Board member, volunteer and Coburn Place supporter and cheerleader Mohamed Merzoug works for IU Health as its community outreach and engagement project manager. He lives in Carmel, but that’s not where he’s from. “I moved to Indiana from Singapore 10 years ago for my wife’s job with Eli Lilly & Company,” says Mohamed. “However, I moved to the U.S. 28 years ago from Algeria – fleeing a gruesome civil war and leaving behind my family and friends, making the U.S. my new home, living on nothing but hopes, dreams and $300 in my pocket. I was born and raised in Oran, a beautiful port city by the Mediterranean Sea in Northwest Algeria.”
“Mohamed is the kind of board member who is thinking about the organization 24/7,” says Vice President of Development Lauren Laski. “Any connection he can make to share or strengthen our mission, he is all over it!”
What do you do for IU Health?
I joined IU Health Engagement Team in June 2019. I am very fortunate to work for an organization that is socially responsible and encourages its employees to volunteer and give back to their communities. My team and I manage IU Health Serves, which is the volunteering arm of IU Health. We connect and provide volunteering opportunities to IU Health team members outside the walls of our hospitals. Our biggest event of the year is IU Health Days of Service where all IU Health employees statewide are encouraged to sign up for projects and give back to their communities.
How long have you been working with Coburn Place?
I have been a board member with Coburn Place since January 2020. I am honored to have been asked to join the Coburn Place family by my former professor Kathi Badertscher, the board chair. I didn’t have to think twice about signing up because I knew Coburn Place plays a crucial role in providing services that empower and keep survivors and their children safe in the community.
What do you enjoy about supporting Coburn Place?
I enjoy connecting with donors to thank them for their kind support. I like to educate friends, neighbors and colleagues about the Coburn Place mission and its programs. I truly believe everyone deserves a second chance in life and people can turn their lives around if they get the right support system – like the one we provide at Coburn Place.
What is the favorite thing you have done here?
During Valentine’s Day this year, I enjoyed working with my IU Health colleagues writing cards, putting some self-care baskets together, and setting up apartments for new survivors moving in. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Coburn Place’s amazing staff pivoted and brought Halloween spirit and joy to the children and their parents. I really liked the Trunk or Treat event, where my son Elias and I handed out candy to the children. I also had the chance to hang out with Lauren, Erin, Drew and new staff members and see their smiling faces.
What do you do in your free time?
I love to cook for my family, take long walks with my wife and watch family movies.
Why do you think it’s important to support Coburn Place?
I wish to do my part to help others fulfill their dreams. Volunteering with Coburn Place allows me to not only connect with my community but also understand its pressing issues. It also informs me how and where I might most effectively support people’s needs. I was taught very early on by my parents the values of generosity, sharing and caring for others. Giving and volunteering became second nature to me. I consider every day as an opportunity to do something good for the survivors and their children at Coburn Place. I do not have to be wealthy to give back since wealth is not categorized by only money. Even a small act of kindness – such as a smile – can be considered a charity. I view my role as a board member as a duty and joy, not a burden.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to volunteer with numerous nonprofit organizations. These organizations focus on social issues including immigration, homelessness, hunger and health services. From working with them, I become more appreciative of what I have and obtained a better understanding of the challenges and concerns of our community. If every one of us makes small efforts to address public concerns and promote the quality of their communities, the impact will be significant.
I like to close by this great quote by an American Author Zig Ziglar: “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile and a grateful heart.”