Fred McNulty: “Pick your Passion and Get Involved!”

By: Barbara Jo Adkins Last Updated: August 22, 2011

fred-mcnultyFred McNulty, is one of the most active community members who has crossed paths with Ideas in Motion Media in a variety of different groups, events, organizations, and activities throughout Northwest Indiana.

McNulty, a resident of Valparaiso, first got involved with his community when he was just a boy. He grew up on a farm just south of Logansport, Indiana, which is where he first got involved in 4-H. McNulty said, “It was either 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America).”

His passion for community service continued into adulthood when then-Governor of Indiana, Frank O’Bannon, appointed him to be on the Board of Directors for the Indiana School for the Blind in the late 1990’s. McNulty said, “I have always been aware of others in need. When you have it to give back, you should.”

One of the causes McNulty is passionate about is helping children, most notably in his involvement with the United Way of LaPorte County. He explains, “United Way of LaPorte County has served over 70,000 through Meals on Wheels. Kids are learning to read. There are programs that benefit people with drug addiction, alcoholism and homelessness. If it weren’t for people reaching out there would be no safety net. We are the safety net. The average age of homelessness is 8 years old. When most people think of homelessness they think of derelicts, but when you hear 8 years old its like, ‘Oh My God!’”

“If you are lucky enough to be a part of a community and can give back, give back. Years and years ago when a farmer got sick, everyone would help and make sure to bring in his crops. The community would come through. We need to feel our community will come through for us. Pick your passion and get involved. If you can’t give money, give your time and volunteer.”

“Why do I do this? To see people gain housing, receive schooling for moms, and find stability like with Housing Opportunities. When you look around and see a need, you try to help. There are a lot of places that need help.”

Another cause close to McNulty’s heart is the Memorial Opera House. It was destined to be torn down, but it was saved though fundraising efforts. Over $2,000,000 was raised to save the Civil War Monument, originally built in 1893. Renovations have allowed beautiful artwork to be looked at again, as if almost for the first time. There is a plaque that hangs above the entranceway dedicated to those that fought in the Civil War that reads, “The Soldiers and Sailors of 1861-5,”

McNulty said, “It is important to save your heritage! Over 600,000 died in the Civil War and [The Memorial Opera House] a monument we have to those who fought.”

Fred McNulty is an active member of his community. He is a family man, who with his supportive wife Dawn, have children and grandchildren, yet he still finds time to be involved in the community. He has been involved with several different groups, organizations, and activities, and is still actively participating in many, such as:

• Past Board Member with the Valpo Chamber of Commerce • Board of Directors Opportunity Housing and Past Chairman • Board of Directors Lakeshore Public Television & Radio • Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Porter County Sheriff’s Merit Board • Porter County and LaPorte County Advisory Council • Public Policy for LaPorte Chamber of Commerce • Marketing Committee for Michigan City Economic Development • Chairman of the Board of Directors LaPorte County United Way • Chairman of the Board of Directors Michigan City Chamber of Commerce • Board of Directors Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce • Board of Directors Portage Economic Development • Chairman of the Board of Directors Memorial Opera House

McNulty said, “You don’t start out as a chairman; you have to row before becoming captain. You have to work and row for the entire journey. Its hard work and it can be daunting. There are a lot of people that do what I do; who see a need get involved.”

Melissa Osika worked with Fred McNulty when he was Chairman of the Board at Housing Opportunities and she was Vice Chairman. Osika said of McNulty, “Fred has shown his dedication to the community through his participation on various community boards. While on the Housing Opportunities board, he demonstrated to me that he is someone who truly believes in his commitment to these organizations.”

Thomas E. Carroll, President and CEO of Lakeshore Public Television & Radio commented, “Fred takes on the tough assignments. Whether he's volunteering for an organization like Lakeshore Public TV and Radio he always does it with class and style. He's a go to guy!"

Caroline Shook, CEO at Housing Opportunities, referred to McNulty as, “A person who not only gives of his time and talent, but makes others around him want to do the same. Fred gives of himself to any organization at 150 percent. He does not ask anyone to do more than what he does. Housing Opportunities has been so blessed to have Fred be a part of our organization.”

Fred McNulty is not done, either. He expressed a great need for programs dedicated to veterans. McNulty said, “There are a staggering number of homeless veterans and we need programs to help. The unemployment rate for veterans is 3 times higher. There are emotional and physical needs that need to be addresses, there are injured soldiers returning and it’s not something people want to talk about.”

McNulty said the gift he has been given by his continued involvement with the community is “The gift of friendship. My service on boards has given me long term friendships, friends that I wouldn’t of had had I not got involved.”

If there is a lesson for us, it is reach out and get involved. “Pick your passion and get involved!”, as McNulty says. We all can’t be the Chairman of the Board, but we can do our best to contribute and give back to the community whether it is donating money, helping with a food drive, or volunteering where you see a need. We too will be enriched by serving in the community and possibly be rewarded with gifts of friendship as well.