Hannah Boston studied and received a degree as a LMSW (licensed master of social work) from the University of Pittsburgh, practices at Ronald McDonald House New York in New York City, lives in Brooklyn, and loves to travel to every other city not yet mentioned in the first sentence. She was born in State College, Pennsylvania, but moved around with her family quite a bit while growing up.
For as much as it seems she doesn’t like to stay in one place for too long, Hannah is a dynamically rooted member of the Family Support team at Ronald McDonald House New York. Hannah began working at RMH-NY in September 2021.
The Family Support Team is truly at the heart of the House. Only three licensed social workers, four care coordinators with a community health focus, one social work intern, an occupational therapy intern, and an AmeriCorps volunteer make up the entire Family Support team. The team of ten facilitated over 1,000 family stays at Ronald McDonald House New York just last year.
When families must travel to New York City for their child’s life saving treatment, Ronald McDonald House New York offers them a safe, clean, and supportive place to stay near most of the major hospitals in NYC.
Our Family Support team is the link from the outside world into the House for all families. They must, first, choose the families that need to be here the most, work with remote social workers to plan each family’s stay, and then support the families upon their arrival and at departure time. Family Support is on-site at the House when families have specific needs during their stay, and when they need to be connected to outside resources to help in the next leg of their journey.
Family Support team members are Ronald McDonald House New York’s resident:
- Travel agents
- Guest services experts
- Professional problem solvers
- Support group leaders
- Family best friend
- Walking black book of resources
Hannah and many others from the team even support the marketing department at RMH-NY by acting as a seamless liaison between the two worlds. So much of what they do for the families at RMH-NY, they do with great love, care, and compassion.
Hannah Boston and the Family Support team wear so many hats that they have one whole closet dedicated specifically to them at the House. That’s a terrible joke, but it illustrates the ridiculous versatility and emotional maturity that each member of the team must possess in order to help every family who walks through the doors. Even more than that, they must always work quickly and with skilled precision, simply to get to every need that surfaces in a day’s time.
To take a moment to celebrate these larger-than-life individuals, Hannah answered a few questions to offer insight into the life of a social worker at Ronald McDonald House New York today.
What is your favorite part of the social work profession?
Hannah: I love the versatility of social work. I became a social worker because I was influenced by some wonderful social workers in my life. I saw social workers in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and the government. Social workers change policies, advocate, provide emotional support. Our ability to respond to a diverse set of needs makes us incredibly valuable. You can drop a social worker almost anywhere and there will be a need to respond to.
Why work at Ronald McDonald House New York?
Hannah: RMH-NY is such a unique place. I wanted to do everything and felt that all the classic social worker roles could be limiting. I wanted to work in a medical setting, but also have the opportunity to run support groups and foster community. When I saw that RMH-NY was hiring a social worker, everything kind of clicked in my head and I thought “oh, that’s where I need to be.”
Is it harder to be a social worker today than three or five or 10 years ago? Why?
Hannah: I wasn’t a social worker 10 years ago, so I can’t say for sure, but I think we’re doing ok. Adapting is built into the foundation of social work. We don’t exist to diagnose problems and tell individuals or communities what to do- we must meet people where they are and adapt to meet whatever need presents itself. I think it is understood that we are constantly trying to be better, to utilize any technology that we have access to and adapt to a changing world. I think it is a great time to be a social worker.
What do you do in your spare time to be so good at what you do at the House? Any secret activities to decompress or rejuvenate?
Hannah: This is a constant conversation. I read a lot, and I try to stay up to date on all the latest research and theories. I like to travel a lot, which helps to decompress. And bad reality TV is a necessary part of my self-care routine!
What inspires you to work at the House?
Hannah: The House creates space for parents and other caregivers to come together with shared experiences. On Fridays we have a “Caregiver Coffee Break” where caregivers can come and socialize with each other and drink coffee. One Friday a few caregivers were sharing g-tube stories. These caregivers were laughing about all the funny mishaps and challenges that they have experienced. It’s not that g-tubes are hilarious, but these caregivers have been given a space to talk about all of these things, good and bad, with people who understand and can speak the language of hospitals and medical equipment.
How have you seen the House support families in recent years?
Hannah: Any time I can be a witness to a caregiver or a family realizing their own power and strength, I feel I have done my job. In social work we talk a lot about empowerment and meeting people where they are; it’s shown me that not only do I need to constantly be adapting, but that I must see the people I work with as individuals.
Hannah: As a social worker at Ronald McDonald House New York, I meet families during some of the most challenging moments in their lives. My job isn’t to cure anyone’s child or force optimism, but to be an advocate for each family, and to hold space for them to share how they are feeling or to bridge their life at the hospital with their life at the House. I don’t want to add to their burdens, but to hopefully lighten some of them.
There is no ‘hopefully’ when it comes to the solid work this amazing team does for the families that come to stay at Ronald McDonald House New York. Many times, families will describe the things and the people they love most about the house. The description usually ends with them saying something like “and we could not have done it without the help of Hannah (or substitute the name of any other member of the Family Support team here) and the Family Support staff. They made the transition to the House so simple, helped us get involved here and made it so we didn’t have to think about anything but making certain our little one got better.”
Part of the mission of the Family Support team at RMH-NY is to make certain that the kids that stay in the House while getting treated feel like they are kids FIRST, and patients second. It is clear when you look around the House that Hannah and the social workers that make up Family Support are very much succeeding in their mission.
Thank you to Hannah and every member of Family Support at Ronald McDonald House New York. Your compassion and support for the families in your care is unmatched.
Give today to support the efforts of the amazing team of social workers that strive to make life a little easier for families that have kids with rare, life-threatening illnesses. Your donation enables Family Support to go above and beyond for each family in the House.
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