Two things are clear when Steve and Maryanne Andrew enter our center: they have a passion for our work here at The Children’s Room (TCR), and they love making a positive impact on the lives of others. By giving of their time as well as their financial support, the Andrews have given an extraordinary amount of themselves to TCR—yet they remain humble in service and focused on their goal: giving back. As longtime Arlington residents, the Andrews exemplify what it means to put community first.
The Andrews first learned about TCR when Steve was approached by a former board member to do some pro bono accounting work for the organization. That initial spark of connection from many years ago grew into a labor of love as they began to get a first-hand understanding of TCR’s impact.
While Maryanne was working at Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington, a tragedy occurred where one of the students had a seventh-grade sister who died due to an allergic reaction. Maryanne recommended the counselor contact The Children’s Room for advice and assistance. “TCR was a huge help,” Maryanne says, “They understood we needed help at that moment, and they provided it.” In 2001, while serving as assistant principal at Woburn High School, Maryanne put counselors in contact with TCR in order to start a cancer support group there.
Meanwhile, Steve had heard many stories from people who had been positively impacted by their time at TCR, but when he attended a TCR Teen Troupe event at Belmont Hill School, he marveled at what he saw: “I was blown away by the young people who were able to go on stage and publicly acknowledge their grief for the benefit of the organization. I remember thinking that this place must really mean a lot to them for them to be willing to expose themselves in their most vulnerable state like that.”
“We are all tasked with giving back”
As Steve and Maryanne’s emotional connections to TCR grew stronger, so did their direct involvement. In 2009, the Andrews donated funds to renovate the second floor bathroom. In 2013, Maryanne oversaw the renovation of our center’s basement, which ultimately spilled over into renovations on the first floor as well. That project, undertaken with Conneely Contracting, was a huge endeavor in its scope, and was deeply meaningful for TCR. It took months to convert the old, unusable garage into an office space fit for a growing staff.
Maryanne describes overseeing the project as “a perfect fit” for her skills and her personal passions, but she felt most rewarded by the fact that the renovation opened more space on the first floor for program use.
In 2014, Steve joined our Board of Directors, a decision that embodies his deep passion for service. “I believe we are all tasked with giving back, and we need to find organizations in whose mission we can believe and then get involved,” he says. “Donating money is easy, but getting involved and being invested is hard.”
Investing in the Future
Steve and Maryanne are Circle Donors, which represents a monetary pledge commitment that helps TCR serve grieving children, teens, and families each and every day.
However, it is the Andrews’ focus on being fully invested in the community which explains their unique commitment to TCR’s long-term future.
In 2014, Steve and Maryanne made a donation to TCR to start an endowment fund, and added to the fund the following year. They regularly encourage others to consider the same form of support as a way of ensuring that TCR will be able to stand on firm financial footing for years to come.
When asked about his motivations for the gift, Steve points to a direct experience with a charity that was too reliant on one major donor; it was forced to shut its doors when that donor’s support had to be withdrawn during a time of financial crisis. The Andrews believe so strongly in TCR’s mission that they wanted to ensure that TCR never be without a long-term safety net. As Steve says, “We felt it was important for TCR to start building an endowment—a rainy day fund—so that if TCR ever suffered some financial setback, there could be funds available to help transition and survive.”
“When we change one life, we are changing the world”
Despite having done so much for TCR already, the Andrews continue to work closely with us, to tend to our work and our well-being as an organization. However, if you ask them, they quickly turn the tables to say TCR has given them so much in return.
When asked why she continues to be involved after giving so much already, Maryanne says with pride, “I am thrilled to be able to find that so many have been helped or found stability in their life after their time at TCR.”
Steve sums up beautifully how their relationship with TCR has impacted their lives: “I am rewarded every time I hear a testimony by a family or former family. I know that TCR helps young people adjust after a loss and gives them a place to put their grief. They are then able to go on and be productive members of society. That may not happen without TCR, so really, when we change one life, we are changing the world.”