Community News Feed - LaPorteCountyLife Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:03:30 +0000 en hourly 1 Paladin, Inc. empowers clients through vocational rehabilitation Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:00:18 +0000 Beth Ireland For fourteen years, Stacey Wolfinsohn has been bagging groceries while spreading cheer and a smile with everyone she encounters. She wouldn’t have the job she loves so much if it weren’t for the excellent Vocational Rehabilitation program at Paladin, Inc. 

“They (the staff at Paladin) are awesome. It’s nice to be supported,” said Wolfinsohn.

Wolfinsohn is just one of the many talented individuals that Paladin supports through their Vocational Rehabilitation program. As a team, the Employment Specialists (ES) work hard to provide their participants with meaningful work and support them along the way. 

“Our Employment Specialists are so hard working. They work evenings, weekends, whatever the client needs. It’s a job they’re proud of and love, but it’s hard work and they do such a great job,” said Diane Downs, Director of Employment Services at Paladin.

Through the state’s Vocational Rehab program, a person will choose Paladin for services and then go through a discovery process. This is where the ES finds out what skills and interests the individual has and may even take him/her out to actual companies to see what a job they may be interested in fully entails. 

“We try to find where they would work best in the community, discover what skills they have, develop needed skills, and find out what they have an interest in so that when we do find them a job, they are well-placed, happy, and will flourish,” Downs said.

From there, the ES works with the participant to apply and get the job. From helping them create a resume or fill out applications to mock interviews and job training, the ES will spend as much time as needed working with the individual to get them ready for a new job. 

“I love when they conquer that interview, watching them exchange and have a conversation with someone else. It’s also great when they get the job without me sitting in on the interview. It shows me that all of those interview skills and questions I worked with them on really paid off,” said Freya Churchwell, Employment Specialist at Paladin. “When they get the job, it makes me feel like I got the job. I’m so proud.”

Once the person lands a job, the ES works closely with them during training and their first few weeks employed to ensure that everything is running smoothly. As the individual settles into the position, it’s time for the ES to slowly pull back and let him/her thrive.

“My favorite part of the process is when the client doesn’t need us there all the time. They’ve progressed, and that’s the most fulfilling part when they don’t need me. I did my job,” said David Washington, Employment Specialist at Paladin. 

Thriving at work is something many Paladin participants do well. They enjoy their work and are dependable employees. 

“Our clients are a reliable workforce. They rarely call off, they hate being late, and they’re extremely reliable. It’s a win-win,” Downs said.

Wolfinsohn, for instance, has been bagging groceries at Al’s for seven years and has become a dependable employee whose effervescence and cheer touches the lives of her co-workers and customers. And that dedication and hard work have certainly been rewarded.

“I was given gift cards for coming in on my days off. I like being rewarded for my hard work,” Wolfinsohn said.

For individuals like Wolfinsohn, having the independence to go to a job they enjoy is important. 

“My job gets me out of the house. It’s been amazing, and the environment is so cool,” she said.

Being a part of any type of community is something most people crave, and the people at Paladin are no different. Those who are out in their local communities are receiving a vital opportunity to socialize with other people, as well as showing local businesses and communities that individuals with disabilities are just like them. 

“It’s important to interact and socialize. It brings awareness to the community that our participants are fully capable of doing anything anyone else is doing. It has opened a lot of people’s eyes to what they can contribute to the community and businesses. They need to socialize and the community needs to socialize or work with our clients,” Downs said. 

The clients who are a part of the Paladin’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program also gain a huge amount of confidence through their employment.

“You have a sense of worth when you have a job; It does a lot for your self-worth. Most people who aren’t working know the horrible feeling that is,” Downs said.

“You’re giving a person a sense of pride and helping them become a part of a community. You’re giving to them, and they’re giving back,” Churchwell said.

“When you see a person feel good about themselves and you know you helped them, you feel good yourself,” Washington said.

Maybe that’s why participants like Wolfinsohn stay with Paladin for years. They’re given the care and support they need to be the best they can be, and they bring that same dedication into their work place. And they’re just happy to be there. 

“I really enjoy working with the customers and the staff,” Wolfinsohn said.

For more information on Paladin, Inc. and the services they offer, visit their website

Paladin, Inc. empowers clients through vocational rehabilitation
MonoSol Cares Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:07:22 +0000 Krueger Middle School Krueger Middle School received a donation of feminine products, deodorant, and lotion recently from MonoSol, a Merrillville-based company that manufactures biodegradable films and other products. MonoSol’s recently formed women’s group, 4>WARD, donated the items as part of its community outreach mission. Pictured are (L-R) Krueger nurse Jenna Applegate and MonoSol Marketing and Communications Specialist Shannon Denny. The items will be distributed through Krueger’s “Care Closet” — a resource that students in need can use to request clothing, personal items, and more. Care Closet donations are greatly needed and are always welcome. For more information visit

MonoSol Cares
Blood Drive at Community Hospital Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:05:12 +0000 Community Healthcare System Heartland Blood Centers will be at Community Hospital, located at 901 MacArthur Blvd., Munster, Ind for a BLOOD DRIVE on Jan 29 from 10:00 am-2:30 pm. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.

To make an appointment to donate call 219-836-3477 or toll free 866‑836-3477. For information on other programs offered by Community Healthcare System visit our website at

Blood Drive at Community Hospital
READ La Porte County Tutor Roundtable Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:38:04 +0000 READ La Porte County A roundtable for tutors volunteering for READ La Porte County, Inc. will be held from 9:30am to 11:00am on Thursday, January 30th in Meeting Room B at the La Porte County Public Library, 904 Indiana Avenue in La Porte.

This is an informational roundtable for current and potential tutors to meet each other and discuss tips on tutoring.

Anyone who is currently tutoring for any program or who is wondering what tutoring for READ La Porte County involves is welcome to come.  Tutors for school aged children through adults are needed to help students meet their goals in reading, math, speaking English, digital literacy, and passing tests. To volunteer or for more information, please go to

There is no charge for this Roundtable and you can register by contacting Director Mary Hedge at or 219-325-0875.  Registration is requested so enough refreshments can be supplied.

READ La Porte County, Inc. is a United Way agency and is also supported by Bethany Lutheran Church of La Porte and grants from Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Bethany Lutheran Church of La Porte Foundation, Inc., and Walmart Foundation.

READ La Porte County Tutor Roundtable
Coolspring student honored by Visclosky Mon, 20 Jan 2020 17:24:31 +0000 Michigan City Area Schools Coolspring Elementary School student Trevor Trusty was chosen to introduce United States Representative Pete Visclosky on Saturday, January 18 during his Town Hall forum at Purdue University Northwest. Trusty is a 6th-grade honor student at Coolspring, and is involved in both Basketball and Robotics. He received a certificate of recognition from Visclosky.

Coolspring student honored by Visclosky
South Shore Line Service Advisory: Weather-Relate Busing Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:26:59 +0000 South Shore Line The South Shore Line plans to provide substitute bus service between South Bend and Michigan City Carroll Ave. for two trains on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in response to a frigid temperatures forecast.

Service is suspended to and from Hudson Lake while substitute bus service is in effect. We encourage Hudson Lake passengers to board at Carroll Ave. Station for train service.

The busing will impact only WB Tr 502 (departing South Bend at 7:45a ET) and WB Tr 504 (departing South Bend at 9:01a ET).

The following trains will be canceled: EB Tr 701 & Tr 703.

Tr 502 and Tr 504 passengers should be prepared to board buses immediately north of the South Shore platform at the South Bend International Airport and re-board South Shore trains at Carroll Ave.

Delays may occur due to busing.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank our passengers for their patience and understanding.

South Shore Line Service Advisory: Weather-Relate Busing
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020 Thu, 16 Jan 2020 16:23:13 +0000 Andrew Redick Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020 Ivy Tech Community College offers future chefs a glimpse of culinary arts program Wed, 15 Jan 2020 16:19:09 +0000 Andrew Redick Any parent will tell you, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Sometimes, the sooner the better so you can find your passion in life. Ivy Tech Community College gave some future chefs a chance to dive into the wonderful world of culinary arts by hosting an open house at their Michigan City location on Saturday.

Future students and their families were invited to tour the kitchen, receive information on the program, and were even treated to a demonstration of cooking, with some free samples of the finished product. Ivy Tech wanted to give them a glimpse at what the culinary arts program entails, and to show them that the degree has more to offer than some might expect. 

“A lot of people don’t realize this program goes far beyond the kitchen,” said Kimmie LaBarge, marketing director of Ivy Tech. “There are so many opportunities this program could lead to, even ones in the medical field, like Dietary Management. Our goal is to help students head towards a successful career, and we feel like we can do it by spreading more awareness of what we have to offer.”

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020 14 Photos
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Culinary Open House 2020

When it boils down to it, the ultimate goal behind going to college is to continue learning. Cooking isn’t always easy, but mistakes are worth risking when they create a chance to learn something from them.

 “Mistakes are encouraged around here,” said Nicholaus Rajski, hospitality program chair. “When you make mistakes, we get the opportunity here to show and correct said mistakes, and instill better confidence in you to do the job.”

Rajski put on a great performance in the kitchen, giving those enrolling in the program a good idea of what’s to come. He also gave attendees an invaluable piece of advice.

“Repetition is the progression to succession,” he said. “I have been in the industry for over 25 years and that has never failed me.”

Some prospective students who attended still have a couple of years to go before they’re off to college, but they already know where they want to be. Chesterton High School freshman Connor Engels grew up in the kitchen, starting out by helping his mother and eventually catching the cooking bug himself. He relishes coming up with new ideas, whether they turn out well or not.

“I am able to do a lot of stuff on my own now,” Engels said. “My specialty is my fried chicken. I would like to be able to open up my own restaurant someday and serve it there.”

The new semester for Culinary Arts just started, but there are still opportunities to enroll this spring. More classes begin March 16, 2020 . To learn more about the program, click here.

Ivy Tech Community College offers future chefs a glimpse of culinary arts program
Blue Chip presents Bride Blu, the ultimate bridal fair Wed, 15 Jan 2020 00:05:02 +0000 Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa Blue Chip, along with Times Media Company and Albert’s Diamond Jewelers, presents Bride Blu, the ultimate bridal fair, on Sunday, Feb. 16 from noon to 3 pm in the Stardust Event Center.

Brides, grooms and bridal parties can check out the latest from vendors showcasing wedding fashions, entertainment, photography, videography, floral arrangements, venues, catering, jewelry and more. Admission is free with advance pre-registration online.

Blue Chip presents Bride Blu, the ultimate bridal fair
First Trust Credit Union presents $2500 donation to the Michigan City High School Open Door Adolescent Health Center Tue, 14 Jan 2020 23:25:26 +0000 Kali Beatty For the last 23 years, Open Door Adolescent Health Center has been providing Michigan City High School students a free health and mental health clinic right inside of the school’s walls. Back in 2014, First Trust Credit Union got wind of what Open Door was accomplishing and stepped in to ask what they could do to help. Since then, they’ve been donating yearly checks that are cumulations of fundraisers they put on throughout the year. 

Fundraisers like casual Fridays, homemade wreath giveaways, bake sales, and an employee break room stocked full of drinks and snacks to purchase have all given Michigan City First Trust employees and members countless opportunities to donate to Open Door. Alison Beatty, Member Development Representative and Charity Committee member at First Trust, noted how important it is to give back.

“The whole basis of credit unions is people helping people, so we like to give back to our community and our members in various ways,” Beatty said. “It feels great to be able to give Open Door this check and just be able to donate a large amount of money.”

The donations raised by First Trust are largely used in Open Door’s substance abuse prevention program. First Trust Marketing Director, Dorene Martinson, expressed gratitude to be a part of the donation process.

“It’s always such an honor to be able to help within the community, especially for our team and our student community –that’s very important to us as a credit union. And, of course, the cause [the teenage drug and alcohol abuse prevention] is very important because the kids are our future,” Martinson said. “We have a great team of employees who really do work hard to try and raise the funds for this cause, so to be able to partner with Open Door and help make a difference is a great achievement.”

Open Door Adolescent Health Center is entirely funded through grants. Relying on grants and donations from organizations like United Way can be tough, so when First Trust reached out to them wanting to help, a burden was taken off their shoulders. Director of Open Door, Debbie Briggs, is always trying to keep up with the program’s needs and is grateful to First Trust for their help.

“We have a great collaboration with First Trust, and I think having these collaborative partnerships in the nonprofit world is just really crucial for us in order to continue,” Briggs said. “They sought us out and wanted to help and you can’t beat that. We’re just so appreciative of how great they’ve been in helping us do more.”

Within the last year, Open Door started the Care Closet, which gives students any hygiene products that they might need. Open Door is growing and offers a multitude of services. All it takes is 15 minutes of a student’s parent or guardian’s time to register their child, and once finished, they’re free to walk in any time during their four years at Michigan City High School. 

Click here to find out more information about Open Door Adolescent Health Center and how you can sign up. For more information on First Trust Credit Union, click here.

First Trust Credit Union presents $2500 donation to the Michigan City High School Open Door Adolescent Health Center