June 17, 2019 Sean Luedke

MEET AN ALLY: Kyara Mendez Serrano supporting Latinx cancer patients & survivors in central Indiana

Public Allies Indianapolis member Kyara Mendez Serrano cooking at Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana’s Latino Family Night.

Every year around 450 local nonprofits and government agencies (our partners) engage with Public Allies in order to increase their capacity to carry out their missions and impact more lives. In many cases, our Members provide unique skills, experiences, and a deep understanding of the communities our partners serve that allow them to uniquely support these great organizations.

For example, Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana (CSCCI), which aims to “ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community”, recognized a need to better engage and support the growing Latinx population in central Indiana. To achieve this, CSCCI partnered with Public Allies Indianapolis with the following goals:

  • Manage and grow Latino Family Night to reach survivors and caregivers in need of services.
  • Recruit volunteers and medical professionals in order to expand and diversify programming.
  • Reach out to underserved clients at Eskenazi Health to provide basic needs and supportive and engaging programming to increase attendance at chemotherapy appointments.

Furthermore, CSCCI understood that to achieve these goals they needed to bring in someone who not only spoke Spanish, but had personal roots and connections within the Latinx community.

Since September of 2018, Public Allies Indianapolis Member Kyara Mendez Serrano has been working diligently to help CSCCI achieve their goals. In describing some of the success she’s had, Kyara shared: “I have a new participant in my Spanish programs. She seems very excited to start participating in everything that we have available and taking advantage of the support system that comes with being part of these programs. When she came to the first program, her daughter told me that she wanted her mom to take advantage of all the programs we provide since her mom is mostly in the house alone. She told me that she was thrilled that her mom could now enjoy other people who have endured the same things she is currently going through.”

“When she came to the first program, her daughter told me that she wanted her mom to take advantage of all the programs we provide since her mom is mostly in the house alone. She told me that she was thrilled that her mom could now enjoy other people who have endured the same things she is currently going through.”

In addition to triumphs like these that are making an impactful difference for Latinx people fighting cancer, Kyara has also recruited new volunteers to help with programming and has created a Latino Family Night Volunteer Manual to ensure the program can be continue to be sustained. Cancer Support Community is excited to maintain the gains that Kyara has helped them achieve.

As Kyara’s term of service comes to a close, Cancer Support Community is now better positioned to support the Latinx community in central Indiana. This is just one example of the impact Public Allies’ AmeriCorps Members are having across the country.

Since launching in 2009, 185 diverse & talented leaders have graduated from Public Allies Indianapolis and approximately 75% continue to work within the nonprofit and government sectors in the area. Public Allies Indianapolis is operated locally by Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center and supported through the generosity of Serve Indiana.