Impacting lives year after year – PCACS keeps buses rolling, energy assistance programs – week after week

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on September 07, 2016 with No Comments

PCACS Board President Ethan Lowe, left, and Executive Director Bruce Lindner lead the agency’s recent annual meeting at the PCACS building.

At our annual meeting, we looked back and reflected on how our programs have impacted the community over the last year.

Our door-to-door demand response transportation program continues to help riders get where they need to go. Over the last year, we served 259 new clients, had 20,620 one-way trips with an average of 83 trips per day and had 171,774 total passenger miles. We used 33,204 gallons of fuel costing $62,627, which is down from a cost of $84,934 in 2014-2015 due to lower gas prices.

We typically run seven buses a day and we have been able to continuously offer these expanded hours of bus service because of the vital support that we receive from the Porter County Council and Porter County Commissioners.

We are very fortunate to have a great transportation team, including Director Flo Snuffer – who has been with us for 36 years – and Assistant Director JoAnn Smedley, as well as dedicated drivers. Flo and JoAnn keep our buses rolling week after week and continue to put their sharp problem-solving skills to use.

Under the leadership of Deputy Director Judy Peracki, we continue to help low-income qualified individuals with their energy bills. The income-based Energy Assistance Program served 964 clients from November 2015 to May 2016, paying out $296,851 in energy assistance. The program runs smoothly year after year with the help of several talented and committed volunteers.

Judy also manages the United Way’s Emergency Assistance Grant program with a combination of compassion and skill. The program provides money for people facing an emergency who just need a little financial assistance to stabilize their living situation. Over the last year, 102 clients were served with $43,046 directed to medical, mortgage and rent needs as well as housing and car repairs.

We continue to assist clients through the Federal Housing Voucher Program under the leadership of Valerie Martinez. In 2015-16, we had the opportunity to assist 333 clients, an increase of 40 clients over last year.

Valerie has shown an amazing ability to work one-on-one with the clients, often going above and beyond what is expected of her. She often identifies additional resources to help her clients. She was instrumental in us receiving some additional funding this year for our bus drivers, by writing grants that resulted in money for uniforms.

As a volunteer site for State Health Insurance Program, we have the opportunity to guide seniors through their Medicare enrollment options. This program is exclusively volunteer-driven and we are fortunate to have Ginger Brockwehl, Deborah Brann and Tom Murphy who serve their clients with expertise and a smile.

Two new programs under the Medicare savings umbrella were added this year, MSP and LIS as additional ways to help seniors.  The Medicare Saving Program had 49 applications submitted and for the Medicare Part D additional assistance program six applications were submitted. For more information, contact the SHIP volunteers at 219-464-1028 or email at

This year four bus drivers retired and so did Josephine Purevich. She served seniors for 27 years at our agency, most recently as the Hebron Senior Center director. We had the opportunity to celebrate her years of dedication at a retirement luncheon June 29.

Thanks to our partnership with the UAW/Ford Community Service Team, we had the opportunity to construct nine ramps this year, a big increase from past years. The UAW volunteer members’ skills and commitment to the ramp projects were amazing. They felt good about the projects they completed when they saw how grateful the recipients were to have the new freedom that the ramps provided.

Finally, we couldn’t do what we do without the support of our board members: Diane Bates, Cathy Ellis, Ed Gottschling, Sylvia Graham, George Iemmolo, Barb Kubiszak, Michael Lipp, Ethan Lowe, Bob Macmahon, Robert Malackowski, Cliff Malings, Rondi Wightman, and Kimberly Wiseman. We are thankful for all of their support!


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About Bruce Lindner

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

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