Serving News Feed - ValpoLife Wed, 27 May 2020 00:26:22 +0000 en hourly 1 McColly Real Estate gives back to community in wake of COVID-19 pandemic Sun, 24 May 2020 05:00:25 +0000 McColly Real Estate “Giving back is what McColly Real Estate is all about”, says Ron McColly, who founded McColly Real Estate in Merrillville 46 years ago. “It’s personal for the McColly agents and staff who are stepping forward to help during this pandemic.”

“We support the many organizations that are in our own backyard so to speak,” says Rhonda McColly-Fleener, McColly Real Estate’s Chief Operating Officer. “For four decades, McColly has made significant contributions to charities and organizations throughout the communities that have been such an integral part of making us the #1 real estate firm in Northwest Indiana and Chicago Southland.”

Kelly White

Kelly White, a broker at the McColly Portage office, purchased sandwich and cookie trays from Meijer in Portage and delivered them personally. Deliveries were made to the Hospital in Portage on Willowcreek Road, all three fire stations in Portage, their police department, post office and street department.

“I will also be sponsoring K9 Falco again this year,” says White about the Shepherd/Malinois mix who has dual duties in both narcotics and patrol K9. “I provided funds to cover the K-9’s vet bills and other needs for a year. This will be my second year in sponsoring Falco.”

Jessica Kish

An agent at McColly’s Schererville office, Jessica Kish, volunteers to serve on the developmental committee member at St. Jude House, an organization that shelters and helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The outbreak of Covid-19 caused a dramatic increase in the need for the services provided by St. Jude House.  So to support this rise in demand, Kish purchased lunches from Lincoln Carry Outs, a burger, sub, and sandwich shop in Hobart that’s been in business for over 30 years and delivered them to all St. Jude House’s residents.

“I’ve always said that the more good you put into the world, the better the world becomes,” says Kish. “You don’t do this to get anything back from it, other than the feeling that you might have made someone’s day a little bit better.”

Kish has also had meals delivered to TradeWinds, a non-profit providing services for children of all abilities and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities who recently reopened their sewing shop to make masks and gowns and other PPE for local hospitals.

“I’ve been so taken aback by the kindness that’s been happening over the last six weeks or so,” says Kish. “I’m only one person, and I don’t have any special skills to help directly, but if I can bring joy to people with food then that’s one way for me to pay it forward.”

Joy Pawlak

Joy Pawlak, from the McColly LaPorte office, is leading the LaPorte County Association of Realtors food drive. Their goal is to raise $7,000 to give to local food banks.

Dennis Keithley

Dennis Keithley is a McColly Agent who loves his hometown of Lowell and whose Father was a bomber pilot in World War II. Dennis places American flags at all Veterans’ gravesites in the Sanders and West Creek Cemeteries on 205th and Calumet Avenues in Lowell.

Lisa Grady

The Lisa Grady Team also is providing meals to others in a show of support. The Lisa Grady Team delivered meals to the nurses, doctors, and first responders at Methodist Hospitals, Porter Regional Hospital, Franciscan Health Hammond, Community Hospital, and Franciscan Health Crown Point. The Lisa Grady Team also established a meal train for Crown Point first responders and contributed to the Schererville Meal Train.

“These are the people who have been supporting us at McColly for so many years, and we really believe in giving back,” says Grady. “I always tell my kids that it’s important to pay it forward when you can. You never know when you’re going to be in need. I might be in a good place right now, but in a year, I might not be, and I’d hope that someone would turn around and help. That’s just how we try to live.”

Alex Ridlen

At the McColly Portage office, agent Alex Ridlen focuses on helping local businesses.  Visiting area restaurants such as Schoop’s Hamburgers and Bam Pizza Company, Ridlen creates promotional videos for social media and also buys gift cards that he in turn donates to first responders and others in the community.

“With everything being shut down, I knew that those businesses would need the community’s help to thrive or even just to keep their doors open,” says Ridlen. “I thought what better way to help them than by supporting them directly with gift cards and hopefully inspiring more people to come by with my videos.”

Ridlen says that observing the many acts of kindness coming not only from his fellow agents but many others in the community make him proud as well as hopeful that we will all come through this.

“I’m not surprised at how the Region responded—it seems like whenever there’s a crisis or a group of people in need, I always see people step up and take the initiative to ensure those most vulnerable have the essentials they need,” he says.

The list of caring goes on.

Bill Rathjen

Bill Rathjen, an Air Force veteran and residential / commercial Broker at the McColly Valparaiso office, made a personal cash donation to the Portage EDC for the purchase of KN-95 masks for local YMCA workers who are making meals for kids not in school.

Upon learning there was a dire need for masks, McColly Agents stepped up.

George Georgeff

George Georgeff who works as a residential agent at the Highland Office and commercial agent for McColly Bennett Commercial Advantage, purchased (50) N-95 Masks that were available online in early April.

“I donated a box of (25) to Community Hospital and the remainder I gave away to several nurses I knew who worked in local hospitals. After I was able to purchase an additional (100) regular masks, I contacted several of my elderly clients of mine and gave masks to those that needed them.”

Jeanne Potosky

Jeanne Potosky at the McColly Crown Point office made and donated fabric masks to St. Mary’s and surgical hats and masks to Dyer ER.

Rich and Maria Todd

“We made masks to donate to those who need them,” says husband and wife team Rich and Maria Todd who work at the Lowell office.

Karen Stein

“I have been sewing masks for family and friends,” says Karen Stein of the Highland Office “The bulk of my masks are going to the Northwest Indiana Healthcare Workers. These masks are given to the area hospitals for doctors & nurses as well as 1st responders, police & fire departments. They will be distributed to anyone in need of a mask at the Northwest Indiana food bank pick-up.” “It has been very beneficial for me. In a small way I can help others in need in my community. “

Diane Farino

When her daughter’s wedding in Ireland in early June was cancelled, Diane Farino at the Schererville office put aside, temporarily, the wedding dress she was making for her daughter, shifting into mask making for anyone who requested one. “Having accumulated all kinds of fabric over many years,” she says.  “I was grateful for that since all the fabric stores were closed. Some of the recipients were essential businesses such as Herman’s Auto Center, Lexus of Naperville, my many friends who are in the medical and first responder field and, of course, all of my siblings and their extended families. I also carry extras with me in case I run into someone who needs one. If you or someone you know needs masks, I’m here for you.”           

Seeing other needs, McColly Agents are getting creative.

Suzi Nurse

Suzi Nurse, Portage office, has a list of names of elderly, sick or those with other needs and calls them weekly, checking to see if they need her to go to the grocery and/or pharmacy and just to let them know that she cares. She finds herself looking forward to the weekly calls which has led to her developing new friendships along the way.

Brenda Spitz

“My husband and I donated homemade rustic birdhouses to some families who have children at home so they could decorate them,” says Brenda Spitz,  Schererville office.

“We also donated more birdhouses to a nursing home. Besides donating to a Northwest Indiana food bank, a group of agents and I purchased lunches and gift cards for the secretaries for holding down the fort while all this is going on. A few weeks ago, I worked with the Imagine Griffith group planting the flowerpots in downtown Griffith.”

Cyndy Vander Giessen

Trying to sweeten up the lives of elderly neighbors who are homebound, Cyndy Vander Giessen at the Highland office made banana bread and through her church, bought groceries and delivered them to the St. John Township Center. “Grace is the new normal,” she says.

Mary Jane DiMichele

At the Highland office, Mary Jane DiMichele said she was surprised to learn that something as easily acquired such as gently used eyeglasses can help so many people, so cost effectively.

“Not everyone around the globe can afford eyeglasses,” she says.  “The Lions Club does their best to make this necessity a reality for them.”

Mary Jane prides herself in volunteering for the Crown Point Lions Club with like-minded individuals in the pursuit of primarily local causes such as Leader Dogs, eyeglass recycling, KidSight USA, NWI Special Education & Special Olympics, and Meals on Wheels to name a few.

Sara Risner

Sara Risner at the McColly DeMotte office had two giveaways in April on her Facebook Business page in support of local businesses.

“I gave away a free family dinner from Heather’s Diner that was won by Cassie Kats. I also gave away a $25 gift card and two plants from local greenhouse Hennings,” she says. The winners were Haley and Jennifer Witherspoon and Tara Conley Main.

Faith Family Market
Heather McColly

Heather McColly, Director of Career Development and the New Homes Division, participated in a weekly food drive with her Mother, Sandy McColly, from the McColly Corporate office, in addition to McColly Schererville Agent, Diane Pelis, and Tracy Parus, General Manager. Their church conducts a weekly food market, called Faith Family Market.’The need has been so, so dire with the onset of the pandemic. I was so glad to volunteer and donate food along with my Mom, Tracy and Diane,” added Heather.

Amanda Russell

Amanda Russell, from the McColly Schererville office, donated (100) KN-95 masks to St. Catherine’s Hospital, and catered lunch for two local senior homes.

In times of need, we don’t forget those individuals who have supported us in one form or another through the years.

Elena Andrade

Elena Andrade, Broker Associate with the McColly Highland Office, has helped close friends of the family with food and donations. A former teacher from Central High School in East Chicago, Indiana, Elena is also helping a teacher’s aide that was by her side for 15 years by continuing their pay for a couple of months.

Elena offers this advice to everyone…

“I encourage all to take COVID19 seriously, especially for the sake of your loved ones. Wear masks, gloves, and glasses while you’re out.”

Recognizing that our furry friends also may be suffering or in need during the pandemic, McColly Real Estate completed a month-long collection drive for various animal shelters in March. The McColly Charities Shelter Buddies Drive accepted donations of dog and cat food, toys, treats, and more at the various 23 McColly Companies offices. The items were distributed to Humane Indiana (Munster), Humane Society of Northwest Indiana (Miller), Lakeshore Paws (Valparaiso), Jasper County Animal Shelter, and South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights.

“We started the drive before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” says Monica Decker, Director of Marketing and Technology at McColly Real Estate. “When it ended, we really didn’t realize  how much more meaningful the donations would be to the area shelters. One shelter representative nearly wept when she saw the volume of donations that were collected by the local communities.”

To find a list of extraordinary agents to help you buy or sell your next property, visit

McColly Real Estate gives back to community in wake of COVID-19 pandemic
Local Travel Baseball Organizations Come Together to Donate Masks Wed, 06 May 2020 19:46:25 +0000 Contributor Local travel baseball organizations depend on community businesses and organizations to support their effort to give what often amounts to year round training to their players and support to families. During this Covid-19 crisis, it was time for those organizations to give back. Duneland Flyers Vice President, Nick Doud, thought of the fundraiser idea initially for just his organization. “But then I thought, why not reach out and make it bigger”, said Doud. He reached out to other organizations through Facebook, text and email and before he knew it, 18 travel organizations from Indiana and even Illinois had joined the cause. #RegionStrong became truly about the region.

The 18 organizations included Duneland Flyers, St John Tomahawks, On Deck Fury, Winfield Warriors, Indiana Lightning, South Shore Smoke, Laporte Crush, Triple Crown (Valparaiso), Hobart Storm, Lakeshore Riptide, Mokena Blaze (IL), Valparaiso Green Wave, Michiana Scrappers, Schererville Shock, Portage Chiefs, Maple City Baseball, New Carlisle Longshots and even Indiana BPA, a statewide sanctioning organization got involved. I think this fundraiser was an opportunity for baseball programs to teach the kids that life is more important than baseball and outside the lines, it is important to come together to support your home field.

For every shirt or hoodie sold in a weeks time, 1 mask would be purchased with the #RegionStrong hashtag on it to be donated to miscellaneous organizations throughout Northwest Indiana. In the end, we worked our way up to 475 masks. That’s almost $3,000 in masks to be donated. “We are still working with organizations to find out where the need is most, but as of right now, some of the organizations receiving the masks will be Franciscan Hospital in Michigan City, LaPorte Hospital, Methodist Hospital (Southlake), Miller’s Health and Rehab (LaPorte) and a few other long term care facilities TBD. “I think it’s going to be pretty cool once we get to play baseball, to see other organizations at tournaments and see people from all over donning our ‘#RegionStrong’ shirts. A constant reminder that we can come together for one common cause.” Said Doud. He would also like to thank Blythe’s Team Sports in Valparaiso for doing the work on putting the online store together and making the shirts, hoodies and ordering the masks

Local Travel Baseball Organizations Come Together to Donate Masks
ArcelorMittal employees use 3D printing hobby to help save lives Wed, 06 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 ArcelorMittal A common interest in 3D printing brought two ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor employees together for a special cause – producing medical face shields. Until recently, Andrew Taylor, a hot strip mill employee, and Ryan Hoagland, from process automation, never met. But the local shortage of the masks brought this duo together to help their communities in need. 

“As the COVID-19 cases continued to grow, I saw the need for PPE and realized that, with 3D printing as a hobby, I had the skills to make these shields,” says Andrew. “I decided to use my resources to help my community in this time of desperate need. I reached out to Ryan about teaming up in late March and we’ve been going steady ever since.” 

Ryan never hesitated to get involved either. “It was something I knew I could do to help local medical workers, who deserve any help we can give them right now.” 

To date, Andrew and Ryan have produced about 500 units between the two of them for Northwest Indiana hospitals. They’ve donated about 200 units to Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso, 75 to Community Hospital in Munster, 75 to Gary Methodist Hospital and have another 150 ready to go. 

“I reached out to Porter Regional first and was met with not only gratitude but a bit of desperation as I learned the nurses and others working on the front lines were making face shields at home with what they could find. I wanted to first make certain the design would fit their needs.” 

Each mask is made of either PLA or PETG plastic, which is acceptable for medical protection, according to Andrew. Each mask takes about one hour to 1:20 and costs about 75 cents to $1 to make. Andrew says he has four printers that are running non-stop, making about four shield headbands per hour during the day. At night, he designed a model that prints a stack of eight that takes about seven hours. Ryan bought his first 3D printer with his son about six years ago and bought a second printer at the end of last year.  

“The hospitals have been extremely appreciative of the donations,” says Andrew. “I got a photo from the nurses at Community Hospital wearing the masks which is super motivating!” 

For Ryan, this experience has been quite moving. “It’s been great to be able to help those who are on the front lines working to save others” 

Andrew, a third-generation steelworker, agrees it’s a wonderful feeling helping so many medical staff in our community.  “It’s really the least I could during this ever-changing time. The graciousness of those who have donated to this cause has really shown what we can do together and brings a new light to these dark times.” 

Andrew’s mother, Mary Cahillane, who works at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, couldn’t be more proud of her son.  

“Andrew is and has always been a giving person with a huge heart. He is passionate about helping others and told me that his favorite vacation as a child was when I took him to New Orleans to help rebuild homes for Hurricane Katrina,” says Mary. “Now an adult, Andrew continues to always lend a helping hand to whoever is in need. His idea to selflessly use his own limited resources to make a difference has sparked a number of people to want to join him in this cause. Seeing the healthcare workers using the materials he created made his day and made me cry.” 

Anyone wishing to donate to support Andrew and Ryan in their efforts can contact them at and

ArcelorMittal employees use 3D printing hobby to help save lives
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana providing dinners, other resources to Club members Tue, 05 May 2020 17:40:45 +0000 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is distributing dinners to Club members each week at its Club locations throughout Northwest Indiana. Pickup is every Thursday and consists of five dinners per member. Kris Condon, the organization’s vice president of human resources and operations, said the decision to provide dinners was made after staff conducted wellness checks with parents.

“Parents told us that while they were able to pick up snacks and meals from other organizations, they needed help with dinners. We knew that was a void we could fill,” Condon said.

Through partnerships with local restaurants, Boys & Girls Clubs is providing five take-and-bake dinners to Club members through no-contact pickups at each Club. President and CEO Ryan Smiley said it would not have been possible to distribute meals at certain Clubs without the support of community funders. Funding for the meal distribution at Cedar Lake Boys & Girls Club was made possible by a grant from Legacy Foundation, Crown Point Community Foundation, The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at Legacy Foundation, and Foundations of East Chicago. Grant funds from United Way of Porter County and Porter County Community Foundation are providing meals at the Duneland Club in Chesterton.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana staff distribute meals to Club families.

“The work these organizations do in Northwest Indiana is invaluable, and the way they have stepped up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable,” Smiley said.

Meals are distributed on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Parents can find pickup times on the Club Connect portal on Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s website.

The Member Dinners program is one of four resources the organization recently unrolled as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other resources include Your Club at Home, a virtual Club experience that provides youth with STEM and other activities, and a Parent Hotline, which provides professional support for parents who are struggling to help their children navigate the anxiety resulting from COVID-19 and social isolation. Finally, the organization is providing E-Learning Assistance. Condon said that many parents expressed frustration with struggling to help their children complete distance learning assignments for school.

“Some of the parents we spoke with told us they are having a hard time helping their kids complete their school assignments, either because they aren’t proficient enough in the subject, don’t have technological know-how, or have a language barrier,” Condon said. “Our E-Learning Assistance program will connect Club members with Club staff they already know who can help them overcome those obstacles and complete their work on time.”

For more information about food distribution times and locations or any of the other resources Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest is providing, visit

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana providing dinners, other resources to Club members
Horizon Bank donates $14,000 to local United Ways COVID-19 work Mon, 04 May 2020 18:18:08 +0000 Horizon Bank Horizon Bank donated $14,000 to the United Ways of Lake and Porter counties to support their vast network of social services to alleviate COVID-19 economic pressures on Northwest Indiana households.

“Prior to COVID-19, approximately 25% of Lake and Porter counties households were already considered cash-strapped,” said Kim Olesker, president & CEO of United Way of Porter County. “With the recent layoffs and other economic issues COVID-19 has created, we look for those in need of assistance to increase exponentially.”

The donation will go to support programming to help meet immediate needs such as food insecurities, rental and mortgage payments, job placement services and more.

“United Ways of Lake and Porter counties typically help more than 150 organizations during a normal year. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, those needs have grown significantly and they need more help,” stated Steve Dahlkamp, Vice President, Senior Commercial Loan Officer. “These funds will help with food, rent, utility bills and much more as more folks lose jobs and have needs never seen before. We want to do our part to help as much as we can in the communities we serve in Northwest Indiana.”

Lake and Porter counties are providing resource guides to local and state services that can assist residents with immediate needs. In Lake County that resource is and in Porter County that resource is

“We cannot thank corporate partners, like Horizon Bank, enough for supporting us in our effort to support the community,” said Lisa Daugherty, CEO for Lake Area United Way. “With United Way’s infrastructure and network, we’re able to help so many more residents and meet multiple needs at once.”

For more information on what United Way is doing in response to COVID-19 and how you can help, visit

Horizon Bank donates $14,000 to local United Ways COVID-19 work
East Chicago salutes healthcare workers Fri, 01 May 2020 18:02:16 +0000 Community Healthcare System East Chicago Police Department organized a Salute to Healthcare Workers procession for St. Catherine Hospital and five other healthcare locations in East Chicago on Thursday, April 30.

Hospital staff were saluted with activated lights and sirens to thank staff for their courage, service and dedication. Posters, banners and handmade signs hospital staff held up along the route expressed thanks to all first responders. Emergency Department staff handed donuts and goodie bags through the rolled down windows of each passing rig.

Participating in the Salute to Healthcare Workers were personnel from East Chicago police and fire; Gary police, fire and ambulance; Highland, Munster and Schneider police; Superior Ambulance; Hammond Emergency Management and Indiana District 1 Task Force of Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

A slideshow of front line healthcare workers and East Chicago community members thanking first responders

Other East Chicago healthcare sites visited Thursday were Regional Mental Health Center, HealthLinc Clinic, East Chicago Health Department, 219 Health Network, Lake Nursing & Rehab and Fresenius Kidney Care.

Earlier in the month, salutes were held at other Community Healthcare System hospitals: Community Hospital in Munster and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.

East Chicago salutes healthcare workers
Franciscan Health Crown Point acquires ambulance to transport COVID-19 patients Thu, 30 Apr 2020 19:51:51 +0000 Franciscan Health Before taking part in the parade of first responders around Franciscan Health Crown Point on Monday night, a newly-acquired ambulance made its first official run, transporting a COVID-19 patient from Franciscan Health Olympia Fields.

The 2005 ambulance with 79,000 miles was one of three purchased by Franciscan Alliance, part of an effort to relieve sister hospitals that are experiencing a surge of patients with coronavirus.

Rob Dowling, director of Emergency Medical Services at Franciscan Health Crown Point, said that hospital officials had been talking about acquiring an ambulance to facilitate transports of these patients, but “it didn’t seem like it would be something that could happen as quickly as we wanted.”

However, Dowling credited Sister Aline Shultz, Franciscan’s vice president of Administrative Services in Western Indiana, with leading the drive to purchase the ambulances. Kevin DeBraal, vice president of Administrative Services in Crown Point, assisted with the acquisition, and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office provided waivers to streamline the process. Then, several local agencies stepped in to donate equipment and time to help Franciscan obtain state certification for the ambulance. Those agencies include Tri Creek EMS, St. John Fire, Schererville Fire, Newton County EMS and Keener Township EMS.

Once certified, staff did a dry run last week to test out the capability of the ambulance and the staff’s ability to use the equipment in transit, Dowling said. The ambulance has a three-person staff: a respiratory therapist and nurse taking care of the patient and a paramedic driving.

For now, the ambulance will do transports from Olympia Fields to Franciscan Health hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City. After the pandemic, the ambulance will be used for training and to transport cardiovascular patients and NICU patients from sister hospitals, Dowling said.

Franciscan Health Crown Point acquires ambulance to transport COVID-19 patients
United Way of Porter County’s Retired & Senior Volunteers step up during COVID-19 Thu, 30 Apr 2020 06:42:22 +0000 Curtis Hankins Among United Way of Porter County’s numerous teams of remarkable volunteers are the members of their Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP for short. The program offers people age 55 or older the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of challenges and topics throughout their communities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic posing an extra risk to senior populations, you might expect RSVP members to back away from their efforts in order to stay home. Instead, membership is stronger than it has ever been.

“They’ve stepped up. They say, ‘those people out there need us,’ and that’s what gets me emotional,” said Evelyn Harris, Regional Director of the United Way Retired & Senior Volunteer Program. “They put their masks on, they put their gloves on, and they keep going.”

United Way of Porter County donating and volunteering for those in need due to COVID-19 pandemic, masks on

Most of RSVP’s efforts are focused on projects that help keep seniors safe at home. This was the case even before the pandemic, but the mission became even more critical now. One of the biggest projects is their support for home meal delivery, through partners such as Meals on Wheels or local food banks.

“For some of the seniors supported by Meals on Wheels, you have to go in and put food on their table because they can’t even get up,” Harris said. “How can you stop delivering to people who can’t get up, folks who are homebound? Our volunteers have developed relationships with the people they serve, so they say they can’t stop. I love them for that, and all I tell them is ‘God bless you.’”

Other seniors who have their meals delivered are mobile enough to pick up their food at the front door, but for social distancing reasons, can’t have the accompanying wellness check. For those cases, RSVP started doing over-the-phone wellness calls, where volunteers chat with meal recipients about anything and everything.

United Way of Porter County donating and volunteering for those in need due to COVID-19 pandemic, masks on

Called Phone Pen Pals, it is an expansion of sorts to their companionship volunteer program, where RSVP volunteers offer a listening ear to seniors who might not have any friends or family visiting them regularly. In recent times, RSVP volunteers have even taken to calling each other for simple check-ins. In normal times, they might also do a home visit to help clean up, shop, or simply to join them on a walk in the park.

“I can tell you right now, companionship and food support are very important in this pandemic,” Harris said. “People have come out of the woodwork saying they want to help. We’ve gained 140 volunteers for Meals on Wheels alone.”

Other RSVP members are using their skills to find unique ways to help people. Some self-made tailors are producing masks, while the talented cooks are dropping off home cooking for the hungry.

“One lady told me that she’s putting her mask on, gloves on, and going into Wal-Mart every day to pick up things her friend needs,” Harris said. “They’re cautious, but eager to find ways to help.”

More than once, the RSVP volunteers’ dedication has moved Harris to tears.

“I have the best job in the world,” she said. “Sometimes these volunteers are coming from a place of pain, maybe a childhood where there was a lack of support. So they say they have to do this, that it’s their duty. Sometimes I’m fighting back tears in my car, because there are people out here doing this because they want to, not because they need to.”

To learn more about United Way of Porter County and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, visit

United Way of Porter County’s Retired & Senior Volunteers step up during COVID-19
Latitude Commercial, other local businesses donate 660 donuts to frontline healthcare workers Wed, 29 Apr 2020 22:01:53 +0000 Curtis Hankins As the COVID-19 pandemic looks to stretch into a third month, the Region’s healthcare workers are still out on the frontlines. To show appreciation for their hard work and dedication, a handful of Crown Point businesses teamed up to treat Franciscan Health Crown Point’s staff with 660 donuts from a local favorite – Chemshaw 13 Donutz & Comics.

Three different businesses purchased the donuts from Chemshaw 13, including their neighbor Tavern on Main, as well as Latitude Commercial, and the Law Offices of Moseley & Martinez.

“These healthcare workers are putting in so much effort, and we just wanted them to know how much they’re appreciated,” said Miranda O’Block, owner of Tavern on Main. “Everybody is buying lunches and dinners, so we figured why not do breakfast? It’s also a way for us to support a local business and friend, Chemshaw 13, on top of everything else.”

men donating donuts to hospital covid-19 franciscan health crown point latitude commercial

“We LOVE our Community! When approached about this event, we jumped at the opportunity to partner with the other three AWESOME businesses to show our gratitude to all the hard-working staff at Franciscan Health Crown Point!” said Lynette Pisano-Sullivan and Jason Sullivan, owners of Chemshaw 13 Dontz & Comics.

This was the second time in a little over a week that Latitude Commercial stepped up to help within the community. On April 22, they teamed up with the Bulldog Pantry and several other community partners to host a drive-thru food pantry. It was a huge success, offering thousands of pounds of food, hundreds of gallons of milk, and other needed items to hungry Crown Point residents, many of whom are out of work.

hospital worker receives donuts covid-19 franciscan health crown point latitude commercial

The healthcare workers face a different challenge, and Latitude Commercial’s President and Co-Founder Aaron McDermott was thrilled when O’Block approached him with the idea of donating donuts.

“These people are doing a great job out here on the front line,” he said. “They’ve got to be at work every day, regardless of what’s going on. They’re keeping us safe and saving lives, this is just a small way of showing some appreciation.”


So many businesses are finding ways to help healthcare workers, and first responders are even throwing parades in their honor. It is a lot to take in for Tammy Maas, Nurse Manager for Franciscan Health Crown Point.

“We cannot thank people enough,” she said. “The support is overwhelming, it makes us emotional to see all of it.”

men donating donuts to hospital covid-19 franciscan health crown point latitude commercial

Keep up to date with the latest from Franciscan Health at For more info on Latitude Commerical, visit Tavern on Main are still serving pick-up and delivery, find them at The Law Offices of Moseley & Martinez are available at

Latitude Commercial, other local businesses donate 660 donuts to frontline healthcare workers
Franciscan Health feels the love, gives it back, to first responders Tue, 28 Apr 2020 17:19:05 +0000 Kellyn Vale Stacey Kellogg Hundreds of lights and sirens permeated the rainy early evening Monday night in two cities across Northwest Indiana, as first responders paraded the campuses of Franciscan Health Crown Point and Franciscan Health Hammond to honor healthcare workers during the recent pandemic.

First responders honor Franciscan Health Hammond

First responders honor Franciscan Health Hammond 11 Photos
First responders honor Franciscan Health HammondFirst responders honor Franciscan Health HammondFirst responders honor Franciscan Health HammondFirst responders honor Franciscan Health Hammond

Hammond and Munster police and fire, and Indiana State Police, among others, were a force of show as they encircled Franciscan Health Hammond while healthcare staff cheered back, waving their own signs of appreciation in solidarity with all those working the front lines.

“It was an extraordinary event to witness and we’re extremely grateful to all that participated and helped to organize the event. It was a great demonstration of the mutual respect and love that exists between our colleagues at the hospital and the first responders in and around the communities we’re privileged to serve,” said Sean Leahy, vice president of operations at Franciscan Health Dyer/Hammond/Munster.

In Crown Point, Mayor Dave Uran visited the Franciscan Health Crown Point campus after a half-hour parade of emergency response vehicles circled the hospital. He proclaimed on behalf of the city that April 27, 2020 is Healthcare Professionals Recognition Day, to the humble pleasure of hospital staff and leadership.

“What you all presented to us tonight is just absolutely fantastic,” said Dr. Daniel McCormick, Franciscan Health Crown Point President and CEO. “Quite frankly, we weren’t really expecting it. We knew something was going to happen but what you put together is frankly just awesome, and I know we all greatly appreciate it. We have been working very hard over the past few weeks but everyone in that building, and everybody out in this parking lot has been working a check of a lot more than myself and everybody else, and we just greatly appreciate it.”

Crown Point Fire Chief Dave Crane said Ryan Kennedy with the Lake Dalecarlia Fire Department spearheaded the effort, which included rigs from multiple counties and agencies, including Crown Point fire and police, Indiana State Police, Northwest Ambulance Service, Newton County EMS, Lake of the Four Seasons Fire Department, Cedar Lake Fire Department, Lowell Fire and Rescue, Schneider Fire Department, Merrillville Fire Department, Schererville Fire Department, Shelby Volunteer Fire Department, Crown Point Emergency Management Association, Winfield Police, and Tri-Creek EMS, among others.

First Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown Point

First Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown Point 53 Photos
First Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown PointFirst Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown PointFirst Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown PointFirst Responders honor Franciscan Health Crown Point

Uran closed the event recognizing the work that all frontline staff have accomplished.

“To the healthcare professionals and the City of Crown point, and the first responders – it’s a team effort. Thank you for all your efforts making our communities safe throughout Northwest Indiana, the State of Indiana, and the United States of America,” he said. “With your help we are flattening the curve and we’re making sure what they’re doing over here, and what you’re doing out there – everyone gets to go home safely. We’ll get through this together because of the hard work and efforts of the men and women here today. Thank you very much.”

Franciscan Health feels the love, gives it back, to first responders