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Volunteer of the Month | Lyn Berelsman

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When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was raised in a small town in Minnesota. My parents both worked in public service; my father in law enforcement and my mother as a social worker. My parents, teachers, and mentors shaped who I am, and a small-town upbringing provided the nurturing environment I needed to free my curious mind and dream about the possibilities outside the world I lived in.

My curiosity drove me to a career in technology that spanned 35 years and included positions in satellite image processing, international business development, electronic document image management. My career culminated as a pioneer in interactive services and the internet, and I retired in an executive role at AOL.
My husband, Dave, also grew up in a small Midwest town, so it is not surprising that we settled in a small community after we retired. We believe that strong community connections lead to a healthier and happier life and we have found that in Celebration.

What causes are you passionate about?
I had mentors throughout my childhood and career, so I found an opportunity to give back through mentoring students and young entrepreneurs in my retirement. I enjoyed helping underserved high school students prepare for college and successfully make that transition through programs like Take Stock in Children. Many times, these students were the first in their family to go to college and it’s so rewarding to see the positive impact it makes on them, their siblings, and their families.

Describe a time in your career/life that was rewarding.
I discovered that mentoring is just as, or perhaps more, rewarding for the mentor than it is for the mentee. I learned the value of commitment and confidence through one of the students that I mentor. I was a Take Stock in Children mentor to a high school student whose dream was to be a doctor after seeing her 14-year-old sister battle cancer and recover as a result of the care she received. My student’s family valued education but had neither the financial means nor personal college experience to help her achieve her dream. She met the school bus at 5:30 every morning in order to travel to a high school that offered an International Baccalaureate program (IB). She studied hard and did many of her homework and reading assignments by flashlight on the bus. Although it was hard, she knew she was capable and could succeed; she wouldn’t give up. I worked to research opportunities for her, encourage her, and open doors where possible. So you can imagine how thrilled we all were when she was offered a full-ride scholarship to Barnard College/Columbia University for her undergraduate degree. This student is now in a PhD program at Brown University and leads a cancer research program. A belief in the power of commitment and confidence was a lesson that we both learned and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Do you volunteer? Where?
I am a Co-chair for the Florida Regional Council of the Smithsonian Institution. Dave and I have an enduring respect and relationship with the Smithsonian Institution and wanted to continue our involvement with them after moving to Florida. We advocate for the Smithsonian, bring Smithsonian exhibitions, programs and lectures to Florida and help the Institution broaden its reach outside of Washington DC.
It is interesting to note that the Smithsonian Institution and AdventHealth have many shared values which appeal to us. Both institutions are world-class, trustworthy, and community-oriented. And both institutions are broad enough so supporters can find a way to connect with them in whatever your passion or interest may be. They are both communities of learning who take holistic approaches to helping solve today's challenges and that is important to us.

What is your connection to AdventHealth?
I am a supporter of AdventHealth’s Pink on Parade 5K in Celebration FL and supported AdventHealth’s resource library to provide current, reliable information to cancer patients.

As a cancer survivor myself, I feel grounded in hope and healing. I find that there are hidden opportunities within almost every challenge and sometimes you just need to seek them out. I think it is important to help raise funds to support AdventHealth’s cancer patient services. I know that my support is part of something bigger that will help cancer patients and their families.

Why do you choose to support AdventHealth?
I admire the whole mind and body approach to healthcare that AdventHealth is committed to providing. I appreciate the investments made in our local community to provide world-class, state-of-the-art medical care. I am in awe of the best-in-class specialties I have had the opportunity to visit including the TRI, Nicholson Center, HEAL program, and clinical trial/research labs.

Why should other people support AdventHealth?
AdventHealth is a large healthcare network, yet it feels local, like family, in all the communities it supports. It is “our” community healthcare provider. AdventHealth gives back to the communities it serves and through Pink on Parade 5K we can build on that relationship.

What impact do you hope to have through your support of AdventHealth?
I hope my support of AdventHealth of Pink on Parade will lead to continued socially connected community of family, friends, and close relationships; important attributes to a healthy, happy life.

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