after school home for Portage’s middle schoolers.
For more information about Horizon Bank visit their website.