Seven years ago, Lutheran Volunteer Corps merged with the Lutheran Service Corps (LSC) in Omaha, Nebraska in order to help LSC serve more Omaha nonprofits through its Volunteer service program. This year, nine talented Volunteers live together in Hillstrom House and serve the Omaha community.
Sitara Mahtani, who serves at NAMI Nebraska, a mental health advocacy organization, first heard about LVC from a friend who served in Wilmington, DE. Though a bit hesitant to participate because she is not a Christian, Sitara ultimately decided to apply for LVC because of her friend’s experience of openness and inclusion during her Volunteer year.
Sitara, a graduate of Vassar College, is interested in pursuing a career in the Public Health field, and her position as the Community Outreach Associate is allowing her to dive right into that work. She spreads awareness about mental health issues in the community through advocacy and sharing stories of individuals in recovery from mental illness. She also facilitates NAMI’s first-ever online support group.
Sitara notes that she is grateful to her supervisor, Tom Adams, who has allowed her to explore exactly what she is passionate about within the Public Health field. “One of the benefits of LVC Volunteers is that they 8 are right out of school and have great questions and ideas about how things might be done. For a small agency like NAMI Nebraska, the direct involvement of the Volunteers means they are quickly part of what we do in our contact with the community. They are great advocates,” Tom says. “Each of our Volunteers has contributed immensely in their own particular way. We plan to continue having Volunteers for years to come.” I’ve learned that some social justice work is tangible, but most of it is not and that can be very difficult. I have had to learn how to celebrate the work that is being done even though we cannot always see it or experience it ourselves.
One of the most important things that Sitara has learned in her LVC year is that she cannot help everyone that she talks to at NAMI. Many people call in to receive a referral, but she rarely knows if they actually get the help that they want or need; and that is a challenge for her. “I’ve learned that some social justice work is tangible, but most of it is not and that can be very difficult. I have had to learn how to celebrate the work that is being done even though we cannot always see it or experience it ourselves.”
Read more about LVC’s past year in the FY15 Annual Report.