Teachers, neighbors, coworkers, family members, mentors, friends, coaches. Whoever the people in your life may be, they can always use a bit of encouragement and recognition for the difference they are making in others and in their community. We were able to shine the spotlight on hundreds of lives in the Region that continue to make their corner of the world a brighter place.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 Life in the Spotlight articles on Valpo.Life in 2021:
Millions of people worldwide struggle with stress or anxiety. There’s many ways of managing it, and one specific coping mechanism is yoga. For Diane Dahlgren, yoga not only relieves those feelings but has also become a way of life for her.
Change can be difficult, but keeping a positive mindset and having the support of your family can help you overcome that difficulty. No one exemplifies this more than Gena DeMuth. Currently, as director of nursing for Northwest Health - Starke and photographer and journalist for GreatNews.Life, DeMuth understands that sometimes you need to make big life changes for the sake of others.
A trip to a grocery store and McDonald’s changed Elena Jambrina’s life forever.
Jambrina, who was originally from Zamora, Spain, came to the United States after falling in love with an American serving in the Air Force in the town where she grew up. While Jambrina has enjoyed living in the United States, she said it was hard to adjust in the beginning because there seemed to be no other Spaniards or people like her living in the area.
Dr. Bonnie Stephens’ life has always revolved around cultivating students and being a vital part in their development. As the Principal at Heavilin Elementary School in Valparaiso since 2017, Stephens has an extensive history in working in academia and has demonstrated an undying passion for the field of education.
Scott Milligan has been helping to better his community one juice at a time. A Northwest Indiana native, Milligan is the owner of the smoothie and juice bar Island Nutrition in Valparaiso.
Milligan, who went to Portage High School, loves the Region; so much so, he established his business here.
Teaching is a profession that requires individuals to not only educate students but to connect with them and help them grow. Valparaiso High School (VHS) Teacher David Prokop makes it his mission to establish that connection with his students.
Christy Klein Pedersen, owner of Salon Diva in Valparaiso, has shown the Region time and again that perseverance and community will triumph overall.
Pedersen grew up in Portage. She graduated from Portage High School in 1985 after going to cosmetology school during her senior year. Pedersen’s strong family support system started out at Portage High School, where her dad coached while she attended school.
Growing up north of Chicago, Amy Lavalley, a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune based in Valparaiso, enjoyed reading the Chicago Sun-Times from a young age. She recalled the substantial amount of investigative reporting going on at the time and how intriguing she found it.
The world needs people who care for the well-being and future of our youth. Quite frankly, we need more people like Becky Juergens in our school systems.
Having been with Valparaiso Community Schools for 40 years, Juergens currently serves as a teacher at both Cooks Corner Elementary School and Northview Elementary School and also as a volunteer gymnastics coach at Valparaiso High School. Over the years, she has accumulated an expansive skillset and has mentored dozens of individuals who have gone on to lead extraordinary lives.
“A vocation is really just an answer to how God has made your heart. God has crafted each of us in a specific way to serve a specific purpose on this Earth, and your vocation is an answer to that unique calling. It’s something you think about all the time; something that fills you with such peace and joy that you know you were made to do nothing else.”