Interviewing Nivia can be summed up in one word: enlightening! She was a breath of fresh air, offered her wisdom with such humility, and her laughter was contagious. She vowed to no pictures, but her beauty radiates through her words. If you have suggestions for future humpday heroes please email here: firstname.lastname@example.org For nomination rules please click the Humpday Hero tab above. Don’t forget to click the follow button above to subscribe.
Quote from the nominator.
“Nivia has taught me lessons that not only apply to my professional life, but also my personal. After I leave her supervision I feel like a weight was lifted off of me and it helps me get through the rest of the work week.”
Nivia Van Damme, LCSW
How do you describe your 9-5?
“I don’t know what a 9 to 5 is; my day is way beyond a 9 to 5! I am a therapist. It is busy to say the least, hectic, and challenging. I often start early and end late.
If you were the ruler of a country, what would be the first law you would enact?
“This is actually a question that I ask my clients! It would be to eliminate hunger. It’s hard for me to conceptualize that there are human beings, of all ages that spend the day hungry. To be hungry, all day, is the most painful feeling for someone to endure.
You are stranded on a deserted island, a genie appears and can grant you three wishes (can not wish to leave island), what are your wishes?
“First I want to make sure I have shelter. I want food because I have to survive. The last wish is difficult. I would love to have the companionship of my family, but why would I want to subjugate them to a deserted island. See, this is a reflection of myself on a daily basis (laughs). The third wish would be a wish for good health.”
Its Saturday 2:00 P.M., what are you doing?
“Driving home from either the market or after seeing a client.”
Describe the first time you fell in love with someone or something?
“One of the first memories of deep love is the birth of my first nephew. I was a teenager when he was born and it was like having a new toy. His father, my brother and I were very close as kids. He would walk me to class and everything, he was great. So when he had a kid the love for my nephew was precious. The love that I have for my nephew to this day is still very special.”
If money was no factor, what would you choose to do for the rest of your life?
“I have tremendous love for my family, so I would first make sure that each of them were financially secure. Then I would be extremely involved in eradicating hunger. I would also work with eradicating childhood illness.”
If your life could be described by a song, which would it be?
“This is a tough one! I love music. I associate music to relaxation, my culture, and my roots. I can’t think of a song though, I owe you an answer.”
What are three things you cannot live without?
“I am not very attached to material things; it seriously could all be taken away. I won’t say one of the things is my faith/spirituality because that could never be taken away. The first would be a form of transportation. I could not imagine walking around Los Angeles. The second would be my family; they represent so much to me. Thirdly, my mental health. My mental health gives me the ability to evolve, to be, to create. It’s a great fear of mine to lose my mental health. Working in the field I work in, I often see what it is like to lose pieces of your mental health and its heart breaking.”
Who is your hero?
“I have several heroes, all of whom I believe aided in molding me into the person I have become. My aunt was an amazing woman; she raised me and molded my personality, principles, and values. She taught me how to take things not so seriously. My dad taught me responsibility, work ethic. He really taught me how to present things to people. My mother was a very giving woman, her and my dad were complete opposites. Philosophically, knowing Jesus exist changed my life. I spent a portion of my life challenging my faith and eventually learned it for myself. Politically my heroes are Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Dr. King, and Salvador Allende. They were all so significant to our world. All these significant people shaped me into the person that I have become today.
Which actress would you choose to play your life story?
“Oh gosh, you are making me think! Let me tell you a funny story. I used to work at Cedar Sinai Hospital and when you become employed you have to sign a confidentiality statement due to all the celebrities that come to the hospital. The running joke was that I didn’t need to sign it because I literally never knew who these people were. I don’t watch T.V. or movies much. The last movie I probably saw in the theaters was Shrek! I can’t even think of an actress’s name. But, at one time in my life was a little obsessed with Dustin Hoffman.”
Final words to the readers
“Life is full of challenges. We have to be ready to go with the flow. Remember to hang onto the things that have value and let go of the worries, concerns, and material things. Those things will give you nothing and if you allow them to define you they will eventually trap you. Money has value and yes your positions in life can help you gain the access, but you have to balance it so you don’t lose sense of yourself. This is something that has to be cultivated, it doesn’t just come.”