Foundation photo

Accepting the IPRA Corporate Partner of the Year Award on behalf of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte on Wednesday were, from left, Mark Schreiber, La Porte Park superintendent; Kathleen Lang, HFL Grant Committee chair; Maria Fruth, HFL president / CEO; Jeff Bernel, HFL Board chair; and Jeremy Sobecki, La Porte County Parks superintendent.

La PORTE — The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte has been recognized for its contributions to the health and wellness of local residents by the Indiana Park and Recreation Association.

The Foundation was presented IPRA’s Corporate Partner of the Year Award at the annual Awards of Excellence Banquet on Wednesday in Muncie. The program honors park and recreation professionals, organizations, agencies and volunteers.

The Awards of Excellence honor agencies and individuals throughout Indiana that embody the vision, dedication and excellence needed in the field of parks and recreation, according to IPRA executive director Lisa Nye.

The awards highlight efforts that transcend everyday standards to make a difference and improve the quality of life in Indiana’s communities, she said.

The HFL was created in 2016 to empower residents to live healthy and well in La Porte County. The foundation, endowed by the sale of the non-profit La Porte Hospital to a for-profit entity, opened its first grant cycle in 2017.

Since then, HFL has shown an overwhelming commitment to parks and trails in the community, believing in the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation, according to Maria Fruth, president and CEO.

The La Porte Parks and Recreation Department has received just over $1 million in grant funds for programs such as supervised summer playgrounds; new amenities including an outdoor fitness court and accessible kayak launch; and professional services for a master plan for Soldiers Memorial Park.

The La Porte County Parks has also received grants totaling $147,000, including funding for a quarter mile of new paved trail, exercise stations and water bottle filling stations.

Perhaps the biggest impact HFL has made in the community has been $1.7 million granted toward trail design and construction, Fruth said.

The foundation provided the match for construction of the first phase of the Chessie Trail, which opened in April 2019; and funding for design of the second phase. The largest of these grants will see $887,000 go to a trail and amenities along the southern edge of Stone Lake this year.

The foundation also granted $425,000 to the City of La Porte for a sub-area plan to create destinations to drive active living in the area around Clear Lake; an adjacent brownfield redevelopment, and downtown; and to build infrastructure to support it.

The process will create a long-term vision for the area while focusing on short-term redevelopment, placemaking and recreation opportunities, Fruth said.

She thanked La Porte Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber and La Porte County Parks Superintendent Jeremy Sobecki for nominating HFL for the honor.

“We are delighted to partner with La Porte City Parks and La Porte County Parks to assure that our parks and trails infrastructure is increasing community-wide focus on active living and fit lifestyles, as this is one of the strategic goals for the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte,” Fruth said.

“We want to encourage residents to check out the major improvements already in place around our city and county parks.”

The Corporate Partner of the Year Award recognizes a vendor, company or individual who has significantly contributed to the field of parks and recreation and developed a strong partnership with IPRA, Nye said.

Th winners “have shown great leadership and support to the parks and recreation field by providing either equipment, volunteer time, in-kind services or other contributions to a project or program that benefit the community and demonstrate the importance of parks and recreation,” she said.

IPRA, founded in 1916, is a not-for-profit membership association representing over 900 parks and recreation professionals in Indiana. It is dedicated to advancing healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship by providing education, professional development, resources, and advocacy to members, according to Nye.

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