Commitment to serve • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Commitment to serve

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Service League of Northwest Indiana considers expansion of fundraising for groups who help others

Service League of Northwest Indiana
Service League of Northwest Indiana presents TradeWinds with a check for $2,000. From left: Diane Dorney, TradeWinds Sign Shop; Michelle Miller Hand, Service League; Trish Vigland, TradeWinds Sign Shop; Gloria Morris, Float Sixty; and Lisa Tatina, TradeWinds services development and marketing. (Photo by Deb Kiefer, TradeWinds photographer)

Service League of Northwest Indiana has come a long way from its beginnings in 1935, when a group of women got together to help a children’s home.

One of the area’s longest-serving volunteer groups, the league today supports numerous Region organizations, including Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, TradeWinds, Camp Millhouse, Exceptional Equestrians, Loaves & Fishes, Mommy’s Haven, St. Jude House and Region Kids for Comfort.

“Our mission is to help the community,” said Brenda Richter of Dyer. She has served in many capacities, including president, during her 18 years with Service League of Northwest Indiana.

The organization traces its roots to 1935 when a group of Hammond women joined forces to support the Bethany Home for Children. Originally called the Bethany League, the group changed its name to the Service League of Hammond in 1938 and eventually became known as the Service League of Northwest Indiana.

The not-for-profit group, comprised of women, partners with other local organizations to support causes that help women and children.

For Adam Akan, seeing his mother’s involvement and what the league does in the community served as inspiration to start his own not for profit, Region Kids for Comfort. It supports families in Northwest Indiana. The league counts Region Kids for Comfort among its partner groups.

“My mom’s commitment to the Service League is part of what inspired me to build my organization,” said Akan, now a sophomore at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. “They’re just a great organization and have helped so many people over the years.”

Akan was among the people who helped at the club’s annual Taste of the Region fundraiser. The event, now in its seventh year, is the group’s largest fundraiser. Proceeds from the event are poured back into community organizations.

The 2019 event brought in $80,000 for grants that benefited 35 Region agencies. The grants, ranging from $500 to $5,000, typically are earmarked to support specific projects within each organization. For example, the league donated funds to help care for special needs babies at Nazareth Home and to assist the Area Career Center purchase art supplies for students with moderate to severe mental disabilities.

The group also has aided organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Indiana, Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

“As a group we can really make an impact in the community by going out and finding these organizations that need help … whether it’s a small project or a larger project,” said Gloria Morris, president of the Service League of Northwest Indiana. “Every single project that we participate in makes an impact in the community to support women, children and families.”

While the Taste of the Region is the group’s main event, members also raise funds to benefit area organizations throughout the year. At the group’s monthly meetings, for example, members donate to a selected project or organization. The league also is considering adding another larger event, though not on the same scale as the Taste of the Region, to raise additional funds to benefit organizations serving Northwest Indiana, Morris said.

Service League of Northwest Indiana has about 30 active members. Those interested in joining are nominated and then are asked for a resume and letter of intent to ensure they understand the commitment required.

Members attend monthly meetings and regularly volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program or at Westminster Soup Kitchen along with participating in other volunteer opportunities or fundraising events.

Volunteer opportunities are periodically available for nonmembers who wish to be involved with the league but cannot commit to becoming a full member.

Click here to read more from the April-May 2020 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


  • Alicia Fabbre

    Alicia Fabbre is a Chicago-area journalist with more than 25 years experience. She has spent much of her career working in the Chicago suburbs with the last 12 as a freelance writer with the Chicago Tribune and other Tribune-owned publications covering local government, courts and other news. She lives in the southwest suburbs with her husband and teenage twins. Fabbre is an Illinois native and a graduate of Northern Illinois University.


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