For Pat Bodensteiner, compassion knows no boundaries. She and her husband Ivan have actively supported a wide variety of local nonprofits organizations since they moved to Valparaiso nearly 40 years ago. She helped establish the VNA Hospice Center, volunteered with the Caring Place, Housing Opportunities, the YMCA, Pines Village, and more – helping people of all ages and backgrounds. So Bodensteiner was surprised recently when she learned of an organization that had never been on her radar: Jacob’s Ladder Pediatric Rehab Center in Portage.
Bodensteiner learned of Jacob’s Ladder when its director, Mariann Frigo, introduces the organization to the Foundation’s Impact Porter County group, a women’s giving circle that chooses two organizations each year to support with impact grants. “Before Mariann finished speaking, I had tears running down my face,” shared Bodensteiner. Frigo told the story of children struggling with disabilities and the hardships they face, along with their families. “They wanted our support to help establish a monthly respite program to give the children and parents a break.”
Jacob’s Ladder won the ladies’ hearts and funding for the much-needed program. But Bodensteiner wanted to do more. “I decided to get involved. I contacted Mariann and offered to volunteer with the children,” she said. “I’m a retired worker, but I had never worked with children with these kinds of needs, so initially I was worried I’d do something wrong. You just get in and work with your heart,” said Bodensteiner.
Within hours of her arrival, Bodensteiner had played hide and seek, taught a basketball game, calmed a child who was sensitive to loud noises, and received a special hug. “I left with my heart bursting with love for these children. Am I going back? Absolutely!” said Bodensteiner. “I like being hands-on. I served on a lot of boards, but I like being involved as a volunteer.”
Bodensteiner’s experience is one more example of how the Porter County Community Foundation helps connect you to the causes you care about. By serving as the hub between generous donors and worthy nonprofit organizations, we connect people willing to give with organizations who need help. To find out how your gift of time or treasure can help others in your own community, contact the Foundation at 219-465-0294.