It's always great to have an excuse to stop by Campagna Academy in Schererville to find out what's new.
On Thursday, Aug. 2, the staff at Campagna hosted their annual "Business After Hours" using an "Italian Cook-Out" theme.
This is a theme that makes perfect sense. For years, pasta was a regular featured evening meal menu staple decades ago, when the property was still known as Hoosier Boys Town.
After all, pasta is affordable and it stretches a long way.
And in the case of this month's event, it doesn't get much better than Ciao Bella Ristorante of Schererville, who graciously catered the party thanks to Proprietor Joe Scalzo and Executive Chef Randy Berg.
And as a bonus, Gordon Food Services of Merrillville, Melinda Graf, manager of PepsiCo of Munster, and Darrell Barrett, the donations manager, also helped with a bountiful menu spread of tasty dishes to fit the theme.
Elena Dwyre, CEO of Campagna Academy, was a great hostess and entertainer Jim Bulanda, of Crown Point, made the late Frank Sinatra proud with a tribute.
Among the guests I spotted mingling were Ken and Barbara Leep, Skip and Cora Bosak and Brad and Sandi Vosberg, as well as Dr. Pam Seaman of South Lake Women's Health, Barbara Belligio, Credentialing Specialist of Franciscan Hammond Clinic, Tom Cornwell, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of First National Bank, Jeff Burgoyne, Banking Center President NWI of First Midwest Bank, Rob Gardiner, Market President Lake County, for Horizon Bank, Councilman Bob Markovich, City of Hammond, Councilman Hal Slager, Town of Schererville, and Tom and Mary Beth Markovich, Partners, Schoop's Hamburgers of St. John.
There were more than 35 great door prizes, donated by Station 21 restaurant in Crown Point, Via Marketing in Merrillville, BMW of Schererville, Starbucks of Hobart, Bosak Dodge Chrysler Ram in Merrillville, La Carreta Mexican Restaurant in Schererville and It's My Party in Dyer.
"I think sometimes there can be the perception that we only provide one or two programs or services for our youths," said Izolda Snarskis, the associate director for development for Campagna.
"But we really do so much more. And what makes us so unique, compared to other facilities around the state, is that we have the flexibility and vision needed to grow and change based on what we find the needs to be in our surrounding communities, and adapt to State of Indiana requirements as they evolve."
Snarskis has been with Campagna for seven years.
Despite all of the day-to-day demands and necessities, including a constant need for additional funding, she said the youth are always the top priority.
The 47-acre property is designed for both residential clients and the many young people transported from Campagna to attend each day for school.
The youths placed in the care of Campagna, ranging from ages 10 to 21, are enrolled often based on the recommendation of the Department of Child Services and the court system, as well as parents. And the total cost per youth to be part of the Campagna community ranges from $150 to $300 per day, based on the program placement.
In September 2008, Campagna opened the 2-story, 48,000-square-foot Hope Center, which offers 24-hour, supervised residential programs for both male and female youths with a 48-person capacity.
"There are some people who might not realize that the Hoosier Boys' Town campus so many people drive by each day now as Campagna Academy, also serves females in need, which is now an important part of our history," Snarskis said.
History and legacy are vital components of pride for the 128-member staff. They not only celebrate the success of the young clients, who find new paths for possibilities, but also reflect on the vision and dedication of campus founder Father Michael Campagna.
For this Catholic priest who wanted to help at-risk youth, his mission has grown and expanded even since his death in 1979.
And much of the beautiful landscape, including the cottages, chapel and lake, still remain and inspire new generations.
"The rich history and stories about what we do is what so many people still associate with this dedicated staff," Snarskis said.
"We still have people who remember the wooded area where our Hope Center now stands, and how years ago, they could cut down a Christmas tree and make a donation to Father Campagna for their holiday tree each year."