BILL MASTERSON JR.: Tolleston project eclipses $5 million mark with help from banks
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BILL MASTERSON JR.: Tolleston project eclipses $5 million mark with help from banks

BILL MASTERSON JR.: Tolleston project eclipses $5 million mark with help from banks

Progress continues on fundraising for the Tolleston Boys & Girls Club.

The capital campaign to develop the former Tolleston School in Gary as the new home for the Boys & Girls Club has eclipsed the $5 million mark with a $50,000 commitment from Peoples Bank, a $35,000 commitment from Centier Bank and a $10,000 check from Horizon Bank. This brings the campaign total to $5.1 million.

"The support of Peoples Bank employees through Community First, our employee-led philanthropic committee, is helping to drive our bank-wide commitment to the Tolleston project. Their internal fund-raising efforts reflect the determination of all of us at Peoples to do what we can to improve the quality of life in our communities. We're excited and very proud to be an active partner in such a meaningful cause" said David Bochnowski, chairman and CEO of Peoples Bank.

The Peoples Bank commitment to this project is truly a top to bottom investment, as you can tell from Dave’s comment. Peoples has a policy of limiting itsdonation amount to a maximum of $25,000 for any project. Knowing the importance of this project Dave committed the maximum but then went above and beyond.

Peoples Bank employees, through their Community First Committee, took it a step further. The committee has taken up the challenge to match Dave’s $25,000 through this effort, hence the $50,000 commitment. It says a lot about an organization and its leaders to commit to such a large amount, especially when it is in addition to what they already do for the Boys & Girls Club. Thank you.

Centier Bank has been recognized for several years as among the best places to work in Indiana. Mike Schrage, president and CEO of the bank, and his wife, Jill, are well known for their tremendous effort in leading the American Heart Association’s annual fund drive locally. Centier, like Peoples Bank, has also been major financial supporters of the Boys & Girls Club locally by donating annually. Now Centier has stepped up and added another $35,000 to the Tolleston building project.

"Our children benefit from having a safe, productive, social environment, and the Tolleston Project is a sign that the Boys & Girls Club is making a difference in many lives. It’s good when a program is so successful that it outgrows its current accommodations. I have witnessed the success of Boys & Girls Club programs, and I believe that supporting this community project will provide hope, support and guidance to future leaders of Northwest Indiana” said Mike Schrage. Thank you Mike, Jill and the entire Centier organization for your generous support of this project.

"Tolleston is an important project for the community that we live in, especially because it takes a vacant property and turns it into a safe and nurturing place for our children to grow and develop" said Robert Gardiner, market president, Lake County, of Horizon Bank. Horizon Bank is a relative newcomer to Lake County, but it hasn’t taken long for the bank to get actively involved as they have been in LaPorte and Porter counties for several years. Many of us know of Dave Rose’s and Rob Gardiner’s involvement in community events, and both are members of the Boys & Girls Club. The $10,000 check they provided on behalf of Horizon to the Tolleston project is an example of their commitment to Lake County and the organization they serve. Thank you, Dave and Rob.

These are the banks that have made a financial commitment to this project so far, but we expect others will do so. Centier and Peoples bank, along with several others that will be identified later, are involved in the very important financing aspect of the project, which I will also talk about later.

Status update: We have been notified that the Tolleston project could possibly qualify for new market tax credits. If we are successful in receiving this, we would exceed the building project costs and start working on the endowment aspect of the project. During the next month we will determine the viability of this option and then will start on demolition of the part of the former school that is to be torn down.

The Tolleston "Buy a Brick" campaign continues and will for several months. Be part of history and forever have your name linked to this project for only $100. If you are interested in donating or buying a brick, please visit or contact me at

Bill Masterson Jr. is publisher of The Times Media Company. Follow him on Twitter @nwi_BMasterson


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