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New Hyde Park native finds career, purpose in hometown
Deepika Thadhani, 23, who has lived in New Hyde Park all her life, is public relations and marketing coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House. She graduated from Towson University in Maryland in May 2011 with a degree in public relations and advertising with a minor in business administration.
What do you remember growing up in New Hyde Park?
The greatest part about living here is that it’s a close-knit community. Growing up, everyone knew each other on the block and we all played outside together. I remember walking to the Lake Success shopping center on Union Turnpike with my friends. And who could forget Umberto’s Pizzeria? Now, that’s a staple in the community. It’s really the people that keep me here. I know the same people now that I’ve known since I was a toddler. Being able to work right here where I grew up is the best. I couldn’t imagine a better place.
How did you get into this line of work?
The first time I visited the Ronald McDonald House was when I was in Girl Scouts and cooked a homemade meal one night for the families staying at the house. I just fell in love with it after that. I interned during college the summer of 2010, contacting sponsors and donors, writing press releases and “thank you” letters and using social media. I’ve always been interested in doing nonprofit work, or being involved in entertainment, so the job I have now is perfect for me because it combines those two interests. We hold a lot of events here to support the house.
What is it like working here and what does it offer the community?
Every morning, when I come to work, I’m happy to help families relax and de-stress, escaping what’s going on with their sick child just for a moment. It’s rewarding to know that we can help these families. And we are kind of hidden, so not a lot of people realize what we do or that we’re in their backyard. It’s a very warm and supportive place where families can lean on each other who are in a similar situation. It’s an oasis for parents and siblings. It has a fully stocked food pantry and kitchens for cooking, playrooms with arcade games and Disney-inspired main room with oversized stuffed animals and doorways that look like the front of a castle.
Tell me something not a lot people know about the house.
We plan to open a Ronald McDonald family room on the pediatric floor of the Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital. It’s going to provide a waiting room for parents with living, kitchen and dining areas, private bathroom, laundry facilities and storage space. It will also offer transportation, meal programs and computer access.
What kind of response do you get from visiting families?
They’re extremely thankful for the services we provide, especially when they’re not from the area and don’t know the best place to get their next meal. Our volunteers and staff are always thinking of these families, especially at a difficult time in their lives.