Q WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
We care for families from across the U.S. and around the world whose children are fighting for their lives. They come to Cincinnati seeking health and healing, and many of our families are here for months or even a year or more. For a child enduring a long hospital stay, some of the best medicine is to have their family close. Our guest families are so far away from their normal support systems, so we become that for them. It is sacred work for our team to be able to be here to support and care for families during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
Q WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU’VE FACED?
While many organizations were significantly impacted by the pandemic, serving as a home for critically ill children and their families during this time was incredibly challenging. For many, even a common cold can be deadly, so COVID-19 brought a new level of stress to families already going through so much. On top of that, when much of the world shut down in March 2020, we were 18 months into a planned expansion to more than double our capacity. Figuring out how to keep families, staff, volunteers and hundreds of tradespeople safe in an active construction zone was challenging logistically, financially and emotionally. Our expansion project experienced some delays, but we were able to open in November 2020 with 177 bedrooms, making us the largest of nearly 380 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.
We will forever be grateful to the Cincinnati community for their support. We lost important revenue streams due to canceled events and activities, but our supporters stepped up to ensure that our level of care for our guest families never faltered. I will never forget that generosity.
Q WHO HAS HELPED SHAPE YOU INTO WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
My mentor in this field is Dr. Beatrice Lampkin, a world-renowned pediatric oncologist who retired after a long career at Cincinnati Children’s. Bea was also a founder of our local Ronald McDonald House, and she and I met in the mid-’90s when I was working at First Step Home and she was the founder of GLAD House. Bea taught me the importance of being caring yet tenacious and showed me that “no” is often just “not yet.” She overcame so many obstacles in her life and career, and she approached each one with determination to learn from it and get better. I adore her so much that I named my daughter Beatrice, and she is funny and driven, just like her namesake.