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.
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
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
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
“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.”
There were two Volunteers of the Year, this year: Leslie Plesac and Laurie
“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
Plesac, Freeze added, has worked for, with, or on dozens of organizations
and has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local
Wehner-Evans, meanwhile, is “selfless, reliable, and endlessly
good-natured,” the “model of an unpaid assistant,” a “stalwart member of our
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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
“Your comments have made the Chamber better,” Fox emphasized to the members.
“We’re here for you. The value of your membership is strength.”