At the end of this month, one of Mount Saint Vincent’s most fiercely dedicated, well-respected, and mission-focused child advocates will be leaving our organization. That person is our director of development, Kay Kelleher Mcdowell.
Kay’s relationship with Mount Saint Vincent began in 1996. That was the year she and her family began donating toys and gifts to the children at Christmastime. She distinctly remembers the first time she saw Mount Saint Vincent’s imposing building on top of a hill. “It was so big, regal even,” she recalled. It wasn’t long before Kay began volunteering her time there, eventually helping plan our nonprofit’s bi-annual Silver Bell Ball.
In 2007, a permanent position within Mount Saint Vincent’s development department became available, and Kay decided to apply. According to Sister Amy Willcott, the executive director at that time, the hiring decision was not difficult. “Kay had already given her time and her heart and her spirit to Mount Saint Vincent, even before she was hired,” Sister Amy said. “Knowing that she was already giving more than 110% as a volunteer made hiring her an easy decision.”
Kay took to her new position with gusto. As she met with donors, they welcomed her warm and grateful demeanor. “No matter who she interacts with, Kay understands the importance of building relationships,” said current executive director, Kirk Ward. “Whether it’s donors, staff, or the children, she treats everyone with caring and respect.”
In addition to meeting donors, Kay gave tours of the campus, managed events and volunteers, and spent time doing the thing that she loved most — spending time with the children. Her devotion to children is apparent to all who know her. “Kay’s compassion for the plight of traumatized children and her relentless drive to support their return to health is legendary in the MSV donor community,” said former Mount Saint Vincent Board member Jane O’Shaughnessy.
Kay remembers loading the kids into a bus, and renting out a theater to watch a Dr. Seuss movie. She recalls basketball games at local schools where the opposing team let the MSV Mustangs win by ridiculous margins. She recounts watching the children’s faces when they open their Christmas gifts and ask incredulously, “Is all of this for me?”
Kay is looking forward to taking on new challenges in her career, but says her time at Mount Saint Vincent was a gift. “The influence of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth will be with me forever,” she states. “It was from them that I fully came to understand the value of acceptance, that people are doing the best they can.” Those are truly words to live by.
Thank you, Kay, for your 19 years of hard work, service, and selfless dedication to the children of Mount Saint Vincent. You will be missed. ∼
Kay wanted to personally say goodbye to those who know her. Below is her farewell in her own words.
It has been my great honor and privilege to have had the greatest job in the world, because when one believes in a mission and is asked to support it, it is never work.
I have genuinely cherished my time working with my team, the volunteers, friends, and the many donors who give so much to Mount Saint Vincent. There is no metric to measure the success we have shared with the children because of you. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each of you. God bless you all.
I also want to thank all the children of Mount Saint Vincent. During my time here, I have been blessed to get to know so many amazing students, residents, and alumni. My heart truly overflows with emotion when I reflect upon these memories; I consider each of you a gift that I will always cherish.
I want to thank all the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth; I have been blessed to serve alongside them. Each of you are champions of child advocacy, lights in this world that I will never forget.
I also want to thank my family. Each of you has given so much to Mount Saint Vincent and helped make my passion a reality. Those efforts can never be tallied, and you should be very proud of the part that you played.
Finally, I want to thank my loving husband, Mac. Thank you for being by my side and on my side, thank you for listening, and thank you for helping me do the impossible, time and again.
I know all of you will do everything in your collective power to ensure the continued success of Mount Saint Vincent. So in the words of the founder of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Mother Xavier Ross, I look forward to all the good that is yet to come.
Kay Kelleher McDowell