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October 4, 2021

INRC Welcomes Ashley Virden!

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INRC recently welcomed Ashley Virden as the Outreach and Engagement Manager. Virden is a resource and education advocate, and has used her expertise to bridge community gaps on the Far Eastside.

We’re honored to have Ashley as a part of INRC staff. The purpose of our programming is to build leaders and equip neighbors with tools to feel successful in their own communities and initiatives. Ashley is a shining example of that, and we’re excited to take INRC’s outreach efforts to the next level.

Ashley began volunteering from a young age with the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE). This gave her early insight into why an asset-based lens in community is important.

“The catalyst for me was when I realized how isolated my family and I were and how many problems that was causing,” she said. “I started to see that I can no longer life how I was living, and I needed to be surrounded by a community of love and support. They also needed me. We are communal beings, and in order to become our best selves, we need to realize this and operate in community,” Ashley said.

As an Indy native, Ashley loves the big city benefits and the small town feel of the city. “I also love the sense of pride that Indianapolis residents have for their neighborhoods,” she said.

The way to get involved, according to Ashley, is to show up! Everyday resources like Eventbrite, Facebook and even Mayor’s Neighborhood Advocates can help neighbors get connected with that’s happening around them.

“When I wanted to be involved, I started by sharing my desires with my close family and friends. I sought out people who were already active in my community and began to connect with them and build relationships. Being intentional about building and strengthening relationships has been the most beneficial,” she said. “I would say that I am now pretty connected to what’s happening, and I absolutely love being a resource to others in helping them navigate this space.”

Working in community can be difficult. It’s important to remember the everyday connections and of course, your ‘why.’

“I absolutely love my community. Because of this love, I will never stop showing that we are in this together,” she said. “I live for being able to connect with the community and having the opportunity to pour into them. Also, my kids are watching and I want them to grow up being community minded.”

Ashley sees Indianapolis moving towards stronger and more inclusive communities. “Where being involved and connected in your community isn’t a social justice issue, but a norm for us all. Where having pride in your community doesn’t translate into one side of town bashing the other because of higher crime rates, less job opportunities, lack of high quality educational options and lack of good grocery stores,” she said. “I see us working more collectively as a city and carrying on the work of those who came before us.”

If you’re interested in reaching out to Ashley, send her an email at avirden@inrc.org.