On Wednesday afternoon, a special event took place for a special new facility that recently opened up in Valparaiso. Neighbors Place - A Residence for Women is the new facility and it will provide affordable housing to single women on low incomes.
Many people gathered at the newly renovated building on College Avenue to be part of the occasion. Drinks and light appetisers were served and everyone ate, laughed and chatted until the dedication ceremony took place.
Jeff Lewis, a member of the Project Neighbors Board of Directors, opened things up.
"This has been a long journey and all of your support is greatly appreciated," Lewis said to the crowd. "Volunteerism, financial support, kind donations...we could not have done it without all of your efforts."
A large partner in the project was the Porter County Community Foundation. They helped from the very beginning to get things off the ground.
"It's fitting that we are all here in this room because this is where it all began," Barb Young, President of the Porter County Community Foundation said. "I can remember sitting around a table with Project Neighbors, Design Construction, Housing Opportunities, United Way, HealthLinc, and folks from the city. Paul had this idea and he was very receptive to our suggestions. This has been the most amazing partnership and collaboration of organizations in the community to make this happen. It's special above and beyond collaboration, though, and there is so much love in this project that started with Loie and Walt."
Loie Reiner along with her late husband Walt co-founded Project Neighbors. Their idea is what made all of the following ideas possible. Paul Schreiner of Design Construction is the current chairman of Project Neighbors.
"This could not have happened without Paul's will, determination, and strong heart," Lewis said.
Porter County Community Foundation presented a check for $25,000 to Project Neighbors to help them further their endeavors.
Project Neighbors began working on Neighbors Place when they found the lot vacant after HealthLinc moved to their new location. They wished to meet the growing need of affordable housing in Valparaiso and found that this place would fit the bill. Housing Opportunities stepped in to manage the building and help the tenants.
"This project has really shown what our community can do when we all come together for a common mission. And the mission is to provide housing to women who need affordable rent. Everyone is excited to move into these units," Caroline Shook, Executive Director of Housing Opportunities, Inc. said. "Thank you to everyone who volunteered your time and donated funds to make this work."
"A lot has been said about what a great idea this was. The idea was the easy part," Schreiner said. "We then raised the money and people showed up when we needed them. When we put the sign up that said 'Future home of Neighbors Place' I had at the bottom of the sign the words, 'A Community Project'. I wrote that optimistically...and here it is."
Many people were involved including students and teachers from Valparaiso University, Immanuel Lutheran Church's I.M.P.A.C.T. team, Trinity Lutheran Church, and other community members. They gave of their time and talents and expected nothing in return.
"Neighbors Place is an 18 unit affordable housing building for single women," Michele Nix, Office Manager for Project Neighbors said. "Research showed there was a need in Porter County for housing for single women. So we purchased this building in January and have been working every day since then to get to this point... We have done something special, and I have had people from the community come up to me and say, 'Thank you for doing this,' and 'We need more of this in our neighborhood,'. They are happy to see us taking care of this."
Project Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that takes on various initiatives to better the town of Valparaiso and the region. They have done work with the areas of housing, economic development, daycare, education, healthcare, and human relations which means that they have been able to help many people in many ways.
If you would like to help Project Neighbors further their mission, click here to make a donation!