Running one of the largest charity houses during a pandemic

Being in charge of the day-to-day operations of a place that houses and feeds many families in need is no easy task during regular times, but during a global pandemic, it can seem like an insurmountable task.

But Dawn Compres, 52-year-old house manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Miami, keeps everything running smoothly despite the challenges she faces on a daily basis. Compres manages the day-to-day operations in the house and makes sure families’ needs are met.

“Dawn is an amazing individual who is truly committed to the vision of RMHC,” said executive director Soraya Riviera-Moya. “She goes above and beyond what is required.”

Compres’ leadership and kindness are felt by both the families and the staff at the house.

“Dawn is a great leader,” said Nicole Betancourt, who is in charge of donor database management and coordinating fundraisers. “While we have different roles in the house, we still see each other a lot and I love working with her.”

RMHC provides housing for families whose children are in the hospital. They usually allow them to stay in one of the rooms in their charity house for free, but with the pandemic running rampant they are not allowed to have residents at the house.

“Our [clients] have been staying at hotels since the pandemic began,” Compres said. “The fact that they are not in-house changes a lot, but we have managed to adjust to the times and provide the help they need.”

Compres and the staff at the facility have been helping the families any way they can at the hotels where they stay.

“We deliver food, groceries and anything the families need,” she said. “We do anything we can to keep them safe and cared for.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers are not able to make meals at the house and interact with the families like they used to, but they are still finding other ways to help.

“Volunteers are still making meals and bringing them by the house where we pick them up curbside,” she said. “Other donations like toiletry items and raising funds have helped us take the burden off of the families.”

In times like these, it is important to RMHC to continue to nurture its relationship with volunteers.

“We appreciate them so much and they are very dedicated individuals who want to help,” said Riviera-Moya. “Our relationship with our volunteers is like friendship and it has to be nurtured.”

In the face of a global pandemic, Compres and the staff at RMHC has done everything they can to help families in need. 

“I retired from another job almost two years ago,” said Compres. “I ended up finding this opportunity and thought it was a great way to make a difference. . . Making a difference in someone’s day is something that is very important to me.”

Christopher Gomez a student at FIU majoring in Communications studying Journalism. He enjoys cooking and photography in his free time.