Kaitlin Raybon: One of RMH-NY’s Brilliant Working Mothers

The Exemplification of Compassionate Care at RMH-NY

“I’ve been drawn to helping others all my life. I could never see myself not working with people in this way.”

   ---Kaitlin Raybon, Ronald McDonald House New York


With a gentle smile and outstretched hand, Kaitlin Raybon, LCSW, extends her own personal warmth and compassion to families at Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY). In her role as Assistant Director of Family Support, Kaitlin is the perfect embodiment of compassion and empathy, offering daily guidance to families navigating the complexities of medical crises. Drawing from personal experiences and professional expertise, Kaitlin Raybon is a steadfast ally to all she meets, weaving a tapestry of care and understanding for everyone from families facing adversity to colleagues searching for guidance.


Kaite at the Annual Staff Thanksgiving 

A Hospital Kid and an RMHC Family

Many people may not know that Kaitlin went through a series of surgeries over many years’ time when she was a child. During those periods of time, her family utilized Ronald McDonald House Charity houses in both Virginia and California. While Kaitlin was typically in in-patient during those times, staying in the hospital fulltime and not able to receive the benefits of those houses, she clearly remembers them being a positive place from a caregiver perspective for her parents in those tough times.

Kaitlin’s first memory of the House as an adult was during graduate school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She remembers happening upon a street fair one Saturday and realizing that this was the same organization that took care of her family when she was younger. 

Kaitlin donated to the House that day in exchange for a painting painted by a kid that was a current resident at that time. The child had painted one tree on a yellow background. So simple, yet Kaitlin loved the painting so much she took it home with her that day and it still hangs in her current family home today.


A Foundation of Compassion and Empathy Laid

Kaitlin's path to her role as Assistant Director of Family Support at Ronald McDonald House New York is marked by a profound dedication to serving diverse communities. From her formative internships, where she engaged with homeless teens, individuals with disabilities, to children in therapeutic settings, Kaitlin cultivated a deep understanding of the power of communication, recognizing individual strengths, and nurturing resilience. These experiences laid the foundation for her approach centered on strength-based practices and trauma-informed care that she would eventually bring to Ronald McDonald House New York as the first licensed social worker.

Kaite with former Volunteers Manager Dani.


A Heart for Service Finds a Home to Match

Prior to beginning her work at RMH-NY, Kaitlin worked in more typical social work environments where the social worker’s day was mainly concerned with home visits by herself and limited time in the office and even less time in the company of her colleagues. Kaitlin found herself only maintaining those jobs for short periods of time before the monotony grew tiresome and she parted ways to find another way to serve those that needed her.

Upon her arrival to Ronald McDonald House New York in August almost seven years ago, Kaitlin was met with a completely different social work culture at the House. Created by the RMH-NY leadership and strengthened by the incredible team of social workers, the Family Support team acts as none other than a REAL team.


Quoting Kaite #1

Kaitlin speaks to the differences in the work at RMH-NY:

“Coming to this organization was amazing. To have team members supporting each other was something I hadn’t experienced before, so I think that's why I continue to stay and that's what I keep telling everyone when asked that question, ‘why do you stay?’ and I just say ‘it's because of the families, of course, and the mission, but it’s the coworkers and teamwork, I’d never seen that before.”



Kaite and colleagues enjoying multi-colored wigs

The Roles of Family Support at RMH-NY

The primary focus within the housing model at Ronald McDonald House New York is to ensure that the needs of patients and their families are met effectively. This involves understanding everyone’s experience and finding ways to better serve them.


Quoting Kaite #2

Kaitlin speaks to the Team’s strengths,

“Our team does an amazing job at creating those relationships with the patients and families and so their primary role is to connect, ask questions and hear what each family’s challenges are or their successes.”


This support may range from internal house matters to external needs like navigating the hospital system or accessing financial or housing assistance.

The team works closely with parents or caregivers to establish goals and identify the most suitable resources for their situation. This direct care coordination includes providing emotional support during their stay at the House. Additionally, the team collaborates with other departments to enhance programs and directly address the needs of families. They recognize cultural celebrations and events, ensuring that families receive appropriate support and resources.

Kaite leads a team meeting in the conference room.

Crisis intervention is a crucial aspect of their work, as they respond promptly to emergencies, ranging from mental health challenges to medical emergencies where caregivers require immediate support. This may involve accompanying individuals to hospitals, ensuring they feel heard and supported throughout the process.

Standard programs such as support groups and bereavement programs are offered, with a focus on tailoring support to specific needs, such as those of NICU families.


Quoting Kaite #3

Kaitlin Raybon, LCSW, on grief:

"There are many different models of grief, but we must think about grief in terms of ‘we can't rush people through it.’  I feel like that's something that we're so accustomed to, especially with technology and how quickly things are moving. But grief, when a child passes or when a parent passes or when we lose our job, it doesn't matter. It's grief and we must feel it and we must acknowledge it and we must sit beside it.”


The team's involvement extends beyond the House, engaging in diverse projects and conversations, including international initiatives. Their dedication to providing holistic support to families underscores their commitment to enhancing the well-being of patients and caregivers throughout their journey.

Better Care for All by All

Kaite with Wini Cudjoe

As Kaitlin looks toward the horizon, she sees a future brimming with potential for Ronald McDonald House New York. Her vision is one of progress and innovation, where strength-based approaches and trauma-informed care are not just concepts, but pillars of the organization's daily practice. Kaitlin is committed to spearheading initiatives that will elevate the level of support provided to families facing medical crises by, not just the Family Support team, but every single member of the RMH-NY staff.


Expanding Community Resources Through RMH-NY Strategic Growth Initiatives

One of Kaitlin's primary objectives is to broaden access to community resources for families in need. By forging strategic partnerships with local organizations, hospitals, and healthcare providers, she and the Family Support team aim to create a robust network of support that extends beyond the walls of the House. These partnerships will not only enhance the services available to families but also foster a sense of belonging and community cohesion.

Ronald McDonald House New York actively works to expand its mission and provide services to more families within the five boroughs of NYC who need the help but do not fit into RMH-NY’s traditional housing model. Kaitlin’s partnership work, along with the House’s Community Health team, will directly strengthen the organization’s community grasp as it expands its reach to serve more families here in NYC. 


Kaite Raybon smiling at RMH-NY 

Kaite basks in the sun drenching our House's Third floor terrace.

Quotes from Colleagues

"Kaite is wonderful to work with because she really loves what she does and loves working collaboratively. No one writes and email or policy out faster than Kaite. She is reliable, empathetic and advocates for families and her team with so much passion."    

  --Hannah, LMSW, Social Work Manager, Family Support, RMH-NY


Kaitlin and Family Support Have Got this Gratitude Thing Locked Down

Only a month ago, on Wednesday April 10th, 2024, for the first time since 2019, Kaitlin and the Family Support Team held Social Worker Appreciation Night at the House.  25 Hospital Social Workers from six NYC hospital systems joined the festivities. It was a celebration of the incredible partnerships the House continues to nurture with so many local social workers and the 1,655 referrals we received in 2023 to support over 1,500 stays.

Kaitlin and the team have learned that gratitude is essential, and every partner of Ronald McDonald House New York deserves a big helping of it from the House in authentic and original ways just as those social workers did on that night in April from the Family Support team.

Kaitlin's gratitude extends to all of her colleagues at Ronald McDonald House New York as well. Without the amazing Family Support Team members, Wini and Ruth and the RMH-NY leadership, and so many other colleagues from every single department at the House, Kaite stresses that she would not be anywhere near as successful as she is today. "The real learning," she says, "comes from working alongside my co-workers at our organization."


Quoting Kaite #4

Kaite is thankful for the trust caregivers place in her hands and those of the Family Support team at RMH-NY:

"I feel immense gratitude that caregivers at the House have shared and trust me in hearing their stories because each one of their experiences is so important to be heard."


Emphasizing Ongoing Learning and Collaboration

Central to Kaitlin's approach is the belief that learning is a lifelong journey. She is committed to fostering a culture of curiosity and continuous improvement among her colleagues. By investing in professional development opportunities, training programs, and knowledge-sharing initiatives, Kaitlin aims to empower her team to stay ahead of the latest advancements in healthcare and social work. Collaboration will also be key, as she encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and cross-departmental partnerships to drive innovation and best practices.


Promoting Self-Care and Well-Being

In the demanding field of social work, Kaitlin understands the importance of self-care and well-being. She prioritizes the mental and emotional health of her team, advocating for practices that promote resilience and prevent burnout. Through mindfulness exercises, wellness workshops, and peer support programs, Kaitlin fosters a supportive environment where team members can thrive personally and professionally.


Kaite meets with teenagers in the House 

Personal Growth and Professional Dedication

Kaitlin's journey as a social worker intersects with her profound experience of motherhood. Becoming a mother has deepened her empathy and compassion, enriching her interactions with families at the House.

As she prepares to welcome her second child, due on Mother’s Day this year (May 12th), Kaitlin's personal and professional growth continues to shape her role, making her an invaluable asset to Ronald McDonald House New York and the families it serves.


Quoting Kaite #5

Kaitlin on Working Alongside Other Parents at RMH-NY

“There are so many parents at the house that I've been able to learn from and hear their stories. All of us are so different in our pregnancies, but it is nice to connect and talk about those with one another. Sharing the challenges that we face as working parents and what it means to be a working woman and being pregnant and the challenges that come with that as well. I've learned a lot from the parents at the house and on staff, so I always ask questions.”



Mother's Day: A Time for Reflection and Celebration

Kaite and Family

As Mother's Day approaches, Kaitlin reflects on the journey of motherhood, both personally and for the mothers residing at Ronald McDonald House New York. It's a time to celebrate the strength and unwavering love that mothers embody, even in the face of adversity.

For Kaitlin, it's a poignant reminder of the multitudes of reasons that she is constantly filled with gratitude and joy, thankful for both the personal and professional gifts she has and continues to receive, not just on Mother's Day but every day. All gifts that are also very much deserved.

As Kaitlin juggles the demands of her role at Ronald McDonald House New York with the joys and responsibilities of being a mother, she does so with effortless grace.

 Quotes from Colleagues

"Working alongside Kaitlin is like navigating by the North Star. Her leadership is a guiding light, shaping our understanding of the family journey and experiences at the House. Kaitlin’s dedication to serving families has led us to develop policies that redefine our approach and advocate for changes that elevate our operating standards. She seamlessly bridges teams, providing leadership in our collaborations with hospital partners, managing the Family Support Team (FST), and overseeing the implementation of various platform integrations. With compassion and empathy, Kaitlin leads us towards a brighter, more inclusive future."

--Wini Cudjoe, Chief Operations & Management Officer • House Operations


(The only time grace may play a smaller role might be when Kaitlin is late to pick up her son from daycare and is trying to avoid the punishment that comes with arriving a minute into the next hour of care. Yet, even then, Kaitlin has a way of making it all just work.)

She continuously recognizes the importance of self-care and seeks to create a supportive environment where she and her colleagues can thrive both personally and professionally.

Kaite Remembers Past Mother's Days



The Joys of a Second Round at Motherhood

Kaitlin is so excited that she can finally give her son a sibling. She explains:


Quoting Kaite #6

“I've always wanted to have two children and that's because I grew up with a sister. I knew my relationship with my sister was so close. We were less than two years apart, and so that's gonna be the same for Cooper and his sibling. I feel like the sibling relationship is so important and beautiful and I just would love to be able to raise two children that rely on each other. So, for me to raise two children, to watch them grow, watch them learn from each other, and for me to learn from them, that's just so amazing.”


One thing Kaitlin is very excited about is having a baby outside of the pandemic years. The relief knowing that Covid will not be an overarching presence like it was in her first pregnancy and like it was for so many years at the House.


Looking to the Future

As Ronald McDonald House New York continues to evolve and expand its services, Kaitlin Raybon remains committed to the organization's mission of providing compassionate care to families in need. She envisions a future where every family receives the support and resources they need to navigate their healthcare journey with dignity.

And speaking of the future… For five years now, Kaitlin has led an internship program for aspiring social workers still in school to get a taste of the work Family Support does for our families. Kaitlin remembers how important those moments were for her in the beginning of her career, and quickly decided to afford that same opportunity to as many young people as possible. The Family support Team hosts several interns from local colleges throughout the year.

With her unwavering dedication and compassionate leadership, Kaitlin stands ready to shape the future of family support at Ronald McDonald House New York.         


Quoting Kaite #7

Kaitlin’s advice to young social workers:

“But I I would say build strong communication skills and create that compassionate and empathetic lens when you're creating those relationships, not only for the patients and families that you work with, but for your peers and your coworkers as well. That's so critical to your success.”


In Kaitlin Raybon, Ronald McDonald House New York finds a compassionate leader whose dedication to serving families knows no bounds. Her career journey from various internships to Assistant Director of Family Support is a testament to the organization's mission of providing compassionate care to those in need. As she continues to navigate the intricate balance of motherhood and professional dedication, Kaitlin inspires hope and teaches resilience to all those she serves.

With an enduring commitment to RMH-NY families and colleagues while always fostering a culture of compassionate care, Kaitlin Raybon stands as an intensely brilliant light helping to guide Ronald McDonald House New York to a brighter tomorrow.

 Support all the important work that Kaitlin and the Family Support Team do for our families every day.  Donate Now.


Kaite would like to recognize every single mother celebrating this Mother's Day. Every mother of any type deserves recognition for the outstanding sacrifices they make and the generous love they pour into the world by merely taking ownership of the title. Happy Mothers Day from Kaite and everyone at Ronald McDonald House New York.

Give Hope

Give to Ronald McDonald House New York and directly impact families in need.


Read News Post

Gabrielle and Rachael and Andrea will all participate in the 5 Boro Bike Tour

Gabrielle and the Five Boro Bike Tour

Gabrielle has proudly served Ronald McDonald House New York as its Community Engagement Manager on the Family Support Team for the last two years.  But secretly, she moonlights as a volunteer fundraiser and participant in the 5 Boro Bike Tour in her spare time. Learn how Gabrielle has made fundraising for the House through the bike tour a family affair... and does it all without ever owning a bike. 

Learn MoreGabrielle and the Five Boro Bike Tour