Chesterton Tribune

Kym Groceman is Chesterton Duneland Chamber Distinguished Woman for 2012

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By KEVIN NEVERS

A lot of folks know her through the Duneland Y. Others through the United Way. Others, as the Good Samaritan who opened her home to them when they had no roof of their own.

On Wednesday, Kym Groceman won honored as the Duneland Distinguished Woman by the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, at its annual State of the Chamber and Awards Luncheon.

Presenting the award was past winner Linda Ramsey.

Groceman has “worked tirelessly in the community,” Ramsey said, in organizations as diverse as Head Start, the Duneland Exchange Club, United Way of Porter County, and the Chamber itself.

More: Groceman has invited into her home “people who’ve fallen on hard times, for many months, until they can get back on their feet and find a place of their own.”

A generous heart, Groceman has. A rare heart. She is also humble.

“I could think of a gazillion other people who could be standing here,” Groceman said—and that’s all she said, beyond thanking the Chamber warmly—as she accepted the award.

Golden Achievement

For 20 years she’s taught Sunday school at the Chesterton First United Methodist Church. She’s served on the Duneland Resale Shop’s Board of Directors. She’s also been active in Duneland Relay for Life and Delta Theta Tau.

Joyce Recktenwall is this year’s winner of the Golden Achievement Award.

Recktenwall “embodies the spirit of this award,” presenter John Marshall said, in its recognition of seniors “who had demonstrated a substantial commitment to our area’s development by providing significant service and leadership to church, business, civic, or service organizations.”

Recktenwall’s nominator, Marshall noted, “lifts her up as ‘the epitome of the good citizen, neighbor, and friend’—warm praise with which we wholeheartedly agree.”

Humanitarian of the Year

Times are tough all around, it’s hard to make ends meet, and families are hurting. So are the families’ pets.

That’s why this year’s Humanitarian of the Year is Best Buddies Pet Pantry, which provides food, medicine, supplies, and vaccines to the “four-footed, rather than two-footed, residents of Duneland,” presenter Scott Mundell said.

“Through delivering thousands of pounds of pet food and supplies to families in need throughout Porter County, Best Buddies Pet Pantry ensures that the pain of financial hardship won’t be sharpened by the loss of our steadfast companions,” Mundell added.

Or as a Pet Pantry beneficiary said, “Providing food to pets in need avoids the heartbreak of having to surrender these cherished family members to a shelter. Pets don’t deserve to be given up just because the family hit a speed bump in life.”

Volunteers of the Year

There were two Volunteers of the Year, this year: Leslie Plesac and Laurie Wehner-Evans.

“The breadth and depth” of Plesac’s volunteerism is “staggering,” presenter Tracy Freeze said. “From United Way to the Duneland School Corporation, from the Chamber of Commerce to the Porter County Community Foundation, Ms. Plesac has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to bettering our community.”

Plesac, Freeze added, has worked for, with, or on dozens of organizations and has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local non-profits.

Wehner-Evans, meanwhile, is “selfless, reliable, and endlessly good-natured,” the “model of an unpaid assistant,” a “stalwart member of our Ambassador Committee.”

Yet “the true value of Laurie’s partnership lies in the consistency of her emotional and physical presence,” Freeze said. “She is the first to provide moral support, the first to sign up for tough jobs, and the first to forsake credit in favor of productivity.”

Putting Duneland on the Map

Honored with this year’s Putting Duneland on the Map Award were Leroy Flores, owner of Leroy’s Hot Stuff and Liz Tilden, owner of Pat’s Liquors. Together, Flores and Tilden organized and promoted the inaugural Porter’s Perfect Pint Festival in Hawthorne Park.

A “celebration of craft beer and live acoustic music,” the Perfect Pint Festival “pulled beer enthusiasts not from all over Northwest Indiana but also from across the Michigan and Illinois state lines,” presenter Jim Anton said.

Flores and Tilden “worked tirelessly to coordinate, promote, and fund the event”—which raised funds for the Porter Fire and Park departments—and by so doing “established Duneland as a destination for appreciators of fine craft brew, thereby adding to both the quality of life and economic viability of our community,” Anton said.

This year’s Perfect Pint Festival is on tap for Oct. 6.

Business Renovation

Accepting the Business Renovation Award was Kevin Doler, on behalf of the Fourth Street Theater, whose new facade is proof of the value of the Chamber’s facade grant program.

“The Fourth Street Theater was able to align the exterior of its building with the caliber of the talent within,” presenter Wehner-Evans said. “Plain yellow corrugated metal has been replaced with vibrant red siding, the formerly nondescript frontage upstaged by a rather glamorous marquis.”

Doler himself admitted that the theater’s exterior had been an “ugly yellow.”

New Construction

Finding winners for the New Construction Award was a no-brainer. There were two: the Franciscan Alliance for its 24-hour free-standing ER department, on the site of the old Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road; and Porter hospital’s new facility at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in unincorporated Liberty Township.

The Chesterton Health and Emergency Center, as the ER department is formally known, is a 48,000-square foot facility providing “cutting-edge, high accessibly emergency and preventative health care,” presenter and Chamber President Mary Fox said. It created more than 70 new full-time positions and is “a visible commitment to the physical and economic well-being of our residents,” Fox said.

Porter hospital’s new facility features 13 private cardiac rooms, 24 private ER exam rooms, state-of-the-art operating rooms, “soothing recovery environments, and spa-like post-partum suites,” all of which will “heal and comfort Duneland residents and their families as they undergo some of life’s most difficult and joyous experiences,” Fox said. It will also be “an economic driver for our region, a contributor to the field of medicine, and a model of efficiency.”

State of the Chamber

Speaking on the State of the Chamber, Fox said that its position is “strong,” with “an amazing increase in attendance at our socializing events”—with 100 on the calendar this year—and “more advertising opportunities than ever before” with the new LED sign on Ind. 49.

In the Chamber’s executive director, Heather Ennis, “I see a very good leader, a mentor to new businesses and a resource for current ones,” Fox noted. “And she is doing a very good job in helping to draw in new businesses.”

“Your comments have made the Chamber better,” Fox emphasized to the members. “We’re here for you. The value of your membership is strength.”

 

Posted 8/23/2012