They say in life that the littlest things often have the greatest impact. A sudden smile, an unexpected moment of kindness, or a small act of generosity can often have a wonderful and positive impact on someone’s day. The amazing people from Big Shoulders Fund seem to understand this idea well as they put kindness into practice this weekend when distributing 10,000 meals at more than a dozen locations across Northwest Indiana this Father's Day weekend.
Big Shoulders Fund was founded in the 1980s as a scholarship program for inner-city youth. Since then, they have morphed into a one-stop shop for helping out local schools. Originally from the Chicagoland area, Big Shoulders Fund expanded into Indiana last October, thanks to a generous $16 million commitment from White Lodging to support Northwest Indiana’s 20 Catholic schools.
“We’re very happy to be starting this mission here in Northwest Indiana,” said Dan Kozlowski, NWI Regional Director for Big Shoulders Fund. “We’re happy to be out here, helping to serve the community by gifting a fresh, delicious meal to anyone who would like one.”
Meals included choice of grilled chicken breast with potato wedges and vegetables, courtesy of Purdue University Northwest White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, or chicken fettuccine alfredo, provided by the Veterans’ Cafe of Merrillville.
Kozlowski was excited to let people know that there is still time to enroll your children for fall.
“We have 17 Catholic elementary schools here in Northwest Indiana, as well as three Catholic high schools. We have a phenomenal voucher program here in Northwest Indiana to help with tuition, and we encourage area parents to reach out to us and find out more about how we can help them provide their children with an outstanding Catholic education at a reasonable cost.”
Dr. Janet Seabrook, founder and CEO of Community HealthNet in Merrillville, was excited to partner with Big Shoulders Fund to help with meal distribution at their Merrillville location.
“This is a special treat, not just for fathers here on this Father's Day weekend, but for everyone here in the community. We’re happy to be able to help offer them the opportunity to come here, pick up pre-packaged meals that they can then take back home and enjoy together with their families,” said Dr. Seabrook. “We want to thank Big Shoulders Fund for selecting Community HealthNet to be part of this wonderful event.”
Father Michael Surufka, administrator of Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, Indiana, shared his thoughts and appreciation for the event.
“We were very happy to be invited to participate in this initiative,” said Father Surufka. “This is a terrific example of the partnership between Big Shoulders Fund and the archdiocese of Gary, who have a real interest in education, particularly in underserved areas.
As an example, Father Surufka gestured towards the sprawling campus behind him.
“This massive school, for example, will soon be available to Holy Angels once again.”
Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan, Senior Director of Academic Programs and External Affairs for Big Shoulders Fund, was proud to be part of the event, as well.
“We know that COVID-19 hit a lot of local families very hard,” said Lindsay-Ryan. “We did a similar food giveaway in Chicago this past Mother’s Day, so we thought, ‘why not do another one in Northwest Indiana for Father’s Day?’”
“Since its inception 35 years ago, Big Shoulders Fund has worked to make sure the inner-city schools remain rooted in the community, serving to help provide education,” said Josh Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “But perhaps even more so, to help support the overall community by meeting the general needs of the neighborhoods we serve.”
“All of this was made possible thanks to a very generous gift from the Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation, who made a very generous donation of $16 million over ten years, part of which will go to making sure that local schools remain open and vibrant, providing great academics and great scholarship support,” said Hale. “We want to continue to discover the needs of the communities we serve, and to try and find ways to meet those needs. And at the end of the day, we all want to try and make a difference in the world.”
For more information about Big Shoulders Fund, visit the online at https://bigshouldersfund.org/.