Each year, as the days grow shorter and the long winter nights start creeping into view, NIPSCO hosts its annual Luminary Awards ceremony.
Those honored Thursday evening shine so brightly through their work and dedication that they generate enough inspiration to serve as a beacon, guiding their communities through the cold months ahead and beyond.
The awards themselves highlight notable contributions and successes achieved in the Region, focused around five vital themes— Community Leadership, Education, Public Safety, Environmental Stewardship, and Economic Development.
“NIPSCO is so pleased to recognize organizations and individuals who go above and beyond to make a positive, lasting impact in their respective communities,” said Jennifer Montague, NIPSCO Vice President of Communications & External Affairs. “The work being done in these five key areas contributes to a safer, stronger, and more robust region in Northern Indiana, and we applaud their outstanding efforts.”
This year’s winners, recognized at Thursday’s 8th Annual Luminary Awards were: Lisa M. Daugherty, President and CEO of Lake Area United Way for Community Leadership; Ivy Tech, Valparaiso Campus’ Energy Technology Program for Education; Lake Station Fire and Rescue for Public Safety; NICHES Land Trust for Environmental Stewardship; and NewAllen Alliance for Economic Development.
"The recognition is absolutely wonderful,” said Michael Jones, Adjunct Professor at Ivy Tech's Valparaiso Campus and Energy Technology Program Chair for the last nine years. “We've been great partners with NIPSCO now for 10 or 11 years on this program. It's fantastic that they've decided that we are key to their success."
Students enrolled in the program can pursue one of four different energy technology tracks and become certified in that field in a single year. Once completed, students are able to interview with NIPSCO for open positions through the school, by-passing the general recruiting pool. Over 50 program graduates have found successful careers through this partnership.
Award recipients were chosen by a committee of NIPSCO employees after a lengthy and difficult evaluation process, explained Montague.
As part of the award, NIPSCO will donate $1,000 on behalf of each winner to their preferred charity. The utility company started the Luminary Award tradition 2012, to honor their 100th anniversary.
In addition to the award ceremony, NIPSCO took time Thursday evening to celebrate the culmination of the company-wide annual fundraising program, Charity of Choice. Representatives from local organizations that support seniors around the Region were on hand to accept the generous donation from NIPSCO employees.
Charity of Choice is an employee-driven program that runs through June and July. NIPSCO colleagues organize events that serve both to raise funds and to provide team-building opportunities. This year they collected over $140,000, which will be distributed to 10 different organizations dedicated to supporting senior residents across Northern Indiana.
The population of aging adults is rising rapidly in Northern Indiana and across the United States. Over 10,000 people a day will turn 65 between now and 2030, explained Megan Clouse, Communications and Development Specialist at Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, one of the Charity of Choice recipients.
"These funds mean a lot to us,” Clouse said. “We were in an industry where funding for aging adult services is fairly stagnant. It's really great to see organizations like NIPSCO shine a light on these vulnerable populations."
Sara Spruth, Walk Manager for the Alzheimer's Association Northwest Indiana Office, another recipient of the Charity of Choice grant, echoed Clouse’s sentiments.
"We're really thankful to be receiving the funds. They will help with funding research for the prevention, treatment, or a cure for the disease, none of which exist as of right now. They also help to support care and support services and education programs in the community," Spruth said.
Representing the third Charity of Choice recipient, Sandra Noe, Executive Director for Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana said she was deeply grateful for NIPSCO’s contributions.
"I so appreciate NIPSCO's support in our community,” Noe said. “They do so much more than what they do for Meals on Wheels and those we serve. They support so many of the nonprofits— they truly make the quality of life in Northwest Indiana better."
To learn more about the Luminary Awards, Charity of Choice, and the wealth of other NIPSO community service projects, visit NIPSCO.com/GivingBack.