Hope Bradley has been raising money for organizations for most of her professional career. It's safe to say she's pretty good at it.
So applying to be the new executive director at Stewart's Caring Place seemed like a natural fit for Bradley. Before being appointed to the position, she served as Kent State University's director of advancement in education, health and human services and then as coordinator of operations and special projects.
"I was ready to get back into fundraising and I wanted to use my administrative training as well and I found out about this position," Bradley said. "I interviewed and it felt right in my gut. I had other job opportunities but I picked this because it felt right."
Stewart's Caring Place is a non-profit organization that offers free services to cancer patients, survivors and families/caregivers. There are several support groups, gentle exercise classes, art therapy sessions and more.
Bradley replaces Sarah Tower, executive director for services and community relations, and Stacey Manes, executive director for organizational development.
"I get to help people during the most terrifying time in their lives," Bradley said. "They're terrified to walk through our doors and they're still processing the news. This is a place where we can make them feel safe."
Stewart's is known for hosting two big events each year: the Hope Walk and the Butterfly Gala.
"I'd like us to be more financially diverse," Bradley said. "We do well with the money we raise from our two big events, but I don't want to be financially dependent on them. I'd like to start a capital campaign."
Bradley hopes more events will get the word out there about the services Stewart's offers.
"We're a hidden jewel," she smiled. "There's a lot of people who don't know about us and I want to be the first place on someone's mind when they find out a loved one has cancer or when a doctor suggests places for a patient."
Before events or a campaign is planned, Bradley wants to hear from the community. She wants to know what people love about Stewart's service and also why people choose not to use Stewart's.
"We have a lot of room for growth," Bradley said. "We're unique, and there is no one in this area that does what we do free of charge."
Being a part of Stewart's Caring Place also touches an emotional nerve with Bradley because her grandmother battled breast cancer. She came out on top.
"But I saw what it did to her," Bradley said. "I saw how exhausted she was and how it impacted my grandpa. Sometimes the caregivers are going down and we don't even know it. Stewart's can help."
Bradley, 34, lives in Brunswick but grew up in Arkansas. She's an avid runner and has participated in 22 marathons in the last four years.
"We're so excited to have Hope on board," said Stewart's Events Coordinator Raven DeVoll. "She brings great experience from Kent State with her, she's enthusiastic with new ideas, and she's passionate about our cause. We couldn't be happier."