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HOBART | Embracing diversity for all people in the community was spotlighted at Thursday’s third annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards luncheon hosted by the Urban League of Northwest Indiana Inc.

The six awards presented during the event at Avalon Manor honored area organizations for programs that empower people of all ages, abilities, cultures and races in Northwest Indiana.

Michael Suggs of NIPSCO announced the four community relations awards, given to the following:

• The Hammond Hispanic Community Committee is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 that enhances the quality of life for Hispanics and improves the larger community by providing information and sharing the diverse cultures represented.

• The Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary sponsors a variety of youth-based programs with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana.

• The Retired and Seniors Volunteer Program – United Way of Porter County offers a full range of volunteer opportunities specialized for older and more experienced adults that help meet the needs of the community in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties.

• The Welcome Project of Valparaiso University provides opportunities for campus and community members to tell their stories through audio and video interviews. The stories collected focus on what makes a neighborhood and about belonging, said Liz Wuerffel, co-director.

Richard Leverett from AT&T Indiana presented the two Workforce Diversity awards to the Mental Health America of Lake County and Valparaiso University.

Mental Health America of Lake County advocates for people with mental illnesses, provides mental health and outreach services for clients and families and promotes good mental health through education, referral and advocacy.

Bringing hundreds of guests together for the event is “an effort to promote inclusion and spark conversation that leads to action and conversation in the workplace and overall community,” said Urban League President/CEO Vanessa Allen.

A committee reviewed nominations submitted by organizations in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties and selected 10 to be considered for the 2015 diversity and inclusion awards.

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Regional News Editor