Porter County Aging & Community Services is a nonprofit providing vital services to the elderly and disabled in Porter County. These services include the Section 8 Housing Program, Energy Assistance, Transportation, and SHIP (State Health Insurance Program), all of which are supported by state, federal, and county funding.
Bruce Lindner, who now runs the organization as its Executive Director, has long been a passionate member of the Northwest Indiana community, from his time as a teacher to working at the YMCA in Portage and Hammond, he has been truly dedicated to the betterment of the region.
“Our mission is to help seniors and those with disabilities live a productive and effective life as long as they can. So, if staying in their home is what helps them, we can get them out to get their food and to doctor’s appointments and get some independence,” said Lindner.
Vital to this mission is having a functioning base of operations for the dedicated employees and volunteers that make PCACS possible. Currently, PCACS has 12 employees associated with transportation, as well as two seasonal energy assistance employees, four volunteers, and a Section 8 Director. Also integral to the daily responsibilities of PCACS are Deputy Director, Judy Peracki, and Flo Snuffer who has been with the agency for 32 years, and served as Transportation Director for the last 20.
The building PCACS inhabits on Campbell Street in Valparaiso has existed for 60 years, and as with any building of this age, it needed a little remodeling. Originally functioning as a Social Security office, and later transformed into a doctor’s office, it has also seen its fair share of history in the Valpo community.
“It was my doctor’s office when I was a little kid,” said Lindner laughing. “I came to this building as a child.”
Having a corner office as Executive Director of one of Valparaiso’s most vital nonprofits was certainly not the future Lindner would have envisioned then. Lindner saw himself coaching and teaching for a career, and he did teach at Portage Middle School out of college, but took a year off to play semi-pro basketball with Lafayette. It wasn’t long before he found himself on the path towards his current career though, and after returning to teaching and construction for a time, he would take positions at the Portage and Hammond YMCA’s before finding himself back at the building he had spent time in as a child.
“It’s using my skill of knowing the people of Valparaiso, raising a little money in Porter County, and basically helping people,” said Lindner. “I look at this building as: it belongs to the community. Wilbur Hutchinson was a business professor at Valparaiso University who was on the board here and bought the building when it was first for sale and he left the building to the community.”
The 10,000-squarefoot building needed some repairs and remodels though and Chester, Inc. was glad to assist with the project, redoing the aging façade, rotting wooden canopy, roof, interior, and adding new life to the office with additional windows.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to assist with the building upgrades and enhancements at PCACS. We are very supportive of Bruce and his staffs’ desire to assist in all of their continuing community-based programs,” said Rich Shields, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Chester, Inc.
Lindner and the employees at PCACS have seen a big difference in the beautified office space, from employee morale to the reactions of people who come in seeking their services.
“The roof hadn’t been replaced in 25 years and there were little spots where the ceiling was browning, and now we’ve got new drop in ceiling and new lighting. It’s a big improvement,” said Lindner.
Lindner’s office was once a windowless room with a block wall and very little natural light, and other areas of the building were also very closed off and claustrophobic feeling.
“I come in here some day and the sun is in here and I don’t even turn the lights on. You would not believe how it changes your feeling. We redid another office down the hall and the big room we added three more windows. You walk in and you see the traffic go by; you’ve got a window to the outside world, it’s really great,” Lindner added enthusiastically.
For an organization that means so much to the people they serve, having a more modern, clean look in such a storied community building has great meaning and breathes new life into the noble mission of Porter County Aging & Community Services.
555 Eastport Centre Drive, IN 46383
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