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April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month!  AADAP is highlighting one of our wonderful volunteers to the Development Team, Madeline Tan. 

Hi Madeline. In your own words, please describe who you are.

I’m a first generation Filipino American and I was born and raised all over LA. I went to college in San Diego and lived in Santa Barbara for a few years.  Then I returned home to LA to pursue my MBA and further develop my career.  In my day to day, I’m a marketer at a tech company. And I’ve really spent the last decade in various marketing roles, from B2B marketing to advertising and really everything in between.

How did you come to volunteer for AADAP? Why did you choose AADAP?

It’s a great question. I don’t really remember how I discovered AADAP – I think it was just serendipitous, I was looking for organizations online that I could volunteer with, and AADAP just came up. I drove past one of the AADAP offices one day and I was like, “Oh, they have a presence here in the community that I live in, so I should really pursue it.” 

In general, volunteering and finding ways to serve my community are important to me, and I like that AADAP has a focus on reaching AAPI. I know that addiction can be a pretty taboo subject in our community, and I’ve experienced that firsthand with some people in my family who’ve gone through addiction in the past. I really admire that AADAP is really working to help remove those barriers and help people get access to the help they need – AAPI or not – so that really attracted me to them and made them different from other organizations I’ve worked for in the past. And now I’ve been here for over a year.

In the AAPI community it’s tough to discuss topics such as substance abuse, especially when loved ones respond with, “Oh, you’re so American [for talking about it].” Then you come over to the US and you try to have these conversations and they still don’t want to discuss it.

I think that continues to be one of the main reasons why I still volunteer for AADAP. AADAP has such a long history with the community and with the mix of cultural backgrounds that people have here, and that recognition helps us navigate how we can be helping people. A lot of people have been in a situation like you mentioned, or they’ve helped family, or they’ve personally navigated these tricky conversations that our community is still grappling with, but it’s still a problem. 

Nevertheless, we need to try to solve or at least normalize mental health so that people feel like it’s okay to get help. That’s what you guys do, day in and day out — it’s thankless work, but I know that it really makes a difference.

The stigma is so hard because I think especially for a lot of immigrants who come to the US. They want to assimilate and really try not to rock the boat at the expense of their own mental health, or physical health, but it’s all going to come to a head eventually.  I don’t think there’s any shame in looking and asking for help and I think AADAP going into the community and making it clear that the help that they need is here is so important. 

Besides volunteering for AADAP, what are some other items that you do?

I am a California girl, through and through – I love being outside. I like going to the beach with my dog, surfing, hiking, and just enjoying the fresh air.

I love traveling. So, I try to go somewhere new every year — experiencing a new culture and eating the food, which is my favorite part of traveling. I like creative stuff too. I started doing pottery a couple of years ago and really enjoy that. And I’m also a big fan of watching movies and TV. So, I enjoy catching up on those in my spare time.

What has been your role so far at AADAP?

I volunteer for the Development Team and have done a little bit of everything. In the past, I’ve helped put together graphics for social media posts. I’ve done admin work with Excel, docs and tracking, helping fundraise for the gala, doing some of the events. Recently, I’ve been using my background in marketing to help develop new strategies for reaching more people and getting ahead in the digital age with some advertising. So that’s where I’ve been focusing my efforts most recently, but just helping where I can and soaking it all in.

What is the most interesting thing that you’ve learned so far about AADAP since you’ve joined?

Two things stand out for me. For one, just how long AADAP has been around. We celebrated the 50th anniversary last year and just to think that the organization has been in this community for so long and developed this amazing relationship with the community in the Inglewood and Crenshaw areas is incredible. 

The second one is just how many different services are available at AADAP. I learned a lot during the marketing focus group: that we have residential, we have outpatient, we offer services for mothers, with their children, and offer to give them care that way, domestic violence counseling and abuse counseling. There are so many services that AADAP offers to people in the community. And it’s just kind of wild that for whatever need that you have, it seems like we offer care for it, or we know a place that we can.

What other words of advice would you give to interested volunteers about volunteering here?

My advice is to “be curious to learn more about all those things.” I don’t have a background in nonprofit services or healthcare or substance abuse. But I learned so much just by asking questions, going to events, and seeing how people on the ground are navigating this really challenging issue in our society.