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Meet Our Healthcare Heroes

Queenie Chin, Meal Program Coordinator

From San Francisco, to Oakland, to Stanford, Queenie is the only staff member that has served and supported all families in the RMHC Bay Area program. One of the youngest on staff, she is also one of the most talented and creative team members. Queenie is fearless, and she has shown this during this pandemic. San Francisco was one of the first counties to shelter in place, and our San Francisco program was highly affected. Queenie was instrumental during the early stages of shelter-in-place, ensuring in-House families were safe and relocated to alternative housing. She also stepped up to support Stanford families, as staff transitioned to serving three meals a day, seven days a week. She was instrumental in this strategy. Her support was crucial and notable in particular, from her cooking skills and amazing desserts, to her willingness to work Saturdays and Sundays, to taking on the task of creating snack bags to be delivered to the families at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco, and to revamping our food inventory system and creating more efficiencies. Her dedication, leadership, and flexibility makes her a frontline HERO.

Trini Phan, Meal Program Coordinator

Trini is no stranger to the hard work and creativity it takes to feed hundreds of family members each night, but she’s used to having help from community and corporate groups through RMHC Bay Area’s megaBITES meal program. When COVID-19 hit, all on-site volunteer programs had to be suspended immediately to keep the families safe and Trini and her team were charged with stepping in and preparing hundreds of meals three times a day, seven days a week. Not only did this impact the labor it took to produce meals, but also the budget, as corporate and community groups typically subsidize the cost of meals. Immediately, Trini approached ordering ingredients in a new way – prioritizing high protein and nutrition and leveraging donations – to stretch dollars farther in the absence of meal group sponsorships. Trini Phan is a HERO to RMHC families for keeping their bellies and hearts full during a difficult time spent far from home.

Brian Knight, Meal Programs Associate

It isn’t necessary to see Brian to know he’s on the dinner shift, as the smells of his wonderful meals literally fill the building. In fact, families often ask for the recipes that Brian prepares wanting to take a piece of their RMHC meal experience home with them. COVID-19 brought Brian even closer to the families when he and the rest of the meal team began serving individually plated meals door to door to each guest room for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day; this extra precaution ensured that families stayed safe but also received the same level of meal service they rely on now more than ever. Part of this face-to-face time with the families was spent getting feedback and hearing about how to improve the in-room service and provide a variety of food options to fit their needs. For families with seriously ill children, particularly during the pandemic, being unable to gather with extended family and friends to celebrate special occasions is difficult. Brian made special arrangements to make Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations extra special to honor devoted parents fighting for their sick children lives. Brian is a frontline HERO for nourishing families and strengthening their bonds.

Norma Corona, Lead Housekeeper

Every day, Norma is on the front lines of the pandemic, protecting the most vulnerable population of immunosuppressed children by providing a clean, safe, and comfortable environment where they can heal with their families. Norma’s work, and the work of others in housekeeping, often goes unnoticed and unrecognized, and the risk to their health and wellbeing is rarely a consideration. To RMHC Bay Area – and the thousands of families with medically fragile children who depend on a clean environment – Norma Corona is a HERO.</p> <p>Stepping into a new leadership role as Lead Housekeeper just before the pandemic hit, Norma has implemented new COVID-19 infection control and cleaning protocols to keep the immunocompromised children at Ronald McDonald House safe and healthy. She leads this essential team with passion, and in a calm and collected manner. Since the first day of the shelter-in-place order, she has reported to work without missing a single day, ensuring her team is supported and up to date on changing operational requirements.

Renzo Valencia, Custodian

Renzo Valencia is the newest member of the team. His responsibilities changed during the pandemic and was tasked with making sure all communal spaces were extra sanitized and maintained. He quickly understood the severity of the pandemic, and the importance of following new health cleaning guidelines, and his work truly shows this. His dedication, follow through, and attention to detail has kept all families and the in-House community safe. There is not one day when families, who need to travel from Ronald McDonald House to the hospital, mention how nice the spaces look. Besides these new tasks, Renzo steps in a helps with deep cleaning of guest rooms, and pinch-hits with the meal program. For the role he plays in maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for families with critically ill children, Renzo is a HERO.

Sofia Lara, Family Care Coordinator

Sofia has one of the most rewarding jobs within the organization, but also the hardest. She is the first contact for all families needing lodging, and she is the first line of communication for families under distress. During COVID-19, the stress of being away from home and having a child that is critically ill has been amplified by a thousand percent. Sofia was responsible for enacting and communicating new protocols during this pandemic to keep all families safe, which required having tough conversations with every single family member. With the need to social distance, shelter in place, and minimize the number of individuals per family to keep our in-House community safe, Sofia was also responsible for assisting families with alternative housing to keep families together and close to the hospital. Sofia continues to deliver the mission of RMHC Bay Area with the upmost care and compassion for the families. She has gone above in beyond in making sure families are safe and comfortable in our environment and following COVID-19 guidelines. Sofia is a frontline HERO to RMHC families for keeping them close, together, and being the example of family centered care.