VALPARAISO — Volunteers recently cooked up lunch favorites, spruced up the garden and grounds and led group activities at St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center.
The NIPSCO Gives Back group spent the day at St. Agnes washing windows, hosting a tea party with homemade treats and helping lead outdoor activities for guests.
Cliff Scott, managing director, performance management, risk & finance at NIPSCO, said the company encourages volunteer engagement by offering employees four paid hours a year to be out in the communities.
“It’s a team-building activity. NIPSCO wants us to be involved in the communities where we work and live,” Scott said. “We also have Dollars for Do’ers, which provides a contribution to the organization based on the number of hours that we served.”
This year, the focus on St. Agnes was spurred by Donna Gutierrez, NIPSCO budget analyst, whose mother spent time at St. Agnes.
“We are asked to provide input on a charity of choice and this year the overall theme was the elderly. When we were asked which charity we liked best and why, I chose St. Agnes,” Gutierrez said. “My mother was not here very long, but when I came to visit, I could see all of the activities they did and how the workers – mostly volunteers - interact with the guests.
“The place is absolutely wonderful. They take care of all of their needs, both physically and emotionally. I always felt that my mother was safe here.”
The annual United Way Day of Caring celebrated the volunteer spirit with a luncheon hosted by the Texas Corral Portage team and Bingo games led by groups from Grace Gathering and Chesterton United Methodist Center.
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Paul Reed, who has many roles - from bartending to serving - at Texas Corral, said the group has united to give back for the annual event for the last few years.
“I got started with the Day of Caring when I was an AmeriCorps member out of LaPorte County a handful of years ago,” Reed said. “The day gives us a chance to get out of the restaurant and get out into the community.”
Texas Corral team member Jeremy Brown said the guests’ reaction to team members was at the root of their participation.
“Did you see the way they smiled when we walked in with all of the food?” Brown said. “That’s why.”
St. Agnes Director Barb Kubiszak said the volunteering opportunities offer an important way to connect to community members.
“We are honored to have so many volunteers spend time at our place to not only give back to our guests, but also to learn more about our mission to serve those who face Alzheimer’s or dementia,” she said. “We are so appreciative of how community members really band together to make an impact by bringing their skills and smiling faces to St. Agnes.”
St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center offers a nurturing and structured environment for adults who are facing Alzheimer’s or dementia or who are not able to remain at home alone. St. Agnes provides health services, activities, exercise classes, daily chores and a comforting space while allowing family members to work or run errands during day hours Monday through Friday.