In 1999, when Cornforth joined Delaware’s Ronald McDonald House as its executive director, the Wilmington location was operating at full capacity, with a waiting list for the affordable, hotel-style accommodations it offers to families of children being treated at nearby medical centers.
“We were turning families away and that was unacceptable to me,” Cornforth says.
Raising money is no easy feat, but in 2003, Cornforth launched a capital campaign that she kicked off by securing a $1 million anonymous gift. By 2005, Cornforth and her staff had raised more than $5 million. With those funds, Cornforth initiated construction that doubled the size of the Ronald McDonald House to 56,000 square feet and rooms for 50 families.
Cornforth also oversaw the creation of respite-oriented Ronald McDonald family rooms at Christiana Care, Bayhealth and Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. Now, the organization serves nearly 2,000 families every year. Cornforth doesn’t do that alone.
“You can’t do it all and, whether you work for a nonprofit or not, there are people who care about your mission and are willing to provide introductions, constructive advice and other support,” she says. That, Cornforth believes, can be more valuable than money.