First Merchants Bank Employees Donate Commercial Washer & Dryer to Opportunity Enterprises’ Porter County Respite House

First Merchants Bank Employees Donate Commercial Washer & Dryer to Opportunity Enterprises’ Porter County Respite House
By: Mandy Haack Last Updated: October 9, 2018

This morning First Merchants Bank visited Opportunity Enterprises Porter County Respite house for a second time, celebrating their donated installment of a brand new commercial grade washer and dryer.

Opportunity Enterprises has seven group homes, respite homes in both Porter and Lake County, an apartment building with twenty leaseholders, alongside their three campus buildings.

First Merchants Bank Vice President and OE board member John Freyek encouraged a field trip over to OE’s Porter County Respite House to volunteer their time for Day of Caring. There, employees planted flowers and tidied up landscaping while simultaneously capturing first hand why and who they were serving.

Ellen DeMartinis, CEO at Opportunity Enterprises, spoke about the relationship they have with First Merchants Bank.

“John Freyek has found a way to connect his work with our work at OE. There were several individuals with First Merchants that came out during their Day of Caring project,” DeMartinis said. “They fell in love with what we do here and wanted to make a significant difference to help the staff.”

Rebecca Greaney, Development Assistant at OE, shared details about the respite house and the assistance it offers to their clients and families.

“If a client lives with a family member at home they might need a couple hours to run an errand, or take a break, and they are able to drop off their loved one at the respite house. It provides an extra layer of support for families,” Greaney said.

Greaney noted that for every one client in the house, there is one staff member with them. This helps the visitor do what they want, whether that be watch TV, go out for dinner, or play board games.

DeMartinis noted that on the weekends there are sometimes over twenty individuals at the respite house that may possibly stay overnight.

On Day of Caring, the volunteers noticed the washer and dryer were significantly small based on OE’s abundance of clients. They promptly held a “Jean-Day” fundraiser to contribute to a new laundry system that could handle the influx of clients. Through the fundraiser and out of pocket balance costs, employees at First Merchants Bank were proud to announce they would be donating a commercial high grade washer and dryer to the respite house in Porter County.

“The commercial washer and dryer is not in our budget, so relationships like this are so great when people know that we have a need. It's so meaningful,” DeMartinis expressed.

“I am fortunate to be on the board of directors for the last three years at OE,” Freyek said. “ I have a nephew who is wheelchair bound. It speaks to a passion, and for me that’s what is important; that’s what is close to home.”

“Once you see in action what OE does, it’s hard not to be passionate about it and give help. We saw a need we could fulfill, and we did,” Freyek expressed.

The relationship between Opportunity Enterprises and organizations like First Merchants Bank is the reason why OE is able to thrive and continuously give back to their clients and families. The volunteer efforts that exist at First Merchants Bank is inspiring and shows their commitment to the betterment of their community. If you are interested in the outreach and what First Merchants Bank does, visit