The 2nd annual Last Chance for White Pants Gala celebrated the care and compassion of VNA Hospice of Northwest Indiana on Saturday at the Blue Chip Hotel and Casino. Staff, volunteers, donors and those affected by the work of VNA broke out their still-summer fashion to raise funds to update the Horton Hospice Center in Valparaiso.
Guests were treated to an open bar sponsored by MacLennan & Bain Insurance, a filet and chicken dinner sponsored by Thrivent Financial of Northwest Indiana, and a DIY sundae sponsored by Chester, Inc. The cocktail hour allowed guests to mingle with friends and bid on silent auction items, while The Unit played smooth tunes to lend a little atmosphere.
As the silent auction drew to a close, a live auction raised more than $5000, with winners receiving trips to Mexico and New Orleans. After dinner, a “last donor standing” cash donation round offered guests the opportunity to donate at tiers starting at $2000 and ending at $100. The “last donor standing,” or the last guest to donate $100, won a stay at the Blue Chip with breakfast and a wine set gift basket.
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VNA of Northwest Indiana is a regional not-for-profit provider of hospice and palliative care—and more! Based in Valparaiso, VNANWI has a vibrant area of 250,000 with potential for growth. It’s minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan and great transportation access.
This is an excellent opportunity for a motivated, collaborative, mission-driven leader to join an organization that is highly committed to patient- and family-centered care and support services through a great team of interdisciplinary caregivers.
Key requirements will be at least a Bachelor’s Degree with a minimum of five years of executive management experience which includes setting and achieving strategic objectives, budget development and monitoring and problem-solving. Specific experience with hospice and/or healthcare preferred. Specific strengths will be needed in communications, financial management, leadership skills, team building with a highly competent clinical staff.
Leigh Morris, former Chairman of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, has been appointed Interim President and CEO of Visiting Nurse Association of Northwest Indiana (VNA of NWI), succeeding Ann O’Heir, who served in that role since 2015.
In announcing Morris’s appointment, Cindy Kaariainen-Tougaw, Chairperson of the VNA Board of Directors noted that the Board is very positive about the future of the VNA Hospice and its mission to be the region’s most patient-focused provider of aging, hospice, palliative care and grief support services. “We are confident that Leigh Morris will help us continue to move ahead during his tenure as Interim President and CEO as we work with him to search for exactly the right person to provide ongoing leadership to the organization.”
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Under bright blue skies, nearly 350 people joined the Visiting Nurse Association of NWI at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso on Sunday, May 6th, to walk in memory of loved ones at the 17th annual VNA Stroll for Hospice. Nearly $20,000 was raised to support VNA Hospice care in the community.
Prior to the kickoff of the walk, VNA President and CEO Ann O’Heir welcomed the crowd. “Thanks to the generosity of so many, the VNA remains a vital support system in our community, providing hospice care and services such as VNA Meals on Wheels and grief support for children at the VNA Phoenix Center.”
May 6th marked National Nurses Day and O’Heir invited active and retired nurses to the front of the crowd to be recognized and honored. “Today, we celebrate National Nurses Day and our very own VNA Hospice Nurses and ALL the nurses who are present here today and around the world. Thank you for your tireless efforts, hard work and compassionate care you’ve given to help your patients and their families,” said O’Heir.
O’Heir also invited veterans to the front to be honored, which included the VNA Hospice Choir singing “America the Beautiful” in gratitude for their service.
Families joined together as teams, competing for the top prizes by raising pledges to support their stroll. Each winning team and individual received a commemorative Stroll for Hospice brick in appreciation of their efforts. This year, Team CSI rounded up the most sponsors of their walk and the Missing Mary Team raised the highest amount in sponsorships. Individuals receiving awards were Carol Koss, who raised the most money in memory of her husband Bill Koss, who was a VNA Hospice Volunteer, and David and Patricia Schreiber who had the most sponsors. This year’s largest team was Team Rick and Buzz, with 22 team members.
Check out the photos below - click to enlarge photos.
All those who collected pledges in support of their walk were entered in a drawing to be named the 2019 VNA Stroll for Hospice Grand Marshal and Jaime Perz of the Toni’s Troopers team was selected to lead the walkers next year.
Along the first leg of the route, strollers were greeted with the famous pretzel bites from Bens’ Pretzels. And, all along the route, strollers were able to see signs in memory of loved ones. Following the walk, strollers gathered for a picnic lunch, followed by Culver’s Custard, donated by Culver’s of Valparaiso. In addition, there were lots of family friendly activities, including a bounce house, face painting, games, and even a DJ to keep things hopping.
Special thanks to the 2018 VNA Stroll for Hospice top sponsors: Nipsco, Beta Gamma Pi, The McGuire Family, Wunder Fence & Garage, and Shive-Hattery.
Awards given at VNA of NWI annual dinner
Nearly 100 staff members, donors, board members, volunteers and guests attended the recent Visiting Nurse Association of Northwest Indiana's annual dinner held at the Old Town Banquet Center in Valparaiso. The event was preceded by a reception for VNA Forever Society members.
President and CEO of the VNA of Northwest Indiana, Ann O’Heir, said they like to take an evening out every year to recognize their team. “We have a great, cohesive team that has such a strong leadership. We care for people and we care for them quickly when they need us,” said O’ Heir. “These nurses, aids, and pastors are out on their own in the field. They don’t have that additional support that the caregivers do in hospitals and extended care facilities. We have such a serious career with what we do on a day-to-day basis, so, this down time is nice to be able to laugh and relax together.”
Friends and family gathered at Christ Lutheran Church in Valparaiso on Tuesday evening at the VNA’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony to honor and remember loved ones during the holiday season.