GRIFFITH | Everyday people perform extraordinary acts of kindness and caring for others without any fanfare.
The Lake Area United Way wants to honor those unsung community heroes throughout Northwest Indiana as part of an inaugural video contest that uses social media as the portal for both nominations and voting.
The Everyday Community Hero contest was unveiled Monday during a news conference at the United Way's Griffith headquarters.
Contest co-chairmen Aaron McDermott of Latitude Commercial Real Estate in Schererville and John Kennedy of American Structurepoint in Highland launched the Everyday Community Hero contest Monday.
The men called on the public to tell the inspiring stories of ordinary people and groups doing extraordinary acts of volunteerism.
Other sponsors include BP, Citizens Financial Bank and Lakeshore Public Television.
“United Way’s call to action is to encourage people to ‘Live United,'” McDermott said. “By giving, advocating and volunteering, we can create opportunities for a better life for everyone, and that’s what the Everyday Heroes contest celebrates.”
Kennedy said the videos submitted for the contest “should demonstrate how the individual or group nominee is changing lives for the better in Northwest Indiana in United Way’s three focus priorities — education, income or financial stability and health. These are the building blocks everyone needs to live a good, productive life.”
Self-nominations are welcome, McDermott said. Residents and groups in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski counties are eligible.
“You can nominate someone who is living or deceased. It could be a grandmother or someone else who passed along a legacy of caring,” said Ryan Dukes of AC Inc. of Valparaiso, who partnered with the United Way to create and implement a long-range marketing plan.
“Use photos, music and other elements to create your video,” Dukes said. “You can use a cellphone or any camera to take your video. We want to involve everyone. That’s why we’re using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.”
The United Way also will tape and upload the videos free at videotaping booths at Calumet College of St. Joseph, Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University Calumet and Westfield Southlake mall in Hobart.
All videos must be uploaded by 11:50 p.m. Feb. 2. The public can vote on favorite videos from midnight Feb. 3 through 11:50 p.m. Feb. 17.
“All entries will be judged by a community volunteer panel and popular vote,” Kennedy said.
Three $1,500 cash prizes and three $500 cash prizes will be awarded for the top-judged videos the education, income and health categories.