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YWCA Jazzercise class members show some their moves during  'Circle Friends' event Oct. 24 2012 RadissMerrillville Ind. | Jeffrey

YWCA Jazzercise class members show some of their moves during the "Circle of Friends" event Oct. 24, 2012, at the Radisson in Merrillville, Ind. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 7, 2012 6:07AM



The YWCA of Northwest Indiana’s staff celebrated many aspects of the agency during the third annual “Circle of Friends” reception recently at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville.

Interim executive director Caren Jones said the event is a fundraiser that allows the public to learn what the YWCA at 150 W. 15th Ave. in Gary offers.

Demonstrations from Jazzercise instructor Frieda Graves and some of her stepping and line-dance students entertained the audience. Volunteers and students from after-school programs showed banquet patrons how the YWCA helps young people.

“I learn how to swim,” said Amani Allen, 6, of Gary. “I do my homework and get help with it. We play games and have a snack.”

Her mother, Vicstachia Thomas, said the YWCA of Northwest Indiana is only a few blocks from their home.

“It is very convenient for me because I am a registered nurse,” Thomas said. “Amani is able to go to the ‘Y’ and be educated and fed nutritious snacks, and dinner that is cooked from scratch. I have complete trust and faith in the volunteers there.”

Volunteer and staff member Eloise Clark of Gary said they care for the children from the heart.

“We are the teachers and the cooks,” Clark said.

Keynote speaker and Gary native Carolyn E. Mosby, daughter of the late state Sen. Carolyn Brown-Mosby, spoke on the power of women, community service and encouragement. Mosby is president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council in Indianapolis.

“When I think about the YWCA and the programs and initiatives for women and families — the mission to eliminate racism and empower women — something within all of you was awakened that led you to serve this organization and others in some way,” Mosby said.

Mosby reflected on how, through the women in her family, she, too, was inspired to serve the community.

“The spark of service and community involvement was ignited in me as a child — watching, listening and learning from my parents and grandparents,” Mosby said. “When I think about the people — women in particular — in my life who nurtured something inside of me, it was the little moments, little things that made the greatest impact.”

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson received birthday recognition, and special praise was given to major YWCA of Northwest Indiana supporters, including NIPSCO, which donated $15,000; the family of Amy C. Williams, with a donation of $20,000, and the family of Estelle Marcus, who donated $50,000.



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