To volunteer and serve others is to be humble. Those who give their time to help people in need look at their actions and see something that they have to be doing, not something they want to be praised for doing. Because behind every volunteer and selfless act is an innate desire to make the world a better place. Stacey Whitten, Owner and Attorney at Whitten and Whitten Law Firm in Porter County, is no exception.
Whitten’s desire to be involved in her community and volunteer as much as she can began during her time as a student at Andrean High School in Merrillville. There, she became involved with a local organization that provided services and everyday items to single or struggling mothers in need.
“People would donate diapers, baby supplies, anything like that to help mothers who really needed it,” she explained.
It was this experience that set Whitten on course for a life of compassion and volunteerism within a community she loves. And, with its ample number of organizations looking for volunteers, like Whitten’s beloved Porter County Animal Shelter, the Memorial Opera House, and more, Porter County was the perfect place for her to find an outlet for her compassionate lifestyle.
“I used to be the Vice President of the Memorial Opera House Foundation Board,” she said. “I’m not anymore, but I still donate and volunteer my time whenever I am able to. But now, I am a Trustee for the Porter County Library System.”
Despite the importance of libraries in a community, a number of factors have contributed to recent decrease in funds and attention. Whitten, who has depended on libraries throughout her life, does all she can to keep libraries in Porter County relevant and their missions alive.
“I remember being in school and the library was my sanctuary,” Whitten explained. “I basically lived in the library. I think with the rise of technology, libraries need to stay relevant and I think our library system is taking great strides in the community with different events and programs. It’s a great meeting place, it serves as more than just a place to check out books, and t’s a good place for the community to enjoy. Being a Trustee is something I really enjoy.”
But while the compassion that can be found in her volunteer work in her personal life has been impactful and continues to make noise, the compassion she shows in her professional life should not be ignored. After graduating from Andrean, she continued her education at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she received a Bachelor of Arts from a program called SPEA, or the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. With this degree, Whitten focused mainly on public administration and criminal justice before moving on to John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
“I’ve been a practicing attorney since 2005,” Whitten said. “I practice with my husband and we have our own business here in Porter County. I am also Assistant City Attorney for the city of Hobart.”
When asked what her job as an attorney involves and the responsibilities she has to her firm and clients, Whitten passionately said, “I strive to be as compassionate as I can.”
As a bankruptcy, municipal law, and assistant city attorney, Whitten has encountered enough difficult stories and struggling people to know the importance of being open-minded and lending a listening ear.
“When my husband and I are meeting with people who are in a bad situation, the most important thing to me is to be compassionate,” she explained. “I can’t stress that enough. In healthcare, in legal professions, in any profession where you’re dealing with the public, that to me is the number one factor. So forget about going to court and pleading; helping other people is really the big payoff from me.”
While she isn’t working at her law firm or volunteering for causes and organizations dear to her heart, Whitten can be found gardening, cooking, and doing yoga.
“I’m a total yogi,” Whitten said with a small laugh. “It’s not just exercise. The whole principle behind it with my philosophy of practicing law. The principle is be good to one another, be kind to one another, so I really like yoga’s focus and what it stands for.”
Even when Whitten is taking time for herself, she is still thinking of others.
“I just think volunteering is so vital, and I wish that I could do more,” she said. “But I’m honored to do a little bit to make Porter County a better place.”
And with the work she’s done since her days at Andrean High School, Stacey Whitten has touched so many lives and will continue to impact more, whether that’s through lending a helping hand, or inspiring others to do more for Porter County and the world.