Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County: Delivery with Compassion

Meals on Wheels of Hamilton CountyMeals on Wheels of Hamilton County is a not-for-profit organization serving the entire county.

“Most people have never heard of our organization,” says Executive Director Beth Gehlhausen. “We seem to be a well-kept secret even though we really want everyone to know about our services.”

Established in 1975, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County serves meals to people who are unable to prepare meals for themselves. This need might be permanent for people with physical or mental limitations, or it could be a temporary need while someone is recovering from an illness or surgery. In 2013, this local Meals on Wheels assisted approximately 420 people totaling almost 54,00 meals.

Meals are prepared under the supervision of a registered dietitian in local hospital cafeterias. Community Heart and Vascular Hospital, Community North, Riverview, Sheridan Health Care and Rehabilitation, and St. Vincent Carmel all prepare meals for delivery every Monday through Friday. The hot meals are usually the same food items served on the cafeteria line for the facility that day, but special meals also are available for those with dietary restrictions.

Volunteer drivers pick up food from the hospitals in the late morning at the beginning of their route. The nutritious food is served hot so that clients are ensured a healthy meal that tastes delicious. Each meal is packaged individually in disposable containers for ease of client clean up.

The one-meal plan includes a hot entree and sides, a dessert, bread and butter, and milk or juice. This entire meal with free delivery only costs the client $4.50 per day. A second, lighter meal of a deli sandwich, fruit or dessert, and milk or juice may be added to the order, bringing the two-meal plan total to $7 per day.

Meals on Wheels provides services to individuals at all socioeconomic levels. Approximately 60 percent of meal recipients in Hamilton County pay for their own meals, have meals paid for by family members, or are sponsored by a church or other organization. The remaining 40 percent receive assistance or full sponsorship through the Sponsor-a-Senior program or the Central Indiana Council on Aging.

These deliveries would not be possible without the help of community volunteers. It takes about 340 volunteers a month to deliver meals to Hamilton County Residents. Delivery shifts are available Monday through Friday and normally require a two-hour commitment once a month. Volunteers are screened with a background check and must have a valid driver license and car insurance.

Coordinators train all new volunteers and ensure they are ready for their own routes. Many volunteers team up with a friend or coworker. Fishers Rotary Club, the Town of Fishers and First Merchants Bank consistently provide volunteers for Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County.

“We rarely have a volunteer leave unless their health has changed, their work schedule changes or they move,” Gehlhausen says. “Our volunteers are very committed to the purpose of delivering hot meals to those in need.”

Unlike some organizations that experience high operational costs, Meals on Wheel of Hamilton County has a low overhead because so much is donated from the community. One of the most important of these donations comes from Riverview Hospital, which provides about 1,400 square feet of office space, plus all telephones, computers and the information technology network.

Meals on Wheels also applies for grants, receives annual donations and holds fundraising events to assist with meal subsidies and the small overhead costs to run the organization.

What can you do to help?  Spread the word about the services of Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County. “The people in need might be your neighbors, you might sit next to them at church, or you might have a family member trying desperately to continue living independently,” Gehlhausen says. “We are woefully under-serving this county, and we want to change that by spreading the word about our services.”

The next fundraising event, scheduled for September, will feature a Dancing with the Stars of Hamilton County theme. Attendees will have a chance to vote on their favorite dancers to raise money for this worthy organization. Tickets will be available in advance, and information will be posted on the organization’s website as the event date approaches.

For more information about Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County, visit MealsOnWheelsHC.org or call (317) 776-7159.

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Launch Indiana

Launch Indiana - WechslerIn a recent press release, a partnership with the State of Indiana and Launch Fishers was announced by the Lt. Governor, Sue Ellspermann.  ‘Launch Indiana’ will connect Indiana’s innovation-driven entrepreneurs with mentorship, education, and assistance from successful entrepreneurs.

The model for this effort is based on the success of Launch Fishers. Serial entrepreneur John Wechsler is expanding the mission of Launch Fishers, through a partnership with the state of Indiana. “The mission of Launch Indiana is to increase the number of successful Indiana-based innovation-driven enterprises.” says Wechsler.

Launch Fishers has quickly become a successful model for other cities around the state.  What began only 16 months ago, has quickly expanded to nearly 300 members and growing.  Located on the ground floor of the Hamilton East Public Library in Fishers, members enjoy the comforts and conveniences of big business amenities without the overhead.

BlueBridge Digital was the first member to join Launch Fishers, and as a double shot, they are the first to ‘launch’ out of Launch Fishers and into their own office space.  BBD also announced recently they will be hiring an additional 200 employees in the near future.  Santiago Jamarillo, who founded BlueBridge Digital, gives credit to Launch Fishers for helping incubate his success.  There are many other small businesses ready to “launch” as well. The hope is that the trend will continue as Launch Fishers continues to add new members and watch them grow into their own space throughout Fishers.

The accessibility of resources, capital, mentoring and connections available to entrepreneurs at Launch Fishers is being emulated or plans are in development around the state in cities such as Lafayette, West Lafayette, Evansville, Muncie, Bloomington, Terre Haute and Shelbyville.

Launch Indiana brings a human capital element to the rapidly maturing collection of co-working sites statewide.  The idea being, if we can create an environment hospitable for start-up businesses, and combine that with the right support, these promising young companies will stay, grown and flourish in Indiana.  The efforts of mentors to assist with these entrepreneurs will bring immeasurable benefits to our state, the least of which is jobs.

The future of business is changing – as illustrated by Jason Nazar, a Forbes Columnist. The workspace model is changing.  More open floor plans and fewer walls separating co-workers – many large Indiana companies are already functioning this way.  According to Nazar, the office will be the classroom and his most striking prediction: 2 out of 5 workers will be entrepreneurs.

Launch FishersEase of use, enabling easy access to resources to help fuel entrepreneurs is what Launch is all about.  Having created many successful businesses, and having worked and lived out in Silicon Valley, Wechsler moved back to not only be closer to family, but to create a thriving entrepreneurial atmosphere at home, in Indiana.  Through Wechsler’s efforts and foresight, he has created the basis of fundamental change in the way entrepreneurs seek help:  he’s made it almost too easy.

Wechsler gives credit for the Launch Fishers success to Scott Fadness, who’s shared vision and values for the Launch idea helped facilitate the entire idea. “The success of Launch Fishers has elevated Fishers’ profile as a leader in how to create strong communities with entrepreneurship as a core value”, says Wechsler.

Launch Indiana is important for our state.  Through the efforts of this project, future leadership, fueled by innovation and focusing on human capital, is working on fostering the next generation of high-profile high-growth companies right here in Indiana.  “Our people are our best resource.  Why not nurture their ideas?” adds Wechsler.

Town Manager Scott Fadness says of the Launch Indiana project, “We are very excited for the next chapter (Launch Indiana) of Launch Fishers and our overall entrepreneurial initiative.  I think this announcement further solidifies this community’s commitment to job and wealth creation and puts us front and center stage at the state level.” And perhaps beyond.

The timing has been perLaunch Fishers-Indiana Teamfect from inception.  Renewals of Launch Fishers memberships are strong, with over 90% retention of members.  Ideas exist, companies just need the help to foster their growth.  With resources like Launch Fishers now available to other areas of the state, is Indiana the next hot bed of capital funding and technology?  Nazar believes the business world is dramatically different even from a generation ago and thinks it will be more pronounced over the next 30 years.  Launch isn’t even two years old – how many changes will take place in the near future?  and with Launch spin-offs around the state, the possibilities are as endless as the imagination.  Get ready, Indiana, to Launch!

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Fishers Art Council: Create, Appreciate and Participate in 2014

Fishers Art CouncilThe Fishers Arts Council is the leading art and creativity organization for Fishers. Established in 2005, this nonprofit organization’s goal is to strengthen local arts and culture to enrich the quality and economic vitality of life in Fishers. The benefits of the arts to community life are numerous and the Fishers Arts Council is working hard to advance community support for arts programs. President Jocelyn Vare explains, “The Fishers Arts Council identifies new arts opportunities and glues creative people, organizations, businesses and volunteers together to bring those opportunities to life in Fishers.” There are many upcoming initiatives for the Fishers Arts Council in 2014. Though this isn’t a comprehensive account of events, Jocelyn gave our readers the inside scoop on new and returning arts events in Fishers. All disciplines of art are supported by the Fishers Arts Council with a focus on encouraging participation in and providing access to the arts for all.

Art in the Park

The Fishers Arts Council sponsors this special event featuring live performers and approximately 40 artists displaying and selling their art. The artists’ work has been selected specifically for Art in the Park by the Fishers Arts Council. Admission is free to this daylong event, and more than 5,000 visitors are expected to attend. While in past years this event has been held in mid-September, this year the date for Art in the Park is Saturday, May 31, 2014, and it will once again be held in conjunction with the Fishers Chamber of Commerce’s Farmers Market. The new date puts Art in the Park as a feature event of Fishers’ Nickel Plate Arts Weekend, and it will be located adjacent to the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater. In addition to the date change, for the first time, the event will be presented by the Fishers Renaissance Faire, an organization that will also contribute to the stage and strolling performances. The collaboration between the Fishers Arts Council and Fishers Renaissance Faire will add a new layer of entertainment to this already enriching community event. Artists and performers wishing to participate in Art in the Park can watch for a Call for Artists to be released in the near future. Follow the Fishers Arts Council on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FishersArt for up-to-date information.

Sister Cities Art Exchange

The Sister Cities Association of Fishers develops long-term relationships and partnerships with Fishers’ sister cities around the world. Billericay, Essex, UK, is one of Fishers’ most known sister cities. Students and teachers from Billericay visit Fishers and host a group of representatives from Fishers in England each year. In 2014, a double exchange of artwork between Billericay and Fishers will occur thanks to the creative vision of students and teachers during the annual exchange in 2013. Recently, Hoosier Road Elementary students sent a package full of artwork to a designated primary school in Billericay. The art was displayed so that the English students could enjoy the work of their peers from the United States. This art exchange is scheduled to continue every other month during the school year. In addition to the crowd-favorite Fishers Renaissance Faire event held in October each year, the Sister Cities Association will partner with the Fishers Arts Council for the annual Art Walk festival in Billericay. Brian Brosmer, a Fishers photographer and artist, will be submitting his work to be exhibited in England in July.

Art in Town Hall

Partnering together, the Fishers Arts Council and the Town of Fishers opened the first municipal art gallery in Fishers in 2012. New art exhibits are featured every other month and have included the Indiana Artists Club’s annual stateside show, local professionals, new artists and students. The 2014 Town Hall exhibits will include a Fishers resident’s retrospective of his mother’s work, a mixed media artist, an urban art show, K-8 students’ Fishers Freedom Festival T-shirt designs, and the annual Senior Art Showcase of HSEHS and FHS students. Fishers artists who would like to exhibit at Art in Town Hall can contact Lisa Vielee at lisa@graciecomm.com or send a message via the Fishers Arts Council Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/FishersArt .

Public Art

The Fishers Community Art Master Plan was unanimously endorsed by the Fishers Town Council on Dec. 16, 2013, establishing a long-term vision and procedures for the thoughtful placement of public art in the Fishers community. The plan was developed jointly by the Fishers Arts Council, the Fishers Cultural Tourism Group and the Town of Fishers. This collaboration is the first of its kind in Hamilton County, and a request for proposals will be shared with the community as projects are identified in 2014 during the implementation phase of selecting sites, projects and artists. The first site for new public art will likely include the Nickel Plate District, the Pocket Park on 116th Street and various community trails. More information about public art and the Fishers Community Art Master Plan can be found at http://www.fishers.in.us/index.aspx?NID=426.

The Artist Hub

The Fishers Arts Council is promoting The Artist Hub, an economic development initiative of two local artists, Anya Simpson and DeMaris Gaunt. They want Fishers residents to be able to enjoy quality art within our own community, so planning and research has begun to develop The Artist Hub. “The Artist Hub is dedicated to cultivating the love of arts in people of all ages and abilities. The hub will nurture the renaissance of arts throughout the community in a noncompetitive and creative atmosphere,” envisions Simpson and Gaunt. They strongly believe that by establishing a shared space of galleries and studios for local artists, the hub can help Fishers become a destination location. A model similar to that of the Stutz building in downtown Indianapolis is being researched due to the high interest from the artist community. Fishers residents are asked to participate in the information-gathering stage to help gauge the needs of the community for a creative space to engage in art. Please take a moment to complete the online survey at www.fishersartsurvey.com, available until Feb. 28, 2014. Residents interested in this project can contact artisthubfishers@gmail.com for more information.

Future of Fishers Arts Council

A few months ago, four new board members joined the Fishers Arts Council, and new committees will be forming this year. Development of initiatives to increase opportunities for writing and performance arts are underway. In addition, more partnerships with other groups will strengthen and broaden the arts in Fishers. One partnership is that with Fishers Music Works, a new music organization of several different professional and semi-professional ensembles that perform at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater and other Fishers locations. Fishers Arts Council representatives will be involved with planning and economic development for the Town of Fishers. Community members interested in participating in the Fishers Arts Council are encouraged to send a message to board members through the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/FishersArt.

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Fishers On Tap

Fishers On Tap: Feb. 22, 4-7 p.m., Forum Conference and Event Center, 11313 USA Parkway, Fishers

As we head into the gray days of winter, many of us are looking for a reason to get out and about. Well, I have an event for you to consider: Fishers On Tap — Winter.

I recently sat down with Bill Jerrow and Michele Whelchel, the co-chairs for the Fishers On Tap Indiana craft beer-tasting fundraiser, and discovered that the event is much more than an excuse to try some great local beers. In addition to sampling beer from local breweries, attendees can enjoy food samples provided by some local restaurants, including a dessert booth featuring mini cupcakes. Live music will be provided by Phoebe and the Mojo Makers. There will also be a 50-50 raffle and home brewing demonstrations.

Fishers On Tap is not your typical beer-tasting event and is sought after by the breweries for the quality time and conversations they are able to have with local craft beer enthusiasts. But the real winners from this event will be the local charities serving children who will be the beneficiaries of this fundraiser.

Fishers On Tap is brought to you by the Fishers Rotary Club, which comprises 116 men and women who believe in service above self. Since the inception of the club in 1992, members have raised and donated more than $670,000 to more than 85 nonprofit organizations and given an untold number of volunteer service man-hours. Some of the Fishers Rotary projects include:

  • Kids Voice: serving at-risk children
  • Pink Ribbon Connection: breast cancer support
  • Promising Futures: anger management for youth
  • Girls on the Run: adolescent girls’ self-image
  • Hear Indiana: hearing-challenged resources
  • Youth Mentoring Initiative: one-on-one help
  • Fishers Liberty Plaza: celebrating our veterans
  • Prevail: victims of crime and domestic abuse
  • Fishers Fire Department
  • Brooks Place: grief counseling for youth
  • Ambassador House: local historical residence
  • College Scholarships: HSE and Fishers high schools
  • Shelter Box: disaster relief shelters
  • Fresh Starts: domestic violence survivors
  • Partners in Housing Development
  • Servants at Work: wheelchair ramp building
  • Alzheimer’s Association

Fishers On Tap - ParticipantsSo come out to Fishers On Tap and enjoy a fun evening with great food, craft beer and live music, and most important, support a great cause.

Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased online at fishersontap.com. There are a limited number of tickets and they do sell out, so go online and secure your tickets today. For more information on the Fishers Rotary Club, visit fishersrotary.org.

Comments from Previous Participants:

“We always look forward to the Fishers On Tap events because they do such a great job of combining craft beer, local food options and entertainment into a community-based event.” —Shane Pearson, Daredevil Brewing Co.

“A great display of when local craft beer meets local food. Awesomeness!” —Jerry Connor, Bier Brewery

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HSE Board selects Stevenson to fill Fall Creek Township seat

At its Jan. 13 board meeting, the Hamilton Southeastern Board of School Trustees appointed attorney Howard L. Stevenson to represent Fall Creek Township. Stevenson has lived in the community 15 years with his wife, Christa, and three sons. In his application, he said, “I am a strong proponent of public education, and I want to use my efforts to champion the cause of public education. All of my educational pursuits have been in the public school arena starting with my elementary school days and continuing through law school.”

He has his B.A. from Indiana University and his J.D. degree from Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. He is currently managing partner of the law firm Coleman Stevenson LLP and concentrates his practice in the areas of business law, real estate, civil litigation and municipal finance.

“We were fortunate to have 35 highly qualified individuals come forward and offer to serve in the Fall Creek Township Board seat,” said board member Katrina Hockemeyer. “The selection process was extensive and involved two rounds of interviews. Howard Stevenson’s experience in his profession and as an HSE parent brings relevant knowledge and valuable perspective that will lend itself well to the ongoing work of the board.”

Stevenson sees the district’s greatest challenge as “continuing to provide teachers and administrators with the tools and resources they need to ensure the success of all of our students in a fast growing, diverse school district despite receiving a reduction in school funding.” He feels other important issues are maintaining effective class sizes and narrowing the gap between minority students and the general student body. He believes board members “should have the best interest of the students as the primary focal point. All votes rendered and policies and procedures implemented should pass the test of ‘how does this benefit or advance the cause of our students?’”

He sees board members as liaisons, and they should engage and solicit information and insight from the community members. “Service on the school board is a vital component for a successful school district. It takes a collaborative effort from teachers, parents, board members, administrators, students and community stakeholders,” said Stevenson. “When they are effectively working together, there is no limit to the students’ success.”

His other board/committee experience includes serving as superintendent of Sunday Church School for Eastern Star Church; on the board of directors for HSE Youth Basketball; on the board of managers for the YMCA, Ransburg Branch, in Indianapolis; and as general counsel for the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority in Indianapolis. Previously he was managing attorney for the Indiana Department of Transportation, general counsel for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and section chief for the Office of the Attorney General of Indiana.

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Vines for Life Expands

Vines For LifeThis year’s fourth annual Vines for Life Tasting Event promises to be the largest fundraiser to date. Benefiting three local cancer charities, this year’s wine and craft beer tasting has added a craft liquor tasting and moved to The Hawthorns Golf & Country Club.

“We simply outgrew the Indianapolis Yacht Club,” said co-founder Jeanne Britt. “Over the last two years, we have reached capacity, and we needed a Geist-area venue to host a larger crowd.”

Organizers, including Ray Cox with Elite Beverages, have also added a craft liquor tasting this year to appeal to those that enjoy bourbons and whiskeys from small distilleries. Last year, craft beers were added and warmly received. Cox says that this will be the most diverse tasting to date. “Kentucky bourbons are big right now, and we plan on introducing some of the most popular, independently owned distilleries.”

What started as a southern Indiana wine tour aboard a chartered bus evolved into a sold-out 60+ wine tasting at the Indianapolis Yacht Club in 2010. So far, over $70,000 has been raised and split between Creating Hope, Indy SurviveOars and Team Luke.

For Creating Hope, moneys are used to purchase “Hope Kits” which consist of art supplies and instructions for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Similarly, Team Luke funds Rhythm Pax for cancer patients at Riley Hospital for Children. Indy SurviveOars uses their proceeds to fund their breast cancer survivor dragonboat racing team on Geist Reservoir.

More tickets are available this year, up from 250 to 350. Pricing remains at $50 per person and includes all the tastings, heavy appetizers, live music by Bongo Boy Music, parking and live and silent auctions. Tickets are available online at VinesForLife.com on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Anthony’s Awesome Playground Project

Anthony's Awesome PlaygroundThis past summer, the DiRienzo family of Fishers had the unthinkable happen to them. Jocelyn DiRienzo worked a part-time job while her two sons, Dominic and Anthony, played at a licensed in-home daycare. The details of what happened that unforgettable summer day are not being released and are not the focus of this article, but the DiRienzo family’s life changed forever when their son, Anthony, tragically died while at the in-home licensed daycare.

The void in their hearts and lives can never be filled, but Jocelyn and her family want to honor Anthony in the truest form of his character. Anthony and Dominic loved to play on the playground at New Hope Presbyterian Church and Preschool after being released from school or after a MOPS meeting held at the building. So in his honor, the DiRienzo family would like to upgrade the 10 year old playground area at New Hope to keep these memories alive and to provide years of safe play for the students that attend New Hope.

Anthony was 21 months old when he passed away. He would have attended New Hope this fall following in his older brother’s footsteps who is currently a student there. Donations are being accepted to help get the playground up and running. Currently they have raised over $22,000 of the minimum $40,000 it will take to put in commercial grade playground equipment.

If you would like to help honor Anthony, visit egsnetwork.com/gift2?giftid=28583F5A745240D to donate money or visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/Anthonysawesomeplayground/.

They also have a website they are just now launching anthonysawesomeplayground.com. Donations will be accepted through 2014. All donations are tax deductible! If you have any questions, email Jocelyn or Danny at AnthonysAwesomePlayground@yahoo.com.

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Fall Creek Township Has Angels All Year-Round

Jeff Hern has served as Fall Creek Township Trustee since January 1, 2011.

As discussed in a recent New York Times article (“Poverty in America is Mainstream,” 2013), nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the official poverty line during that period. In essence, destitution is becoming conventional in America. Who would ever think that people here in the Fishers/Geist area would face this type of adversity?

“In some of our schools in this area, 20 percent of students get free or reduced breakfast and lunch,” says Jeff Hern, Fall Creek Township Trustee. The trustee’s office provides short-term help when families need immediate relief before they can become stable again. Hern adds, “While we do live in a predominately affluent area, our clients range from those making over six figures and have lost their jobs to families working several jobs to make ends meet. Many families are struck with a medical situation where they have to miss work to care for themselves or their children which results in a loss of income. For those barely making ends meet, this can be a true hardship in avoiding disconnection of basic services such as electricity or water.”

Another common obstacle is when a spouse is left in divorce situations has to find a job to support their children. Hern recalls a time when a stay-at-home mom was forced to seek employment after her husband left her. Her car had mechanical problems, and she needed temporary transportation to keep her job. The Fall Creek Township assisted her with her utilities and used a joint ministerial fund with Delaware Township to pay for her car repair, allowing her to get to work and find stability.

Amid the holiday season, Fall Creek Township (FCT) collects for Toys for Tots by accepting donations onsite. FCT also participates in the Adopt-a-Family program by reaching out to local churches and contacting school principals to find families who need help providing gifts under the tree.

“Every kid deserves to open something up on Christmas morning,” says Hern who has served as trustee since January 1, 2011. “I would rather be proactive and reach out to find those who are struggling than to wait for them to find us. I don’t want a parent of a kindergartner or first–grader to have to explain why Santa did not show up at their home.”

The FCT office also provides these year-round services:

  • Food pantry located onsite and is donation driven (open M-F 10-2)
  • Back to school event that provides backpacks filled with basic school supplies
  • Township assistance to help people in financial distress with basic necessities such as shelter, food, water, clothing, medicine, etc.
  • Fire protection
  • Burial assistance when no other means of payment are available
  • Cemetery maintenance
  • Weed control
  • Fence disputes
  • Notary
  • Rental space availability
  • Computer use for seeking employment

Christina Sipka (left) and Stacy Puls (right) help organize the onsite food pantry. They both assist Jeff Hern at the Trustee office.

As trustee, Hern has lowered taxes every year, moving from red to black financially, and has paid off all debts. He has helped expand relief care dramatically by growing the food pantry, implementing the back to school and adopt-a-family programs and working with Toys for Tots. Furthermore, he collaborated with the Town in preparing contracts for all unincorporated areas outside of Fishers to ensure that these areas would receive fire and EMS protection.

Although this is a part-time job for Hern, he remains on call 24/7 with calls from the police. Hern recalls an incident when the police contacted him about a 19-year-old boy living in the woods with nowhere to turn as he worked his nearby job. Hern provided him shelter with hotel arrangements only to learn that the boy would have to get up at 4:30 am to walk to work because he had no transportation from his hotel.

Hern said, “Don’t you worry, I will be here at 7 am to pick you up and take you to work.” This is just one example of how Hern and his colleagues in the trustee’s office work hard all year long to provide relief to those in need. They represent angels long after the Christmas season. Hern disagrees with this statement and humbly says, “We just want to help people get back on their feet again.”

The trustee’s office could use help in the food pantry. If you know of a student who needs community service hours or anyone else who would like to volunteer, call 317-841-3180.

Follow FCT on Facebook and Twitter or visit fallcreektownshipoffice.com.

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The Cheer Guild Teams up with American Girl®

The Cheer Guild of Riley Hospital for Children and IU Health University Hospital have been “helping to create smiles since 1924,” says Stacey Craig, board member and Fishers resident. Stacey and her husband, Darren, got involved with this organization in 2007 because they learned firsthand how a hospital experience can be made better and less stressful when Stacey was hospitalized while pregnant with their son. “I can only imagine how children feel when they are going through a hospital stay. When we heard about The Cheer Guild, we immediately knew that this was a place for us,” she says.

The Cheer Guild has helped many families all over the Indianapolis area including many Fishers children. One Fishers resident couldn’t say enough wonderful things about this organization. Cynthia Lyon and her son, Parker, were recipients after Parker had heart surgery.

Cynthia says, “The Cheer Guild is an amazing organization of kind and compassionate volunteers who go out of their way to make sure that each patient at Riley feels special and loved. After our six month old, Parker, had heart surgery last December, Santa and the other volunteers made their rounds through the Cardiovascular ICU with presents for each child. They not only brought a gift for our sweet little boy, but also for our other two children. It meant the world to my husband and me and helped to ease some of the sadness and anxiety our daughter and son had been feeling.”

The Cheer Guild’s biggest project is the Toy Room located at Riley Hospital. Volunteers ensure the donated new toys and handmade items are safe to give as gifts to the children who are patients at Riley. Over 14,000 items are given as gifts each month!

This year, The Cheer Guild has teamed up with American Girl® for a fun program that showcases historical and contemporary fashions for girls and their dolls. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Cheer Guild Toy Room at Riley. This event is Saturday, November 9 at 1 pm and 5:30 pm and Sunday, November 10 at 1 pm. It will be held at Primo South, 2615 E. National Ave. in Indianapolis. The cost is $25 per person or $40 per girl for the intermission runway experience. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Heather Dawes, Director of The Cheer Guild, at hdawes@iuhealth.org or by calling (317) 948-3584 or (317) 402-5636.

For more information on The Cheer Guild, visit www.cheerguild.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CheerGuild.

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Fire 1 Signs

In light of the recent house fires in the Fishers area, take note of a sign that the Fishers Fire Department has started placing in certain areas around town.

The signs serve two functions: first, to warn the fire department they are in an unhydranted area and must begin laying large supply lines, and second, the large supply hose needs to be secured in order for it to be pulled off the truck’s hose bed. The firefighter will wrap the supply hose around the strong metal sign post that is extended far into the ground to help anchor the line before the fire truck pulls away, allowing the hose to be deployed.

These Fire 1 signs are placed in areas where a house is more than 1,000 feet away from a fire hydrant yet under 3,000 feet away. The purpose of this is to help the fire department know how many fire engines they are going to need. Each fire engine carries a 1,000 feet of supply hose. By using these signs, the fire fighters know if they are going to need additional engines to be able to hook up to the nearest hydrant.

Should a house be more than 3,000 feet away from a hydrant, there is a special tanker truck that holds 3,000 gallons of water and 3,000 feet of supply hose. The Town of Fishers has one on order, and it will be available for use soon.  Currently the Town of Fishers has a smaller tanker that carries 1,500 gallons of water and also carries two portable pools that are placed on the ground and filled with water so tankers can run water relay. These pools are used to supply the pumping engine that supplies the hose lines to fight fires.

These signs are not meant to be permanent, but for now, the signs serve a purpose of helping our fire fighters be proactive when a house is on fire and to get to a water supply as quickly as possible. These signs not only save our houses and possessions but can save lives.

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