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Duneland Exchange Club hosts a series of Zoom meetings Conversations featuring public, human service professionals

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News, Featured

Published on March 03, 2021 with No Comments

by Marcia R. Sweet

Duneland Exchange Club

Porter Police Department Officer Kevin Rospierski (cq) holds the $150 Duneland Exchange Club micro grant his department is considering using for education or equipment.

Like many organizations around the world, the Duneland Exchange Club was forced online during 2020. However, the group is redefining community service in 2021.

The first six weeks of the year saw micro grants of $125 presented to the fire departments in Burns Harbor, Chesterton, and Porter. Additional donations of $150 were given to Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Liberty, and Porter police departments. Club treasurer Jackie Ruge Perkins said the goal was “to fulfill our $1,000 in community grants for this fiscal year.”

“Our goal was to provide funds for both the fire and police departments that can be used that each department will find most beneficial,” said Club President Lorelei Weimer.

Chesterton Police Department Sgt. Jamie Copollo (left) and Cpl. William Schiederer and Chesterton Fire Department Engineer Chad Compton pose with the micro grants from the Duneland Exchange Club. Duneland Exchange Club presented seven area public safety agencies with grants to use as needed.

In addition to presenting donations to area first responders, the club has begun a series of community conversations featuring public and human service professionals during its bi-monthly Zoom meetings.

As part of February’s public safety theme, Porter Police Officer Kevin Rospierski and Chesterton Fire Department Engineer Chad Compton were invited to discuss trends their departments faced and to offer guidelines for the community.

While some of the tips were familiar, both said their departments were facing new challenges.

With tourists passing through the Dunes, Porter police faced familiar traffic and parking woes, Rospierski said. However, they are now trying to raise awareness about the possibility of human trafficking along the area’s busy roadways. He suggested being mindful of suspicious behavior like men trailing women or trying to isolate them.

“Never hesitate to call the police,” Rospierski said. “Just be proactive in calling the police. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. We are never going to fault someone for being wrong. Being proactive will keep people alive.”

Staying alert is helpful at home, too. Rospierski said he constantly warns residents to lock their doors and turn on their lights.

“Some criminals will just walk through a neighborhood, trying doors, to see which ones are unlocked,” Rospierski said. “When we get a call about a break-in, I always ask, ‘Was your door locked?’” More often than not, it wasn’t. Leave exterior lights on. Criminals like to work in the dark. Light it up and make their jobs harder.”

While most incidents are seasonal, Rospierski said, currently police are seeing a rise in internet fraud. Area residents attempting to purchase goods and services online are told to pay via gift cards. After paying, they never receive their items.

“Never pay using a gift card unless it is a card for that particular business,” Rospierski said. “No legitimate business or person will ask you to get a bunch of gift cards and give them the pin.”

Spring usually features senior citizen scams. Someone pretending to be a grandchild calls a senior for bail money.

“They will get the name of the grandchild from the person’s social media account and as much information as they can find and will say, ‘Grandma, I’m in jail and I need help. Please don’t tell Mom. I don’t want to get in trouble.’ And then, Grandma gets scared and will send money to someone who isn’t even her grandchild. By the time she finds out, it’s too late. Know where you are sending your money.”

Summer brings an increase in car accidents, especially with drunken drivers. And fall features a rise in vehicle thefts.

“People always say nothing happens in Porter, but I don’t determine what happens,” Rospierski said. “Society does.”

The best thing Duneland residents can do to protect themselves and their community is to rear their children well, Rospierski said.

“I think a lot of it stems from good parenting. Teach your kids right from wrong at an early age. I have three boys myself. I like to think my kids are the future of this community. If I can teach them right from wrong and good decision making at an early age, they will grow up being an asset to this community. And I think that is what we all want.”

In the 12 years since Compton joined Chesterton Fire Department full-time, he has seen an increase in medical calls and improvements personal protective equipment. 2020 saw the increase of the amount of PPE required for calls. However, one thing has remained consistent: the need for smoke detectors.

“It surprises me how many homes we go into that don’t have working smoke detectors,” Compton said. “But a working smoke detector can be the difference between minutes and seconds to escape.”

While many residents are familiar with the adage, “Change your clocks, change your batteries,” Compton said most people are not aware that smoke detectors expire after 10 years. “It doesn’t matter if your smoke detector has new batteries if it doesn’t work. Check the manufacturer’s date.”

The department is also trying to raise awareness about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, Compton said.  “It’s just as dangerous as fire – if not more so – because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, and can only be detected by a detector.”

Other safety tips include:

  • Sleep with all bedroom doors closed to slow the spread of fire.
  • Create an escape plan with two ways to flee each room.
  • Make sure there is a working smoke detector in every bedroom and on every level of your home.
  • Designate a permanent meeting place for the family to reunite after fleeing a burning home. Compton suggested, “Never say, ‘Let’s meet at Mom’s car’ because Mom’s car may be gone. Pick a mailbox or a neighbor’s house or a lamp pole.”
  • Have a fire extinguisher that has been serviced. Make sure you shake it from time to time to keep the flame retardant from settling.

For more information about the Duneland Exchange Club, visit the club’s website at www.Duneland Exchange Club.com.

The Duneland Exchange Club is a local service club comprised of dedicated men and women who volunteer their time by serving the Duneland communities, and focusing on country, community, children, and child abuse prevention. The Duneland Exchange Club was chartered on May 9, 1991, and is one of 900 Exchange Clubs across America.

Vision: 

A strong America, safe communities, and unified people.

Mission: 

Exchange, inspiring communities to become better places to live.

Core Values:  

Children/family, community, country, and child abuse prevention.

Motto: 

Unity for Service.

Pledge of Service:

  • To dedicate my time and talents to improve the social, religious, political, and business climate of my community.
  • To show gratitude to those who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms.
  • To honor and respect the law; to serve others and uphold the values of our country and our community.
  • To instill the spirit of service and friendship in my social and business relationships.
  • To unite with others to seek better conditions, understandings, and opportunities for our community.

Marcia R. Sweet is a board member of the Duneland Exchange Club. She is the incoming marketing and communications specialist for the Nutrition Education Program at Purdue University. Marcia moved to Valparaiso in 2007 with her husband, Bob, and their sons Jordan and Joshua. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism and English and from Purdue University Global with a Master of Science in Human Services with a concentration in organizational services. For more information, contact her at teamsweet@yahoo.com.

 

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