HLC Chats With Jodi O'Donnell-Ames

Jodi O'Donnell-Ames is the Founder and Community Engagement Director of Hope Loves Company. She created HLC from her home in 2007 to support children affected by ALS the way she wished her own children had been supported. Thank you Jodi for all that you do for Hope Loves Company and the families that we support!

Camp HLC at Camp Campbell in Boulder Creek, CA, November 2017.

(HLC): Do you have a nick name?

(JOA): Not many people know this but my nickname is Josie. My late brother-in-law Jim called me Josie - Steely Dan song reference! He meant a lot to me and I love the nickname. He was a creative, kind, and inspirational soul who I miss dearly. My kids also call me Spars because I once dressed like an asparagus! I am a work in progress as a fashionista for sure.

(HLC): What is your favorite childhood memory?

(JOA): My favorite childhood memory is driving with my father. He loved to drive and for fun, would make the car dance to the music on the radio while he sang loudly. I loved going anywhere with him!

(HLC): Who is your favorite musician?

(JOA): Like Gudjon, I like Johnny Cash, too! I have too many favorite musicians to name.

(HLC): Camp HLC is one of our wonderful programs. Have you ever attended summer camp?

(JOA): I am proud to say that I have attended all 19 Camp HLCs! I love the entire camp experience and never had the chance to go as a child. Not only do I enjoy being out in nature, I love meeting new people and supporting others. That's why Camp HLC is a dream come true! My dear friend and fellow board member, Linda Cassidy, came up with the idea of Camp HLC and look how far it's come! (HLC): Do you have a pet companion?

(JOA): I lost my dog Ostie a few years ago. He and my daughter, Alina, shared the same birthday!

(HLC): People would be surprised to know that....  (cool fact about you!)

(JOA): That I have been an extra in movies and love being on set! (HLC): What is one thing you can share with others about resilience and adversity?

(JOA): I don't pretend to always be strong. I know that I need good people in my life to support me on this journey. I reach out when I need help and do my best to be there for others, as well. I rely on positive resources to keep moving me forward and respect and am grateful for my past simultaneously.

(HLC): What's your go to person, book, or movie for inspiration?

(JOA): My children (and all children) are my go to for inspiration. Children are incredible and can teach us so much about life. I love the energy, creativity, curiosity, and honesty that I get from children. Ever notice how teachers seem to stay inquisitive and active? Children!

Camp HLC at Fairview Lake YMCA Camp in Stillwater, NJ, May 2016.

(HLC): If you have a go to resource (website, blog, etc...) that you think would help others, please share it!

(JOA): My sister-in-law, Keiren Dunfee, introduced us to this website. It was so helpful as we coordinated all of the wonderful people who wanted to help in our family's care! Share the Care: https://sharethecare.org/.

(HLC): Please share something that you want others to know about ALS.

(JOA): ALS affected our lives in 1995 when my late husband Kevin was diagnosed at the University of Penn at the age of 30 years old. Kevin lived with ALS for nearly six years and touched so many lives in too many ways to mention. To this day, he continues to make an impact. While ALS has caused my family a lot of sadness, it has made me a better person. I have learned so much about LIVING from my late husband and Tina Singer Ames as well, and every person thereafter who I have come to know because of ALS. I am grateful that our HLC families allow me to be a part of their journeys.