Natalie and Joe dancing with Curtis, long-time St. Joseph's House member, at their wedding June 11, 2016
With the birth of the LaHoods' first child, Joe, Cubby wanted to stay home with their baby and decided to establish a home-based day care business. The first client was a family seeking care for their child with a disability. Very quickly, other families learned that there was someone willing to take on the demanding task of caring for children with special needs. Families who were having a difficult time finding a day care that could serve their children began to call, and soon Cubby had several more children with disabilities in her care. In 1983, her work officially began.
In 1988, when the LaHoods were expecting their second child, they learned the baby had medical complications that were so extensive he likely would not live. Shortly after baby Francis’s birth and death, Dan decided to leave his job in the health care industry and stay home with Cubby to care for these special children. They realized that their son, had he lived, could have been just like the precious children whom they were caring for each day. Their devotion to their mission was solidified, and they renamed their ministry St. Joseph's House.
The LaHoods moved from Kensington, Maryland to the Forest Glen neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland in 1995. St. Joseph’s House sits on a corner lot on a quiet street. It looks just like any other home until one notices the long wheelchair ramp that attaches to the addition on the back of the house. The small wooden sign identifying St. Joseph’s House is in keeping with the calm simplicity that characterizes this organization. Here Dan and Cubby raised their three living children, Joe, Mary Frances, and Johnny, and worked together as a family to care for the children and families of St. Joseph's House.
Although they went about their work quietly without seeking notice for what they do, Cubby was honored for her work in 1995 by being named a Washingtonian Magazine “Washingtonian of the Year.” According to the magazine, it’s the “highest honor we bestow in our community to the people who make it a better place to live.”
Day after day, year after year, St. Joseph's House has sought in its quiet way to make life better for the families it has welcomed into its own. Even the tragic diagnosis and progression of ovarian cancer for Cubby did not weaken her resolve or dampen her dedication. In fact, it brought her and the LaHoods closer to one another and to the heart of their mission. Up until her last moments, Cubby gave herself tirelessly to those who had been entrusted to her care. She died surrounded by family in their home on September 21, 2015.
Cubby had been overjoyed to learn several months before her death that her son Joe and his fiancee, Natalie, were discerning taking over St. Joseph's House. Dan and Cubby had long dreamed that somehow their mission would continue beyond their work together. Joe had earned his Master's in Special Education at Fordham University several years before, and Natalie had served in a home similar to St. Joseph's House with an overseas mission program in Thailand. With a background in Theology and non-profit work, and a love for working with people of all abilities, Natalie took over the role of executive director in the Spring of 2016. Joe and Natalie were married in June, and then set out on the adventure of running the St. Joseph's House summer camp, with the help of Dan, Mary Frances, and Johnny. During the school year, Joe continues to teach at The Heights School in Potomac, MD, and will spend his summers at St. Joseph's House. Grounded in the vision of beloved founders Cubby and Dan LaHood, and with the Holy Spirit as guide, the LaHoods look forward to many more years of serving children and families in the DC area.
The very beginning...Dan and Cubby LaHood on their wedding day May 1, 1982
St. Joseph's House
The early days...Cubby with St. Joseph's House children in 1990