By Melinda Vize | Community outreach and education representative
My daughter is my little superhero.
She was born in 2011 with two separate birth anomalies. A condition called amniotic band syndrome caused her hands to become tangled in spiderwebs that don’t stretch, leaving both hands disfigured.
She also had a bilateral cleft lip and palate.
This news came at the 20-week ultrasound. And we made the decision to have an in utero surgery to save her right hand from amputation.
They had only done this surgery 12 times in the United States, so it was quite a leap of faith.
‘We’ve never seen this happen before’
I was sedated for surgery but could hear the team of doctors when they said, “Wow! We’ve never seen this happen before!”
She had broken out of the band by herself.
Evelyn was paving her own way before she was even born.
Since then, she’s had six surgeries plus countless treatments on that hand to try to help increase function, with another surgery now scheduled for May. She’s also had multiple surgeries and ongoing orthodontic care for her cleft lip and palate.
Throughout this journey, we were connected with so many resources. Our support network was so important.
I began my career with Dupaco in 2016 as part of the payroll and benefits team in accounting. They’ve been so flexible, allowing me the time to take her to those appointments and extending a work family of support.
Passion to help others
The amazing culture of people helping people runs deep and broad throughout this organization! And it helped spark a fire in me to get involved.
Starting the Urban Bicycle Food Mission Dubuque in August 2018 gave me a way to give back to others who need support. We serve those struggling with food insecurity. And to this day, we operate year-round, serving shelters and individuals in downtown Dubuque.
In March 2021, I made the difficult decision to step down as director. I’m still there every other week volunteering and helping lead the volunteers. But as a single mom now, I needed to make myself and my family a priority again.
That change left me feeling like I wasn’t doing enough to help others. And although my role at Dupaco allowed me to do that at times, I really wanted to be a source of support for others in the community.
So when Dupaco’s community outreach and education representative position posted, it seemed like the perfect fit. I transferred to my new role in October.
My old team was supportive of my move. They knew that’s where my passion was.
I’ve gone on a lot of workplace visits with our reps, and I’ve gotten to witness a lot of impactful situations. We look for opportunities to help members in the community. We meet them where they are, whether they’re trying to get back on track after a hardship or conquering their financial goals.
And it’s been amazing.