Mona Johnson-GIbson, 55, worked as a parole officer, director of behavioral health, and in an employee assistance program before settling down as the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte (RMHC).
The nonprofit RMHC functions as a home for families with ill children staying at a nearby hospital. The house opened five years ago.
Johnson-Gibson has now been working at RMHC for eight years. Her role is to hire staff, and come up with a plan for the house. She oversees all operations of the house, oversees personnel, as well as day to day running of the house, and lastly the house budget.
Johnson-Gibson was hired when there was no house, no foundation, only the idea and the goal. She started from ground zero, and five years later has this big, beautiful house at 1613 E. Morehead St.
She attended the University of North Carolina Charlotte, majoring in criminal justice, and continued on to get a graduate degree in counseling. When she was hired for RMHC, Johnson-Gibson had a diverse background in marketing, business development and counseling. To work at RMHC, she said she needed to be able to handle the business, as well as the “touchy-feely stuff.”
Monica Waters is the house operations manager for RMHC. She is responsible for making sure the house runs smoothly during evening hours.
“Ms. Johnson-Gibson has impacted my life as a powerful, female, executive role model in the nonprofit sector. The work she and her employees do in the community provides many families with a safe, clean home away from home,” Waters said.
RMHC has helped 2,300 families, and almost 12,000 people total, according to Johnson-Gibson. The average family stays for 16 nights, however, there is a family that has been at the house for almost a year. Johnson-Gibson was inspired to work at the house because she knew she that she would help so many families under one roof.
“You watch families going through really tough times, but they walk through the door and see this place as home, see you as family,” she said.
Jennifer Quinn, 35, has been staying at the RMHC for two and a half months because she has a premature baby with a heart defect.
“There is always a friendly face to greet you and they are all willing and eager to help you in any way they can,” Quinn said.
The various Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation are within a mile from a children’s hospital, with an aim to relieve stress from families about worrying whether or not they will be close to their child, and able to visit them.
“It is really amazing to see people come from so far away and it is so rewarding to take a burden off of them,” Johnson-Gibson said
Johnson-Gibson said that the outpouring of support from the community for RMHC is unbelievable. She could post on social media that they need something, and cars will line up immediately, no matter what the time of day. They have three storage rooms full of items to supply the needs of families, including bedding, toiletries and food.
“The staff makes it a point to know who you and your family are,” Quinn said. “This makes the families feel special and cared for.”
This story was written as a part of the Charlotte Observer’s high school journalism Explorer Post.