Denise Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Temple Street Foundation
By Michelle Newman
“As Chief Executive of Temple Street Foundation for the past twelve years, I can honestly say that no two days are ever the same. It’s an exciting and challenging role that places us right in the heart of the hospital, raising funds to make sure our little patients get all the life-saving care and support they need.
I’m an early riser, so I’m usually up by six o’clock and in the office for 7am. It can be hard leaving the kids so early but I figure if I can get in early I’ll get home in good time to spend real quality time with them.
Once settled at the desk – and after a quick cup of tea - I generally work on my priorities list for the day and tackle urgent emails. Then I make sure I have everything I need for the day ahead in terms of new business pitches and presentations, meeting notes and any updates that I need for catching up with our current supporters and corporate partners.
I sit on a number of boards including the Council of Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Charities Institute Ireland and Boardmatch Ireland so these meetings demand some of my time a couple of mornings a month.
I regularly hold mid-morning meetings with the team to catch up on what’s going on and celebrate any recent successes. Working in such a fast paced organisation I think it’s really important to take the time to get everyone together and share news and information.
It’s really important that I keep on top of what’s going on in the hospital so I always set aside at least an hour each day to chat to the doctors and nurses on the wards. Getting out in the wards is also a great way to catch up with patients and families.
People often under estimate the effects of having a sick child in hospital. The ripple effect through the wider family is enormous. It’s a constant juggling act. Parents are often faced with splitting their time between the hospital and other siblings at home.
It can be overwhelming emotionally and financially which is why we also raise funds to ensure we treat the whole family holistically through a range of support services like sibling camps, pet therapy, and also by providing accommodation to families of long-term patients from outside Dublin.
After a quick bite at lunchtime and where possible a half an hours walk, my afternoons are generally spent out and about at meetings flying the Temple Street flag. It’s so important that we communicate the needs of the hospital to as wide an audience as possible.
We have so many key research projects that need funding as well as vital equipment that needs to be replaced so it’s really important that we connect these projects with the right supporters, both individual and corporate. We simply couldn’t do the work that we do with this backing and we are forever indebted to our loyal and committed supporters.
When I first started this job my eldest daughter was just a baby and now I have three children. As a parent I really empathise with the difficult journey that our patients’ families are on. My son spent a few days in Temple Street last year and that experience was a real eye opener for me.
It let me see first-hand what parents are going through. The ward he was in was completely funded by our supporters - from the patient entertainment systems that kept all of us distracted to the play therapy service, which put him at his ease and made hospital life more enjoyable.
It made me so proud of the work that we do and so proud of my team who develop, and manage, a huge portfolio of fundraising activities to ensure that we continue to deliver everything that our little patients need.
For the last three years, we have been focused on raising funds for our most ambitious project in the history of the Foundation – a new Neurology and Renal Outpatients building. Now, the 6,500 patients and families who access these services annually have the bright, spacious environment that they deserve.
It’s this positive impact that makes this job so rewarding and puts life in perspective. It also makes me realise how important it is to strike the right balance between work and home life and that is why I always try and get home to my family before 6pm. I think it’s so important to sit down to dinner together and catch up on what’s going on in everyone lives.
As every mother knows, with sports activities and their own busy little social lives, it’s bedtime before you know it! When the kids are all settled, the uniforms laid out, the lunches prepped and the homework checked it’s time for a quick 40 minute run.”
For more information on Temple Street Foundation visit www.templestreet.ie