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Lauren Oakey has been involved with SCAN for several years and is serving as the 2020 Progressive Dinner Chair. We are so thankful for her leadership, kindness and flexibility. She has brought an incredible grace and passion for our community’s children to this position in a year when it is much needed.
How did you first get involved with SCAN?
My husband and I discovered SCAN’s work through the United Way, and I was instantly drawn to the message. I had worked in various nonprofits since graduating from college – all of which focused on making the lives of children better – and I really wanted to get involved in a more hands-on way in Richmond. I went to visit the Child Advocacy Center in Henrico, and one visit there was enough to make me want to jump right in and help. I had actually hoped to become a CASA volunteer to work with the children directly, but I knew that my life – very busy with three children of my own – wouldn’t allow me to throw all my energy into it like I would have liked. So I reached out to help with the Progressive Dinner.
What inspires you about your work with SCAN?
I am inspired to work with SCAN on many different levels – the staff is clearly driven by the mission, and that kind of energy is contagious. My visit to the Advocacy Center also inspires me – it was during that visit that I was able to spend time where children come and share their difficult stories. It is very powerful to spend even a small amount of time in those spaces. You can feel the weight of it all. I am also inspired on a personal level, having had a loved one experience abuse in her own family. Both of these types of experiences are pivotal in our growth, even as adults, and for me, it was a call to action.
Tell us about the upcoming Progressive Dinner Fundraiser and Auction and the transition to a virtual event.
When we realized that the May 2nd Progressive Dinner event was going to be cancelled, it took me a week or so to really process what that meant for SCAN, and to think about how to switch gears. Flexibility is something I struggle with. Luckily, the staff at SCAN, the Board members and the Progressive Dinner committee really came together to move forward with a plan that we could all feel good about. It was important to everyone that we honor the restaurants, chefs and small businesses that are so kind to SCAN each year by paring down our auction, and asking that friends of SCAN consider donating the cost of their tickets, or making a special gift instead. Having said that, we were hoping to give people the opportunity to bid on items that we felt could be enjoyed at home, or things that we could look forward to doing – like artwork, bottles of wine, jewelry and a limited number of outings.
How can people get involved with the Progressive Dinner Fundraiser and Auction?
The online auction and donation platform will open up on Monday, April 27th, and close on Saturday May 2nd. You can get to the donation page by visiting SCAN’s website, or using the link in Monday’s email. Be on the lookout! The children that SCAN serves really need SCAN now more than ever, and it is important that these programs keep running. It takes an army of people to meet the needs of our community’s most vulnerable children, and it is SCAN’s platforms that give both professionals and trained volunteers the opportunity to keep Richmond’s children safe and supported.
What have you and your family enjoyed doing while staying at home?
Well, I initially had grand plans for our time at home as a family. I was going to teach my kids to immediately recognize Beethoven’s greatest symphonies as well as my favorite hip hop songs from the 90s. We were going to have baking competitions, tackle the Spanish language, and be diligent in our chores. So far none of this has happened. We get up late, somehow find a collective rhythm to our day, wind up at the dinner table together and laugh a lot. But we are healthy, and I am grateful.
Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?
My husband, Stedman, sits on the CARITAS board, and we support other important organizations in Richmond, but I have thrown all my energy into SCAN. The mission resonates with me, and the staff is a pleasure to work with. In terms of hobbies, I play classical piano, write for children, and I enjoy classes at Hot House Yoga. I have to force myself to exercise, and I always go back there.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I have a children’s book coming out this fall! It’s called Waiting for Adeline, and the illustrator is local artist, Britt Van Deusen. It’s a story about a little girl who struggles to speak, and her older sister’s journey to understand and connect with her. It is based off of my own experience as a mother of a child who was slow to speak and process language, and it took me years to write. A true labor of love.