The men and women who work in The Valerie Fund Children's Centers across New Jersey and New York are the backbone of our mission to support comprehensive healthcare services for children with cancer and blood disorders. We wanted to share just how amazing they are so we invite you to learn a little bit more about them.
Maria Luisa Molina
2. Position / Title?
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
3. Hospital location & start date?
The Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Pediatric Cancers & Blood Disorders at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson. I started working here on April 29, 2019.
4. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Guayaquil Ecuador. I migrated to the United States when I was 17 years old. Since I arrived to the US, I have been living in Hackensack, NJ.
5. Where did you study/go to college?
I graduated High School in Guayaquil-Ecuador. I went to Bergen Community College to Study English as a Second Language and took other pre-requisite classes before I transferred to Ramapo College of NJ where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. I then attended New York University where I obtained my Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work.
6. What is your professional history before joining The Valerie Fund Children’s Center?
Before joining The Valerie Fund Children’s Center, I was working at the Pediatric Subspecialty’s Department at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. I worked with children who have been diagnosed with rare genetic and life threatening diagnosis. I was also working with children diagnosed with Autism and parents who had their babies at NICU. Before working at St. Joseph’s Hospital, I worked at a residential program for children ages 5 to 13 as a children and family therapist.
7. What brought you to The Valerie Fund Children’s Center?
I had the pleasure of meeting the staff members of The Valerie Fund Children’s Center during meetings that I attended throughout the hospital. I found the staff members’ drive, passion, and willingness to help their patients truly inspiring. The family at The Valerie Fund Children’s Center works together not just to meet our children’s medical needs but also their psychosocial, emotional, and financial challenges. I wanted to be part of this family and be able to create an impact in these families’ life.
8. What are some of your goals you hope to achieve while working in The Valerie Fund Children’s Center?
I am hoping to be able to advocate and raise awareness for children and families affected by a hematology/oncology diagnosis. I also would like to help my department to develop an extensive transitional plan/program, for patients ageing out of our center; the goal of this would be to help them to have the tools needed to learn to advocate for themselves when they transition to adult care.
9. What is your favorite book/movie/television series? Favorite movie: Sunny (2011), directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol
Favorite Book: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Favorite Television Series: The Office
10. What has been the biggest adventure/most exciting moment of your life?
The two most exciting moments in my life where when my youngest son was born (01/04/06), and when my oldest son was adopted (05/05/16). My children are my biggest adventure. They are always bringing happiness and excitement to my life.
11. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy hiking and going to the gym. I find these activities very relaxing and they help me to release stress when needed.
12. What has been your favorite vacation you’ve been on?
Returning to see my family in Ecuador. I had not seen them in a few years and it was refreshing and encouraging being able to see them again.
13. If you were given a billion dollars, what’s the first three things you would do?
I would donate half of it to a few charities of my choice. Go on a very long vacation with my family.
14. What causes do you like to support by donating time, money, or energy?
I am a volunteer with Autism Speaks. My youngest son has been diagnosed with Autism so this is an activity that helps me to connect with other families while also helping those struggling with the diagnosis.
15. Which famous person (actor, writer, inventor, etc.), living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
I would love to be able to have dinner with Michelle and Barack Obama. I find them both to be strong advocates and role models. Their success story is inspiring and I look up to them.