Investing in Our Communities: Lukas Rife and Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana
When it comes to serving on a not-for-profit board, skills will develop and deepen, but passion for the cause is the most important prerequisite, Lukas Rife, a senior audit associate in KSM’s Fort Wayne office, has come to realize.
Lukas was a little nervous about his ability to contribute to a board given that he is still in the early stages of his career, but he had a strong desire to give back to his northeast Indiana community. As he thought about volunteer opportunities, advice was easy to come by since many Fort Wayne KSMers are involved in the community. One thing Lukas heard over and over was, “Serve an organization that speaks to one of your passions.”
A Heart To Serve
With a little reflection, Lukas soon found inspiration within his own family—a cousin with severe autism. “He has so much joy and happiness just in his daily life,” Lukas says, and he decided he wanted to help others with intellectual disabilities. Lukas subsequently reached out to Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana. The organization works with youth, adults, and seniors with intellectual disabilities, providing a diverse array of services for disabled individuals and their families in Fort Wayne and other locations across northeast Indiana.
Besides the practical value of Easterseals Arc’s many different programs and services, the organization’s personal approach really appealed to Lukas. “Their focus is just helping people with intellectual disabilities feel cared for, loved, and appreciated within the community,” Lukas explains, and he wanted to be a part of it. However, he didn’t know if he had the depth of accounting skills needed to effectively contribute to the organization.
It was about my desire to be involved – that’s what Easterseals really cared about.
– Lukas Rife, Audit & Assurance Services Group
“When I first considered joining a board or nonprofit finance committee, I was definitely a little worried about the fact that I didn’t have much experience,” Lukas shares. He talked to his coworkers as well as the CEO of Easterseals Arc and another board member at the organization, sharing his desire to serve along with his concerns.
In their conversations, Lukas says, “I was able to gain a lot more comfort and understanding that it wasn’t necessarily about the expertise I was going to provide right off the bat.” Rather than previous experience or a defined skill set, Lukas found, “It was about my desire to be involved – that’s what they really cared about.”
Making an Impact Through Commitment and Support
Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana welcomed Lukas as a new volunteer, and he quickly found his role on its finance committee to be an extremely rewarding one. He derives great satisfaction from being able to use his professional skills to serve others and be a part of an organization that makes a real difference in the day-to-day lives of people in his community.
Lukas knows that the work he contributes makes an impact for individuals and families, and he regularly gets a very personal reminder of that truth. “Each board meeting starts with time for one of the program participants to share and open up, explaining the benefit they derive and the blessing that Easterseals is to them,” Lukas says. “That’s always super enjoyable.”
Learning that he could make a meaningful difference regardless of his experience level was a gratifying discovery, and Lukas encourages others to pursue their desire to contribute to causes they care about. “If you feel nervous about volunteering, just know that if your heart is to serve and be supportive in whatever ways you can, that’s really what they would love to see — people who are dedicated and willing to invest the time to further their mission in the community.”
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