Having grown up in Hammond, Jan Zurek and her husband decided to move to Portage a few years ago out of convenience, but stayed out of sheer love for the community and everything that it has to offer.
Previously, Zurek had worked in downtown Chicago and her husband worked at Horseshoe Casino. Wanting to make a move, but still needing to be close to the highways, they decided to settle in Portage. Since then, that need has changed significantly, but they decided to stay in the area because they had discovered what a treasure trove it was.
“When I left my job in 2001 to become a full-time parent, I had a transition in the way I saw things, regarding my community,” Zurek said. “Being a new mother, and not working in downtown Chicago anymore, I had to find all new places to eat and shop, and I fell in love with the local businesses. I see the good that Portage does for the community and for me.”
Currently, Zurek is the Fund Development Director for the Portage Township YMCA. Zurek has been with the Portage Township YMCA for a little over a year, and has held her current position for the past four months. She started working there as the executive assistant for the CEO where she started toying around with the annual campaign, and thought it would be really neat if someone did that for a living for the Portage Township YMCA. Soon after, the CEO moved on to pursue other things and Zurek was offered the new position of Part Time Fund Development Director.
“I love working there because it’s a Christian organization,” Zurek said. “I have an opportunity to be a part of a really great mission, and I get to see the community live in our mission, and how everyone connects. People may not go to the Y for themselves, but for other people, and that’s really something to see.
“I am so passionate about the YMCA and my biggest goal is to make other people aware of the programs and services available to everyone in Portage. Everyone here has really been making strides to change things and adapt to what the members of our community need.”
Zurek loves volunteering and helping her community as much as possible, and as her life evolves, so does her volunteer work. Currently, she volunteers for the Portage Kiwanis, her local church (Portage Avenue Baptist Church), and is very active in her daughter’s school.
In what remains of her spare time, Zurek enjoys spending time with her family. She also loves to be on the water, especially in a kayak, and recently bought a new paddleboard that she is eager to try out.