Catherine Stapleton ’15 left the corporate lifestyle to pursue her passion and give back to people in need. Now working as an Administrative Coordinator at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, she is content, happy and working in an environment she loves.
After graduation, Stapleton entered a fast-paced world of corporate lifestyle. It didn’t take long, however, before she felt unfulfilled. Stapleton was serving as the Consultant Care Specialist at Optomi and while there were options to give back to the community, despite it’s energetic nature, she wanted to find a nonprofit.
“I wanted to work for a non-profit organization with a mission that I was passionate about and where my work would feel more meaningful,” Stapleton said. “This is why I chose to work for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.”
One interview with the Atlanta Ronald McDonald house and Stapleton was hooked. Within a week, she received a call from the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House with a job offer and immediately accepted.
“The mission of the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities is to ‘nurture the health and well being of children and families’,” Stapleton said. “I’m able to see our mission come to life when a family tells me their story.”
The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House is a non profit charity that aids families with children that are seriously ill or hospitalized. The organization provides a place for families to stay when children are in the hospital, providing rooms, meals and comfort for those in these difficult situations. These services are often provided at no cost to the families.
“During that interview, I knew I would be extremely happy working for this organization,” Stapleton said. “Everyone was really friendly, the environment was welcoming and I was passionate about their overall mission.
Two of my cousins actually have muscular dystrophy and have stayed in a few Ronald McDonald houses in the US. So this organization has a special place in my heart for that reason as well.”
Two of Stapleton’s cousins, Raylee and Christian, have muscular dystrophy and have stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses before. They introduced Stapleton to the mission years ago.
Another cousin of Stapleton’s, on her father’s side, Jack, suffered from a traumatic brain injury at four years old. Today, though, he is senior at Fairhope High School.
“It’s been amazing to be able to see them grow into the young men they are today,” Stapleton said. “They have been through so much, yet they still fight through it all each day and are some of the strongest people I know. I’m blessed to know them and have them in my life.”
At the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, Stapleton handles a myriad of responsibilities each and every day working with ARMHC President and CEO, Beth Howell. She serves as a liaison for the Board and Advisory Council, drafting internal and external memos and other documents for the company, invoicing and handling the incoming mail. Stapleton works on the Southwest Ticket Program and assists with charity special events from time to time.
“I’m able to work with each individual team and really see how everything comes together as one to fulfill our mission,” Stapleton said.
With such a busy day, Stapleton said she finds she can remind herself why she’s there just by taking some time with the Atlanta Ronald McDonald families. During a lunch break, she can excuse herself to spend time with some of the children helped by the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.
“The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities is a very special place,” Stapleton said. “It is a safe place for families to come together and be able to relate to one another through their experiences. You couldn’t find that type of connection in a hotel. Our families are able to meet other families going through the same things they are and share their stories. The children here at ARMHC are able to make new friends and relationships. The staff is also very involved with our families. Our goal is to make the families that stay with us feel at home. I was speaking to a mother this week and she said ‘If you have to be away from your home, this is the next best thing to that. We have truly enjoyed our time here at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House’.”
Auburn remains a part of an alumni’s life for years to come and Stapleton is no exception.
Stapleton graduated from Auburn University in 2015 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. The child of two Auburn graduates, the University seemed an easy choice. However, stepping onto campus can give even a veteran fan a feeling of “home.”
“Once I was accepted and attended Camp War Eagle for orientation, I just knew that’s exactly where I wanted to be,” Stapleton said. “Everyone was so friendly, the campus was beautiful and it really did feel like home.”
Stapleton chose her degree because of the many opportunities it presented, especially those in which she could make a difference and give back with her time and effort.
“I look back on my time at Auburn and think about just all the amazing memories that were made while I was there,” Stapleton said. “I developed so many long lasting friendships, attended countless Auburn football games … I also think about everything I was able to learn in my courses there through professors as well as being able just to be a part of the Auburn family as a whole.”