Empowering people to make healthy choices - December 31, 2018

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune • December 31, 2018

Written by Sue Ellen Ross • Post-Tribune

Renee Patikas believes that everyone is entitled to up-to-date medical information, presented by professionals, and knowledge of neighborhood businesses and organizations that can enhance their community experience.

To that end, the local businesswoman recently hosted Make a Difference in Your Community Day at the Gary National Guard Armory.

Educating, entertaining, and empowering the public was the mission.

“This is a great event for the community,” said Elton Scott of Gary, one of the first to stop in. “It’s important for people to see what’s available to them.”

Vendors for the free occasion included displays ranging from ladies’ accessories and soaps to information about insurance and financial planning, with much in between.

“There are many people who try to do good deeds, and we are seeing this today,” said visitor Mary Tucker of Gary, as she prepared to make the rounds of the displays. “We want to recognize this and show our appreciation.”

A special treat during the day was a free food buffet set up for the first 100 visitors.

Tuskegee Airmen from the Chicago “DODO” chapter Ken Rapier and Marvin Robinson enjoyed their lunch before Rapier took the microphone as a speaker.

“We offer our Young Eagles Program on a regular basis,” he said, regarding community involvement. “We fly kids every second Saturday of the month at the Gary Chicago International Airport.”

Also, a raffle for a large screen television took place during the event.

Fifty percent of the proceeds were earmarked for Vietnam veteran Leonard Hegwood, who needs a kidney transplant.

Keynote speakers Dr. Olusegun Apata and Dr. Janet Seabrook of Methodist Hospital spoke about sleep apnea and the importance of flu vaccination, respectively.

Jazzy Ladies instructor Maxine Simpson and D. J. Frank Chapa Jr. kept the audience entertained during the day.

For more than two decades, USA WEEKEND magazine and Points of Life have sponsored Make a Difference in Your Community Day with the goal of making it the largest national day of community service.

It celebrates compassion for communities, with the mission to inspire good deeds throughout the year.

Many events to reflect this are held once a year throughout the U.S., usually in October, but Patikas wants to do more.

“We are grateful, delighted and proud for all the support from northwest Indiana businesses, organizations and residents to make this day a success,” she said, of her current endeavor. “In that respect, offering two events per year in Northwest Indiana is my future plan.”

For more information, call (219) 805-3283.

Sue Ellen Ross is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.