Serving those who serve: Melissa Kahn

Melissa Kahn is a therapist and advocate. Her early work at Bellevue Medical Center in NYC at the start of the AIDS crisis shaped her philosophy and passion for serving vulnerable populations – even when it’s not popular. In her personal life, she’s volunteered for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Northwestern Medicine, and World Chicago – and has now brought that passion for service to Heartland Alliance as our volunteer manager. See why she does what she does below:

What got you into this work?

I have a background in healthcare, quality of life, and this job really sparks that passion of enriching the lives of others. I’ve known about Heartland Alliance for years, and I’m a firm believer that when a door opens you run right through it. I also know the importance of volunteers in making that difference for nonprofits, so when this opportunity opened up I took it.

Why does this work make a difference to our community? To the people we serve?

Especially with the political climate today, there are many who feel a sense of helplessness and don’t know how to make an impact. When people come to us and realize just how much there is to be done, and how you actually can help, it motivates the greater population. I feel like we’re giving people their hope back.

When did you realize that you knew you were working in the right place?

When I got the chance to meet staff right at the beginning of my work here, I was floored by all the amazing work that was really going on here. I knew of Heartland Alliance, but the scope really is so surprisingly huge. To get a chance to be a part of an organization that is so committed to the community at large – and to have such a commitment to human rights – it was all very important to me.

Favorite part about your job?

I love getting to go to all of our locations all across the city. I get a chance to be creative and bring new people on board in unique ways to impact the lives of others. Every time I get to hear the stories of our volunteers and see the impact that they make on our organization – it’s a real privilege. These folks add so much extra value to the work that we do.

How does someone get involved?

If someone is interested in volunteering, check out our website and educate yourself on all of the incredible things we do. Reach out to me via our volunteer application and we will work together on finding an experience that empowers you and that enriches the lives of our participants.