Kelly Cheramy, Attic Angel Community
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Kelly Cheramy, outreach coordinator, Attic Angel Community.
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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Give me a meaningful, inspiring real-life story and my eyes light up! Attic Angel Community is a Madison original with such goodness of character and deep, local roots that it’s easy and rewarding for me to promote our continuum of care facility. Our beautiful not-for-profit senior living facility, Attic Angel Place, and independent living neighborhood, Prairie Point, are tangible places. It is somewhat more challenging to explain our Attic Angel volunteers. They are highly committed Dane County-area women volunteers — almost 600 — who not only spend time with our residents but also produce huge fundraisers each year, including the community-wide Attic Sale. The Angels’ service started back in 1889, when two sisters descended from the uppermost floor of their Victorian home with armloads of goods to share with those less fortunate. Their father called them his “attic angels” and their legacy of caring continues. The Attic Angel Association, due to the efforts of the Attic Angel volunteers, awards grants each year to nonprofits serving the needs of children and seniors throughout Dane County. People who have lived in Madison for a long time understand the good works of Attic Angel volunteers, but newcomers don’t know what an Attic Angel is or does.
2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I learned so much about building business and building community by working for a decade with Frank Byrne, former president of St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. With his vast knowledge as a foundation, he is an effective leader and an even greater celebrant of an entire team’s success. He demands excellence while making people feel valued and encouraging them to set sights ever higher.
3. What has been the high point of your career so far?
I had the privilege of being the storyteller for the 100th anniversary of St. Mary’s Hospital. I dug deep into Madison’s history, met some amazing people (some in person, others through historical research), and told the centennial story in a way that had never been achieved before (thanks also to graphic designer Tammy Hahn). The resulting book, “Life Happens Here: A Scrapbook Celebrating 100 Years of Spirited Care,” will live forever, and I am so very proud of this lasting and meaningful contribution. I’ve since learned that my book is in the permanent collection of the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Md.
4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
This inspiring phrase sums it up: Believe with all your heart that you will do what you were made to do. For me, that became abundantly clear when my work — as part of my regular, everyday job — resulted in the centennial book for St. Mary’s. I had this overwhelming feeling that this is what God had in mind for me all along, and that all the writing and learning I had done since childhood were building blocks leading up to this ability and experience. I also know that my work is not done; I have more to give. So my advice is to cherish all your experiences and opportunities (even the tough ones) and, at some point in the future, they will add up to make a beautiful difference for you and others.