vibrant people of elkhart county

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How can you tell that someone loves their community, their neighborhood, their little corner of Elkhart County? It’s by what they do — by going the extra mile, by having a smile for everyone they greet, by helping with, well, just about anything.

We’re celebrating the doers — school secretaries, your neighbors, the people behind the counter at your favorite store — and how they #LoveElkhartCountyIN and make ours a Vibrant Community.

Meet the Vibrant People of Elkhart County

The Vibrant Communities movement will be recognizing the most energetic, cheerful and generous residents of Elkhart County throughout 2019 and it is inviting everyone who loves and cares about their hometown to take part. Vibrant People of Elkhart County will be a year-long daily celebration of the doers and how they #LoveElkhartCountyIN and make our hometown a vibrant community. These are 365 Vibrant People who go the extra mile, have a smile for everyone they greet and help with just about anything. Let’s meet some of them!

Mike Long

Mike Long • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 21, 2019

BRISTOL Some people are right where they belong. That is surely the case of Mike Long. Mike holds down the front desk at the offices…

The Barkby Family

The Barkby Family • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 20, 2019

MIDDLEBURY Today’s write up is a little different. We are not highlighting an individual. Rather, we are recognizing an important part of the fabric of…

Rocio Diaz

Rocio Diaz • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 19, 2019

GOSHEN She knew for a long time that this is where she belonged. When she was a little girl, Rocio Diaz moved with her family…

Marcia Yost

Marcia Yost • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 18, 2019

GOSHEN Today’s Vibrant person is Marcia Yost! “My life has been dedicated to music and the arts in Elkhart County and beyond.” That simple statement…

Keenan Wenger

Keenan Wenger • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 17, 2019

GOSHEN Keenan Wenger’s basketball career ended in sixth grade. “I had 10 left feet,” he admits. Hardwood fame and fortune were not in the cards…

McCray Wenger

McCray Wenger • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 16, 2019

GOSHEN This is the story of a 21-year-old man from Goshen. If McCray Wenger were like many who have gone through what he has, his…

Deb Kinsey

Deb Kinsey • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 15, 2019

ELKHART Deb Kinsey is today’s Vibrant person! “This is a great community. It really is. I love Elkhart.” This is how Deb Kinsey starts the…

Charlie Dean

Charlie Dean • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 14, 2019

ELKHART Charlie Dean is today’s Vibrant Person Jeanne Kern, owner of The Vine restaurant in downtown Elkhart was no fan of cheesecake. That was then….

Delia Grajeda

Delia Grajeda • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 13, 2019

ELKHART Delia Grajeda is today’s Vibrant person! “Oh, wow! This is amazing,” she shouts into the phone when she is told she is one of…

Tara Morris

Tara Morris • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 12, 2019

ELKHART Tara Morris is today’s Vibrant person! Tara Morris does not give up. Tara is the Executive Director of the county’s Minority Health Coalition. It…

Jane Allen

Jane Allen • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 11, 2019

MIDDLEBURY Jane Allen is today’s Vibrant person! There are some that will tell you teaching is nerve-wracking. Others will say being a school principal is…

James Ballard

James Ballard • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 10, 2019

ELKHART The Vibrant person today is James Ballard! If you were to call most any cop an “iron butt” the best response you might hope…

Bart Fore

Bart Fore • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 9, 2019

ELKHART Bart Fore is today’s Vibrant person! He might not tell you this, but Bart Fore plays the long game. In 2012, Bart and his…

Kyle Sears

Kyle Sears • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 8, 2019

ELKHART Kyle Sears is today’s Vibrant person! One of the real maddening things about basketball in March is that very few teams get to end…

Tammy Pfister

Tammy Pfister • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 7, 2019

ELKHART A quick and easy laugh, a warm smile and affable personality do not seem like the traits of someone who describes herself as “painfully…

John Contreras

John Contreras • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 6, 2019

JIMTOWN John Contreras is today’s Vibrant person! Five years ago, John Contreras was very ill and facing death. He was worried, but in his words,…

Faith Nickell

Faith Nickell • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 5, 2019

Faith Nickell is today’s Vibrant Person! “She’s our girl and she brightens our restaurant.” So says Christy Elridge, owner of Sports Time Family Pub and…

Steve Freeto

Steve Freeto • Vibrant People of Elkhart County
March 4, 2019

GOSHEN Steve Freeto is today’s Vibrant Person! “My wish for Goshen is for everyone to have a smile on their face every day.” That’s what…

Lori Hoyt King


March 3, 2019

ELKHART Lori Hoyt King is today’s Vibrant Person! “I am comfortable not having a 9-to-5 job,” Pastor Lori Hoyt King tells us. Rather, Pastor King…

Israel Vargas


March 2, 2019

ELKHART Israel Vargas is today’s Vibrant Person! There is no chance Israel Vargas is going to have cobwebs grow on him. He is a young…

Linda Thompson


March 1, 2019

NAPPANEE Gloria Moser has been friends with Linda Thompson since they were children. They were neighbors when they were young and rode the bus to…

Leanne Martin


February 28, 2019

GOSHEN Brad Miller lost 85 pounds and completed his first 5k race last fall.  He gives much of the credit for his success to Leanne…

Kim Clarke


February 27, 2019

Middlebury  It would not be unusual for Kim Clarke’s husband, Jim to walk in the door, take a quick look around and ask, “Now what…

Pam Sandy


February 26, 2019

Elkhart Pam Sandy likes people.  More than that, she likes people who like helping people.  Pam is the Volunteer Service Manager at Elkhart General Hospital. …

Blake Eckelbarger


February 25, 2019

Elkhart  He knows a thing or two about time.  He understands how to make time work.  He gets that you have to make the most…

Regina Hauptli & Burke


February 24, 2019

ELKHART  Yet another first. Our Vibrant “People” today are Regina Hauptli and her canine work partner, Burke.  Regina is dedicated to helping children who might…

Jeanne Focht


February 23, 2019

NAPANNEE “I like old things,” says Jeanne Focht.  She enjoys hunting for items that deserve a second chance. She gives them a little spit and…

Jeff Sweazy


February 22, 2019

DUNLAP  About Jeff Sweazy, Bria Pletcher says he is “such a vibrant light. His smile and humor can light up the darkest room.”  He has…

Brian Byrn


February 21, 2019

ELKHART   The Midwest Museum of American Art is another of Elkhart County’s treasures.  In May of this year it will celebrate its 40th Anniversary and you…

John Bowers


February 20, 2019

WAKARUSA   John Bowers loves to talk trash.  He’s great at it and that’s a very good thing. As Director of the Elkhart County Landfill,…

Carrie Lee Bland-Kendall


February 19, 2019

GOSHEN  David Kendall says about his wife Carrie Lee,  “She is a professional singer, actor and producer. She could literally live anywhere, but chooses Goshen…

Javier Jimenez


February 18, 2019

CONCORD SCHOOLS  “I am the product of the people who gave me chances and opportunities,” so states Javier Jimenez, the Principal at Concord’s Ox Bow…

Bob Girard


February 17, 2019

ELKHART As he tells it, Bob Girard has a passion for service to the community. “It is part of my personal faith,” he says.  Bob’s…

Niko Fotopoulos


February 16, 2019

ELKHART “I can’t tell you how many new people I get to meet every day,” says Niko Fotopoulos.  “I love it.  My customers are amazing.” …

Juan-Carlos Alarcon


February 15, 2019

  Elkhart What were you doing last Sunday? No matter what it was, chances are it wasn’t half as awesome as what Juan-Carlos Alarcon had…

Dina Harris


February 14, 2019

ELKHART “She’s everywhere! She’s everywhere!”  So might claim those who know Dina Harris.  Between work in South Bend and volunteer work throughout Elkhart county, Dina…

Marcia Eppers


February 13, 2019

 Elkhart Marcia Eppers feels blessed to have the talent and resolve to be a driving force behind Bashor Children’s Home’s efforts to increase community awareness…

Heather Bohn


February 12, 2019

ELKHART  Concord High School Principal Lisa Kendall describes Heather Bohn, the school’s Secretary and Student Council Advisor, as a “selfless, kind, hardworking dedicated student advocate.”…

Annette Webb


February 11, 2019

GOSHEN  You will usually see Annette Webb of Goshen wearing a hat.  “I wear one about 99% of the time,” she says.  “I think the…

Ruth Rockwell


February 10, 2019

ELKHART  Some people wake up and say, “Oh lord, it’s morning. Let me go back to sleep.”  Then there are those who arise and say,…

Eriberta Perez


February 9, 2019

ELKHART If you know someone who can stretch a day from 24 to 48 hours, please contact Eriberta Perez of Elkhart.  A 72 hour day…

Tricia Blosser


February 8, 2019

GOSHEN “Dancing feet make for smiling faces.”  Goshen’s Tricia Blosser didn’t say that, but you can be sure she believes it.  Some people are born…

Leah Schroeder


February 7, 2019

Goshen “I like beautiful things.”  So states Leah Schroeder of Goshen.  She also enjoys working with and mentoring teenagers. “I find them to be some…

Steve Gruber


February 6, 2019

ELKHART A community that is vibrant has an undeniable aesthetic appeal. Those who live and work there recognize the importance of art and appreciate the…

Zanzer Anderson


February 5, 2019

Zanzer Anderson has a gift.  In fact, she has several. She is an excellent cook, a great story teller and can connect with young and…

Adrian Riley


February 4, 2019

ELKHART Sometimes a man just knows when it’s time to grow up.  Adrian Riley talks candidly about his younger days when he was “a crazy…

Dr. Don Minter


February 3, 2019

GOSHEN “90 years of wisdom always shared with grace and humility, behind a smile that never fades.”  So states Dawn Fisher in her nomination of…

Josh Cooper


February 2, 2019

GOSHEN Josh was part of the core people that began Goshen Rocks, a painting project created to instill joy and discover delight in unexpected places…

Mike Keagle


February 1, 2019

ELKHART If you take one look at Mike Keagle perched behind his drum kit you know one thing is for sure.  That, at least for…

Erica and Ella Hunt


January 31, 2019

Middlebury They believe in miracles.  They live life to the max.  They go.  They do.  They love. They cherish each moment.  Erica Hunt and her…

Jeff Penney


January 30, 2019

Elkhart You can see him on the sidelines of fields standing in sleet and snow or under a blistering sun. Whether it’s March winds, April…

John Leavitt


January 29, 2019

Nappanee When we contacted John Leavitt of Nappanee to tell him he had been nominated as one this year’s Vibrant People of Elkhart County, he…

Kendra Divine


January 28, 2019

This is no joke. What do you get when you mix someone with a bubbly personality, has a desire for helping those who teach and…

David Dufour


January 27, 2019

Elkhart Many of those of us in Elkhart County appreciate David Dufour, the Executive Director of the Elkhart Civic Theatre and all that he does. …

Pam Hoffer


January 26, 2019

“I feel like I am living out my passion.  It has stretched me, grown me and changed me.  It’s probably been one of the most…

Jeff Lafferty


January 25, 2019

Nobody has it better than Jeff Lafferty. Just ask him.Jeff loves living – so much so that he has beaten back cancer time and time…

Bobbie Sage


January 24, 2019

Elkhart County At her business, Crossfit Raze, you are unlikely to hear owner and coach, Bobbie Sage talking about “getting skinny” and “shaping a bikini…

Kris Mueller


January 23, 2019

Middlebury Kris Mueller is effervescent.  She bubbles with enthusiasm about Middlebury. The town that is where her heart is.  “I wasn’t born here,” she says,…

Steve Hrynewycz


January 22, 2019

Elkhart County Floating on the Elkhart River was one of life’s pleasures when Steve Hrynewycz was a kid.  It’s still that way. if you want…

Cristine Sanchez Ramirez


January 21, 2019

Goshen For Christina Sanchez Ramirez, 2018 was an amazing year.  In December, she graduated from Ivy Tech as a Medical Assistant.  While in school, Maple…

Mixhi Marquis


January 20, 2019

Goshen Mixhi Marquis grew up in Goshen and is known as one who cares about the community and those who live here. She is compassionate…

Les Gufstafson-Zook


January 19, 2019

Goshen He might be a little embarrassed being called one Elkhart County’s Vibrant People.  He is a quiet and humble man, but he is active…

Lee Miller


January 18, 2019

Elkhart County Lee is a very active member in the Elkhart County community.  She raised four children here and throughout that time supported the school…

Kelly Anderson


January 17, 2019

Elkhart “I’m really shy,” she says from across the bar.  “No, I mean it,” she adds with a big smile.  If Kelley Anderson is shy…

Doug Shaffer


January 16, 2019

Goshen From his position behind home plate he can easily scan the whole field and keep an eye on the dugout.  No, this is not…

Pam Knight


January 15, 2019

  Elkhart Sleepy-eyed customers walking into Old Style Deli are greeted with a needed cup of coffee and a bright morning smile from server Pam…

Allen Brenneman


January 14, 2019

Goshen He is a poet and a sculptor.  He is an award winning photographer.  He is a traveler and explorer.  He loves music.  He holds…

Pat & Owen Weaver


January 13, 2019

ELKHART Long ago, Pat Weaver said she and her husband, Owen, dreamed of having children of their own. Turns out, their dreams came true in…

Derrell Weaver


January 12, 2019

Elkhart The first word he ever spoke was “rainbow.”  To those who meet him, Derrell Weaver is like a rainbow – colorful, shining and likely…

Leah Benavente


January 11, 2019

Elkhart According to her co-worker Ashley Jordan, Leah Benavente has inspired her team members and community “more than she will ever know.” Leah has been…

Jalyn Stofleth


January 10, 2019

Goshen There are kids.  There are active kids.  And then there are super-vibrant fireballs like Jalyn Stofleth of Goshen.   Jalyn is a delightful youngster with…

Chelsea Gorsuch


January 9, 2019

Middlebury  Chelsea Gorsuch was a high school guidance counselor when she got a sign that she should start a business.  So, she took it literally…

Carla Darr


January 8, 2019

Elkhart It is hard to imagine Carla Darr without her being surrounded by a bunch of smiling children.  She loves teaching, guiding them and just…

Veronica Borkholder


January 7, 2019

Nappanee Veronica is an enthusiastic and hard-working entrepreneur who recently opened The Dutch Kernel at Coppes Commons in Nappanee.  She has worked diligently the past…

Jason Fink


January 6, 2019

Elkhart Jason Fink loves Elkhart. He isn’t originally from the area, but he is happy to be here. His family moved to the area to…

Ben Hartman


January 5, 2019

Goshen It takes a special mind to think how the principles of efficient manufacturing apply to agriculture.  It takes even more thought and effort to…

Austin Replogle


January 4, 2019

Elkhart  Not a day that goes by that Austin Replogle’s adoptive father Brian doesn’t think about that fateful day 16 years ago. That was when…

Kathy Mikel


January 3, 2019

Wakarusa Each week, Kathy makes a giant sub sandwich, a red velvet cake (with homemade chocolate frosting), and gets a can of Pringles. She then…

Jessica Davila


January 2, 2019

Goshen As her friend Shannon Oakes said about her, “I don’t even know where to start.  There are special people and then there is Jess.”…

Paul Thomas


January 1, 2019

ELKHART We start this series with a man who is the epitome of Elkhart County’s Vibrant People.  No one has loved life in Elkhart like…

Do you know someone you think should be recognized?

We’re taking nominations! Click the link below and let us know all about this vibrant person. We’ll be celebrating someone new each day of 2019.

Nominate Now!