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Youth group builds on community spirit

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Featured, People in the News, Senior Living

Published on June 06, 2012 with No Comments

Stronger community ties important to youth group

The spirit of volunteerism continues to be cultivated in teens at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Chesterton. We are honored to be one of the many community organizations to benefit from the church’s youth group activities.

With approximately 70 teens in Grades 7 through 12, the group is making its mark throughout the county.

The teens have assisted our organization by helping fold our quarterly newsletter for distribution as well as assist our clients.

“The youth group partnered with Porter County Aging and Community Services (PCACS) this past fall to help with senior citizens’ yard work and fall cleanup,” said Thomas Almanza of Fairhaven Baptist Church. “We count PCACS’ mission to our community as vital.”

Thomas said emphasizing stronger community ties is an important aspect of the group. He hopes participants are learning that “it is more important to give than to receive, and there are other people in our community than just them.”

“Our involvement in the community is very important because it teaches a Biblical lesson: service,” he said. “We count it a privilege to be a part of this community, and we love to give back to it.”

The teens’ presence is felt throughout the senior community as the teens visit area nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities as well as offer retired community members free transportation to a service and free meal on Wednesdays.

“Because the seniors of today have in their time and in their way served us, we now offer what we owe back to them,” Almanza said. “We truly are very thankful to the senior citizens of our country.”

The group’s mission extends beyond seniors as well to include many community organizations.

“We also are very active in organizations for the addicted such as Reformers Unanimous. We visit weekly the Moraine House and Respite House in Valparaiso,” Almanza said. “We offer free English classes to the Spanish community. These are a just a few of the things we offer to our community besides weekly services.”

In the fall, the teens help collect food for community members.

“Last November, the teens were able to bring in over 15,000 pounds of food,” Almanza said.

For more information on Fairhaven, call 219-926-6636 or visit www.fairhavenbaptist.org.

Signs of support

The ElderStyle Initiative Task Force is working to keep seniors aware of available resources through the establishment of access points.

Similar to the safe place program geared toward children, signs will indicate which Valparaiso businesses and organizations will have information important to the senior community. The information will include quality-of-life aspects from housing help to area activities.

The task force believes the access points provide another opportunity to connect businesses and organizations to the senior community as well as offer a further avenue to reach additional seniors. It is through the support of these businesses and organizations that we will strengthen the message that we are a senior-friendly community.

Any business or organization that wants to help can be an access point. We are currently working on structuring the access points into different levels to best coordinate our efforts.

Maintaining a clear channel of communication is just one facet of the ElderStyle strategic plan, which also includes developing resources, engaging the community, keeping seniors in their own homes and making sure there are affordable and accessible options available.

The task force continues to build on the initiative’s initial inspiration to put strategies into place that will enrich and enhance the lives of Valparaiso seniors now and in the future.

For more information on the Porter County Aging and Community Services call at 219-464-9736 or visit, www.portercountyacs.org.

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About Bruce Lindner

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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