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Meet this week's Everyday Hero: Ramona DiFoggio

Ramona DiFoggio
Office Manager
Northern Region/Chicago, IL
Mona joined the One Hope United team on Sept. 4, 1979. 

What is your typical day like?
My days are anything but typical here at the Bridgeport Center, and they are pretty much driven as I begin to open my emails in conjunction with my regular daily office duties. My position supports three Cook County centers daily, and I process and maintain the child care food program for our ten child care centers. In addition, I meet with all new hires and process their HR packets for three Cook County sites and supervise four office personnel.

Why did you choose to go into this field and work for One Hope United, in particular?
I guess my story is a little different then most, in 1977, I came to this center when it was owned by the Salvation Army. I was a young single mother of two sons and needed child care services. I filled out a waiting list application and waited 9 months to get that important call. I came in to start the paperwork process only to find out that I had to be employed first to be able to place my children. I was devastated, as a Licensed Cosmetologist, I was planning to open a hair salon and to work on the details of starting and opening a business. The Director, at the time, informed me that she had a part-time position available for a secretary/parent coordinator in the afternoons and that it would help me to get my children into the day care center. So, I immediately said, yes!

Unfortunately, two years later the Salvation Army decided to sell the center and the parents were so devastated that they contacted the local news media and they came out to interview the parents and Director, the story appeared in the Sun-Times also. The Program Administrator of One Hope United, previously Central Baptist Children’s Home, read the article in the newspaper and decided to send their Chicago Program Administrator to meet with the Salvation Army’s Commander, Major Boyer, and maybe purchase the center. I will never forget that day when I saw the Program Administrator come up those front stairs and announce where he was from, that was the real “hope” for our families and staff. We all waited patiently to hear any news that this organization was going purchase our center. We got word, shortly thereafter, that they were very interested and did purchase it. The families of the center were elated and very grateful to the Agency that they did not lose their center.

As the details were being handled I was asked to stay on and assist with the hiring process and assisting with some of the licensing details. The Bridgeport Child Development Center opened on September 4, 1979. Hence, the rest is history. I guess it is safe to say that this is where my journey began and 32 years later…I have never looked back.

One Hope United’s foundation is built upon results, leadership, collaboration, innovation and hope. What do these mean to you as an OHU employee? Which impacts you the most?
I would have to say that purchasing the center took all of the above. So many families have benefited by just that one day in time. The Agency’s determination to embrace so many challenges every day within the life of families and children would not be possible if so many wonderful and caring individuals before us did not carve the way. OHU continues to raise their standards by striving to stay above the ever changing and challenging needs of families they serve. Not to mention, building better and brighter tomorrows for every family they have the opportunity to reach every day. I say, those are pretty remarkable results and hope for so many families who need their support.

Is there a particular success story that sticks out in your mind?
Periodically, previous clients come back to visit the Bridgeport Center. One family in particular came to visit a few months ago and before me stood two 6 foot tall young men and their mother. Both young men just wanted to visit their old preschool and school age rooms and reminisce talking about the “good old days” and the fun they had. Today, each young man is in college working toward his bachelor’s degree; their mother very proudly stated how wonderful everyone was and how comforting she felt knowing that her children were learning so many wonderful things in a nurturing and trusting environment. She couldn’t have done it without us!

What are some of your hobbies?
I have so many things I love to do and not enough time to do them all. I am studying piano music, I enjoy going to different music concerts, I am a lector for weekly mass, exercising as often as I can, golf, cooking, scrap booking, learning some Cantonese and Italian along the way and most of all spending time with my family and grandchildren.

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “The Gift” the Ben Carson story.

Any upcoming travel plans?
My husband and I like to travel and we are planning a 2012 family trip to Rome, Italy.

“Everyday Heroes” features a random staff member each week. It is not tied to employee recognition systems; it is simply a way to remind staff that we are all everyday heroes dedicated to the same mission and vision.