Finalist: Serena Van Orman
Award: Volunteer of the Year
Day Job: Program Administrator, Indiana Diaper Bank
Connect with Serena on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/serena-van-orman-44715a115/
For nearly two years Serena has been volunteering with Families First as a Survivor Advocate and goes above and beyond for her community in the ways she shows up, cares for and continually advocates for the survivors in their programs. She has been heavily involved in supporting survivors of sexual violence in her college community in addition to raising awareness and educating her peers about this crime.
When the pandemic hit, she immediately helped with the transition from in-person to virtual groups and quickly came up with creative, meaningful ways to connect with survivors. Serena’s efforts to provide comfort, compassion and encouragement in multiple support groups for teen and adult survivors of sexual violence make her an incredible addition the community of Advocates at Families First.
Read below to learn more about Serena’s vision for Central Indiana and where she can’t wait to travel!
Q: How did you react when you found out you were nominated for an ELEVATE Award?
A: I was very honored!When I found out I was nominated it was refreshing to receive such good news and be recognized for the work I’m doing.
Q: What is your vision for Central Indiana?
A: My vision for Central Indiana is for it to be for everyone what it has been for me, which is a place of hope, opportunity, and growth. A little over three years ago, I essentially uprooted my life to move here and have a fresh start. It’s because of moving here to Central Indiana and receiving the help and kindnesses that I did, that I am now constantly surrounded and supported by the most amazing family and friends, was able to attain my degree with high distinction, and become involved in my campus and community through work experience and volunteering. This is the Central Indiana I work towards in the hope of being realized: one that champions the certainty that every person is valuable and deserving of the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life.
Q: Finish this sentence “Being a great volunteer means to me….”
A: Being a great volunteer meanscontributing to a cause that is bigger than yourself while recognizing your vital capacity as an individual to create change and then embracing this truth with dedication and devotion. For me, my own experiences as a survivor are what has fostered an enduring commitment to support other survivors in my service through Families First.
Q: What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic and how has it affected your job, volunteering, etc.?
A: Like a lot of people, I think such a drastic change to daily life prompted me to figure out how to recreate the routines that had been sources of wellness or comfort, such as going to the gym. I am a very structure-oriented person, but this pandemic made me realize I am more adaptive than I thought. The pandemic has affected my volunteering with Families First by causing support groups to be held virtually and providing new ways in which to volunteer. One of the new ways I volunteered this summer was participating in scheduled Zoom sessions with clients’ children to entertain them for a few minutes so their parent could have a break. I think this was a fantastic service arranged by Families First, as it introduced another source of caring and company for children during such a difficult and confusing time. Perhaps the greatest takeaway I’ve had from the pandemic is that if anything can combat unwanted change and uncertainty it is people caring about one another.
Time for some favorites:
Q: Favorite spot in Indy?
A: Just Pop In! in Broad Ripple
Q: Mountains or Beach?
Q: Favorite vacation song?
A: “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande
Q: Where will you travel to once it is safe to do so?
Q: Favorite podcast or book?
A: “Fat Mascara” hosted by Jessica Matlin and Jennifer Goldstein
Join Serena at ELEVATE and don’t forget to RSVP, today!