Friday night was a night of fun, family, dancing and laughs at the annual Geminus Community Partners Family Fun Night at Chateau Banquets in Merrillville. Families from all over the region flocked to the Fun Night to have great food, hang out with friends, dance, and learn about the community services and opportunities from Geminus’ many community partners.
Nicholas Neal, Director of Family Services at Geminus Corporation, was Master of Ceremonies for the event, which is part of the Geminus Community Partners Grant through the Department of Child Services of Lake County.
“What this is, is an evening for families to come out and enjoy,” said Neal, “We’re giving out home appliances, like microwaves, toaster ovens, bedding for kids, we’ve got face painting, free haircuts from the barbers in the community that are here. We’re just trying to give everyone a day of fun.”
Indeed, there was much fun to be had as kids danced to Zumba, received artfully crafted balloon animals, swords, and fidget spinners. They also had their faces painted and their hair cut at any of the five barber stations throughout the venue.
For parents, grandparents and guardians, the free event was a way for their families to let loose in a fun and exciting way while still saving money.
“It’s important for us to hold these types of events because some families would not be exposed to these types of things or have access to some of the things we’re giving away,” said Darnitha Woods, who runs the Community Partners Program for Geminus.
Woods was enthusiastic about what Geminus had to offer the community.
“Most of the people that we service in Lake County are in poverty, so they can’t really take their kids to the movies for a family night out. This is something we’re doing for a family night out, to promote families being together and to let them know that we are here for them.”
For Ellis Dumas, Regional Manager for the Department of Child Services in Lake County, he loved that he was able to help bring and keep families together.
“We know that families are better together,” said Dumas. “We want to provide an opportunity for families to thrive in an environment that’s conducive to showing that passion and that love.”
Dumas was also glad to dispel some of Child Protective Services’ bed press.
“People often hear about Child Protective Services and they go in the opposite direction,” Dumas explained, “Our goal is to show that we’re here to support families.”
Geminus’ Community partners, who lined the entrance hall to the venue with booths advertising all of their services, really appreciated the opportunity to reach out to the community that they serve.
“It’s fantastic to see all of the people they help come together and just have fun,” said Jennifer Eades, an Outreach Specialist in Lake County for NorthShore Health Centers, which was at the event showing their many healthcare programs.
“For them to not worry about school or any other issues that are going on, everyone’s just here to have a nice time together,” said Eades.
Eades, who moved to The Region from Virginia, appreciates the work that Geminus does with NorthShore and its other partners for the community.
“When I first moved here, I had no idea that Geminus did so much. I was surprised to find out all of the services and programs that they had. Everyone I’ve met has been super dedicated to what they do, and I’ve enjoyed partnering with them for the different events,” said Eades.
The families really enjoy it too. For Latoya Evans, who heard about the event through a Geminus Financial Workshop, she was happy to have an event where she could take her kids and have a great time.
“It’s awesome, the kids are enjoying themselves, I’m enjoying myself. Everyone is eating good food and snacks,” said Evans.
Between the information given by Geminus’ many partners, Geminus itself, and the Family Fun Night, Evans and her family were making lasting memories they’ll never forget.
“It’s very informational, we’ve been learning as a whole how to have fun as a family,” said Evans of the night and how it benefited the community and families like hers.