Philanthropists honored in NWI

Andrew Watt, President and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, center, speaks to Sandra L. Noe, executive director of Meals on Wheels, and Bob Nickovich, president of the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department, during the Association of Fundraising Professionals' fourth annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon on Thursday.

Kyle Telechan | The Times

CHESTERTON │ On Thursday, National Philanthropy Day, the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored those who have contributed to the well-being of individuals and communities in Northwest Indiana.

The event at Sand Creek Country Club honored the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 as the corporate philanthropist of the year and Duneland Health Council with the foundation award for philanthropy.

Chosen as the individual philanthropist of the year was Richard Komyatte, attorney with Komyatte & Casbon, who has sat on the boards for several organizations in Northwest Indiana, including the Legacy Foundation.

“I wish we could clone him,” said Harry J. Vande Velde III, president and CEO of Legacy Foundation. “I wish everyone could have the opportunity to have him sit on their development committee. Dick is the very embodiment of the philanthropic spirit.”

Komyatte said being singled out among so many deserving individuals “is a great honor and humbling experience.”

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 Executive Board Member Ray Kasmark said it was great to be recognized and that his organization has a long history of supporting endeavors for nonprofits.

“It’s just what we do,” he said. “It’s what we’ve always done.”

Melissa Benefiel, director of development, Purdue University North Central, introduced honoree Duneland Health Council and said because of its generosity, hundreds of nursing students are now practicing nurses in LaPorte County.

“Since their inception they have donated over $6 million to local community organizations that benefit the health and welfare of Michigan City and greater LaPorte County residents,” she said.

The luncheon also welcomed guest speaker Andrew Watt, the president and CEO of the AFP.

“We’re all united in one purpose, and that purpose is service,” he said. “The role that I play is to develop the capacity for all of you to do the job you do most effectively and to have the most impact in our communities and to see outcomes that will last generations.”