Carewell Community Builder Award: Jess Ronne (Jess Plus the Mess), Founder of The Lucas Project

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Fri Feb 16 2024.

Carewell Community Builder Award: Jess Ronne (Jess Pluss the Mess), Founder of The Lucas Project

Caregiver: Jess Ronne

She’s caring for: Her son, Lucas

Winner of: The Carewell Community Builder Award

A Dream Spurs a Movement

Jess Ronne’s son, Lucas, suffered a stroke in utero and underwent brain surgery three days after birth. Despite multiple diagnoses and profound special needs, Lucas has thrived. He also serves as the inspiration for The Lucas Project, a nonprofit organization that Ronne founded alongside her husband, Ryan.

During Lucas’ childhood, Ronne says she noticed a lack of resources, particularly when it came to respite for family caregivers. On one hand, she knew society was full of compassionate people who wanted to help, but on the other, there was no way to facilitate that connection. 

Ronne dreamed of creating a way to fill this void and launched The Lucas Project.

Changing Parent Caregiver Lives Through Education, Support, and Encouragement

The Lucas Project provides family caregivers with support, education, and encouragement. It also provides caregiver Care Packages and Respite Days. These resources make a profound difference that doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, we received 50+ nominations for Ronne from members of her caregiving community, each expressing admiration for her dedication, advocacy, and compassion.

“Everything I’ve accomplished in life and advocacy work has been to bring focus back to the [caregiving] community,” Ronne says. “The poet Maya Angelou once said ‘Society is only as healthy as its weakest link.’ My work has always been about strengthening this weak link. Strengthening caregivers by empowering them to be seen and heard, and in turn, strengthening communities as a whole. Because caregiving is a whole circle life experience.”

Continuing the Mission

Ronne says she’s just getting started. In addition to her work at The Lucas Project, she’s produced a documentary: Unseen: How We’re Failing Parent Caregivers and Why It Matters, and hosts the podcast Coffee with Caregivers, which discusses the joys and challenges of parenting children with special needs. Ronne and her husband are also developing a property called Hope Farm, that aims to provide housing and long-term care for disabled adults.

As the winner of the Carewell Community Builder Award, Ronne will receive a $2,500 donation to further empower The Lucas Project and its mission of supporting family caregivers. 

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.