Thursday morning stood for a time for gratitude and recognition as Opportunity Enterprises (OE) hosted their 13th annual Celebration of Achievement event at Aberdeen Manor in Valparaiso.
“This is one of those events that’s just a feel-good experience every second you’re here,” said OE CEO Ellen DeMartinis. “We’re honoring people who have worked so hard to achieve new goals and successes. It’s not often that our folks get recognized for their talents, skills, and determination to succeed, so today is all about them.”
The event featured coffee bars, a delicious breakfast including bacon, eggs, potatoes, and more, and a SHAREity Raffle which benefits five of Northwest Indiana’s charity organizations, including OE. The top prize winner will receive their choice of either $250,000 toward a new home, or $150,000 cash.
An on-site market also offered goods crafted by OE clients, including several flavors of popcorn and a selection of hand-painted ceramics and glass pieces. The name of the artist was inscribed on each item, and clients earned a commission for each sale. All proceeds go toward job opportunities for clients and supporting their wellbeing.
“They love the fact that they do their work and people can purchase it,” DeMartinis said. “I have several pieces in my home, and every time I pick one up I think of who made it!”
The event’s emcee and OE Board of Directors member Lanie Steinwart introduced the award recipients.
“Each winner shows their determination, ambition, and drive in their own unique way,” DeMartinis said. “We can learn something from each of their amazing journeys.”
Among the day’s honorees were Karen Warner (Jeanne Baird Volunteer of the Year), Heidi Radford (Outstanding Staff member of the year), Elizabeth Schaaf (Jessica Wolfe Direct Support Professional of the Year), Janet Wilson (Enriching Possibilities Client of the Year), Matthew Ingoglia (Residential Client of the Year), Derek Scott (QUEST Client of the Year), Michael Johnston, Jr. (Daily Living Skills Client of the Year), Marcus Ross (JobSource Client of the Year), Kelsey Dodrill (TREND Client of the Year), Kris Scifres (Business Services Client of the Year), and Lila Melcher (Renewed Horizons Client of the Year), and Chester, Inc. (Business of the Year).
As each award was presented, recipients shared their own moving stories of resilience and courage, drawing tears of pride and joy from the audience. Several family members accompanied the winners on stage, including Melcher’s sister, Sharon Merrifield.
“OE’s support and care doesn’t come from a manual—it comes from the heart,” Merrifield said. “They stand tall with their consumers, they inform from a position of accuracy, they are trustworthy. They are an answer to our prayers.”
The sense of accomplishment and pride felt by OE clients and staff alike was evident and demonstrated just how special this organization and their mission is.
“I hope today left everyone feeling inspired and proud to be a part of OE,” DeMartinis said. “Everyone in this room has helped inspire others to grow and achieve their potential, and we hope to continue to do that for years to come.”
To learn more about OE, their mission, or to contribute to their cause, visit https://www.oppent.org/.