Look up the definition of philanthropist and you may very well see a photo of this week's Valpo Life in the Spotlight! The generosity of Wendy Gates has most likely benefited an organization for you or someone you know! This beautiful lady, and owner of the Valparaiso Culver's Restaurant, continually gives back to her community, not only with the monthly fundraisers the restaurant hosts each month, but her charitable contributions to countless churches, clubs, and school programs in Porter County.
"I love this community and love giving back to it," she said.
Giving back is a family tradition for Wendy's family and she leads by example. As she fosters the philanthropic philosophy, she has not only taught and encouraged her children to be involved in many charitable events, but supports her staff at the restaurant during their many employee fundraising events for charity.
"I feel philanthropy is something that all children and young adults should experience," Gates said.
Each and every month at the restaurant, a different organization benefits from the fundraising events they host. Recent ones have included: Hilltop House, Making Strides-Breast Cancer Awareness, Muscular Dystrophy, Juvenile Diabetes, Valpo Park's Dept., FFA, Red Cross, 4-H, Honor Flight, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso High School, Prevent Child Abuse-Porter County, Valparaiso Police and Fire Departments.
This happy go lucky and jovial lady, was born and raised in Wilmette, Illinois. Her life path first led her to Indiana as a student at Purdue University. She would later return to her home state where she met and married her husband John. After marriage, she began working as a coordinator with a convention management company and would later accept a position with similar responsibilities at a pharmaceutical company and remained there until 2001.
Later that year, after signing the franchise agreement with Culver's, her family would find themselves moving back to Indiana to open their first restaurant in Valpo. Her initial plans to become a stay at home mom would quickly change. While helping out with the interview process of her husband's business, she found herself adding additional responsibilities to include an 8 week store training process in Illinois. Upon opening their second store location in Schererville, Wendy would then assume the managerial position for the Valpo location.
"I spend a lot of time at the restaurant because I enjoy what I do very much," she shared.
It is evident that Wendy inherited many of the characteristic traits of her father's loving, nurturing, and giving demeanor. Service is also a driving force in her life as demonstrated by her time served in the United States Army. As well as her obvious love of philanthropy, she enjoys cooking, scuba diving and is a sports fanatic.
Thank you Wendy for your generosity and your positive role model in our community! We celebrate you as this week's Valpo Life in the Spotlight!