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Generosity of community is recognized during United Way's annual celebration

VALPARAISO — Individuals and organizations were recognized for their support of United Way of Porter County during its annual celebration on Tuesday at Ivy Tech Community College. 

Those recognized included Kelsey Vinzant, who was awarded the Youth Community Leader Award, which is given to a member of United Way's Power of Youth Council for demonstrating commitment to the community and leadership among peers. 

"I feel really special," said Vinzant, who is vice president of Washington High School's Honor Society. "What Power Youth does is really great. We're able to see the impact we're making as high schoolers versus as adults, so we're all motivated for the future."

Vinzant said she joined the council because she saw the impact another student on the council had made on so many people.  

"I thought it would be a great step up into what I'd like to do in my future," Vinzant said. 

The award for Outstanding Agency Professional went to Marie Kubina, curriculum director for Opportunity Enterprises. The award honors a leader who demonstrates extraordinary commitment and dedication within the United Way system of care.

"I'm shocked," Kubina said. "It feels wonderful. I love my job. I have so much passion for it."

Matt Welter won the Young Leaders United Leader of the Year award, which honors a member who is making an impact in Porter County and inspiring peers of the next generation to commit to United Way's future work. 


Welter ran his own fundraiser, "The Long Good Walk," a one-man, morning-until-night golf marathon where he raised more than $6,500 for United Way and its agency partner, Dunebrook. 

Welter said he was "incredibly proud" that his peers think so highly of him. 

"I love helping this community like my parents taught me to," he said. 

The United for Children Service to Youth award went to Ken Allen from Kenneth J. Allen Law Group, which is the corporate sponsor of the United Way Reading Buddies program. Through the firm's support, United Way was able to add all the first and second grades in the Portage schools in September, and over 4,000 children in Lake and Porter counties received Reading Buddies to help improve their reading and fluency skills. 

Allen also sponsors a Teachers of Excellence program to recognize and thank outstanding teachers in the Region. 

The Company of the Year award went to 1st Source Bank, whose current employee campaign increased 116 percent over last year, from $5,189 to $11,191. 

Stewart McMillan, president and CEO of Task Force Tips, along with his family, were recognized for their campaign leadership. McMillan and his wife, Kathryn McMillan, were also recognized as members of United Way's National Tocqueville Society, which is the highest level of support among leadership donors at $10,000 or more. 

Also recognized as part of the society were Jerry and Linda Rodenbarger, Ken and Nina Allen, Laurie and Joe Mullett, Scott and Tina Kleppe and Ken and Chris Turner. 

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