Porter County Community Foundation Celebrates Community Partners And Accomplishments 

By: Andrew Rowe Last Updated: June 18, 2015

The Porter County Community Foundation celebrated the past year’s accomplishments and thanked the individuals and community partners who make their mission possible at their annual banquet held Thursday, June 17th, at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso.

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“The Porter County Community Foundation has grown steadily since our inception in 1996,” said Spero Valavanis, Foundation Board Chair. “Today the Foundation manages $45 million in assets and this philanthropic capital is what allows us to be able to do so much good throughout Porter County.”

The Foundation invested over $1.8 million to help local nonprofit partners fulfill their missions and reach their goals last year. This annual event is a celebration of those partners throughout the community who help make it all possible.

“The Foundation is able to do good things in part because of our wonderful nonprofit partners,” said Barb Young, Foundation President. “Several years ago, we created the Outstanding Achievement Awards in order to be able to recognize some of the amazing work that our nonprofits are doing.”

Receiving this years Outstanding Nonprofit Agency Award was Neighbors Corporation, commonly known as Project Neighbors, located in Valparaiso.

“Project Neighbors’ goal is to build healthy families and neighborhoods where diversity of all kinds is welcomed and cherished,” said Barb Young.

The history of Project Neighbors follows a long list of opportunities taken. A need presents itself and this small group of citizens responds. Having no rigid mission (feed the poor, buy eyeglasses for children, support the library), allows for a diversity of action: housing, daycare, healthcare, education, human relations, economic development. All of these have been areas of effort for Project Neighbors.

“We’re very excited to be receiving this award here tonight,” said Michele Nix from Projects Neighbors. “Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand the impact our work has had on so many individuals and families. The addition of the 18 units of housing at Neighbors Place allows us to reach a larger number of people in need and in this case, single women. We’re so proud of the work that’s been done and look forward to witnessing the positive changes Neighbors Place will bring to these women today and for years and years to come.”

“We were always low key in our presence,” said Paul Schreiner, Project Neighbors Executive Director. “That changed 20 or so years ago when we developed Hilltop Neighborhood House, which actually led to the creation of Neighbors Place. It was like dominoes falling; one thing led to another. It simply was an idea whose time had come and the availability of the old HealthLinc building made it possible. Amazing things happened! Lots and lots of people made my life exciting for a year and the result is amazing." He continued, "You really can’t see the value because the real value is the sense of community that exists amongst the 18 women, many of whom have never had a place of their own. Now they have a home for the next year, the next 10 years or for the rest of their lives.”

Foundation Awards were also presented to the following recipients: Caren Furdek, Housing Opportunities, for Outstanding Nonprofit Staff Member; Janis Regnier, Portage Township YMCA volunteer, for Outstanding Volunteer; Dr. John Felton, Valparaiso Family YMCA Board member, for Outstanding Volunteer; and Bill Maar, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, for Outstanding Professional Advisor.

The Porter County Community Foundation presented each winner with an engraved award as well as a $1,000 contribution to the organization’s endowment fund or to the organizational endowment fund of their choice in their name.