Happy National Women History Month!

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If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll know the story of two very influential women who had a hand in Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley (RMHCRRV)If you don’t follow us on Facebook, click here! We highlighted both Dr. Evans and Bev McAllister who shared a dream of keeping parents close to their critically ill child and focused on making sure their stresses were alleviated with a “home away from home.” Their dreams came to fruition in 1974 with the first RMHC and in 1982 with the first RMHCRRV.  

After 38 years and thousands of families, RMHCRRV needed to expand to accommodate the growing medical facilities and those families. In May of 2018, we closed the previous houses and opened our doors to the brand-new Ronald McDonald House, so everything is under one roof.  Inside the offices is the RMHC staff – a small staff compared to the large mission they all pursue every day. We’d like to introduce you to our all-woman staff as they are all huge components and work hard every single day to keep families together. Although we can’t be together right now due to coronavirus, we are still so thankful for each other! j

Get to know everyone and their favorite part of the job!

Jill Christopher – Jill has been leading as Executive Director for almost 10 years. Through her career, she has been leading the way on three houses, opened a Ronald McDonald Family Room, and has been championing RMHC along the way. She was drawn to RMHC because of a personal connection; her favorite part of her job is helping ease the burden and making some else’s situation with their sick child less stressful.  

Erica Johnsrud – Development Director, Erica has worked hand in hand with Jill for the fundraising needs of RMHC including raising over 5 million dollars to build the new House. In her role, she builds relationships with donors and sponsors, plans events like the Sweetheart Ball, and is the funny voice behind most of our tweets!  

In my position, I get the opportunity to connect the community with the mission of RMHC’s “home away from home” – aligning passion with purpose. At the same time, I get to see firsthand the gratefulness and the relief that the families have when they have a space they can call “home”. 

Ashley Peterson – To house over 400 families a year, we need to ensure everything is running smoothly. Ashley, Director of Operations, is the mastermind that keeps everything from the elevator to the air conditioning running. She is also our volunteer coordinator, welcoming more than 1000 volunteers a year.  

Working with people who care deeply about our mission and making families feel like they are at home when they stay at the House or are visiting the Family Room. 

Kelly Binfet – Assisting Ashley is our Operations Assistant Kelly who has been with RMHC for 5 years. She ensures the house is spotless for families, directs volunteers, and participates in community outreach by going into the school to teach kids about our pop tab program!  

I love that our strengths are always encouragedWe are supported, listened to, and we laugh a lot together. As a small-sized staff, we do just as many amazing things as a company with many people! Our part-time family services staff and volunteers are SO helpful to our families and making our families feel at home.  Our staff has so many talents; The ability to use people’s gifts and get them in the right positions and encourage them to grow and change and learn has always been important to our team. 

Lane Pereboom – Lane, Director of Family Services, joined the team in June and has been an amazing addition to the team. Her office is the first-place families stop when they are checking in. She oversees our part-time staff and interns and ensures families have the support and resources they need to get through their hospital stays.  

Our families come to us at some of the scariest, most stressful and uncertain times, and we meet them with support, encouragement, and resources. We provide fun spaces and activities to normalize the hospital and medical experience. Our staff all provides “the little things” that make RMHC feel like home.   

Alex Kizima – Our newest staff member started in July and assists Erica as the Development Coordinator. She is the one who writes social medianewsletters, and this blog you are reading right now! Together, Erica and Alex plan the Sweetheart Ball and coordinate on Giving Hearts Day and the Golf Tournament.  

The support we receive from our community is truly humbling. When we ask for wish list items, people deliver. It makes my heart do a happy dance. I love being able to surprise families when we say we have the thing they are asking for. My hope is that all parents have support as they provide the best care for their child in the hospital.