Former resident director moves on to Hope Lodge
Katie Winne is helping to tackle cancer.
“Everyone will be touched by cancer in some way in their life. It may be them, a family member or a friend, but they will be touched by cancer,” said Winne, a former Cornerstone resident director.
Winne, 29, earned her master’s degree in leadership and counseling from Crown College in Minnesota.
She worked with incoming freshmen for three years as Crown’s resident life director.
Winne followed God’s calling to Cornerstone University in April 2006. This move was somewhat of a promotion, making Winne not only a resident director, but also the area coordinator in charge of all freshman dorms.
But after the five years of living in a freshman residence hall on top of working as an admissions counselor for two years prior to that, Winne was “ready to leave college world.”
As she was searching for a new job, she just happened to stumble across a position opening with the American Cancer Society on CareerBuilder.com
After a seven-part interview, Winne was hired as manager of the Hope Lodge in Grand Rapids.
The Hope Lodge is a complementary adult residential facility for adults going through cancer treatment who are traveling from outside of the area to get treatment in a Grand Rapids hospital.
“Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging allows Hope Lodge guests to focus on the most important thing: getting well,” according to the American Cancer Society Web site.
But more than providing free lodging, the Hope Lodge is a community where cancer patients can meet with and be encouraged by care-givers and others who are going through the same experiences.
Winne knew that her past experience with residence life would be an asset to her as she took her new job.
“I’ve been in the community living arena for seven years. It helped knowing how to manage a building and to interact with people,” she said. “Community gets messy. We all know that, and to have had the experience of managing a community setting really helped.”
Her experience with managing buildings and residence life and applying that to people who were in need of housing while going through cancer is what attracted Winne to her new position.
But despite the blessing it is to people, it’s not always easy.
“Sometimes you see people come in, and they are positive they will beat cancer; and then as the weeks go by you see them decline and look frail,” Winne said. “It’s hard to watch that.”
But the hope it instills in people makes it worth it.
“I always hear that Hope Lodge is a Godsend. People have literally cried in front of me saying that they didn’t know what they would have done without Hope Lodge,” Winne said.
“I had one lady share that she wouldn’t have gotten treatment because she couldn’t afford the drive back and forth to treatment every day until she heard that Hope Lodge was free and available to her.”
In the few months that she’s worked there, Winne said she has learned a lot.
“There is joy in everything. I’ve never experienced such joy in such a hard time,” Winne said. “The people here are so happy to be here to be with others that are going through the same diagnosis. They help each other. It’s amazing to see people from all walks of life rally around each other.”