WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | After 39 years of practicing law in Lake and Porter counties, Wally Alvarez wanted to give back to the community.
So he talked it over with his brother Mario, and the inaugural Alvarez Salutes America Celebration was born.
The festivities started Friday night with music from High Noon and a carnival atmosphere. Vendors from around the area sold homemade sausage, fudge, kettle corn, Mexican food, ice cream, funnel cakes and Italian ice. Kids bounced around the Porter County Fairgrounds with snow cones and prizes from game booths. Later in the night, the Titus Rodes Band took the stage just before a fireworks display.
To add a charity element, Alvarez sought out help from Nancy Adams, Porter County commissioner. She connected him with Family House and the Porter County Animal Shelter.
Family House provides a home-like setting for supervised visits and custody transfers for children in difficult family situations. Carol Balko, who serves on the board of directors for Family House, said, “Having these meetings in a familiar setting gives the kids a sense of comfort and security.”
“In the past two months, we’ve taken in 120 stray dogs and more than 100 stray cats,” said Jon Thomas, director of Porter County Animal Shelter.
All of the money donated to the animal shelter through Friday’s event will go into a special fund, which Thomas hopes to use to build a new shelter to increase visibility, accessibility and adoption rates.
Adams said events such as the Alvarez Salutes America Celebration are a double win for Porter County — they increase quality of life for the participants and for those who benefit from the charities.
Skip Hankins, of Kouts, agreed.
“We came out to give some money and to have a good time helping people out,” she said.
“I want to express my thanks,” Wally Alvarez said. “To all the volunteers, to the two bands who played for free, and my brother Mario who dreamed up and organized all of this. None of this would be possible without them.”