In DeMotte, the community is working together to replace outdated equipment with new handicap-accessible equipment.

“We are so pleased with the generosity of many of our local businesses, service organizations and the general public,” says Linda White, a Realtor and office administrator at McColly Real Estate in DeMotte. “I was told (recently) by Jenny Jonkman, who is a huge part of our park committee, that they have raised $92,000 to date.”

The idea of raising money to update the used equipment began in 2015, says Jonkman, noting that’s when Leann Doffin wanted to help raise money for new ADA-accessible playground equipment.

“Leann went to Heather Tokarz at the Town Hall and asked what she could do to help,” continues Jonkman.

Just a few days later, Silviya Stout also approached Tokarz, and before long the women had formed a 501(c)(3) organization through the Jasper Foundation called Friends of the DeMotte Parks.

“Once we got everything started, some of the businesses heard about us and wanted to help,” Jonkman says. “The first fundraiser we had was with Wiers Chevrolet Cadillac GMC here in DeMotte. It was their 60th anniversary so they decided to have a birthday party, which included such kids’ activities as face painting, balloon artist, jump houses, cupcakes, ice cream, hot dogs and a silent auction. All of the money raised was donated and Wiers also donated money. They raised $1,400 for us.”

It quickly became a community thing.

“Countryside Realty decided to have a fundraiser for us,” Jonkman says. One of their realtors is a Lu La Roe consultant so they hosted a pop up boutique and raised money for us. Risner Realty hosted a Christmas Bazaar and had different vendors come out and set up where people could come shop.”

Within a short period of time, other monies started coming in. These included a $1,500 grant from NIPSCO, $15,000 from DeMotte State Bank, a grant from the Women's Circle of Giving, a $50,000 grant from the Jasper Foundation and donations from area businesses such as Sandy Pines, Hamstra Group, Prairie's Edge Dairy farm, Dave Long State Farm, Tysens Grocery, Dairy Queen Grill and Chili’s Grill and Bar, Illiana Heating and Cooling, Affiliated Foundation, Jackson Funeral Homes, American Legion Post 440, Oak Grove Christian Retirement Village, and Shopko. The local Girl Scout troop also held a cookie fundraiser for them.

“We’ve also applied for other grants as well,” Jonkman says.

“The playground equipment going to be ADA-accessible,” Jonkman says. “And we are taking it further than just being ADA-accessible. It will have ramps everywhere so anyone of any ability can play on our playground equipment. Our goal is to have it installed by this year’s Touch of Dutch Festival ... one of DeMotte's biggest events of the year, which this year is Aug. 11 and 12.”

To have the equipment installed in time, Jonkman says they need all of the money by the end of May to ensure that it’s ordered and installed in time for a grand opening on Aug 5.

“Linda White is one of our GNIAR members,” says Joe Wszolek, chief operating officer for the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors. “This shows how involved Realtors are in their local communities and how Linda and the group of Realtors she’s working with are working to provide the added quality of life amenity that are essential for thriving communities.”

Donations can be made through the Jasper Foundations website jasperfdn.org.

Click on donate and be sure to designated the Friends of the DeMotte Parks fund. If sending a check to the Jasper Foundation, indicated the name on the memo line of your check. That address is PO Box 295, Rensselaer, IN 47978. All donations are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact Jonkman at 219-688-3684.

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