Dionne Nicole Smith, the director of development for the Guest House, is passionate about what she does. Her caring nature and life experience informs her work and perspective. The Guest House provides resources and lodging for individuals who travel to Chicago for major surgeries. Rolling out spoke with Smith about why she chose this career, the importance of the Guest House and the motto she lives by.
Why was the director of development position important for you to accept?
I have a passion for giving back to advocate and champion for the well-being of others. My whole career has been focused on doing just that, regardless of whether I was working in major league baseball, disability rights, theater, film, or health care social service. It never mattered what area as long as I worked on the charitable side of the street. I never took a job for money. I’ve accepted positions because I connected to the mission of the organizations.
Talk about the work you are doing with the Guest House and why it’s impactful.
Being a caregiver informs my work because I can empathize, even on a small level, with what our guests might be going through. I helped my mother take care of my father when he was ill for two years and four months, and then I took care of my mother when she had a stroke a year later. I slept at the hospital so that she would not be alone.
Imagine if I was traveling to Chicago, but did not know anyone here or have any resources. The Guest House would be a life-saving resource. They provide a safe space and staff who care about your comfort, who want to create a home away from home for you. That makes me work harder to raise the money needed to keep the doors open. It makes me fight harder for our name to be heard. I have such pride in this work and am grateful that God called me to do it.
What is the motto that you live by?
The one that my great-great-grandfather, John Middleton, who lived to be 120, passed down to my grandmother and mother, which is “Obey God and you can live as long as you want.”
What do you do for self-care?
Admittedly, it has always been very hard for me to take time out for self-care, but the older I get, the more I recognize its importance, especially when your job is to care for others. Since I have a passion for the arts, among other things, simple things like attending a free concert in the park, watching an independent film, reading a new book, dancing by myself. Those simple things make me happy.