Maggie Meehan is a Visiting Nurse Association hospice social worker for Ocean County, NJ and has been a long-time supporter and board member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. Maggie’s journey started when her father passed away when she was 17 years old. The heart-wrenching, personal experience of losing someone that mattered the most and the devastation of her whole life changing drove her towards social work. “I wanted to be there to support people in a way that I didn’t necessarily have. That kind of drove me to be what I wish that I had at the time,” said Maggie. She had never imagined working in end-of-life care but the minute she got into it she realized she wouldn’t be able to do anything else. “This is where I’m supposed to be,” she said. Maggie went on to receive her master’s degree specializing in palliative care from Fordham University. Soon after graduating while looking for a job, she obtained an interview with Cristian Rivera Foundation founder, John Rivera, to potentially work for the foundation. During her interview Maggie felt a very strong connection to John and CRF, so although she did not end up accepting the job, she wanted to continue to volunteer and be an active part of CRF.
Maggie has always been involved in pediatric oncology throughout her scholarly career, so the overall cause that CRF supports interested her immensely. Similarly to why she became interested in palliative care, one of Maggie’s favorite things about CRF is that we can give back and really make a difference in people’s lives when they need it the most. “Illness doesn’t discriminate,” Maggie said, “whether it’s a child or an adult, we are trying to help people at the worst times of their lives.”
Some of her favorite memories from her time at CRF are the Annual Celebrity Galas. “I am always in tears and it is always so impactful and it really gets you fired up to continue to fight, continue to fundraise and support the main people we are trying to help out,” she said. Due to COVID the last CRF gala had to be canceled which was very upsetting for Maggie, not only because it is her favorite event but also because it is one of the foundation’s largest fundraising events. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the world and has sent many nonprofits into a tailspin. Maggie discussed how the large events that used to be the core of a lot of nonprofits’ fundraisers had to either drastically adjust or cancel and there’s a huge lack of monetary support that there used to be access to. On top of that, many people have lost their jobs and are unable to donate like they used to, therefore the donor pool is diminished. “I know even for myself,” Maggie said, “I did have family members and friends that lost their job that would always donate a little bit, but I feel bad asking them when I know that they are struggling if they can continue to support.”
In Maggie’s words, success for CRF would clearly be finding a cure, but on top of that, success would also mean supporting the kids and families as much as we can so that we never have to turn down a child for treatment because they can’t afford it or because we can’t support them. For Maggie as a board member, she just wants to be the best she can and support as many people as possible. In light of the pandemic, Maggie hosted CRF’s first ever Cardio to Zen-Virtual Workout Fundraiser in May of 2020. “I want to continue to put on events, be creative, innovative, especially during COVID times,” Maggie explained. In her personal life, success for Maggie means keeping motivated and following her passions. As she works with terminally ill people, she wants to make sure that she can support them emotionally, keep from getting burned out, and be there for the people that need her the most.
Outside of CRF, some of Maggie’s favorite hobbies include going to the beach, spending time with family and friends, and traveling. Maggie also loves spending time with her horse who she trained herself and has had for 21 years at this point! Maggie looks forward to watching CRF grow as an organization and can’t wait till we find a cure and see more survivors of DIPG. Thank you Maggie for all of your support for CRF and our mission over the years.
By Mahi Kovvuru