New Partnership Between Family Advocates and Paladin Emphasizes Compassion, Service

New Partnership Between Family Advocates and Paladin Emphasizes Compassion, Service

Paladin and Family Advocates, both non-profit agencies headquartered in LaPorte County, have partnered to meet the unique needs of vulnerable youth and young adults in our community. We are pleased to announce that this effort connects young people to meaningful volunteerism and community service experiences while providing benefit to another underserved population- those with developmental disabilities. 

Beginning in November, eligible youth and young adults will volunteer alongside individuals with developmental disabilities in the art program, day classrooms, and other appropriate spaces. The youth will be accompanied by a Family Advocate Community Youth Advocate (CYA) mentor. The innovative model was proposed by Family Advocates’ CYA Program Director and Youth Wellness Court Coordinator and comes with approval from the county’s Youth Wellness Court Judge, Honorable Thomas Alevizos. 

Paladin already welcomes several volunteers into its programming as we believe in creating and promoting opportunities for inclusion. “It benefits the individuals with developmental disabilities who attend our day programming in particular, to have direct and naturally occurring interactions with those who do not have disabilities.” Said Steve Hobby, CEO of Paladin. This benefit comes in the form of mutual understanding, increased awareness, confidence and a chance to reduce or eliminate stereotypes. By pairing Family Advocate participants alongside people with varying degrees of abilities; we provide the space for understanding each other and appreciating the positive attributes, skills and abilities of others. 

Family Advocates works with youth and families from all backgrounds and seeks to meet the needs of anyone who is referred to our programming. The opportunity to work with Paladin broadens the opportunities offered in helping every person in the community feel they are valued and opens doors for participants in the CYA Program specifically to gain a greater understanding of individual with developmental disabilities. Jackie Dermody, Family Advocates’ CEO stated, “After seeing the wonderful Paladin clients at the LaPorte County Fair and having further discussions with staff, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for a partnership so our youth could gain a greater understanding of our community members.” 

Both Paladin and Family Advocates expect the impact of this project to lead to healthier and safer communities where young people and people with disabilities feel that they belong and can contribute positively. We anticipate that these groups of at-risk young people and underrepresented people with disabilities will connect to form a deeper sense of compassion, attachment, and understanding of the world around them. 

About Family Advocates 

Family Advocates is a non-profit organization has been a part of LaPorte County for over 33 years serving youth and families with 3 segments of programming: CASA works to provide children involved in the child welfare system a voice so their best interests can be heard; Harmony House provides supervised visitation for children who have been removed from their homes to visit with their parents a safe and nurturing environment. Parental coaching is provided as is free training; and CYA works with youth struggling with various barriers to academic and personal development in various segments of our community through one-on-one mentoring. To become a volunteer for CASA or CYA, please visit or contact us at 219.324.3385 and we’d be happy to help you find a way to help. 

About Paladin, Inc.

Paladin is a non-profit that serves as determined advocates and allies for people with disabilities, children, and seniors in northwest Indiana. In fact, we’ve been doing it for over fifty years! Paladin was created through a merger between Michiana Resources and Parents and Friends on July 1, 2017. Michiana Resources, founded in 1967 by Richard F. Surber, provided vocational opportunities. Parents and Friends, founded in 1976 by Joan Coleman and Jane Herrberg, provided direct support and residential services to intellectually disabled individuals in the community. Paladin also merged with Barker Enrichment Center (2018) and the Childcare Consortium (2019) to provide children’s services. To further our mission, we assumed the non-emergency medical transportation program from Council on Aging. Paladin also accepted disabilities day programming in Lake County (2018) and today serves approximately 500 children, individuals with intellectual disabilities, and seniors in Northwest Indiana. To support Paladin’s efforts or for career opportunities, contact us at, visit us online at or