- When did you get involved with AKP and how did you first hear about us?
Before my daughter’s adoption, she was at Joshua House and that was when I met Dottie Berger Mackinnon and I became close with her. I volunteered to help set up the houses in 2009.
- What inspired you to work here?
To give back. My 2 daughters are adopted so I wanted to give back to kids in foster care.
- How long have you worked here?
15 years – 1 year volunteering and 14 years as staff.
- Favorite memory at AKP?
The most memorable time I had was the Christmas the Tampa Bay Lightning adopted AKP for Christmas and we were all invited to the arena and had lunch with the players. The players sat at the tables with the kiddos and staff and even helped decorate gingerbread cookies.
- Favorite part about working at AKP?
What I get back from the kids. When I walk on campus just them yelling my name, running over and hugging me when they see me. It’s worth it!
- Congratulations on winning Community Hero! What does this honor mean to you?
Recognition for everything I’ve done for the kids.
- Heard your one of the best cooks on campus! What’s your specialty?
Breakfast – I had a boy tell me his all-time favorite meal was “Ms. Shay-Shay’s Pancakes.”
- Describe yourself in 3 words.
Calm, Giving, Compassionate
- Favorite Christmas tradition?
Family, having a big Christmas brunch and lots of decorating!
- What’s your favorite thing to do with the kids?
Cook with them. I love seeing the satisfaction they get after they make something and see them smile!
- What do you wish people knew about this type of work?
That just like us, these children have good days and bad days, and that you need to be understanding and nonjudgemental. Every day and every child is different, and it can be challenging.
- When you’re not at work, what’s your favorite thing to do?
I love to go to plays, musicals, host family events and travel.
- Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Ireland, I went for 2 weeks last April. Next year is Greece!
- Favorite book/movie?
Gone with the Wind – it’s a classic!
- You’re so giving to A Kid’s Place, but you give back to so many other organizations?
I worked with All Children’s, Moffitt with cancer patients, Feeding Tampa Bay, feeding the homeless in downtown Tampa, being involved through church, school and more.
- What do you hope happens next at AKP and what do you wish your legacy to be at AKP?
The activity center is so important for the kids. My legacy is I hope to be a mentor to other staff, help the kids and help everyone I can.