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United Way of Porter County Celebrates Giving Members of its Communities


Sound the Alarm! No, there isn’t a fire but a gathering of community members who are on fire for United Way of Porter County.

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On Tuesday night, Ivy Tech Community College was the host for the annual United Way celebration honoring those in the community for their outstanding support. This year’s celebration was called “Sound the Alarm”, and it started at 5:30pm in the Atrium at Ivy Tech at their Valparaiso campus. It was a gathering that involved lots of laughter and smiles while honoring those in the community who have gone above and beyond in their volunteering, donating and supporting the United Way in various different capacities.

Kim Olesker, President and CEO for United Way of Porter County, hosted the evening’s festivities and she was looking forward to the celebration for the community and the 39 agency partners who worked so hard to make the goal this year.

“It’s a great event and a great showing for Porter County,” Kim said. “I’m proud to be here.”

The celebration started with a hors d’ oeuvres reception and a cash bar. It moved into the auditorium at 6:30pm for the awards portion of the evening. Along with the awards the winners of the 5-day trip and Polaris Slingshot were chosen.

Ana Gaidar an office manager with Housing Opportunities was one of the five finalists for the 5-day trip. Ana donates to United Way through her work. She feels we are all her to give back.

“I give not expecting anything in return” Ana said with a smile. United Way is involved in helping community members from pre-natal to end of life hospice and everything in between. United way offers families a lifetime of services and it is part of the fabric of Porter County Community.

Stu McMillian, owner of Task Force Tips, along with his wife Kathryn, daughter Kelly Bartholomew, and son Ian were the 2015-2016 campaign chair family.

Stu shared why he chose to be part of United Way by saying, “I love my community so much. United Way is a fundamental part of what makes our community home.”

Working with United Way so closely this year as campaign chair, Stu was surprised to learn the small percentage of people that represent the givers of this organization.

“It’s less than 10% of our citizens that help with United Way. If the rest of the county is the body, the heart sits right here tonight. You are the folks who make it happen and we are so appreciative of the support you have given us,” he said.

Many awards were given out that night from youth to even groups like 1st Source Bank who was awarded Company off the Year. Matt Welter, Ken and Nina Allen, Maria Cabina were just a few of the men and women who were honored for their involvement in such a positive way with United Way.

After the many awards were given out it was time for the prize portion of the evening. A 5-day trip to Florida or Aspen Colorado (winners choice) and a Polaris Slingshot were the two prizes. Tony Peuduet of Chester won the trip much to his surprise. Along with Tony, Allan Alliss Of Allegius Credit Union was also a big winner. He would be driving off that evening in a new Polaris Slingshot.

JJ Peller, the evening’s MC, started out with United Way as a youth in the Young Leaders in United Group. He continued to energetically be involved with United Way as a young adult. He credits that energy and the fact that he likes to talk as the reason he was picked to MC the evening’s event.

JJ grew up in this area and is passionate about his community which came across very strongly as he MC’d the event. He was a perfect choice, as his passion was contagious among the crowd. He kept everyone engaged through laughter and his enthusiasm for United Way and his community. Well done, JJ Peller.

The McMillians are finished with their year of service but not with helping United Way. The chairperson torch is being passed to David Mika. David is head of sales force for BMO Harris Bank in Chicago and is looking forward to taking on being campaign chairman for United Way.

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Here are the 2016 award recipients:

Power of Youth Council – Youth Community Leader Award: Kelsey Vinzant, Washington Township High School

Young Leaders United - Leader of the Year: Matt Welter, REMAX Pace Realty

United for Children - Service to Youth Award: Ken and Nina Allen – Kenneth J. Allen Law Group

Outstanding Professional Award: Marie Kubina, Opportunity Enterprises

Indiana Association of United Ways (IAUW) Company of the Year: 1st Source Bank

Media & Marketing Recognition

  • Group 7even
  • ValpoLife
  • The Times

Recognition of Campaign Co-Chairs: The McMillan Family from Task Force Tips - Stewart, Kathryn, Kelly (Bartholomew) and Ian

Shining Star in Campaign: Porter County Sheriff’s Department

Campaign Giveaway

  • Trip Giveaway – Adam Peuquet from Chester, Inc.
  • Slingshot Giveaway – Allan Alliss from Allegius Credit Union

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