Memories From WIN’s Early Years

SibelLongtime WIN member Joy Sibel shares some of her earliest memories of volunteering with the organization.

Joy Sibel is a longtime member of the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN). Recently, she took time to speak with Terry Amann, WIN’s constituent relationship coordinator, about her involvement with the organization.

Joy was introduced to WIN in 2009, when she was invited to an event held at a beautiful home. It was both an information session about the new group and a service project. The beauty of WIN’s beginning, Joy recalls, was that it was nothing grandiose. The question WIN’s founding members asked themselves was, “What small things can we do for the families served by Kennedy Krieger Institute?”

Joy remembers the first “Planting Hope” event, which took place in the therapy garden at the Institute’s outpatient center. It had the atmosphere of a small festival. There was a face painter, and the Park School of Baltimore provided a band. The nurses brought patients out to the garden; several were in wheelchairs. Joy recalls how one child just loved the music—she can still picture his smiling face as he listened to it.

The experience really brought home for Joy how it must be for families with children staying at the Institute. “I started to think about what it would be like to be in the hospital not just for days, but months at a time,” she says. “It affects their entire support group—their whole family, including siblings.”

Another favorite memory for Joy was serving the parents and caregivers of Kennedy Krieger patients at a WIN Family Dinner. Joy recalls the dinner being quiet at first, but as conversations started, a huge weight seemed to lift off the shoulders of each parent and caregiver. For them, it was a chance to take a break from the hospital room, and talk and share resources with others going through situations similar to their own.

In speaking of WIN’s founder, Lainy LeBow-Sachs (executive vice president for external relations at Kennedy Krieger), “Lainy saw something,” Joy says. “She saw an opportunity. I applaud her vision for WIN. She set a really beautiful tone for the group.”

From those small events to this year’s Hats & Horses, which raised more than $300,000 for Kennedy Krieger, the growth of WIN has been incredible. Yet those small opportunities remain: volunteering with the Child Life and Therapeutic Recreation Department, providing patients with an opportunity to just be a kid at a local bowling alley, securing tickets to a sporting event for an out-of-town family, bringing gift card donations to a networking happy hour.

Joy is complimentary of both the growth of WIN and the seamless way in which WIN operates. She is proud to be a part of it, and is grateful for those opportunities to feel she has made a small difference in someone’s life.   

Joy, thank you for being a part of WIN!