Their experiences and passions may run the gamut, but three Fort Wayne women are solid examples of what it means to give back.
WANE-TV’s Alyssa Ivanson first caught the philanthropic bug when she was in high school. The now news anchor was in a leadership group that required 100 hours of service. That giving spirit stuck with her into college at Ball State, where she participated in her sorority’s philanthropic events. In her words, giving back has always “been in a part of her DNA.”
Following graduation and a move to Fort Wayne, it didn’t take her long to look for service opportunities. She was drawn to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana as well as Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity. As she would come to find out, “There are so many venues and ways to give back in Fort Wayne,” she said.
For her, volunteering, among other things, was a way to “make a city feel like a home.” But now it’s so much more than that. She pledges a great deal of her free time, serving on Habitat’s local family selection committee, meaning she assists potential partner families in achieving their dream of home ownership.
As a Big Sister she mentors a young woman named Jordain. The two have been through a lot, she says. Perhaps most exciting was being named Big Sister of the Year by Indiana’s Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in 2013, for her contribution to both the agency and the life of her Little Sister.
Despite this recognition, Ivanson remains humble. “You go into it thinking you’re going to help (the Little), but then you’re helped as well,” she said about her experience as a Big.
Regarding Habitat, she said the work is equally as fulfilling because “you can see these families whose lives are changed and they have to work so hard for the house.”
Although her commitment might seem daunting to some, Ivanson reminds people that “small acts have the ability to change lives.” Volunteering is simply giving of yourself and having a giving heart, she added.
Speaking of a giving heart, Natalie Trout said “she was raised to have a heart to help.” Compassion and empathy were always second nature to her.
“I feel I was made this way,” she shared. “I’m not me if I’m not volunteering somewhere.”
So when the opportunity arose to go on a mission trip in seventh grade, she jumped on it. High school proved to be another venue for service. After college she felt a strong calling to serve overseas. She did three stints in Africa−Niger, Zambia and Uganda, with three different church agencies. Each trip was unique and left an indelible mark upon her.
In Niger, Trout was charged with door-to-door evangelization. In Zambia she helped with a vacation Bible school program as well as cleaning the facility. And most recently, in Uganda she taught English and washed feet in a medical clinic.
“In some ways I’ve learned that we’re all alike and more alike than we think, but we’re really different,” she said.
Another takeaway was the fact she didn’t need to travel across the world to make a difference. “God can really use (my gifts) anywhere,“ she said. “It’s weird that I had to go there to realize that.”
This is a lesson she has taken to heart. Trout regularly volunteers at the Rescue Mission, serving breakfast two days a week. She said the residents’ gratitude and attitude is truly amazing. In fact she said their positivity “spills over” into the rest of her day. She feels much more upbeat the days she volunteers there.
Trout said her work at the Rescue Mission is an example of how volunteerism can be accessible to nearly anyone.
“Find something to do consistently and try to make an impact,” she said. “It’s rewarding for everyone involved.”
Consistency is something Andie Mobley does well. The local entrepreneur, wife and mother was on the board of directors for seven years, for the American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne. She also serves on the board of directors for the Women’s Bureau and the Taste of the Arts committee.
She says Ad Fed’s mission of helping college students advance and elevating the industry in this market are what speaks to her. She has a more personal reason for serving on the Women’s Bureau board. Last year she had a health scare, which really exposed her to the lack of information and resources for women in her position. Her service to the Taste of the Arts festival meant a broader choice of restaurants and more money raised for Arts United.
Looking back at her service, Mobley says it has resulted in personal and professional growth. “You just have to find the time and make it a priority,” she said.
“It’s because these things are important to me that I make time for (them),” she said. “It is important.”