Chesterton Tribune



Meg McCarel, Dawn Ruge and Mike Anton honored at Chamber Awards

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This year’s Duneland Distinguished Woman is one whose passion is giving back creatively, who leads quietly but surely by example, who serves this community in its easily forgotten or overlooked nooks and crannies.

She is Meg McCarel.

Presenting this year’s honor at the annual Duneland Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at The Spa was last year’s recipient, Amber Hensell-Hicks. “We tend to think that leaders usually have their name in lights or who have lots of PR,” she said. “But sometimes where things really happen is behind the scenes. You may or may not be familiar with this year’s recipient.”

“When colleagues and friends were asked to describe Meg, they said she puts others and their needs before her own,” Hensell-Hicks said. “She builds people up and brings people together. As a special education teacher in the Duneland Schools, Meg has dedicated herself to her students, sometimes even buying them breakfast out of her own pocket.”

“But it goes far beyond being a selfless teacher,” Hensell-Hicks added. “Meg’s dedicated countless volunteer hours working on the Womanless Beauty Pageant and Dancing Like the Stars. This is a woman certainly worth celebrating. Leaders serve, they love to serve, and Meg is a leader.”

Humanitarian of the Year

Winning the Humanitarian of the Year recognition was Dawn Ruge. Presenting the honor, Ruge’s daughter, Jackie Ruge-Perkins, who grew up watching her mother make a habit of acting on her compassion.

“Dawn Ruge is first and foremost a family-oriented woman,” her daughter said. “She is a dedicated and loving wife, a caring mother of eight, and a grandmother and great-grandmother. Yet throughout her time raising eight children, Dawn still found time to volunteer.”

At St. Patrick Catholic Church and School, the Porter County Mental Health Association, the Westport Community Club in Burns Harbor, the Chesterton Lions Club, the Duneland Exchange Club, the Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club, the Burns Harbor Park Department, and Meals on Wheels.

And because that list isn’t yet long enough, add one more: Dawn Ruge currently serves as president of the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry and in doing so “puts in the time and effort equivalent to a full-time job,” her daughter said. “Dawn Ruge has selflessly devoted time and money to help better the Duneland community. Her generosity and dedication are truly remarkable. She has given back to our community time and time again and is undoubtedly deserving of this award.”

Golden Achievement Award

And Mike Anton was honored with the Golden Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding Duneland seniors who have demonstrated their commitment to the community through service and leadership.

For the last 40 years Mike has played a major role in the Duneland community,” said presenter John Marshall. “He’s served as president of multiple organizations including the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club, and the Duneland Education Foundation. Mike has also served on the Duneland YMCA Board for 23 years.”

More: Anton joined with several other business owners in Duneland to establish the Excellence in Athletics Committee, which rewards CHS student-athletes for their success at state-level competition. And Anton was instrumental in the organization 15 years ago of the annual Community Prayer Breakfast.

“Mike serves as a leader and role model to his 22 employees,” Marshall said. “In addition, he is a husband, father of five, and grandfather of 10. Mike has proven to be an exceptional leader, role model, and volunteer.”

Anton’s son, Jim Anton--unable to attend the luncheon--said this in an e-mail to Marshall: “Giving back to the community is not something everybody does. I attribute my own interest in volunteering in the community to my father. And I’ve tried to emulate his career.”


Posted 7/20/2017




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