Inspirational Women of Birdland: Fans Making A Difference in Our Community

December 30th, 2020

This year has been exceptionally challenging -- no one can deny that.

In an effort to find the positive, we looked to some of our most inspiring Birdland Members, who provided some sure-fire ways to refuel, refocus and find gratitude as we look ahead to 2021.

Whether they are a frontline worker, a nonprofit leader or a work-from-home mother, many women of Birdland have similar motivators.

Birdland Insider spoke with four of our Birdland Members about their work in the community and the ways they stay inspired to continue making a difference:

Casey Baynes, Founder & Executive Director of Casey Cares, a nonprofit providing ongoing and uplifting programming to critically ill children and their families.

Ashley Burnham, Cardiac Surgery Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at Johns Hopkins Hospital and University of Maryland Medical Center. When she is able, Ashley also enjoys supporting local nonprofit BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter) and connecting with other causes that have impacted people she loves.

Gage Parr, Cardiac Anesthesiologist at George Washington University Hospital. In her spare time, Gage provides support to her alma mater (Princeton) by interviewing high school students for recruitment. She has also provided her talents in Haiti after recent natural disasters.

Sue Ramzy, Senior Clinical Nurse at University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. For four months, Sue worked in the COVID-19 unit every day, ensuring the best possible care for our family and community members.

Casey Baynes reminds us that not all days are easy. In these trying times, Casey shared she makes a promise with herself every night to wake up the next morning excited for another day. “Along with the families in our program, I know all too well, our tomorrows are not guaranteed.”

From a young age, Casey volunteered with her family. Casey credits this and her mother, Susan Wollenweber, with becoming who she is today.

What inspired you to create Casey Cares?

Growing up, my parents always made sure my brother Chad and I were active in the community. In high school, I organized a massive clothing/supplies drive for the flood victims in the Midwest. That process was a thrill which proved to be turning point to me. Orchestrating help -- whether it be something small or larger scale ventures -- became the fuel that motivated me. I was not certain how that would manifest itself, but as time passed, Casey Cares was born. This meant that all of my passion would be directed to helping critical ill children. I came to know that illness is not just the child’s circumstance, but rather a life changing far-reaching circumstance for the entire family.

When she isn’t helping to save lives as nurse, Birdland Member and dog mom Ashley Burnham helps prove there are so many different ways to give back -- including fundraising with the experience of a Baltimore Orioles game.

Ashley has used Camden Yards high-five fundraising for some of the non-profits she is most passionate about including BARCS, autism awareness, and heart causes. She stays motivated with the help of Murray -- named after the Orioles Legend -- who she proudly adopted from BARCS.

Is there any woman in your life that most inspires you?

Not one specifically. It takes a village. My mother, who is also a nurse, and my grandmother, who is 91, have taught me important values: Give when you can. Be forgiving. Do not judge. Pick and choose your battles. Continue on when things get tough.

The women of the intensive care unit have also shaped me. It’s a very fast-paced environment where I am always challenged to be better.

I believe in surrounding yourself with people that support you and want you to be better.

Birdland Member and cardiac anesthesiologist Gage Parr shared that making time for her own mental health is an important part of giving back. She uses her Peloton not just for exercise, but also to stay connected with friends as they ride together and encourage each other in times of uncertainty.

What makes you proudest, both professionally and personally?

Professionally, I know I am good at what I do and I help save lives, which is very rewarding. I am proud that people come to me as a mentor and value my opinion. Personally, I am proud of my family and for raising kind, caring children who want to help make the world better.

Giving back can mean many different things. Giving of time, giving of talent, giving by donation. Even a simple gesture of bringing breakfast casserole to your 12-hour nursing shift can go a long way, which is one of the many way Sue Ramzy cares for the people in her life.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

My mother was also a nurse, she inspired me to go into the profession. She also instilled my love of baseball. One of my earliest memories is when my father asked me to go upstairs and make sure my mom was ready for work. She was awake, alright -- listening to the Orioles game on her transistor radio.

Oriole Baseball has a way of bringing people together. We encourage each of our fans to try to make a difference in the Birdland community. No matter your passion, each of these inspiring women agree, the important thing is to continue trying to be a leader and a positive influence to those around you each day.