Valparaiso University, at its May 20 conferring of degrees, bestowed its highest honor upon two of our Project Neighbors Board members, Loie Reiner, co-founder with her late husband Walt, of PN and Paul Schreiner, its current chairman and long-time guide and director of its work projects. Both were awarded the Doctor of Public Service Degree, while the rest of us Board members applauded: Bravo! Well deserved! Both are VU graduates, Loie in 1952 and Paul in 1970, and both have spent their lives to date in the Valparaiso community, exemplifying the ideals of service.
In the citation included in the commencement folder, Loie is described as having “a long history of service to Valparaiso University and the wider community, reflecting a commitment to positive change, service, peace and justice, and the celebration of diversity.” With her late husband Walt, she co-founded Valparaiso Builders Association (VBA) in 1968 and its successor organization Project Neighbors (PN) in1984, both of which have been dedicated to the mission of assisting families in need of decent housing and a “hand up.” Loie has always participated with this work in a very personal and energetic way. Even in her eighth decade, she readily takes on all kinds of tasks for PN, volunteers at Hilltop Neighborhood House (HNH) and at her church. Loie also attends every VU home basketball game, enthusiastically urging the Crusaders to victory.
Paul Schreiner, co-owner of Design Construction, is cited by VU as “the social conscience of Trinity Lutheran Church in Valpo for more than two decades.” Under his direction Trinity has built eight affordable houses, using primarily volunteer labor. Their model for these projects has been published by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. In partnership with Walt and Loie and the Board of Project Neighbors, his work
has transformed the Hilltop Neighborhood from its depressed condition in the past to what it is now: the home of HNH Child Care Center, Walt’s Place for after-school enrichment and Adult Education services, HealthLinc, a restaurant now called Gabriella’s, and many handsomely remodeled and new housing units. These projects all involved construction and/or reconstruction, and Paul was always the coordinator of any work he was not doing himself.
Telling the whole story of why these two members of our Board deserve this honor would require telling the whole story of VBA, PN, HNH, HealthLinc and a rejuvenated Hilltop Neighborhood. We applaud them, though it may take a while to address them as Doctor Loie and Doctor Paul.