Written by Andi Agnew | Photographed by Joe Ellis
Taking on the role of Director of Development at Children’s Hospital halfway through a $100 million fundraising campaign might sound daunting to some, but Meredith Aldridge takes it in stride.
Her enthusiasm is contagious and her vision for the new hospital is inspiring.
“It’s just so energizing and humbling to be part of such a big and meaningful campaign – it’s the largest construction project in Mississippi, and it’s happening right here in Fondren.”
The new and improved hospital on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center is set to open in fall of 2020, featuring an expanded NICU and PICU, and better access to care for pediatric patients from around the state.
Aldridge describes the project as more than just creating a larger space. “What is even more significant is that we are signaling to all Mississippians that we are investing in our children and our future. My favorite part is hearing the stories of the families who have loved ones who have received care here and thinking about how much more accessible it will be once this expansion is complete.”
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Aldridge met her husband Ben when they were both students at Mississippi State University. After a stint in Birmingham (law school for her, an MBA program for him) the couple made the decision to move to Jackson in 2004. Moving to Fondren in the early 2000s was a bit ahead of the curve, but the family is glad they have stayed in the neighborhood. “We are huge supporters of Fondren and all things Jackson.”
One of the things Aldridge loves about living in Fondren is being able to walk as a family to St. James Episcopal Church on Sundays or to visit restaurants and shops in the neighborhood. “In Fondren, you have big city opportunities without all the things you don’t want to deal with in a big city, like traffic.”
Through her volunteer work as a member and now president of the Junior League of Jackson, Aldridge discovered a true passion for helping others. “Our mission is about developing and training women to be effective volunteers and community leaders.” The Junior League supports initiatives for children such as early literacy, health and social development.
After working in the Attorney General’s office for more than a decade, Aldridge went into private practice. Two years later, she decided to make a change. “I was enjoying my volunteer work so much, I began thinking about how I could pursue my passion as a job.” A friend told her about the position with Children’s Hospital.
“I knew it was a perfect fit. I knew I could use my legal training plus my experience as a volunteer. Both of my children were born at UMMC and have had treatment at Children’s, and I want all children to have access to that same care.”
Those wanting to learn more or contribute to the project can find information at growchildrens.org. “Whether it’s $5, $100 or larger – every little bit will help,” Aldridge says.