Amanda Wilson

Journalist. Copywriter. Editor. Storyteller.

United States

Midwest storyteller and roller coaster enthusiast. Pale gal willing to pay the price to feel the sun on my face. The world can be dark yet beauty abounds when you seek the stories.

Spring 2020 Valparaiso Magazine

The size of the gap between open jobs and available trades workers is widening. The spring issue of Valparaiso Magazine takes a closer

Valparaiso Magazine, Fall 2019
Home-grown dreams

The magazine of the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce
Crown Point language arts teacher leaves students laughing, engaged and energized

What's a frog's favorite drink? It's "croak-a-cola." This is just one of many groan-inducing jokes Amy Howard, a language arts teacher at Robert A. Taft Middle School, Crown Point, shares with her sixth-grade class in her beloved "joke-of-the-day." "I love to joke and have fun with the kids," Howard says.
Valparaiso sixth grade teacher puts students in the lessons they're learning

There are few feats of educational instruction more daring than feasting on a Mexican cricket. Yet foreign delicacies are all part of the lesson plan in Barb Snyder's sixth grade classroom at Union Township Middle School in Valparaiso. Each student chooses a country to feature for Snyder's holidays-around-the-world project.

Valparaiso Magazine, Summer 2019
Blazing a New Path

The magazine of the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce

HERE Issue 010 - Summer 2019

In this issue we take a look at all things summer--farmers markets, vineyards, ice cream, makers, and so much more.
Dedication to excellence helps George Bibich snag Blue Ribbon Award

George Bibich Elementary School was one of seven Indiana schools to receive the U.S. Department of Education's 2018 Blue Ribbon Award. Created in 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program honers private and public elementary, middle, and high schools that are academically high-achieving or have shown significant improvement.
Cindy Fultz, RNC-MNN, Porter Regional Hospital

Each day is a novelty shaped by unique circumstances, unexpected challenges, and new faces that come with providing maternity care services for veteran Porter Regional Hospital nurse Cindy Fultz. "Every day is so different from the one before, and it's so rejuvenating to come back each day to a new day," she says.

Valparaiso Magazine, Spring 2019
Retail Renassiance

To the relief of retail business owners and residents alike, Valparaiso isn’t keen to say goodbye to its brick-and-mortar stores. As shuttered storefronts are becoming increasingly common, what is the secret to Valpo stores’ resilience?

Derby Dames Dominate (HERE Magazine Issue 009)

Action-hero dreams of fearless stunts and daring adventures aren't limited to boys and boys-at-heart. Girls and women, too, yearn to race, compete, and conquer. Little action-hero wannabes grow up to hold stable jobs and keep families together, but the inner adrenaline-junkie remains.
English is a second language to love for Crown Point kindergarten teacher

Being the odd kid out isn't easy. Ask Shira Murzyn, who teaches kindergarten at Winfield Elementary School in Crown Point. Her childhood experience as an immigrant inspires her to ensure that every one of her students feels valued and connected. "When my parents, sister and I came to the U.S.

Find fun, enlightenment and community at the PAV

Think the PAV (Pavilion at Wolf Lake) is just a place for rocking concerts and festival fun? True, the Pavilion is well known for top-notch concerts and festivals, but it’s so much more. The PAV also offers a variety of free classes and events for everyone in Northwest Indiana.
No ifs, ands or butts: Resources, techniques to help Region smokers kick the habit

For years, we've known that cigarette smoking leads to a variety of serious illnesses including emphysema and cancer, as well as significantly reduced lifespans. And yet, we still smoke. Smoking claims the lives of some 480,000 Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Valparaiso Magazine, Winter 2019
Encore Careers: Valpo Business Leaders Prove Second Acts Are Sweet

Youth is overrated. When it comes to successful career switches, wisdom gleaned through years of skill building and experience trumps blind employment bias favoring those in their twenties. Whereas job coaches traditionally advise job seekers past the age of 30 to downplay experience and achievements that betray their age on their resumes, those who choose to blaze their own paths into new careers utilize years of expertise and wisdom to their – and their clients and surrounding community's...
How to ring in a healthy New Year

A new year, a new you. Everyone has at least one change they'd like to see in themselves or in their lives, and many people view the new year as a perfect, even magical, time to make that change happen. The motivation for change is usually good; it's the resolution method that's bad.
6 ways getting outside this winter can benefit your health

1. As Johnny Nash sang about in his famous ditty, stepping outside to enjoy a "bright, sun-shiny day" can make those bad feelings disappear, thanks to increased oxygen levels which help you relax. 2. Even when the sun is hiding during a Chicagoland winter, just 10 minutes of fresh (albeit biting cold) air will enhance your mental capacity and energy levels.

Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly Magazine, Summer 2017
Capital for Local Business

Don't dismiss Northwest Indiana as a region of has-beens. The heydey of King Steel may be over (though steel is still a major pillar of the region's economy), but business is good in Northwest Indiana. Look past the remains of shuttered factories and see what's here and on the horizon - a beautiful diversity of entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders with the vision and grit to usher Northwest Indiana forward into prosperity.
Dazzle your holiday guests with beautiful centerpieces and tablescaping

Woodland creatures amidst a glimmering, snow-covered winter wonderland of pine cones, evergreens and crystal goblets. No, this isn't the strangest winter stroll that you've ever undertaken; it's a beautiful tablescape that you've created to welcome your family and friends to a holiday meal.

Musings and Meanderings of an Undercover Misfit
Longing to Be the "It" Girl - and Learning to Let Go

Envy. It's a hot topic these days, especially with the novel ways in which social media venues such as Facebook and Instagram can plant those ugly seeds of inadequacy, when we see daily images and words that remind us of how we're not living up to the fabulousness of what we see on our screens....

NWI Times
Every gem tells a story

From the time that it’s mined to its final fruition in a uniquely beautiful jewel creation, every magnificent center stone at Moriarty’s Gem Art has quite a tale to tell.
Senior living provides fulfilling lifestyles

The generations who make up today's senior population are not the type to go quietly into the twilight years, rest on their laurels and watch the world pass by. No, the Greatest, Silent, and Baby Boomer generations that fought in World War II, marched for civil rights, and boldly declared that love and not war is the answer are ensuring that senior living is a time for enrichment and enjoyment.
Squatty Potty, other devices help make it easier to go

Everyone has to go but not everyone can easily. Though not considered topics for polite conversation, constipation and other bowel-related issues are common sources of discomfort and distress. One in 6 Americans experiences constipation, which can lead to complications including bloating and hemorrhoids, according to a study by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Read Here Magazine
Inside the lives of immigrant educators

I toured across Eastern and Western Europe. During my first tour outside of the Soviet bloc nations, I saw that capitalists were actually living a pretty nice life. It made me angry when I understood that the propaganda we were raised on was done to keep everyone in the dark.

Valparaiso Magazine
The Loveliest Little American Town

The greatest beauty and adventure is often found in unexpected places, and the diverse wonder of Northwest Indiana took British travel agent Cathie Odea, Travel Counsellors, by surprise.

Valparaiso Magazine
From Has-Been to Hotspot

What was once a manufacturing has-been is heating up as a destination hotspot for Valparaiso and the Chicagoland metro area.

Valparaiso Magazine
A Community of Collaboration

Solitary endeavors rarely lead to success. Lasting legacies and institutions result from the contributions of many with one uniting goal in mind: to see Valparaiso prosper and its people enjoy the abundant life.

Valparaiso Magazine
Third Time's a Charm

Déjà vu can be the sweetest sensation, especially when it’s a reflection of unrelenting high standards and continual success. For a record-breaking third time, the Valpo Chamber has been recognized as Indiana’s Chamber of the Year.

Inspired Living
Regina Biddings-Muro: Woman of substance, style, and joy

Regina Biddings-Muro, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Purdue University Northwest, is leading a charmed professional life. Responsible for fundraising, marketing and communications, alumni relations, and university events, she says, “It’s personally fulfilling to visit with both students, whose lives are transformed by their degrees, and donors, who are so joyful about providing opportunities for students. It makes me jump out of bed and smile.”
Theresa Mudd juggles work, family and service with grace and style

A word of warning: a few minutes into a conversation with go-getter and super-achiever Theresa Mudd-vice president and community market director of First Merchants Bank, wife to Mark, and mother to Chloe and Caden-and you may quickly feel like a slacker. Or, you may feel motivated to do and achieve more for yourself, your family, and your community.
NWI experts cite new rules in baby room décor

Every mom-to-be delights in dreaming of baby's room. Whether the dream's imbued with pastel shades of blue or pink, or veers outside of tradition with neutral-shaded palettes that allow whimsical and bold accents to shine, baby room décor always has heart, as the primary resident is fiercely beloved.
Places in the Region where Santa will be taking requests

For children and children-at-heart, there's nothing like the heady anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus. An assortment of goodies, gadgets, and goodwill are anticipated by those who've earned a place on Santa's good list. We've compiled a list of some of the places in Northwest Indiana where the elusive Ol' Saint Nick will be making a stop in the days leading up to Christmas.

Inspired Living
How to make your tailgate party easy and effortless (Jewel-Osco advertorial)

Every in-the-know Region resident knows that fall doesn't simply mean trotting out cozy sweaters for cooler temperatures and hearing the delightful crunch of colorful leaves under those new boots. Fall also signals the arrival of football season and fun-filled tailgate parties to help usher in Chicagoland's favorite time of year.
NWI experts: Injury recovery not just physical

Pain and vulnerability can blind you to the possibility of hope. When you're recovering from a major injury, unrelenting pain and sheer exhaustion can make the world bleak and the path to wellness unclear. When that persists and relief seems unattainable, recovery itself is at risk.
Make trick-or-treating a sweet experience for everyone

When trick-or-treating time rolls around, kids are more than happy to dress the part and hit the streets for delectable Halloween treats. Typically, the so-called "scary" things of Halloween-ghosts, skeletons and mummies-simply elicit nervous chuckles or excited squeals of delight. But for children with food allergies, it's not the things that go bump in the night that produce a fright.
Dusty Rhode Portage Boys & Girls Club nurtures future leaders

When it comes to helping children grow up to be responsible, productive citizens who give back to and enrich their local community, it's all about character, and the Dusty Rhode Portage Boys & Girls Club has been proudly promoting character in Portage by caring for and committing to Portage youth since 1996.
NWI sports medicine doctor discusses concussion causes, treatments, precautions

The human body can withstand a lot of abuse, but even the most hard-headed child and mightiest athlete are vulnerable to concussion. A concussion is more than just a simple hit to the head, explains Dr. Anthony Levenda, orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in sports medicine for Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute in Chesterton and team physician for Valparaiso University and Chesterton, Wheeler and Portage high schools.
Munster chiropractic tailors treatments, payment plans to each patient

Pain management comes in many forms. Elite Chiropractic & Sports Care in Munster is just one of them. Operated by Dr. Randy Rosenthal, Elite works to take the kinks out of access to quality care. Chiropractic techniques have been used to relieve patients' pain and improve quality of life for thousands of years.

Read Here Magazine
Culinary traditions add comfort and flavor to the holidays

For Tatjana Nenadovich, a Serbian Orthodox Christian, Christmas is a time to celebrate the roots of family, the birth of family, and a new beginning. Both Nenadovich's parents and her husband Nick's parents emigrated from Serbia to the United States.

Read Here Magazine
The fine line between creativity and mental health - Read Here Magazine

Many creatives fear that receiving treatment for mental illness, particularly mood-altering medications, will kill creativity. But, Wehle says, "Don't be afraid that you'll lose your creative edge if you seek help. Even with support and medication, you'll still see the world in a unique way."
Chesterton European Market goes on the road to Burns Harbor

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce is taking its popular Chesterton European Market on the road this year to the Burns Harbor Food Truck Square, in a partnership with the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission. "The Town of Burns Harbor wanted to see their Food Truck Square event grown and we wanted to grow," Jacqueline Thomas, European Market director, says of the Burns Harbor and Duneland Chamber partnership.

Valparaiso Magazine
Life in Northwest Indiana is beachy

The Indiana Dunes Department of Tourism invites visitors to the Dunes to shake off the sand and take advantage of all that nearby Valparaiso has to offer, and thatōs exactly the spirit in which Fort Wayne residents Bethany and Ted Johnson got married in September 2015. Bethanyōs love for all things beach was established and nurtured by childhood visits to the Dunes, which is why Ted and she chose the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as the perfect actualization of her dream beach wedding.

Valparaiso Magazine
How to Start a Business 101

imes change and technologies evolve, but the quintessential American dream of owning one’s own business still burns bright. And yet, even the best dreams flounder without support and planning. Thankfully, Valparaiso dreamers have allies through the solid support systems of the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and the Regional Development Company. These expert dream teams are dedicated to helping Valparaiso innovators and entrepreneurs turn passion into profit and...

Valparaiso Magazine
Downtown Valparaiso: A Home for All Ages

Michelle Samardzija and her family were enjoying country living when the vision of a charming gingerbread Edwardian house in downtown Valparaiso changed everything. Two years ago, Samardzija and her family were living on two acres on the south side of Valparaiso and her children were enrolled in a downtown Valparaiso preschool. As she waited for her kids to get out of school, she recalls staring at the 1901 Edwardian gingerbread house across the street from the preschool. “I’ve always been a...

Valparaiso Magazine
Valparaiso's Past Lives On

Valparaiso’s past lingers in unexpected and spine-tingling ways. Memorial Opera House (104 Indiana Ave.) Executive Director Scot MacDonald has made peace with leaving the lights on after closing. “When I leave the building for the day, I turn the lights out,” he says. “I get in my car, look back and see that the lights are back on. I’ve learned to just leave them on.”

Valparaiso Magazine
A Win for Valparaiso's Schools is a Win for the Community

Valparaiso has a legacy of people caring for their neighbors, of paying it forward,” says John Seibert, Director of Valpo Parks. “It’s a culture of ‘we want our next generation to have those same advantages we had,’ a selfless epic of the village helping to raise kids.” Fortunately for Valparaiso, paying it forward is paying off in a big way for both its student population and community at large.

Valparaiso Magazine
Women Empowering Women

Women typically provide the foundational support for families, businesses, charities, and the very fabric of our society. But, like the foundation of the buildings that house our places of business and residence, the essential is often invisible and women’s needs too often go unacknowledged and unaddressed. Women-focused organizations such as the Valparaiso Woman’s Association, Women in Bloom and Business Women United Network support and aid local women with needed resources, encouragement,...

Valparaiso Magazine
Valpo Women Represent at All Levels of Leadership

For many generations, women’s progress meant incremental access to token roles of influence and power. From business owners to doctors, managers to entrepreneurs, key leadership positions were reserved for the few and exceptional. Progress in the 21st century means that seeing a “Ms.” in a leader’s title no longer causes a pause or a second glance. Valparaiso’s women influencers and innovators prove that leadership is a gifting that transcends gender.

Valparaiso Magazine
A Voice at the Table

Since ancient times, women have been nurturers serving as family and community caretakers and healers. But, decision-making and expertise status in clinics and boardrooms have traditionally been allocated to the men – doctors and executive leaders – at the top, leaving women to serve solely in support roles. Modern healthcare is gradually becoming less lopsided as increasing numbers of men move into essential supporting roles and women provide leadership on the hospital floor, in the clinic,...

Valparaiso Magazine
Building Tomorrow: An Update on Construction

The glorious mess and racket of construction heralds exciting changes and a promising future for Valparaiso students and residents alike. Thanks to funding made possible by the construction referendum, by July 2018, Superintendent Dr. Ric Frataccia says, “The community will have a new set of schools.”

Valparaiso Magazine
Destinations Worth the Drive

Valparaiso is home to myriad cultural, entertainment, and epicurean delights, but some adventures call for a road trip. Whether it’s an immersive movie viewing experience, yearround fun and pampering for executives and families alike, or a date with lady luck on Lake Michigan, the Region is home to destination havens worth the drive for Valparaiso residents.

Valparaiso Magazine
Partners in Protection and Provision

he effects of brokenness and suffering spread beyond the borders of towns and cities, but so do genuine, roll-up-yoursleeves- and-do-something charity-based solutions. Food insecurity, children who don’t know their worth, and a wounded ecosystem aren’t “out there” problems but “all around us and right here” needs. Just as Valparaiso isn’t solitary in its needs, it doesn’t stand alone in Northwest Indiana when it comes to addressing those needs.
The Italian roots run deep at Gamba Ristorante

"Every day is a memory," says Michaelle Gamba, manager at her family's restaurant, Gamba Ristorante in Merrillville, as she waves a friendly hello to six men arriving for lunch, regulars she's known since childhood. When asked if she has any favorite memories to share, Michaelle has a hard time pinning down just one particular moment or person.

Musings and Meanderings of an Undercover Misfit
Floating in Introvert Heaven and the Bliss of Being Still

Owning one's introversion has become trendy these days yet this is not an introvert-friendly world. Noise and busyness abound with countless smartphone notifications, phone calls, emails, and the ever-increasing, ever-present audio and visual drone from our 24-hour society. Add in multiple open browser windows (on the screen and in our head) and the pressure of...

Bill and Sandy Bach: 2016 Citizens of the Year

Unlike the heroes in the popular Marvel movies, real-life community heroes don’t typically don capes and disguises. Local heroes—leaders in our community—do their good deeds in plain sight, yet in such a humble and seamless way that you’re unaware of the who behind community greatness. Two local heroes, Bill and Sandy Bach, were recently recognized for their work in the community when they were named 2016 Citizens of the Year by the Munster Chamber of Commerce.

Jewel-Osco Advertorial
How to make your tailgate party easy and effortless

Every in-the-know Region resident knows that fall doesn't simply mean trotting out cozy sweathers for cooler temperatures and hearing the delightful crunch of colorful leaves under those new boots. Fall also signals the arrival of football season and fun-filled tailgate parties to help usher in Chicagoland's favorite time of year.

NWI Times
How to pick the right insurance agent (State Farm Insurance advertorial)

Do a quick Google search of insurance agents in Northwest Indiana, and the first noticeable thing is the vast number of them. In what can seem like an overwhelming sea of insurance agents, how does one find a knowledgeable agent who has his clients’ best interests in mind?
Lice clinic opens in Crown Point

Every mom dreads finding that note in her child's school folder informing her that a fellow student has lice. Or perhaps it's a phone call from the school nurse stating your child won the unlucky lice lottery.

Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Stewart McMillan - Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

For Stewart McMillan, CEO of Task Force Tips, the Valparaiso-based, worldwide distributor of firefighting equipment, innovation is a profitable passion that inspires, saves lives, and provides an all-American way to do business and serve the community.
NWI doctor: Don't wait if you think you're infertile

Living-and waiting-in denial is the biggest mistake made by those who are struggling with infertility, says Dr. Amos Madanes, board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and director of Midwest Fertility Center, with locations in Munster and Valparaiso as well as Chicago and Downer's Grove. "Denial that there's a problem getting pregnant means that people postpone seeking help for too long," he says.
Don't let your kid ride in an unsafe car seat in Northwest Indiana

Perhaps the scariest part of bringing baby home is the ride home itself. Our children are our treasures, which is why it's essential that you don't simply wing it when it comes to installing child safety seats, says Jennifer Homan, trauma program coordinator for Franciscan Health hospital in Crown Point.

Read Here Magazine
Midwest haven for hippies at heart

She discovered her love for yoga and macramé during what initially appeared to be career lows. Baum's short residency in St. Louis included a job that didn't work out with a newly discovered love for yoga, and she funneled this love and expertise into caring for the relay runners' well-being with one-on-one yoga sessions through roadsideYOGA.

Read Here Magazine
Inside the lives of immigrant educators

I toured across Eastern and Western Europe. During my first tour outside of the Soviet bloc nations, I saw that capitalists were actually living a pretty nice life. It made me angry when I understood that the propaganda we were raised on was done to keep everyone in the dark.

Musings and Meanderings of an Undercover Misfit
Forty-Two Years

When I was twelve years old, I saw a car commercial which offered a "what if" scenario of 2018. I let my mind wander to the future adventures I'd enjoy when I I did the math, I came to...
Local candlemaker finds success in the simple

There is nothing quite so comforting, healing, and inviting as the smells of happy memories, of holidays past and present, and of the anticipation of a change of season. They say you can never go home again, but the vintage-inspired candles of Antique Candle Works come close, as with its top-selling Christmas Day candle, which Antique Candle Works founder and owner, Brittany Whitenack, raves, "is exactly what Christmas smells like."
Downtown Chesterton embraces families more than ever

So many bemoan the disappearance of mom-and-pop stores, small town values, and originality, but maybe they just missed the exit off the interstate. Chesterton is easy to get to from anywhere in the Region, yet it's a world away from the impersonal hustle-and-bustle of Chicago.

Valparaiso Magazine
The Magic of Downtown Valparaiso

For years, people flocked to the suburbs for safety and status, yet the magic of downtown never dimmed. Occasional trips downtown were treasured traditions for rural residents and suburbanites to shop, dine, and take in the sights and sounds of diverse happenings and people. But, increasing numbers of people aren’t content to simply “go to town” from time to time; they want to live where the magic is.
Portage couple fall in love while serving their country

The love story of Portage residents Rob and Laurie Rodriguez began with a war. As high school seniors, they recall seeing TV images of the Persian Gulf War and, like others of their generation, felt compelled to act. "The military was a family tradition for both of us," Rob explains.

Valparaiso Magazine
Mentoring Sweet Success

Hard work can be endured drudgery or passion fuel. Businesses are established through hard work, tenacity, and long hours, but they flourish when they’re a labor of love.