Decent Humans is what we call the incredible community we witness on CrowdRise each and every day doing amazing things for good. And each month, we’re going to highlight a Decent Human in the nonprofit world that’s devoting their time and passion to giving back and making a difference. We hope that by sharing their stories of aid, altruism, and passion, others will be inspired to make an even greater impact on the world we live in.
This month we had a little chat with Lauren Panasewicz from Range of Motion Project (ROMP) about how kismet got her the gig, how her car often acts as her office, and why she just couldn’t help but embrace ROMPs mission.
Who knew that sharing a couch with a stranger would lead to the job of a lifetime for Lauren Panasewicz.
While travelling through Ecuador, Lauren was looking for a place to stay. Her roommate had a friend from college who lived in the area and so Lauren crashed at a guy named Greg’s house for a couple weeks. Turns out Greg is the brother of ROMPs founder, Dave Krupa, and, well, let’s just say that the rest is history.On ROMP and why its mission touches so many
ROMP’s mission is to provide high quality prosthetic care in underserved populations, which enhances mobility and unlocks human potential.
Mobility being the key word there, because mobility is a universal concept that everybody can relate to. It's really easy to get people excited about giving the gift of being active and regaining mobility.
On her role at ROMP
The whole goal of my job is to bring awareness to the lack of access to prosthetic care and what ROMP is doing about it. I've been here for three years now. After meeting Greg and learning about what ROMP was all about and how it aligned with what I studied in my Master's (Sustainable Community Development and Engineering for Developing Communities), I knew it would be a great fit.
I had moved to Winter Park, Colorado and ROMP hit me up to see if I would organize the first annual Climbing for ROMP event for them. That's when I started as a volunteer. I was a climb captain in Colorado that first year, 2015. And then in 2016, they asked me to take over the global Climbing for ROMP event.In 2017, I came on full time as Director of Events and Outreach, which is a lot of things. It includes all our mobility events that we do through CrowdRise; Climbing for ROMP and Moving for ROMP. I also manage partnerships, sponsorships, community outreach, our ambassador program, and I travel to conferences and events. We also have two films, La Cumbre and In Extremity, so I organize and speak at a lot of film showings.
I am most excited about organizing and leading the Elite Climb team, which includes amputees and able-bodied athletes, to 19,000 ft. peaks in Ecuador — all to raise money for our patients. I am very passionate about hiking, climbing, and mountaineering, so I feel very fortunate to be a part of this team as part of my job.
On her office, or should we say sometimes mobile office
I work from home in Winter Park, Colorado. My day usually starts by making coffee and then taking my dog, Tusker, for a walk. (He loves coffee and hiking like his mama.) But I do tend to travel down to Denver a lot for meetings, so I'm grabbing Wi-Fi from climbing gyms or a coffee shop and just trying to get what I need done that day in between meetings.
I drive a ton. My car is usually packed with a duffle bag which has the same four outfits and every type of gear, so I'm always ready for any and all adventures that might pop up.On the tools that make her life easier
We use Slack, but we also use WhatsApp because my coworkers are in Guatemala and Ecuador, so they don't always log into Slack, but they always have WhatsApp up. We use the voice recordings on it and leave each other voice texts. It's super efficient because if you were going to text someone something long, it would be a paragraph. Instead, you can listen to a 20 second voice recording.
I also always use the CrowdRise report center. We're using it to pull information from every mobility campaign (current and past years) and then sending communications to donors for each specific fundraiser. I actually really enjoy the donor communication part of it: “This person ran a marathon. You donated to their marathon and they supplied two prostheses in Guatemala. Here are the patient stories.” It's pretty cool to be able to directly make that human connection to the donors, the fundraisers, and the patients who got the care.
On her lunch of the day. Obviously.
Oh man. I drink a lot of coffee in the morning and then I do a late breakfast. I make a big egg, bacon, bagel, avocado sandwich kind of thing because I just love breakfast, so usually I do a big breakfast late in the morning if I'm at home.
But I pretty much just try to snack. I do a lot of avocado and cucumbers cut up with salt and pepper, and popcorn is my favorite at-home snack. Today I just had some yogurt, an avocado, and bagel with cream cheese. I also drink bubbly water all day, flavored with cucumber or lemon. My SodaStream made the cut and now travels with me, as well.
On the best ways people have shown how much her work means to her
The in-country stories are the best. Patients are always bringing our clinic employees and volunteers gifts. I was in Ecuador last month and a woman brought in two 20 pound bags of oranges for helping her son get a new prosthesis. Someone even gave Dave a live chicken as a gift. It lived with him for a while until it escaped off his balcony.
On what she wishes her supporters knew about the work ROMP is doing
I want people to understand that our founders started ROMP with the idea of "We're going to give the best quality care that we can," and we've never cut corners. We're always making custom sockets, using the right materials, and using knees and feet that these people are going to need in their day-to-day life to serve them best. The high quality of care that we're providing is just the beginning. We also follow up with these patients and see through that they are, in fact, using their mobility.
On finding new supporters through peer-to-peer
I have a lot of people who will donate to say a friend's climb. Then they'll be like, “Oh, I donated, but I also want to climb now too.” So we'll get them signed up to climb, as well. I think that’s huge.
A lot of our clinic volunteers will sign up for a mobility fundraiser after they volunteer in-country with us and they will recruit their friends. It definitely helps us grow our ROMP family and community each year. We have a lot of amazing returning fundraisers, volunteers, and donors. I feel really grateful for that and it makes me feel that we must be doing something right.
You’re awesome, Lauren, and we’re super happy you crashed on that random couch years ago. What a great mission with so many opportunities for supporters to really get involved in ROMP's goal of providing accessible mobility. We’ll meet up soon for a breakfast sandwich in your car. We’ll even bring a treat for Tusker.
To learn more about ROMP, please click here.