Meet your Neighbors: Debbie Modrak Gruszka

Meet Debbie Modrak Gruszka! Debbie is a homemaker who enjoys getting outside and heading to the lake whenever she can. Debbie was born and raised in Calumet Township and then after moving to Florida and a few other places, she found herself back in the area and now resides in Kouts. Debbie gets to the dunes whenever she can, even volunteering to take her son back and forth to work so that she can catch the sunset. She loves taking photos of the lake — year round. Catching an ice storm is one of her biggest challenges. Debbie also loves flowers (photo above is her zinnia garden.) and enters the open  class flower show each year at the Porter County Fair where she takes home several ribbons!

What brought you to the dunes? I started going to the dunes a lot as a teenager. Friends and family had boats and always needed help with them. I gladly volunteered! Along with boating, I used to go to Marquette Park in the 70’s and hang out while kids played guitar.

How long have you lived here? I have lived in the area basically all my life

What is your favorite thing to do in the area? My favorite thing is to hike and take photos in all seasons. Trail 2 in the State Park is one of my favorite spots. Getting out to the dunes gives me my peace of mind. I can head out there and think about things while looking at all the beauty that it offers.

Tell us a secret about the dunes. Crinoids! (otherwise known as Indian Beads). Many of you may know about them, but not everyone does. After living here all my life, I never knew about them until 5 years ago. Some ladies were on the beach searching for them and when I asked to take a look they gave me a giant one they had found. After that I was hooked!

Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)

a) Valpo Turkey Trot. Great cause and a tradition for me every year with my sons. They like to run and I walk it, but I love doing together as a family

b) Third Coast Spice Cafe

c) Rolling Stonebaker Pizza

What would you like to teach people about the dunes? Be sure to check out all the  programs that are offered at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Owl banding is one of my favorites. I’ve adopted an owl for my granddaughter and they even put it right on her shoulder when they released it. An experience everyone should have! I also love the Sandcastle Contest and the Kite Flying. Everyone needs to meet Brad Bumgardner. He can teach you anything you want to know about the dunes!

Anything else? If I could live anywhere, I would love to wake up and see the lake each day. Someday I hope to do that! Until then, I am happy getting to the dunes whenever I can and thank you to Dig the Dunes for posting the daily photos for those that are no longer in the area!

You can read about more neighbors right here!