AP NEWS

Chicken and charity

April 10, 2019

La PORTE COUNTY — A group of local professionals is taking the lead in supporting several La Porte County parks that are due for some much-needed tender, loving care.

Members of Leadership La Porte County’s 35th Class will host a barbecue fundraiser on behalf of the county parks department from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Customers can purchase Nelson’s Port-A-Pit chicken from either the Kabelin Ace Hardware store on Andrew Avenue in La Porte or the 1st Source Bank branch office on Franklin Street in Michigan City.

Organizers will donate the proceeds to the La Porte County Parks Department, which oversees Westville’s Bluhm Park, Michigan City’s Creek Ridge Park and La Porte’s Luhr and Red Mill parks. Department officials will use the funds for park upkeep and other needs the office’s budget and grant funding do not currently meet, said Christopher Lyle, a Leadership La Porte County class member and one of the organizers of Saturday’s fundraiser.

In addition to the fundraiser, members will also participate in a “Leaders Loving Community Day” on May 11, where they will split into several groups and pitch in with several county parks projects, Lyle said.

Members of the leadership development organization’s current cohort are organizing the fundraiser and volunteer day as two halves of a service project the agency requires its classes to complete, Lyle said. While members do community outreach either individually or in small groups throughout their time in the program, the entire cohort recently decided to combine forces for one large project to benefit the parks department.

“Why don’t we help out, try to make a difference and put ourselves out there?” Lyle said about the effort. “If we can help [the department] financially and with our labor, it would be a win-win for everyone.”

The 30-member class has seen firsthand some of the problems facing the local parks after department officials led them on a tour of the four properties. While portions of the parks appear run down and in need of repair, the department currently lacks funding to pay for the work, Lyle said.

The effort marks the first time an entire Leadership La Porte County cohort has collaborated to tackle such a problem, Lyle said.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “We’ve gotten good feedback from everyone we’ve sold tickets to so far. People are excited and stepping up.”

Service projects are only one part of the training Leadership La Porte County provides current and emerging leaders in the community. Members of each six-month-long class meet once a month, where they learn more about La Porte County and issues affecting it from elected officials, church leaders, business owners, nonprofit agency representatives and others.

The members are looking to raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for the parks department through Saturday’s event, Lyle said.

“Come out and support your community, support your parks department and get some chicken as well,” he said, encouraging visitors to stop by the fundraiser.