By Ray Balogh
WARSAW — One Warsaw, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the goal of connecting and sharing ideas, events and diversity initiatives in the community, will hold its second annual Celebrating Us event from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, in the Warsaw Courthouse Square Historic District.
Booths of “the diverse organizations that serve different groups throughout Kosciusko County” and cultural dance and music streaming videos will be virtual, though drive-thru food trucks and food stands will be available on site in the downtown city parking lot.
Scheduled participants include Cardinal Services, Bowen Center, Beaman Home, Be Smart, La Casa de Amistad, Todos Juntos, We Inspire Support and Empower Women and OrthoWorx.
“We feature different organizations, institutions and groups that invite everyone to embrace their passions, backgrounds and qualities that make us unique and special,” touts the group’s page at www.facebook.com/onewarsaw.
Celebrate Us is the organization’s main annual event. “We bring together all of the different organizations in our community to celebrate them and the work they do,” said Travis McConnell, board president.
Vendors and their menus will include:
• 110 Craft Meatery, Italian cuisine.
• Give Thanks raw food bus, raw vegan plant-based nutritional cuisine.
• Biryani Kitchen, authentic Indian cuisine.
The event will also include live videos showcasing “testimonials and performances of our participating partners and organizations.”
According to its website, www.onewarsaw.org, the organization “is made up of a group of individuals with a passion for celebrating diversity and inclusion in Kosciusko County and creating more opportunities for people of all backgrounds.
“We care about celebrating all and know that we have to take action within our community to make a difference. One Warsaw aims to inspire community inclusion through support, education, and celebration of all people.”
McConnell advised how participants can get the most out of their attendance.
“Go ahead and familiarize yourself with our website. Since this is a virtual event, it will be streamed there. Learn about us and interact with us. We are looking forward to having everyone online this year and we look forward to seeing everyone in person next year.”
The One Warsaw board of directors consists of:
• McConnell, president. McConnell is a personal injury attorney with practices in Indiana and Florida. He has served on the boards of Beaman Home, Gradway and Northern Indiana Material Child Health Network. He currently serves on the boards of Warsaw Breakfast Optimists and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s merit board.
• Lyle Schrock, vice president. Schrock worked in RV factories and a metal fabrication shop before opening his own electronics business in downtown Warsaw. He has served on the steering committee of Young Adult Professionals, winning the YAP of the Year award in 2018.
• Shari Benyousky, secretary. A university professor of composition, literature and humanities for the past 30 years, Benyousky has taught at Ball State, Purdue, Grace, Trine and Indiana University. The mother of three also served on the board of Todos Juntos and is an Optimist member.
• Heather Smith, treasurer. Smith joined One Warsaw “to educate, celebrate and learn from others.” She said, “I believe everyone deserves the right to feel safe and accepted regardless of any part of their person and we can only have a united community when we understand and learn to respect each other’s differences. Together we can make a difference.”
• Sara Strahan. Strahan works with the St. Joseph Prosecutor’s Office in South Bend and is an adult protection investigator for Kosciusko and Marshall counties. She has worked for 10 years in mental health and is versed in a variety of mental health services aspects. She serves on the Beaman Home board of directors and has led initiatives with Juneteenth and People of Change.
• April Collette. Collette earned a master’s degree from Grace College and is a licensed mental health counselor in Warsaw. She believes an inclusive, diverse and supportive community enhances well being and quality of life, and creating a community that understands, respects and values different worldviews fosters an environment where everyone feels equal.
One Warsaw is headquartered at 116 N. Buffalo St., Warsaw. For more information, call (574) 635-5291 or email [email protected]