Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Oregon and Southwest Washington (RMHC®) to Honor "Hall of Fame" Inductees

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Hall of Fame honorees to be recognized at the "Hearts and Hands Auction," October 2, 2009

Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Oregon and Southwest Washington (RMHC®) today announced it will honor Stephen Abouaf, Beth Irish, Stephen Kanter, and Joe Graziano as the newest inductees to its Hall of Fame at this year's Hearts & Hands Auction, October 2, at the Nines in Downtown Portland.

The Hall of Fame honors those whose generous contributions and abiding commitment have an enduring impact on the children and families served by RMHC. Annual inductees are chosen by unanimous vote of current Hall of Fame members.

Hall of Fame Inductees

Stephen Abouaf-Over the past six years, Stephen's extraordinary leadership has placed him front and center in RMHC's evolution. He has held positions ranging from Chair of the Golf Committee to Chair of the Board. His vision and passion guided RMHC through a year-long strategic planning process which resulted in new program partner guidelines, a more reliable, diversified revenue model, and a new committee structure--all of which have better positioned RMHC to weather the economic fluctuations that hinder other organizations.

"For me," says Stephen, "As much as this is about the children, it's also about the families in the hope that they can get through a terrible time and remain intact."

Since the completion of his two-year term as Board Chair, he has continued to chair the Board Development Committee and serve on the Strategic Leadership Team.

"To invest in Ronald McDonald House Charities," contends Stephen, "is to help ensure that the families have a home away from home where they can be with their child during a really challenging time."

Joe Graziano- As a long-time Advisory Board member, Joe has championed the RMHC cause in both his personal and professional life.

"The best way to introduce people to Ronald McDonald House Charities," says Joe, who truly leads by example, "is to introduce them to some of the families that stay at the Houses. Once you see what's going on, it's impossible not to volunteer."

He has sponsored events, launched his own annual corporate fundraising campaign (matching contributions to stimulate tens of thousands of dollars in donations), and leveraged his professional talents and personal relationships to ensure the success of RMHC fundraisers.

"I have six healthy brothers and sisters," explains Joe. "My wife and I have six beautiful children who are all healthy. We have a very strong passion for Ronald McDonald House Charities. It's our way of showing gratitude for the gifts we've been given."

Beth Irish- Since joining the Board of Trustees as a representative of the Oregon Medical Association Alliance nine years ago, Beth has been involved in nearly every RMHC committee and program.

"When I was a critical care nurse," says Beth, "I learned that, just like kids in the hospital who need somebody to care for them, the families need that as well. They find that solace when they stay at the Ronald McDonald House."

A two-time Auction Committee Chair, Beth has also served on the Board Development Committee, Program Excellence Team, Outreach Committee, Philanthropy Enhancment Team, Strategic Planning Team, and Executive Committee. Currently Vice-Chair, she will complete her third three-year term as a board member this year. Through her wide-ranging service and advocacy, Beth inspires others to give as well.

"In addition to the wonderful Houses," Beth reminds people that "RMHC also has a tremendous outreach program which targets childhood immunization and dental care."

Stephen Kantor- Stephen became involved with RMHC nearly 10 years ago as a member of the Finance Committee. He soon accepted a seat on the board, and later agreed to chair the organization's first year-long planning process.

"All you have to do is go to the house and see the staff interacting with the families," Stephen observes. "Their compassion and understanding is incredible. The things they do to help are really phenomenal."

In 2004, he became Board Chair, in which capacity he led RMHC's negotiations with OHSU for a new West House--a cause he continues to champion passionately. Stephen also facilitated the largest donation in RMHC's history--a million dollar gift from the late Doris Nelson, a Hall of Fame member whose contribution funded an eight-room expansion of our East House.

"The one constant that families can count on after a trying day at the hospital," Stephen points out, "is the comfort and refuge they will find inside the doors of the Ronald McDonald House. The work being done here is absolutely indispensable."

"I'm thrilled to welcome our four new inductees to the Hall of Fame," says Tom Soma, RMHC's Executive Director. "Their contributions are an amazing testimony to the passion, creativity, and enthusiastic commitment 'inspired' by the children and families we serve. I truly enjoy working with them and look forward to their continued inspiration."

About RMHC
Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Oregon and Southwest Washington provides a "home away from home" for families and their seriously ill children who travel far to receive treatment at Portland hospitals, and awards grants to non-profit organizations that offer children's immunizations and dental care. For more information on Portland's Houses, visit

About the "Hearts and Hands" Auction
Celebrate RMHC's 25th Anniversary at the elegant Nines hotel in Downtown Portland. The auction begins at 6pm, with dinner and dancing to follow. RMHC is expecting over 400 attendees at this event, celebrating 25 years in Portland. For more information, visit


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