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Marly Santoro has been involved with SCAN’s Board of Young Professionals since 2017. This year she has taken on the role of leading the BYP Santa Shop. Her leadership, grace, kindness, and enthusiasm have already made such a difference for SCAN families and we are excited for the 2019 Santa Shop!
How did you first get involved with SCAN?
I was first introduced to SCAN in 2015 when I volunteered to help set-up for the Santa Shop. The Santa Shop provides families involved in SCAN’s programs the opportunity to shop for toys for the holidays. I was amazed by the amount of support from community groups and members of the BYP there to help decorate a bland office space into a winter wonderland. It was great meeting people who were passionate about helping children and families in Richmond. From that day, I knew I had to get involved and was eager to support SCAN’s mission.
What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?
My career focus has been to advocate for policies and programs that improve the well-being of older adults. Over the years, it has transitioned to working with intergenerational families. I coordinated the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program in San Antonio, a program that pairs an older adult with children in grades 1-3 to promote success in reading and lobbied on Capitol Hill to help families with children with disabilities.
In 2014, I moved back to Richmond to serve as the State Director of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Program. To my surprise, I started working more and more with grandparents taking care of grandchildren. Some of these families were receiving resources from SCAN. Joining the BYP was the perfect way to support and honor these “grandfamilies.”
What inspires you to stay involved with your work at SCAN?
Hearing stories from staff about how SCAN touches the lives of so many families. Recently, the BYP learned about the importance of CASA Volunteers and their dedication and compassion to advocate for the needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children in court cases. It is inspiring to be a part of this dynamic organization.
What has been the best experience with SCAN so far?
I love participating with the Santa Shop Committee and now I get the opportunity to lead this year’s committee. It is one of the few opportunities the BYP gets to directly interact with the families SCAN serves. Last year, I met a mother who had recently lost her job. She was worried how this circumstance was going to affect her children’s Christmas and was so thankful SCAN was there to be a consistent support in her family’s life. Many of these families face difficult challenges and I know SCAN truly makes all the difference. This is one of the interactions I have been grateful to be a part of and a meaningful event I look forward to helping with every year.
Do you have any goals or hopes for the next year with SCAN?
This year, I’m serving as the Chair for the Santa Shop Committee. My goal is to increase the number of toy drives hosted by individuals, businesses and community organizations. Last year, the Santa Shop provided gifts to over 300 children. The majority of toys collected come from toy drives, which is why it is so important to host one. It is a great way for individuals and community groups to get involved and bring the holiday cheer to at-risk children in Richmond. If you’re interested in hosting a toy drive, please reach out to Noah Dziedzic, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are unable to host a toy drive, there are a number of ways to support the Santa Shop. On November 15th, the BYP is hosting a Happy Hour Toy Drive at Triple Crossing-Fulton from 5-8pm. Also, we have created an Amazon Wish List to make shopping for gifts easier than ever. Please share the link with friends, family and colleagues who may be interested. I am so appreciative of the groups already involved in toy drives and hope to see you at the Happy Hour Toy Drive in November.
Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?
I love to travel and recently got back from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. So far, I’ve traveled to ten countries and visited 34 states. I also enjoy taking cycling and yoga classes at BOHO Studios, love to explore new cuisines in Richmond and a member of a shuffleboard league. I am a member of the Virginia State SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) Council.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
English is my second language. Both my parents are from Peru and Spanish is my native language. I learned to read and speak in English by reading the back of cereal boxes and watching educational shows on PBS.