Since the opening of Central Park Plaza, hundreds of events have brought the community closer together. Thursday night, Opportunity Enterprises, the Valparaiso University Graduate School, and the Valparaiso Parks Department teamed up to create another great chance for Valparaiso to have some fun.
Opportunity Enterprises usually hosts a summer dance for their clients, but this year they decided to get the whole community involved. They reached out to the Parks Department for some help and everything fell into place from there.
“A lot of people know about Central Park Plaza,” said Dan McGuire, Director of Special Projects and Event Operations for the Parks Department. “They hang out here or come through for the splash pad. We saw [this event] as a nice partnership to get people down here to meet OE and some of their clients. I think it is a great interaction of what a special gem and resource we have here with Opportunity Enterprises not only with their clients, but also their volunteers that put their heart and soul into it.”
Opportunity Enterprises’ clients were joined by members of the community at the Urschel Pavilion for face painting, dancing, and free ice cream provided by Valpo Velvet. Valparaiso University’s Phi Sigma Kappa also enjoyed the event, organizing games for clients throughout the night.
To see three influential groups of Valparaiso come together was a truly special experience, especially for someone who belonged to two of them.
Natalie Krivas recently took a job at Opportunity Enterprises in their marketing and communications department after graduating from Valparaiso University in May. She left the school with a degree in Humane Education, an education degree that focuses all professional efforts on giving back to the community and teaching people how to be humane. According to Krivas, the event was ‘pretty representative’ of the degree she had just completed.
“It’s really inspiring because I was so heavily involved with VU and it’s just great to see them giving back to the community, supporting one of their graduate students, and supporting the organization that I work for,” said Krivas.
“They’ve been engaged with OE before and this is just another moment for them to do that. I’m really proud to be a graduate student working for OE and it’s great to see the two groups coming together.”
The Valparaiso University Graduate School had many students and employees at the block party, helping with registration and games.
“One of the primary missions of Valparaiso University is to prepare students for leadership and service,” said Melanie Trowbridge, VU Career Center Coordinator. “We wanted to be involved with this event for our students, but also for community awareness that the graduate school is part of the university. Our students get to be involved in the community and get to know Valparaiso.”
The most important guests of the evening, the OE clients, were clearly having a good time as they played games with new friends.
“We thought a great way for the community to interact with our clients and get to know us a little better as people would be to have a community event where everyone could get involved and have fun together,” said Kacie Ensign, OE Development Director. “Community awareness is always so important for people to get to know our clients as individuals and all their different strengths. To have the opportunity to just socialize as friends can be really impactful.”