The Crossroads Chamber of Commerce held its 18th annual Gala themed “An Evening of Thanks”. Hosting over 350 attendees, the Chamber of Commerce held a silent auction and issued awards to Inspiring educators as well as Police Officers and Firefighters from the Region.
“It is wonderful that we can honor our first responders and teachers,” said Deann Patena, President of the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce.
Shawn Pettit has been the Chairman of the Gala committee for 18 years, is on the Board of Directors, and is on the Merrillville Town Council.
“This is the premiere event for the Chamber,” said Pettit.
Awarding the teachers, firefighters, and police officers are what Pettit looks forward to the most each year.
“I can’t put a price tag on what they do," Pettit said.
Matt Scheuer of the Purdue Federal Credit Union presented the Inspiring Educator Awards. As his mother is an educator herself, the awards held a special place in Scheuer’s heart.
“Teachers go above and beyond and oftentimes they do not get the recognition and appreciation they deserve. Teaching is more than a job, it is a calling,” said Scheuer.
The Inspiring Teacher Award winners who received not only an award but $1000 towards their educational programs were Joy Kent from the Merrillville Community Schools, Amy Mehrle of the Crown Point Community School Corporation, and Stacey Atwood from Porter Township School Corporation.
Rick Calinski of NIPSCO, presented the awards along with gift baskets to the Police and Fire first responders. He was honored to award those who serve others.
“At NIPSCO the safety of our customers is our number one priority. Many of our frontline workers find themselves responding side by side with police and fire local officials. NIPSCO very much appreciates everything police and fire do every day to keep everyone safe," he said.
The Fire and Police award recipients were Battalion Chief Tim Tully from the Crown Point Fire Department, CPL. Tommie Widener from the Crown Point Police Department, Patrick Nawracaj of the Merrillville Police Department, and Officer Kwata Osborne of the Merrillville Police Department.
“We appreciate the sponsorship and donations that were made. We could not have done this without their support,” said Pettit.
Sponsors like NIPSCO, Strack & Van Til, Purdue Federal Credit Union, Community Healthcare System, Tech Credit Union, CertaPro, and Centier donated many of the items to the silent auction. The auction is their biggest fundraiser each year.
Rick Peltier of the Franciscan Health Foundation was the Gala Presenting Sponsor. He tailored his speech to the form of an 80’s rap. He highlighted the compassionate care and multiple services the Franciscan Health Foundation is able to provide with donations. He was all smiles throughout the event.
“I can feel the positivity in the room tonight and I am honored to be a part of that,” Peltier said. “This is an honor for Franciscan to serve as a sponsor but most importantly to serve everyone in this room. We are all in it together to serve the community, to make life better.”
Those in attendance were fed appetizers of crab-stuffed mushrooms, caprese skewers, and pear brie crostini. After appetizers and salads, they had their choice of French Cut Chicken with Tarragon cream sauce, Chateaubriand with green peppercorn sauce, or Salmon with Dill sauce. The dessert was cheesecake with caramel sauce.
Entertainment was provided by Blake Alexander during the cocktail hour and The Connexion Band was the main performance.
“To see everything unfold is the reward we were working for,” said Jessica Hubard, the Chamber’s Director of Special Events. “We support the business community. You bring your business here and we help you grow. We are here to help as a tool and resource. It is very much a collaboration with chamber members and the community.”
For more information on how you can donate or participate in the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, you can visit https://www.crossroadschamber.org/pages/Home.