A nonprofit, community development corporation dedicated to improving Calumet Region neighborhoods.

cities served > hammond

2011 – “Please, Have A Seat!”

Roland Parrish, one of the PHAS funders, sits on
the bench at Hyde Park United Methodist Church.

Thanks to funding from NIPSCO, Legacy Foundation and former Hammond resident Roland Parrish, NI was able to offer its “Please, Have A Seat!” program to Hammond churches. To date, eight of these beautiful benches have been installed by local carpenter Mark Boroughs at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, First United Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Gate and Hammond Christian Reformed Church.

NI held an unveiling ceremony November 16, 2011 at Hyde Park United Methodist Church at the corner of Cleveland and Harrison. Attendees included Rick Calinski of NIPSCO, Phil Grenchik, Sr., of Horizon Bank, Scott Wells of The Gate church, Vanessa Reese of First Midwest Bank, Tyrone Spann of Foundations of East Chicago and Dennis Terry of First United Lutheran Church. Funders had several comments. Rick Calinski said that, “At NIPSCO, we’re always looking for opportunities to give back to the communities that we’re privileged to serve and there’s no better way of doing that than giving back and providing opportunities to neighborhood organizations and non-profits like NI to dive in and really make a difference. This is especially satisfying for me because I’m also a resident of Hammond. Keep up the great work; you have our support!” While a few churches in other PHAS communities have installed benches, the program in Hammond targets churches exclusively due to zoning ordinances. Hyde Park United Methodist Church was the first to apply for a micropark, with First United Evangelical Lutheran Church at 6705 Hohman Avenue and The Gate at 5670 Sohl Avenue following their lead.


1st District Best House on the Block Contest® - 2009

Contestants, elected officials, community leaders and other NI supporters gathered at Hammond Mohawks October 20 to celebrate the culmination of the Best House on the Block Contest® in Hammond’s 1st district.

Funded mostly by a generous grant from Legacy Foundation, NI staff and board were pleased that not only did the number of entrants exceed expectations, but for the first time in the contest’s history 100% of all who entered completed their projects on time! As door prizes were awarded, many of the night’s winners commented on their excitement at having won terrific prizes from The Home Depot, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Blue Room Café, The Henry Co., Virginia Speaks, Zoom Clean Car Wash, Strack & Van Til and Centier Bank. The winners of the 2009 Best House on the Block Contest® in Hammond’s first district are as follows:

1st: Gloria Oparka - 4152 Sheffield
2nd: Jose & Pauline Flores - 4034 Johnson
3rd: Patrick & Kim Ormes - 4204 Dearborn
4th: Maricela & Fernando Ramirez - 624 139th St.

NI has operated this contest in the Calumet Region 15 times since 2002. The success of the program to motivate homeowners to improve their properties always produces quantifiable outcomes.


3rd District Best House on the Block Contest® - 2008

Funded by TCF Foundation, NI conducted a Best House on the Block Contest® in Hammond’s 3rd District. Entrants, their families, NI board members and staff attended the awards ceremony on November 12 at the Ophelia Steen Center to celebrate the participants’ hard work. The evening began at 6:30 PM. Refreshments from Strack & Van Til and the Blue Room Café were served while 3rd District neighbors socialized and discussed their projects. Many compliments were given and reciprocated amongst the entrants as new friendships were made and others strengthened.

The official program began at 7 PM. NI staff and board members introduced themselves. Each entrant was asked to introduce him/herself and expressed their satisfaction with the concept of the BHOTBC® and what positive changes and improvements it brought to their neighborhoods. NI Board directors Ardell Young and Nick Zivanovic joined staff member Kassia Mehidi as they congratulated and handed out $100 prizes to those who did not place in the top four spots. The top four winners were:

1st Place: Arthur Robinson, 6249 Madison
2nd Place: JoAnne Baranowski, 543 - 165th St.
3rd Place: Freddie & Beatrice Emery, 1114 Becker
4th Place: Joseph Brown, 6248 Jefferson

Door prizes were donated by The Henry Co., Blue Room Café, Shear Style, Nornat Management, National City Bank and Langel’s Pizza.


Hessville Best House on the Block Contest® - 2007

Led by a $10,000 grant from TCF Bank Foundation, eighteen other local businesses or individuals including Lake Federal Savings and Indiana Harbor Belt joined to provide funding for a Best House on the Block Contest® for the Hessville area of Hammond. Nine entrants wowed their neighbors with the beautifications made to their properties, with a total of $26,200 in improvements made.

Exterior improvements included new roofing, fencing, landscaping, painting, cement walkways, soffits, fascia, gutters, windows and many other items.

Other financial supporters were: Camino Real Restaurant, Councilman Robert Markovich, Councilman Anthony Higgs, Councilman Chico Hinojosa, The Roofing Company, Van Til’s Supermarket, Laborers’ Local #41, Hammond Mufflers, Virgil Huber Funeral Home, Sportsman’s Tap, Bocken Funeral Home, The Henry Company, Van Senus Auto Parts, Sign Concepts, Briar East Liquors and the Dance Connection.

NI has been heavily involved in the improvement of Hammond. To read about projects prior to 2007, please see our annual reports.


previous years' projects

In early 2004 NI was contacted by Pastor Bill Whitford of the First Baptist Church of Calumet City with the opportunity to work with hundreds of youth volunteers through Georgia-based Impact Zone and World Changers organizations. On the week of May 24th hundreds of volunteers descended on Hammond to improve the homes of 8 elderly and/or disabled homeowners. NI partnered with Hammond’s Department of Planning and Development to identify clients, provide materials and other assistance to complete this project which utilized nearly 90 volunteers, contributing over 1,100 hours of labor.

In 2005, NI implemented a three-phase project for Operation Restoration. The first phase of the project, May 23-27, saw about 40 volunteers from Impact Zone tackle two large homes in the Harrison Park area. Volunteers performed painting, roofing and other tasks with instructions and planning from NI and supervision from their organization. The homes on the 100 blocks of Detroit and Carroll streets were drastically improved.

The second phase, July 4-8, saw nearly 400 World Changer senior high school students and their chaperones from 14 states travel to the Region. Some 15 homes in the Harrison Park and South Hammond neighborhoods were improved with coats of paint and other construction-related projects.

The third phase welcomed volunteers from Group Workcamp, locally organized by Woodmar United Methodist Church, from July 25-29. Some 44 Hammond homes were improved as NI partnered with the City of Hammond and contributed $4,000, the use of many ladders and other in-kind donations.

Like NI’s 2004 OR program, the project had three phases with the third one focusing on Hammond. Seventy youth volunteers from First Baptist Church of Hammond’s City Baptist School painted the exterior of 4 seniors’ and disabled-owned homes. Each household received free paint through the Hammond Department of Planning and Development’s “Project Pride Paint Program”.