Donors heating up Stepping Stone

Nanda Danitschek

MICHIGAN CITY – When a large furnace went out last week at a shelter for victims of domestic violence, the agency reached out to the community for blankets, heaters to keep residents warm, and money to replace the furnace.

Michigan City residents got the message and came through in a big way.

"On Friday, Nov. 8, we made a plea to the community to help us replace a commercial furnace that was out at our shelter, which was quoted at about $8,000 without the cost of a crane and operator to place it," Nada Danitschek, director ot the Stepping Stone Shelter for Women, said Friday.

That same afternoon, "We received $5,000 from a generous anonymous donor to begin a matching fund campaign. And since Nov. 8, you have donated space heaters, blankets, funds and given us spectacular referrals," she said of city residents who helped out.

"With the generosity and commitment of our community, we not only met our matching goal, we quintupled it. In just six days, you helped us raise $29,748. And we say thank you!"

So what's the plan now that the Stepping Stone can afford a new furnace, and a whole lot more?

"First of all, we had several HVAC companies willing to step to the plate and help us out, and we are grateful for every one," Danitschek said. "This Sunday, our new HVAC partner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is coming to the shelter to replace the furnace that is out.

"We also have a very special crane operator who is helping out at no charge. They will be replacing the broken commercial furnace at the shelter and have already begun to replace two residential furnaces at our transitional housing facility ... all for the same cost as the one furnace we were originally quoted for."

Also on Sunday, she said, the HVAC company's commercial specialist will test the remaining older furnaces at the shelter to see which ones should be a priority for replacement.

"They are going to replace three more commercial furnaces this year!" Danitschek said. "They are all on their last legs, so this is great news! In addition, they will be coming back to our transitional housing facility back in the spring to fix and/or replace any AC units."

And along with all that, she said, "They are going to help us with ongoing service pro bono."

The help from the community means Stepping Stone can "provide healthy living environments for all clients at the shelter and 15 families at our transitional housing facility this holiday season."

Along with replacing four commercial furnaces at the shelter, and two furnaces at the transitional facility, "We have gained a longstanding service partnership with a super generous HVAC company."

When it's all added up, she called it a "boost for staff and client morale," which will also "create momentum in the community to further our mission to empower a community to live without violence."

She again thanked everyone who donated, saying, "May your hearts be full knowing you have created an enormous impact for some of the most vulnerable among us. May your spirit be awoken to the power of community engagement. And may you know that we are so stinkin' grateful for it all. You can't possibly know!"


Executive director Nanda Danitschek; associate director Mary Anderson and the employees and volunteers of the Stepping Stone Shelter wished to thank the following donors for the successful furnace replacement campaign:

1st Source Bank, Allison Livergood, Amelia Wilson, Amy Buss, Amy Straka Photography, Anthony Novak, Arlene Nelson, Barbara Moore, Betty Daniel-Lanie, Bob & Wendy Kermen, Carla Whitfield & Nikia Austin, Catherine Garrabrant, Cheryl Daurer, Christy Bader, D. Scarborough, Denise & Roger Libke, Derald Borton, Diana Ahlers, Dianne Carpenter, Doug Rosebaum, Dr. Kroczek; and

Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Ed Castle, Elico HVAC, Elizabeth Parkison, Ellen J. Waite-Franzen, First United Methodist Church MC, Frank Milcarek Jr., Garrett Kautz, H&G Plumbing & Heating, Hannah Circle, Hanna United Methodist Church, Heidi Rutter, Homeward Bound, Jacqueline Feeley, James Hayden, James Sennett, Janet Retseck, Jeff Lyons, Jill Hardesty, John & Christine Derouin, John & Kathleen Kenefick, Jon & Kathryn Mack, Joy Thatcher; and

Jude Rakowski, Julia Sullivan, Julia Valdivieso, Julie Kasniunas, Julie Sosa, Juliene & John Hendricks, Karen Nagy, Katherine Lippens, Kathleen Kelly, Kathryn Schroeder, Kathryn Triemsta, Kathy Carr, Kelley Smith, Kim Hunter, Kristy Pendleton, Larry Dalton HVAC, Larry Zimmer & Ted Perzanowski, Laurel Izard, Lee Schwinkendorf, Local Cuts & Color, Majory Bockover, Marilyn & Gregory Kellpsh, Mark Mallon, Marla Bolakowski; and

Marty Corley, Mary Anderson, Mary Cody, MC Exchange Club, Merrill Gonzalez, Michael Lachiewicz, Michele Hyland, Pamela Creed, Pastor Nancy Nichols, Pat Turner, Patricia Taylor, Patricia Tym, Paul & Lauren Mache, Paul Osisek & Whei Ming Su, Paula Switzer, Peggy Rose, Penny Harman, Phyllis Butts, Rita Wallace, Rita Winger, Robert Beckner, Ron & Sheryl Bede, Samantha Greenwood, Sandra Faloon, Seth Culver, Sharon Stich, Stacey Rebac; and

Sullair, Terry Vittatoe, The Lyons Group Real Estate, Tracy Becker, Wildwood LLC DBA Alpha Storage, William Eisele.

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