Serving News Feed - LaPorteCountyLife Mon, 17 Feb 2020 18:21:18 +0000 en hourly 1 VNA of Northwest Indiana receives a $5,000 grant for hospice program Thu, 13 Feb 2020 00:26:09 +0000 Kankakee Valley REMC VNA Kankakee Valley REMC recently presented the VNA of Northwest Indiana with a $5,000 grant through the Operation Round Up Trust community program. This grant will support the hospice program offered through the VNA.

The VNA provides hospice care wherever the patient calls home. Whether that be in their own home, skilled nursing or assisted living, or in the home of a loved one. The VNA also provides inpatient care at the Arthur B. and Ethel V. Horton VNA Hospice Center in Valparaiso, one of only two inpatient hospice centers in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Starke counties. 

As a not-for-profit organization, generous donations to the VNA allow it to provide the same service and care to all patients regardless of their finances and ability to pay. With a commitment to ensuring that no family faces the end of life journey alone, VNA celebrates the life of individuals, provides compassionate care and supports families with a team of professionals.

“We are thrilled and humbled with Kankakee Valley REMC’s support,” said Bob Franko, President/CEO of the VNA. “It’s wonderful because the support is a choice that not only the consumers make, but also the volunteer board of Operation Round Up directors at Kankakee Valley REMC. We’ve always said that this is your VNA, it belongs to the community, so to get this support from the member-consumers of the Kankakee Valley REMC reinforces that we provide a valuable service.”

Operation Round Up Trust is a community grant program that is funded by Kankakee Valley REMC member-consumers. Participating member-consumers voluntarily allow their monthly electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar. Their donations, which average $6 per year, are combined with those of other member-consumers. A volunteer board of directors award grants to organizations in the communities served by Kankakee Valley REMC. To date, Operation Round Up Trust has given back over one million dollars to non-profit organizations.

“Operation Round Up Trust gives our member-consumers a way to provide significant support to local agencies like VNA of Northwest Indiana, whose focus is on compassionate care during a family’s most difficult time,” noted Amanda Steeb, director of communications and marketing for Kankakee Valley REMC. “We appreciate the work of this agency and its strong commitment to serving the families of our communities.”

Kankakee Valley REMC, located in Wanatah, IN, is a member-owned rural electric cooperative serving approximately 18,000 members throughout Starke, Pulaski, Porter, Lake, Marshall, St. Joseph and LaPorte Counties. For more information, visit Photo Caption:  VNA Hospice Social Worker Amanda Kontor, VNA Hospice Volunteer Leo Simon, VNA President & CEO Bob Franko, Director of Marketing & Communications at KV REMC Amanda Steeb, and VNA Hospice Chaplain Allen Wright accept the $5,000 Operation Round Up grant check.

VNA of Northwest Indiana receives a $5,000 grant for hospice program
Horizon Bank continues the long-standing practice of community support through donation to the Portage YMCA Thu, 06 Feb 2020 09:02:36 +0000 Beth Ireland 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.

Horizon Bank continues the long-standing practice of community support through donation to the Portage YMCA
73-year-old man to bicycle from Florida coast to California coast in memory of daughter Wed, 05 Feb 2020 02:53:05 +0000 Center for Hospice Care MISHAWAKA, IN – Dale Coddington will begin his Coast to Coast for Hospice ride – a fundraising, cross-country bicycle trek on his 73rd birthday, Saturday, February 8th at 9:30 a.m. He will depart from 5473 4th Street, St. Augustine Florida on a ride that has been his dream for several years to honor the memory of his late daughter, Tania Coddington Deren.

To see him off, a group of friends, family, and supporters will be there when he departs – media and supporters are welcome to attend. His trip will take an estimated three months to complete and will end in San Diego, California.

Coddington hopes to raise $125,000 in support for Center for Hospice Care, located in Mishawaka, Indiana. So far, even before departing, he has raised almost $7,000.

Coddington chose Center for Hospice Care to receive the funds because his granddaughter, Abby, utilized their bereavement services in their Life Transition Center after her mother’s unexpected death in February of 2014.

“Abby wanted the funds to go to their bereavement program because of the help they gave her. Center for Hospice Care not only helps those in the last days of their lives, they help those left behind to grieve. I want to thank Center for Hospice Care for the part their counseling services played in helping Abby through a very difficult time in her life,” Coddington said.

He will ride his bicycle from coast to coast while his wife, Carole drives their family RV to the rest stops each night. Coddington is covering all of the costs of the ride so that every dollar donated will go directly to benefit Center for Hospice Care’s Life Transition Center to fund bereavement services.

To learn more and donate:

Follow Dale’s ride on Facebook:

About Center for Hospice Care:

Center for Hospice Care is a community-based, non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of living through hospice, home health, grief counseling and community education. Since 1980, Center for Hospice Care has kept its promise that no one eligible for hospice services in their nine-county service area will be turned away due to their inability to pay. The Hospice Foundation supports CHC’s mission by advancing projects, raising funds and creating educational programming that improve the quality of living in the communities we serve.

73-year-old man to bicycle from Florida coast to California coast in memory of daughter
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
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
American Licorice Company promotes community, sustainability with diverse programs Fri, 10 Jan 2020 11:21:25 +0000 Curtis Hankins Since their founding over a decade ago, the American Licorice Company has been recognized in communities across the country thanks not only to their candy, Sour Punch and Red Vines, but their constant dedication to giving back.

Founded in Chicago and now based in La Porte, American Licorice Company runs a diverse array of programs that give the company and its employees ways to engage with the community. Helping spearhead these efforts is Nicole Krol, Community Outreach & Sustainability Specialist.

“It’s incredibly important for us to find ways to give back,” Krol said. “We really rely on our neighbors and community to show us where there is the greatest need. They let us know how we can make the biggest impact.”

At the core of their community and sustainability efforts is their sponsorship program. Nonprofits and other organizations across the Region are always in need of support in order to help organize their events and fund projects.

“We’ve sponsored the Autism Society’s Walk-a-Thon, Girls on the Run, and countless other events,” Krol said. “A lot of our associates have spouses, children, or grandchildren involved in these organizations. I’m proud to say that we really try to sponsor things that matter to our associates. We want to give back to the areas and organizations that are important to them!”

But nonprofits often need more than money to accomplish their work, so Krol looks for and establishes all kinds of ways to help out.

“We really try to be versatile. For instance, we always participate in Toys for Tots, but this year, we added in our four-legged friends by collecting pet food and toys for the St. Joseph Humane Society,” she said. “We also did a collection of gently worn clothing for those that need these items for job interviews, and safety shoes for those that do obtain a position but maybe can’t afford the cost. The United Way’s been a great help with this, we collect the items and they come to pick them up to make sure they get distributed to the correct organizations. They’ve been a great partner for us.”

The company also works closely with the La Porte Community School Corporation. In particular, they are very active with the Slicer Champions Mentorship Program. The initiative identifies students who could use a strong adult mentor to help them navigate the challenges that come with growing up.

“We step in any way we can and really rely on school administrators to let us know what needs to be addressed,” Krol said. “We have associates who are mentors, and we’ll also be offering two scholarships to deserving students in the community.”

Their unique and comprehensive approach to community support has earned American Licorice Company respect from organizations around Northwest Indiana.

“I think they realize we really want to make a difference; We don’t just want to throw money at problems,” Krol said. “We want to be a part of the solution. That’s why we have associates sitting on boards, mentoring our youth, and donating their time to improve our community.”

American Licorice Company promotes community, sustainability with diverse programs
Relay For Life of Porter County Kickoff Fri, 03 Jan 2020 00:32:15 +0000 Contributor Our 2020 Kickoff will be held at Willowcreek Middle School (5962 Central Ave, Portage, IN 46368) in the cafeteria and BOY! what an event it will be. There will be food, games, supplies and lots of information! We will have vendors that will show how to have a give back day at their facility, vendors that will give you ideas on party fund raisers, ideas for site decorations and much more.

If you are new to Relay we will be there to answer all your questions, if you are a long established member, we will have supplies and be there to listen to any ideas you may have to help us improve the event.

For more information, visit:

Additionally, for information on forming a team or questions about the event, please contact Patti at

Relay For Life of Porter County Kickoff
Healthcare Foundation of La Porte matches $100,000 in donations for Interfaith Community PADS Tue, 31 Dec 2019 03:34:47 +0000 Kali Beatty A La Porte County homeless shelter has found a new home. Since 2001 PADS has been serving the homeless community of La Porte County by offering folks a meal and a church to sleep in. Now, PADS has become incorporated and is soon to inhabit their new home, which was formerly the building for Sacred Heart Church. To help in the renovation process, Healthcare Foundation of La Porte offered PADS a challenge grant that matched dollar for dollar if the organization could raise $100,000. 

Two months is all it took for Interfaith Community PADS to do so, with generous donations from all over La Porte County and beyond. PADS Vice President Ed Merrion has been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from both the surrounding community and statewide. 

“The La Porte County community has had a wonderful response to both our GoFundMe and P.O. Box, and having a foundation behind you makes a huge difference in your ability to raise funding,” Merrion said. “I’ve never held a check for $100,000 before, so this feels great. We are so thankful for the support because the people that we’re dealing with are not homeless people, they’re people suffering from homelessness.”

Recognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADS

Recognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADS 4 Photos
Recognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADSRecognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADSRecognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADSRecognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADS

Since October 2017 PADS has been running a separate women’s program alongside their longstanding men’s program. PADS Executive Director Harrison Holtkamp is beyond grateful to be gaining the ability to serve even more of the homeless community by simply being in one place rather than a different church every night like it has been since the inception.

“The end result is that we want to be in one building and this is the most perfect spot for us because it’s around sister agencies, the bus route, and it’s going to be much easier for our clients, providers, and everyone to find,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for because traveling from church to church was logistically crazy for everyone. I am so pleased that they accepted our grant proposal and then some. This is above and beyond anything I’ve ever imagined, it’s 100 times what we’ve ever brought in.”

After receiving a request for $100,000 from PADS, Healthcare Foundation of La Porte countered with a challenge grant, offering to match the grant dollar for dollar if they could raise the initial $100,000. CEO and President of Healthcare Foundation of La Porte Maria Fruth knows the importance of taking care of the homeless community. 

“Without a roof over your head, it’s very hard to tackle our mission and vision of being in the top ten healthiest communities by 2030, because if you don’t have a home, your chances of being healthy are very diminished,” Fruth said. “We viewed this as an opportunity to improve the services of the community and grow their capacity to serve those in need.”

HFL will match Interfaith Community PADS’ next challenge grant 2 to 1, so once PADS raises $18,750, HFL will GRANT $37,500.

“We feel very privileged to be able to help solve or alleviate the homeless challenges in La Porte County through PADS, and the community effort is the best part,” said HFL board president Jeffrey Bernel. “It’s nice to be able to be a part of an organization that can improve the conditions of La Porte County and we’re looking forward to seeing this grow so that we really do have a handle on the homeless situation.”

Contributions can be mailed to: ICPI, P.O. BOX 38, Michigan City, IN 46361 or online at For more information about the programs of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, visit them at

Healthcare Foundation of La Porte matches $100,000 in donations for Interfaith Community PADS
Recognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADS Tue, 31 Dec 2019 03:30:47 +0000 Kali Beatty Recognition of Challenge Grand Recipient – HFL and Interfaith PADS Centier Bank presents Unity Foundation of La Porte with $10,000 for annual Red, Wine, and Brew Fest Thu, 26 Dec 2019 14:20:42 +0000 Kali Beatty Going into its 5th year, Red, Wine, and Brew has been the go-to Independence Day party. Presented by Bethany Church, with help from Unity Foundation of La Porte, the event features live music, beer, wine, and liquor tastings, plus a fireworks show over Stone Lake Beach. The event was created to give back to local first responders, and in the spirit of Christmas, Centier Bank decided to jump in on the fun with a donation of $10,000 to help fund the event in the coming year. 

Mike Bober, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager at Centier Bank in La Porte, said he knew Centier Bank wanted to lend support to such an important community effort, especially since the bank is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020. After meeting with Jeff Johnson, Carey Garwood, and Pastor Dennis of Bethany Church to discuss the festival.

“Whether it’s a natural disaster or a fire, or if you’re hurt and need an ambulance, first responders are the people who are risking their lives day in and day out to come and help and protect and serve the communities we live in. We want to show our gratitude and appreciation for their sacrifices,” Bober said. “The Red, Wine, and Brew fest is something that we want to be support from a financial as well as a volunteer standpoint. Centier Bank is honored to help organize and execute such an important event.”

Red, Wine, and Brew started as an appreciation and fundraiser for local police, sheriff, fire, and EMS departments and has since added the Department of Natural Resources to help preserve the waterfront. According to Carey Garwood, Outreach Director at Bethany Church, 100 percent of the proceeds from the event are divided equally among the departments and have been used to fund extra training, K9 units, updated equipment, among other facets that aren’t budgeted for. 

“Through this fundraiser, our first responders are able to do even more to keep our community safe, which is what matters to us the most,” Garwood said. “We are excited to have a new community partner in Centier Bank.”

Unity Foundation of La Porte has given over $20 million in grants back to the La Porte community. As a partner with Bethany Church, Unity Foundation is always looking for ways to help them raise money for events they organize. President of Unity Foundation of La Porte, Maggie Spartz, simply wants the community to know how important it is to respect our first responders.

“There’s never enough money for public entities and so forth. It’s not enough to just pay our first responders, we do events like this to give them the ability to get the best equipment or replace some of their old equipment or do whatever they need,” Spartz said. “I love doing anything we can to help these wonderful people continue to do their jobs, it feels good.”

La Porte Fire Chief, Andy Snyder, has put the funds the fire department has received from Red, Wine, and Brew to good use over the past four years. From training drug prevention and reaction techniques to a new cadet program to training a scuba team, Red, Wine, and Brew made it all possible. 

“It’s been awesome to be a part of Red, Wine, and Brew and a recipient of the funds since it started. It’s a really neat program and it’s helped us in a lot of avenues that we wouldn’t have had the funds readily available for otherwise,” Snyder said. “Sometimes we’re not always appreciated, but things like this come to the forefront and show us how we are appreciated and thought about.”

The annual Red, Wine, and Brew will be held July 3, 2020 at Stone Lake Beach. Find out more at!

Centier Bank presents Unity Foundation of La Porte with $10,000 for annual Red, Wine, and Brew Fest