Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation Awards Significant Lead Gift to Merrillville for the Community Center

The Town of Merrillville is pleased to announce that the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation has made one of the largest, philanthropic gifts in the history of Lake County, Indiana, to the Town of Merrillville for the naming rights of the new Merrillville Community Center located at 6600 Broadway, Merrillville, Indiana.  The gift in the amount of $10 million dollars, will serve to offset operational shortfalls in the Town’s operating budget for the new 95,000 square foot facility currently under construction and scheduled for a March 1, 2021 opening.  The gift will be administered through the Legacy Foundation, Merrillville, Indiana, in equal annual disbursements of $2 million dollars over the next 5 years.  With this gift, the facility will now officially be known as the “Dean and Barbara White Community Center” and this name will be reflected on all branding and select signage associated with the $24 million facility

Dean and Barbara White were longtime residents of Northwest Indiana residing at times in both Shelby and Crown Point.  More importantly, Mr. White invested heavily in Merrillville, especially around the intersection of I-65 and US 30.  His investments included the original Holiday Inn Merrillville, the Twin Towers office buildings and the Star Plaza Theatre in addition to many others.  Mr. White was very proud that the headquarters for his international business interests were located in Merrillville and expressed that pride in continued reinvestment and ongoing financial support to many local philanthropic organizations.

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation’s mission is to continue the family’s tradition of active local support and engagement.  The Foundation is proud to honor Dean and Barbara’s legacy by providing the lead gift to the Merrillville Community Center.  It is their hope that this center enhances the quality of life for the Town’s citizens and serves as a gathering place for people of all ages to engage, learn, and improve their physical and emotional health.

“Words cannot begin to express the Town’s gratitude for this enormously generous donation from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation”, said Councilman Shawn Pettit who also serves as the Town’s Redevelopment Commission President.  “Through the Foundation’s generosity, the Dean and Barbara White Community Center will be able to impact the lives of all Merrillville residents, young and old, for generations to come” offered Town Council President Rick Bella. 

The programs and amenities at the center include a fitness center, elevated walking/jogging path, three regulation basketball courts, 6 volleyball courts, a rock-climbing wall, a multi-purpose turf athletic field for both youth football and soccer use.  Additionally, the Center offers a multi-purpose community room with a pre-function area available for rent which can accommodate up to 540 people for social events and three community flex/meeting rooms. 

Take a look at the video to see the project. Opening date is scheduled for March 1, 2021. -Rick Bella


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