Helping the Children's Inn

Six years ago, when she was president of AFCEA International's Bethesda chapter, Linda Berdine decided to find a way for the chapter to give back to the community. She came up with a plan that is still paying dividends.

Every year, the chapter throws a charity event to raise money for the Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where children can stay with their families while receiving treatment for cancer. Her perseverance has paid off. This year's black-tie event helped push the total raised past the $1 million mark.

Berdine, president of G&B Solutions Inc., is on the Bethesda chapter's board and spearheads the annual event. She recently spoke with Federal Computer Week about her fund-raising efforts.

FCW: What's the Children's Inn?

Berdine: It's on the campus at NIH. They've just added 22 new rooms, with a brand-new wing opening up this month, bringing them up to 59 rooms available and doubling the space.

FCW: Why the Children's Inn?

Berdine: We shined a spotlight on it. Because we established this charity event, a lot of people come to me after the event asking, 'How can I personally get involved? How can I donate my own personal time?' They've had a lot of additional interest from the [information technology] community.

FCW: Do you spend time at the inn?

Berdine: I've stayed active at the inn. I've met many of the children. I go out there periodically and have lunch with them. Every year I try to meet with the child and mother who speak at the charity dinner so I know something about them when I introduce them.

FCW: What is your sense about how important your work is for the inn?

Berdine: We are the second largest charity event for the whole inn.

FCW: How much time do you devote to the fund-raiser?

Berdine: I've never added up the hours. The Monday after the event, I had to stay in bed. I felt like I got hit by a Mack truck. It does take a toll on you physically and mentally. It takes a good 100 hours of your time.

FCW: Do you plan to do it again next year?

Berdine: Sure.

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