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A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Debbie Rzepczynski

By: Kellyn Vale Last Updated: August 14, 2019

Whether you are a curious mind looking for answers, a bookworm seeking your next good read, or just need a reference for that soon-to-be-due project, one place that cover it all: The Lake County Public Library (LCPL). Any question you may have can be easily tackled by their kind staff, including Debbie Rzepczynski, who plays a unique role there.

“I am the first and only Library Skills Trainer that the Lake County Public Library system has had since 2012,” Rzepczynski said. “I actually started at the library when I was 14 years old, and have held a variety of positions there ever since.”

Rzepczynski is celebrating 35 years with LCPL.

“I totally enjoy helping others and that is why I so love the library,” Rzepczynski said. “Anyone can ask us anything here – from helping to ‘name a tune’ to finding the qualifications of a medical specialist, there are no silly questions and there is always someone to help at the library.” 

Rzepczynski’s passion for helping others goes beyond the library walls, extending to the community through her work with her therapy dog, Lexi. After learning about the local chapter of Therapy Dogs International and the Franciscan Pet Therapy program through Lexi’s obedience classes at Dunes Dog Training Club, Rzepczynski knew she wanted Lexi to become certified.

“After Lexi passed her therapy dog evaluation, we began visiting with her to local nursing homes and to Franciscan Hospital Crown Point,” Rzepczynski said. “Therapy Dogs help everyone: residents, staff, and the community.”

It is clear that the library world has had a significant impact on Rzepczynski’s life, drawing out her vocal side throughout the years.

“I’m still wondering when and how I turned into an extrovert,” Rzepczynski said. “I can train one-on-one or speak to a group of 100 and yes, both are nerve-wracking, but my inner extrovert peeks out when I emcee a Pets N’ Vets fundraiser or do Facebook live videos.”

Rzepczynski has learned to embrace her newly outspoken role.

“It’s rather fun being a fearless extrovert,” Rzepczynski continued. “This is something my 12-year old self would never had imagined.”

Rzepczynski’s outgoing side comes through in another unexpected passion: drag racing!

“I totally married into sportsman drag racing,” Rzepczynski said. “My husband Larry has owned a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda longer than he has known me. He’s rebuilt it a number of times and we travel to surrounding states racing the National Hot Rod Association’s Division 3 sportsman drag racing circuit.”

Being brought into the realm of drag racing has opened up countless relationships in her life, and she enjoys the bonds formed with fellow racing fans.

“I totally love all the people that you meet who also share the love of racing,” Rzepczynski said.

Every time she’s at the track, the pure speed and adrenaline rush of the cars rushing by is enough to give Rzepczynski goosebumps, no matter how many times she has experienced it.

“Nothing beats the rumble of the professional class nitro dragsters,” Rzepczynski said. “You feel it down to your toes when they go flying down the track at 300 plus miles per hour.”

There’s no doubt that Rzepczynski has embraced multiple passions in her life, demonstrating the importance of going after the things that fuel her soul and influencing others in the process.

“Don’t forget to be good to yourself,” Rzepczynski said. “Treat yourself, take care of yourself, and don’t stop. After all, you’re nice to others, you enjoy treating others, and you will be taking care of others, so why not show a little of that love to yourself sometimes too.”