Something for all
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent November 4, 2013 11:40AM
Angelina Johnson, 3, picks a piece of candy at the Porter County Social Service Fair and Safe Trick or Treat event, held Oct. 29 at Ivy Tech’s Valparaiso campus. With Angelina are her mom, Jill Childers (left), and sister Samantha Erny, 12. | Post-Tribune photo
Updated: December 6, 2013 6:02AM
Angelina Johnson, 3, and her sister, Samantha Erny, 12, got a little extra wear out of their Halloween costumes, while their mom, Jill Childers, was able to learn more about what Porter County’s social service agencies have to offer.
That was the point of the Porter County Social Service Fair and Safe Trick or Treating, held Oct. 29 at Ivy Tech Community College.
The event, which included about 28 agencies, is sponsored every other year by the county’s Step Ahead Council, which is “like the chamber of commerce for social service agencies,” said council coordinator Doreen Witte.
The council also gives those agencies the chance to network and to troubleshoot to help their clients, often sharing ideas and resources.
Witte expected 300 to 400 kids and their families to come to the fair.
“Our goal is to educate the community on what is out in Porter County for services,” she said, adding kids also enjoy trick or treating in a safe environment. “We have a good time throughout this.”
Jessica Macius, childcare coordinator at the Duneland Family YMCA, attended the fair on her agency’s behalf for the first time. She sported a bat-themed headpiece for the occasion.
“I really like the networking and I was a student at Ivy Tech, so it’s always nice to visit,” she said.
For Margaret Oglen, family support specialist with Head Start in Valparaiso, the fair was a way to get the word out about her federally funded agency, which officers services for children from birth to age 5.
Head Start also has vacancies, and Oglen said the fair was a good opportunity to let parents know that as well.
“I think it’s a good event. It’s a good length for kids to have a safe Halloween outing, and a good opportunity for agencies to network,” she said.
Childers and her children liked the fair as well. Angelina dressed as Scooby Doo, and Samantha wore a cheetah costume. While they got candy, Childers said she was looking for information on continuing her education, among other topics.
“I wanted to come and see what everybody had,” Childers said, “and I didn’t want to spend so much on costumes and have them only used one night.”