For those who think that the Blue Chip Casino is just a place to go gamble or see a show, I’m happy to say that you are mistaken. A philanthropic entity, the Blue Chip not only provides great entertainment to its visitors, but it also provides much needed support for its community.
A shining example of this was at the Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation (MCCEC) Awards Banquet on March 18 in the Stardust Event Center at the Blue Chip. Representatives from nonprofits gathered that night and accepted 45 grants from the MCCEC that added up to nearly $650,000.
“You are all here because you represent agencies that enrich our communities in a variety of ways,” Susan Webster, President of the Board of Directors for the MCCEC said. “Our Board of nine members is very dedicated and I’m proud to be on the Board with them. Each member contributes all year long to make this evening happen.”
The MCCEC is a public benefit corporation that has the interest of the city at heart. Its main purpose is to distribute funds that it receives from the Blue Chip Casino to nonprofit organizations around the Michigan City area that support purposes benefitting local citizens.
Members of the MCCEC are either appointed by the Mayor himself or the City Council. They are all greatly invested in the community and care about what happens to it. Ron Miller, Vice President of the MCCEC, was the host for the evening. He welcomed everyone and introduced his fellow Board members.
“We are so blessed and so honored to have the quality of organizations that we have serving our community, and the quality was certainly reflected in the applications that we received… We chose the award recipients and tried to be as fair and wide-ranging as possible so that we could cover as many different services as possible,” Miller said.
In order for a nonprofit to receive a grant from the MCCEC, an application process is required. Then all applicants are carefully scrutinized to see which will receive funding. Those most likely to be chosen have missions that benefit the community, embrace diversity, provide practical solutions to community problems, lack help from existing community resources, connect different organizations, make a noticeable difference in the community, promote volunteerism, promote learning and development opportunities, and are a catalyst in bringing in more funds and resources to the community.
Jack Elia, Assistant General Manager for the Blue Chip Casino, is one of the MCCEC Board members. He read a letter that was written by Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer. Mayor Meer was unable to attend the banquet due to unforeseen circumstances, but he still wanted to let everyone know how important their work was to him and the city.
“…As the Mayor of Michigan City and on behalf of our citizens and businesses I would like to congratulate the 45 Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation award winners. The hard work and dedication of nonprofit agencies is part of what is making Michigan City into the desired community that it is today,” An excerpt from the Mayor’s letter read.
The following organizations received funding: A Hand up, Inc.; Barker Middle school; Boys and Girls Club of Michigan City; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Gary; Dunebrook, Inc.; Essence Rare Social Service Organization; Guardian Riders; Harmony House/CASA Program of La Porte County, Inc.; Jack and Shirley Lubeznik Center for the Arts; Junior Achievement of La Porte County; La Porte County Juvenile Services Task Force; La Porte County Symphony Orchestra; La Porte County YMCA; LaSalle Council, Boy Scouts of America; MCAS Grant Acceptance Fund; Hours for Ours; Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, INC; Michiana Resources, Inc.; Michigan City Chamber Music Festival; Michigan City Housing Authority-Family Self Sufficiency Program; New Day Foundation; North Central Community Action Agency; Northwest Indiana Paddling Association; Open Door Community Alliance, Inc.; Parents Council for Children with Special Needs of La Porte County Inc.; Reins of Life, Inc.; Safe Harbor Enrichment Program; Safe Harbor Nurturing Minds; Saint Stanislaus Kostka School; Salvation Army; Southern Shore Art Association; St. Paul Lutheran Church & School; Stepping Stone Shelter; Youth Services Bureau.
“I want to reemphasize the value that the Blue Chip brings to this community,” Don Babcock said. “We just handed out $650,000 to some wonderful organizations with some dedicated people, but that is just a small portion of the value that the Blue Chip brings to this city… Jack and Lief Erickson are phenomenal community leaders and they sit on many Boards of quality organizations in the community. So it’s not just this evening, it’s all the other benefits that this organization allows.”
“It’s my first year on this Board and it’s truly amazing to see what you all do,” Elia said. “While we were reading through all of the applications I could not believe all of the things that everyone does out there and my hat is off to you. I want to thank you for what you do for Michigan City and La Porte County because without you, none of this could be done.”