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Association of Fundraising Professionals celebrates local philanthropists

by staff

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Northwest Indiana Chapter celebrated the spirit of giving in Northwest Indiana at a National Philanthropy Day® event on Wednesday, November 16 at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton.

The National Philanthropy Day event began with breakfast followed by an awards ceremony honoring outstanding individuals, businesses, service clubs and foundations located in Lake, Porter and La Porte counties.

Awards were presented to Suman Das for Individual Philanthropist of the Year; Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana for Corporate Philanthropist of the Year; Izzy Orlando for Youth Philanthropist of the Year; and the James W. and Betty Dye Foundation for Foundation Philanthropist of the Year.

Suman Das was nominated by the Porter County Community Foundation to receive the award for Individual Philanthropist of the Year. Das has built several local businesses through her company, Vinayak Hospitality. She has supported various Porter County community organizations including: Valparaiso YMCA, Porter County Museum, and Valpo Parks Foundation, among others. She has also established several endowment funds to ensure her legacy of giving continues.

Nominated by the Porter County Community Foundation, Das is well known for her generous spirit. Jeri Pat Gabbert, Vice President & Chief Philanthropic Officer, said, “Suman recognizes that part of her responsibility as a member of the community is to share a little bit of what she has for the benefit of others. Her philanthropic spirit can be felt and seen throughout our entire community. She is generous, humble and gives unselfishly to make life better for all of us.”

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana was nominated to receive the award for Corporate Philanthropist of the Year by Sojourner Truth House. Since opening in Spring 2022, Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana has donated nearly $250,000 to local nonprofits. They also have donated products, and space at their location to boost local nonprofit events. Their parking lot has been used for events as diverse as police training exercises to pet adoption events with local animal shelters.

Izzy Orlando was nominated for the Young Philanthropist award by United Way of Northwest Indiana. She raised money through lemonade stands and art sales to support Lakeshore PAWS and the Boys and Girls Club. Though she is allergic to dogs, Izzy feels the next best thing to having a dog is to support them through PAWS.

Kasie Tenbarge, Chief Development Officer at United Way says, “She has donated to purchase Boys and Girls Club memberships for three students who couldn’t afford it. Izzy is an inspiring example for other youth and our community as a whole.”

James W. and Betty Dye Foundation was nominated to receive the Foundation Philanthropist of the Year award by United Way of Northwest Indiana. The foundation has committed $400,000 through the Jim and Betty Dye Scholarship program to the United Way Level Up program. The program provides scholarships for those who are not eligible for state or federal funding to pay for their certification, degree or credentials. Through this program, the Foundation is helping to create a positive generational impact in the lives of struggling working families.

Tickets are still available to attend the National Philanthropy Day celebration. For details and more information, please visit https://afpnwi-npd2022.eventbrite.com.

The National Philanthropy Day Awards were made possible through sponsorships from Ivy Tech Foundation, Legacy Foundation, Porter County Community Foundation, and United Way of Northwest Indiana.

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