“This small town has a really big heart,” said Natalie Krivas, “so it’s kind of hard not to be involved, actually. You have to make an effort not to be involved in Valparaiso community work.”
Krivas and her husband moved from Montreal to Valpo six years ago to be closer to family. She immediately connected with the community through volunteer work.
“When I moved here from Canada, I couldn’t work for the first year,” Krivassaid. “So while I waited to get my permanent residency, I studied. My involvement in the community first came about when I started my master’s in education at Valparaiso University. While I was doing my master’s, which was very community-based education work, I became more involved in the community through various projects that I started.”
Krivas quickly familiarized herself with local non-profit organizations, which helped her fall in love with her new hometown.
“I got my first taste of how amazing this community is in supporting the various non-profits,” Krivas said. “Through that, I made a few connections.”
After serving the community through various non-profits, Krivas was inspired to begin her own non-profit that allowed her to express her creative side.
“I decided to integrate my passion for the arts with a community-based awareness that I called heARTnight.”
The proceeds of heARTnight were donated directly to The Caring Place, which is a center for change against domestic violence based in Valparaiso.
“You know, if I had a million arms I’d still be doing it,” Krivas said.
Through heARTnight, Krivas made connections with Opportunity Enterprises, which supports nearly a thousand people with disabilities. She now serves on the board of directors for the organization.
That is not the only board where Krivas serves her community. She also isthe treasurer of the Valparaiso Creative Council, which recently launched The Creative Portal. Krivas describes this portal as a website to link the community to all the various arts initiatives going on Valpo.
“There’s such a rich amount of art going on here,” she said.
The Valparaiso Creative Council recognized that amidst all the creative community events and projects happening, there wasn’t really one placewhere people could find information.
The Creative Portal is a solution to this issue and can be found atvalpocreates.org. The portal allows users to set up a profile and browse through different creative opportunities in the area.
Krivas also is a board member of the Valpo Schools Foundation, which serves as a support mechanism for Valpo Community Schools to provide things like scholarships and grants to students.
She finds value in being able to serve on a few different boards in Valpo.
“It’s a way for me to act as a bridge from this board to another board. It’s an integrated approach where we are acting as a bridge between all these amazing initiatives going on in Valpo,” she said.
Krivas also helps Valpo Parks, volunteers with the annual “Chefs Around the Table” event, was previously a member of Tri Kappa, and won the Upcoming Influential Business Leader award for the Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association.
Despite her in-depth volunteering that keeps her plenty busy, Krivas managesto fit work and study into her schedule. She works at AM Stabilizers Corporation.
“I purchase raw materials from all over the world, but the business that I work for is super local so it’s a really great combination of global versus local involvements," said Krivas.
As for study, Krivas got her master’s in 2015 and started her Ph.D for Managing Organizational Systems specializing in Humane Education in 2018. She claims that her area of study helps her in both her job and volunteer responsibilities.
Last year, Krivas was invited to speak at the Courage Summit, which she recounted as both an amazing and terrifying experience.
“I have paralyzing stage fright, as much as I like performing,” she said. “It was a very challenging part of my 2019, but also a beautiful experience for me. I’m glad I did it.”
She praises the Courage Summit, calling it inspiring and innovative and encourages people to get involved with the event.
Krivas also appears on the community stage when she sings with the Symphony Orchestra Choir of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. She said she could not believe they actually let her in, but enjoys making music with the notable group.
Outside of her volunteer work, Krivas enjoys Popcorn Festival and Symphony of the Stars. She appreciates the opportunity to enjoy the town through family-friendly events and summarized that they are what keep her grounded in Valpo.