“This is my first job ever, in 18 years, that I have a personal connection too.”
Rachel Telegdy is the new Chief Development Officer for North Coast Community Homes. She comes to NCCH from the American Red Cross, where she was the Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina counties chapter. She had a big role there in delivering their mission as well as fundraising. Some might wonder, working for such a prestigious organization, why leave?
“I had told people if I was ever going to leave the Red Cross it was going to be for a local organization that I could truly get behind, that I could be committed to –personally. It was going to have to be at a place where I was going to really be for the long haul.”
Telegdy does have a personal connection to North Coast’s mission. He daughter, Katelyn, was born premature and has developmental and intellectual disabilities, meaning she’ll never be able to live 100% on her own. Through Katelyn, Telegdy has become so much more attuned to the needs of people with disabilities. Discovering there’s a place like NCCH gives her some piece of mind.
“For myself, I think ‘what’s going to happen to her down the road?’”
Telegdy recognizes that NCCH provides an amazing resource that her own daughter may need one day.
For Telegdy the development role at NCCH isn’t just about her personal connection to the mission. She sees amazing opportunities for the organization to grow and prosper and do more in the communities it serves.
“I’d like to see it (NCCH) be the leading organization in housing for the developmental disability population and other really vulnerable people. I’d like for us to remove the stigma of the ‘landlord’ and have the public really perceive it as a ‘home.’”
Telegdy feels it’s important because NCCH is a place where people can be successful regardless of their disability. Having a real home helps position them to be contributing members of society in their own way.
In the near-term, she’s focused on producing and executing on a solid development plan that will ensure NCCH is funded and positioned to continue to deliver on its mission. To Telegdy, the development plan is the foun
dation. She describes it like a house, pointing out that you wouldn’t want to build a house with no foundation, or one that was cracked.
But what goes into the foundation? Besides a plan and a lot of work?
“It’s about relationships,” says Telegdy. “I want people to feel like they’re connected, like they are a part of the organization – not their checkbook.”
And so Telegdy is looking for ways to create those meaningful connections, as well as opportunities to show the good stewardship of North Coast Community Homes. Telegdy believes that if the organization does valuable work, if they create meaningful connections with donors and board members, and if they show the powerful impact then the dollars will come. She explains that it’s like when you have a child. You love them. If they have a need, you’re there for them. You take care of that need as best you can.
At the Red Cross, Telegdy created a lot of moments and opportunities for board members to connect, in a heartfelt way, with the mission of the organization.
“So, sometimes we’d have board members go out and install the smoke alarms. And they’d be going into these houses, where the people really don’t have anything. There’s a mattress in the living room. But they come away with such a sense of thankfulness and accomplishment. They’re telling the story of how, now, this mom and her four kids were safer – could live safer – because of something they spent an hour of their day doing. To me, that’s meaningful.”
It is. Because at the end of the day, the work of the organization is about someone’s real-life.
For us, it’s our residents and their ability to have a place to call “my home.” For us, it’s the security of family members and loved ones knowing that their loved one, their special child, has a home that is safe, accommodating, and well-maintained. Forfriends and others, it’s perhaps knowing that the person they care for has a stable place to be that is warm and good, so they can get the care they need to feel healthy and whole. For those of us who support the mission, it’s the knowledge that we’re doing something with a measurable, significant impact for someone. That someone may be a daughter with developmental disabilities. It may be a friend with bipolar disorder or another serious and persistent mental illness. It may be a sister with multiple sclerosis.
But whoever is in the home, it’s about making sure it’s a home where that person can be whoever they are, safely and with dignity.