Annette Godsell is the executive director of McDonald House. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Annette Godsell’s birth certificate says Carbonear, but her mother’s trip from Harbour Grace to the hospital happened to come in the middle of a big storm.
“To get to the Carbonear hospital, it turned into a Mountie escort, a plow escort, the whole thing,” she said.
Godsell grew up in St. John’s and moved to Kilbride after she got married.
After her graduation from Memorial University, she conducted research before going to work for the Victorian Order of Nurses for almost 18 years before taking her new position as executive director of Ronald McDonald House, which provides a place for families to stay to ease the travel costs when coming to St. John’s for treatment for sick children.
The house will soon start accepting families — “Referrals are starting to come in,” Godsell says — and she’s also looking forward to the Red Shoe Crew Walk for Families, happening Sept. 23.
What is your full name?
When and where were you born?
I was born in January 1966, in Carbonear.
And where is home today?
What is your educational background?
I have a master’s degree in science, actually, (from) Memorial.
What do you do as executive director
at Ronald McDonald House?
I’ve been with the House now for a couple of months, and the mandate, obviously, is to provide a home away from home for sick children and their families throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, so it’s our mandate to open this house. We’re hoping to have the house open in September, and it will provide a place where families that are dealing with a child that’s being treated either on an in-patient or out-patient basis of the Janeway Hospital will have a place to go to, and that will take that burden off the families of having a place to stay.
How did you come to be involved
in Ronald McDonald House?
There was an advertisement for staffing positions with the house, and my whole career has been around dealing with non-profit, charitable organizations, and I thought it was an excellent fit for me.
What’s the most stressful part
of your job?
Right now, making sure we keep the schedule on time and getting the house opened as planned.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Shoes. … I do have a great — some people call it an addiction for shoes, and a perfect tie-in with our Red Shoe Crew walk. I was delighted when I came on board and saw that was a signature event, because I now have a new set of red shoes for the event all ready to go.
Do you have a favourite movie?
Probably “The Notebook.” … I thought it was an amazing story, and I’ve had some personal connection in my life with family members that have had dementia.
Are you reading anything right now?
Policy manuals. (Laughs.) Lots of policy manuals, dealing with Ronald McDonald House.
What is your greatest regret?
I gotta say, I don’t have a lot of regrets. I look on everything as a learning experience and even if it didn’t work the way I thought it was, I look on it as a learning opportunity, for me to grow from it.
What bugs you?
Individuals that don’t have a great work ethic, and drivers that don’t know to deal with a four-way stop in the intersection when lights are out.
You said you do a lot of charity work — you must find it rewarding, but is it also disheartening at times?
Yeah, but for the most part I would say it’s rewarding. It’s positive. It’s always a growth experience that you get, you put into something that you can see the end results and how things have changed and developed because of it. It’s hard sometimes around the whole funding piece, making sure charities and non-profit organizations do have that support in place to be able to fulfil their full mandate.
What are your best and worst qualities?
Probably, I guess it works both ways: when I get involved in something, I’m in it, committed totally to the end. Some people then, you could also see that sometimes that the passion that I have with it mightn’t necessarily translate to everyone else’s, and I guess sometimes that ends up, it can be a detriment sometimes, too, because what I’m putting into something mightn’t necessarily be what everyone else is putting into it, and that can become frustrating.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love walking. I find that’s the best stress reliever and that type of thing, so I tend to do a lot of walking.
What is your most prized possession?
I have a locket that came from one of my grandmothers, and a doll that I got from the other grandmother. They’re both well over a hundred years old, now.
Who inspires you?
My son. He’s 14, and he’s got a really refreshing spirit, and he always puts new insight on ordinary things and frames it up perfectly for me.
What is your personal motto?
Do it now. I don’t like procrastination, so I like things done.
Who is one person, living or deceased, you’d like to have lunch with?
Probably my grandparents on my father’s side, whom I didn’t have an opportunity to meet. I would love to have an opportunity to speak to them. And living, I’m looking forward to seeing Ronald McDonald (laughs).
If you were premier of the province,
what is one thing that you’d try to do?
I think continue the support that’s already been established for non-profit charitable organizations, and especially strengthening and supporting the volunteers of Newfoundland and Labrador, because they work so
tirelessly every single day for many