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Jen Kostyniuk has been involved with SCAN for many years starting as a volunteer, joining the SCAN Board of Young Professionals, and now serving as President of the Board of Directors. We are thankful for Jen’s ongoing support, leadership, and advocacy for SCAN’s families and children. We talked with Jen recently about her journey with SCAN and passion for children.
How did you first get involved with SCAN?
I first became involved with SCAN in 1993 through my sorority. I was a Tri Sigma at VCU and our philanthropic efforts were centered on helping children in the area, so I volunteered at SCAN events. I believed in the mission and I wanted to help.
I was able to deepen my engagement with SCAN as a founding member of SCAN’s Board of Young Professionals. The BYP was a great experience and offers a good opportunity for young professionals learning how boards function and looking to get more involved with an organization. Being a member of the BYP can also set individuals up for success on the Board of Directors.
What inspires you to stay involved with your work at SCAN?
I stay involved because I strongly believe in the organization’s mission and vision. Our programs make a difference in the lives of the children and parents that we serve. The results are measurable. Also, the SCAN staff. I am so impressed by the amount of work that gets done and the compassion and advocacy that is displayed by all involved in facilitating SCAN’s programs. That compassion is contagious.
You also work for a company that has been a wonderful SCAN partner throughout the years. How has that been?
I’ve worked at Dominion Energy throughout my time on the BYP and Board of Directors. Community partners are critical to organizations like SCAN. It’s been great to help with that relationship by engaging Dominion volunteers in SCAN’s work, involving employees in SCAN events, and increasing awareness of SCAN’s work throughout the company. Community partnerships help expand our reach so that SCAN can serve more parents and children in our community.
Is there anything you wish other people knew about SCAN?
SCAN has five programs in place to promote positive parenting, strengthen families and helps create a community that values and cares for children. It takes a great deal of ingenuity and effort to run these programs at The Child Advocacy Center (CAC), The Family Support Program, Community Programs, Richmond Court Appointed Special Advocated (CASA) and The Circle Preschool Program. In order to continue to do this well, we depend on the generous advocacy and support of community members. I wish people knew how many children we do support. For example, The CAC served 798 children and 525 adults, The Family Support Program served 321 caregivers and 108 children, our Community Programs reached 864 adults on how to recognize child abuse and neglect, the Richmond CASA team advocated for 217 children, and, The Circle Preschool program served 17 children and 17 caregivers. There is a waiting list for many of our programs, and with more advocacy and funding we could serve even more.
What has been your best experience with SCAN so far?
To wake up each day knowing that we are truly making a difference in the lives of our community’s most vulnerable children. This is important work and all of us who serve on the board consider it a privilege to be engaged in such a valuable mission.
What are any challenges you have faced in your work with SCAN?
Talking about child abuse and neglect is difficult. It is a taboo subject that many want to dismiss or ignore as not happening in our communities. This certainly makes things challenging when trying to raise money for SCAN’s efforts and explain the significance of its programs. What people need to understand is that abuse and neglect happen everywhere. In every community, every neighborhood and maybe even next door. Starting a dialogue around this topic is hard, but we need to openly talk about these issues in order to build awareness and educate the public about prevention measures.
Do you have any goals or hopes for the next year with SCAN?
I want to continue to grow the organization so we are able to help more children who need it. I encourage everyone to get involved, to become knowledgeable about the issues related to abuse and neglect and to actively advocate in the community for SCAN and the children we serve.
Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?
I also serve on the boards of Rx Partnership, ART 180 and Richmond Region Tourism. My friend Jen and I are part of the 50 States Marathon Club, so we are attempting to run a marathon in each state. Next up, Minneapolis.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
That I am teaching a PR writing class at VCU in the fall. I would not be where I am today without the Mass Communications education I received at VCU, so I wanted to give back to that institution and the students.