NIPSCO celebrated 105 years of lighting up Northwest Indiana on Thursday evening by honoring the bright minds that illuminate their communities throughout the region. For its sixth year, NIPSCO’s Luminary Awards recognized community leaders for their commitment to serving and strengthening the towns and cities of the communities they serve. The reception, which was held at the company’s Merrillville headquarters, was packed with attendees and community partners.
Violet Sistovaris, Executive Vice-President and President of NIPSCO, said since they began the Luminary Awards six years ago, it has become a very well-attended, positive event. She said this year in particular was tough to choose between potential honorees, and ended up selecting two individuals for the Community Leadership Award: Senator Earline Rogers and Senator Jim Arnold.
“This is the first time in our history that has happened,” Sistovaris said. “But it speaks to how much talent and how many people and organizations we have here in Northern Indiana who are just as passionate about the communities that we all live in.”
The Luminary Awards began in 2012, and have since grown into an anticipated tradition in honoring individuals and organizations alike. NIPSCO’s key categories in which they select their honorees are Community Leadership, Education, Public Safety, Environmental Stewardship, and Economic Development. Along with the recognition, NIPSCO donates a $1,000 contribution to each winner’s charity of choice. The Luminary Award winners named were Senators Earline Rogers and Jim Arnold in the category of Community Leadership; Geof Benson of the Dunes Learning Center in the category of Education; the Northwest Indiana Information Security Sharing Alliance in the category of Public Safety; ACRES Land Trust in the category of Environmental Stewardship; and Bill Hanna of Regional Development Authority in the category of Economic Development.
During the event, NIPSCO presented a $125,000 check to 31 local veteran organization grant recipients as well as another check for $25,000 to disabled American veterans, both as part of the NIPSCO employees' 2017 Charity of Choice campaign, a company-wide fundraising initiative. Kathleen Szot, Senior Manager of Communications, said the employees have worked hard to raise the donations with fundraiser cookouts, bean bag tournaments and more for the 2017 Charity of Choice fundraiser.
“This is something that’s always been a part of NIPSCO’s history,” Szot said. “It’s been so cool to hear about the things we have sponsored or volunteered for over the years. What’s awesome about this year is that everyone voted on a charity to raise money for, and we all really rallied behind one cause.”
Senator Rogers, one of the recipients for the Community Leadership Award, was very humble about receiving recognition for her work.
“I feel like I should be thanking people for allowing me to serve, that’s the way I genuinely feel,” Rogers said. “The feeling that you get from being able to help individual people or individual communities; I don’t know of any other occupation that would afford you that opportunity.”
Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, sees great importance in having a sense of community among the area’s do-gooders.
“I am very honored, and also really glad about all of the progress that’s been made in Northwest Indiana,” Hanna said. “I don’t do anything by myself and I can’t do anything by myself. In the end, teams win the day. Most everyone in this room has helped us in some way. I think sometimes people can get busy focusing on their own lane, but it’s important to realize the nexus between all that we are trying to do.”
While the 6th Annual Luminary Awards and 2017 Charity of Choice check presentations were the focuses of the special event, Sistovas appreciated simply having one evening where leaders, organizations and businesses who share a passion for community action can come together.
“For us this really is a great fit for who we are as NIPSCO,” Sistovaris said. “Of course we want to be, and are largely known as, a trusted gas, electric and energy provider, but we also want to be recognized as a fully engaged great corporate citizen. So an event like this fits into our overall mission, and for our employees to engage and be able to fundraise for their charity of choice. For us, this event is a culmination of who we are and how dedicated we are to these communities.”
For more information on NIPSCO, please visit https://www.nipsco.com/