On Memorial Day — a day of remembrance for those who give their all for love of country — we thought it fitting to look back and feature a FACE who gives her heart and soul to the Magic City. And Chandler Bibb does just that.
Chandler Bibb really, really loves her job. As Director of Development for Children’s of Alabama, she’s charged with helping to raise money for the hospital. But her job is less about crunching numbers and more about building relationships. “I’m a matchmaker,” she says. Chandler matches the resources of the community with the needs of the hospital, and she wants people in the community to love Children’s of Alabama as much as she does. Please join us in welcoming today’s FACE of Birmingham, Chandler Bibb!
What is a typical day like for you?
It always starts with coffee. Most days include a flood of emails, writing personal notes to our supporters and running to the next meeting … literally, running. But my day might include red wagons, patient visits, circus acts, Santa landing on the helipad, Spiderman on the side of the building — and those are the expected things. It’s amazing.
My greatest responsibility is to help connect community support with the greatest needs of the hospital. So I have the privilege of seeing the most incredible generosity you could possibly imagine and connecting that with true needs for our patients and their families. That takes many forms, so every day truly is different. We could be working on Superhero Day one moment or pediatric cancer research another. It’s a constantly evolving process, and I would say on an average day I try to spend as much time as I can calling and saying thank you and keeping our donors aware of how their gifts are making a difference here at Children’s.
You’ve said that in addition to raising money for medical research and resources, you focus on raising funds for the things that make Children’s of Alabama more than a hospital. Can you give some of examples?
We have special programs that are only possible because of community donations. Child Life is one of the most important parts of what we do. Child Life team members are really friends for our patients and play therapists that help reduce anxiety for children in the hospital. They try to bring the childhood, the imagination and the fun into an environment that can be really scary for a child.
We have Medical Play Day or Teddy Bear Clinic. The children have child-sized medical equipment and they take stuffed animals and perform medical procedures that maybe they have experienced themselves. Without any direction at all, 3- and 4-year-old little boys and girls were operating and giving shots and taking blood pressure. It’s a way to empower them and make them feel in control of a situation that can often feel overwhelming.
Superhero Day was one of those projects that our team always wanted to do and, oh, if a donor could see the face of a child when Batman and Spiderman (our window washers dressed like superheroes) come down the side of the building!
Tell us more about the Care Closet project.
For years, our social services team has observed the need when a family comes to us in a crisis, like if they have been in a car accident or if they were transferred here from another hospital, they don’t come with basic care items for themselves and for their child. We serve the whole state, so a lot of people come from really far away. The Care Closet is a dream that our social services team had for more than 30 years, and we had an opportunity with Cobbs Allen, a local company that approached us to identify a need that they could make possible.
So for the last several years we have been able to not only create the Care Closet but every single day access it for something different. It might be a T-shirt one minute for a family that has come into the emergency department or we actually have a need for Pack ‘N’ Plays on a regular basis or even cribs at times for families going home. That is an incredible gift to a family who truly needs it.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Saying thank you enough to our supporters. I can’t put into words the gratitude I feel for their generosity. I have the privilege of observing the difference they are making for the children in our care, and many of our donors have never had a reason to visit Children’s, but they purely want to help others. It’s humbling. So when I call them, visit them or write them a note – I’m simply not doing it justice. I always feel like I want to do more to thank them.
But the most impossible part of my job is turning it off and leaving it here. I have a family, and it’s very difficult to not see my own child in a lot of the children that we serve through the hospital. And it never leaves you. It keeps me up at night. It’s the most wonderful thing about my job because I care so deeply about it, but it’s difficult at times.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Experiencing the journey of our patients. Their hope, courage and joy for life inspire me every day. Also, being part of such an incredible team. We have over 5,000 employees at Children’s of Alabama, mostly women. They are nurses, chaplains, social workers, child life specialists — they are heroes. I can’t imagine a more rewarding opportunity than to play even the smallest role in helping provide this team with the resources they need to serve our patients well. We cry together, laugh together — sometimes even laughing through our tears — but it is so rewarding to have an opportunity to make a difference together with this team.
Tell us about some of your hobbies and other interests.
My husband Murray and I love traveling, especially anywhere near the ocean. In my “spare” time, I’m usually trying to keep up with our son, Mac!
What are some of your favorite places in Birmingham?
I love Pepper Place Market on a Saturday morning. And I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than the back patio of Chez Fonfon, especially in the springtime. And McWane Science Center — my little boy finds something different he wants to do there every time we go.
Do you have any personality quirks or things about yourself others would be surprised to learn?
I’m a bit of a “germaphobe,” which is surprising, I suppose, because I work in a hospital. I use a lot of hand sanitizer!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Coke Matthews, Chief Development Officer for Children’s of Alabama, once told me, “Take the long view.” I find great strength in this advice as we work to introduce emerging leaders and young donors to the mission of Children’s. We might not see the impact of our work today, but if we focus on building the relationship now it could translate into deep, meaningful and perhaps even transformational giving for generations to come.
What’s the best advice you have to offer?
Take care of yourself. Lou Lacey, Director of Emotional Wellness at Children’s, often tells this to our staff at the hospital. At work and at home, we give so much to others we often put ourselves last. Take time for you. Take a vacation, read a book or go take a nap — whatever works for you.
Other than friends, family and faith, what are three things you can’t live without?
Laughter, La Croix and Shipt grocery delivery service.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s beautiful photography of Chandler at Children’s of Alabama.
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