World of Work: Deanna Cameron ’91, Ronald MacDonald House Charities
Deanna Cameron ‘91
Ronald MacDonald House Charities – http://www.rmh-vermont.org/
Major: Social Work
What motivates you to go to work everyday?
I’ve always been someone who needs to really believe in the cause that I’m working for, so that personal connection to the cause is a huge motivation for me. My niece and nephew were born prematurely and Ronald McDonald House was there for my sister-in-law during the three weeks that the babies were in the hospital. I saw first-hand how the support of Ronald McDonald House Charities strengthens families at a very difficult time.
How would you describe what you do on a typical day?
My typical day consists of the following:
- Our number one priority at Ronald McDonald House Charities is the comfort of our guests. So each day starts out with a house “check-in” in which we review our current guests, any new guests checking in, and address any guests needs.
- I also manage the nearly 200 active volunteers who cover eight shifts daily in our programs. A large part of my job is ensuring that each of these invaluable volunteers has a meaningful experience serving our organization. I set up month-long volunteer schedules for both the House and in the Ronald McDonald Family Room located at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
- The second half of my job is fundraising. Depending on the time of year, I may be planning our next fundraising event. I update the agency’s day-to-day communications and social media to keep our supporters up to date on what we’re doing. I also do community outreach to share our cause and needs. And from time to time, I even get to snuggle a beautiful baby who is staying with us.
Tell us about your path to this position.
I definitely could not have imagined where my degree in social work would take me when I graduated. Early in my career my work was oriented toward direct service, doing case management with a variety of populations such as emotionally disabled teen girls and homeless/marginally housed individuals. From these experiences, I moved onto doing some program development in the housing field, which sparked my interest in this type of work.
The mix of direct service work with clients and managing the operations of service programs has proven to be the perfect combination of challenges to suit my skill set. I have been able to expand on this even more in my last two positions where I’ve also become involved in fundraising–both working with donors and on events.
What advice do you have for students searching for jobs or internships in your field?
Volunteerism is a great way to take your career in different directions as well as a means to network with a new circle of colleagues. In the non-profit world where every penny is accounted for, new projects are often started solely with volunteer efforts. As greater value and need is placed on these new projects, staffing can be added to the budget and those that volunteered may then be considered for the new paid position(s). I wouldn’t advise students to volunteer with the goal of acquiring a paid position, but as a way to enhance their talents and explore an interest that may not be fulfilled in other ways.