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Celebrating Four RMHC-SWO 35 Year Volunteers!

Celebrating Four RMHC-SWO 35 Year Volunteers!

 
MEET CAROLYNN
Ronald McDonald House Volunteer at Front Desk

 

 

 

 

 

 




Photo: Carolynn with a young helper at the volunteer welcome desk!
 

How did you get involved with RMH 35 years ago?

 

AS THE MOTHER OF FOUR MCDONALD’S TEENAGED EMPLOYEES, I WAS VERY MUCH AWARE OF THE BEAUTIFUL HOUSE BEING BUILT IN LONDON, FOR OUT OF TOWN FAMILIES OF CHILDREN RECEIVING CARE AT OUR HOSPITALS. IN THE SPRING OF 1985, I ATTENDED THE OPENING CELEBRATION AND TOUR OF “THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT”. A HOUSE THAT OPENED DEBT FREE DUE TO THE GENEROSITY AND FUNDRAISING EFFORTS OF MANY IN OUR COMMUNITY. I SIGNED UP TO BE A VOLUNTEER ON THAT DAY.

When I started, the in-House staff consisted of the House Manager and a part-time bookkeeper, so the need for volunteers was great. We could accommodate only 12 families and it cost $7.00 per night. With the exception of milk and Coke products, families supplied their own food, prepared meals, kept rooms clean and tidy, did laundry, and left their room ready for the next family. We endeavored to create a warm, comforting, and caring environment for our guest families struggling with their child’s illness, often hundreds of miles away from home and family.
 
Having raised four healthy children, volunteering at Ronald McDonald House helped fulfill my need to give back in thanksgiving for my many blessings, and to answer a need in my community. I have been honoured to share the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs, of many families during my years here, I also enjoy the friendship and heartfelt involvement of the whole team - staff and fellow volunteers that work together to make our House truly “a home away from home” for our families. 

 

Meet Kevin

Ronald McDonald House Volunteer by book shelf
Photo: Kevin strikes a pose in his red volunteer vest!
 

Is there a moment or special memory that really stands out from your volunteer time that you could share?

 

I THINK THE SPECIAL MOMENTS ARE SEEING MY KIDS GROW UP IN THE HOUSE.  MY JOB FOR 25 YEARS WAS THAT OF A WEEKEND HOUSE MANAGER. OUR FAMILY WOULD COME IN 5 TIMES A YEAR AND STAY FROM FRIDAY NIGHT AT 7 PM TILL SUNDAY AT 6 PM AND ESSENTIALLY LOOK AFTER ALL ASPECTS OF THE HOUSE. I WATCHED AS MY CHILDREN GREW DOING DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES AROUND THE HOUSE FROM PLAYING IN THEIR EARLY YEARS TO TAKING ON A VOLUNTEER ROLE. MY DAUGHTER HAS CONTINUED VOLUNTEERING AT THE HOUSE AND NOW HAS HER DAUGHTER HELP WITH TASKS ASSOCIATED WITH HER ROLE. HAVING THREE GENERATIONS WORKING AT THE HOUSE IS SOMETHING I’M PARTICULARLY PROUD OF.

I enjoy talking to potential volunteers about the House, telling of the positive impact it has on my life. It’s my hope the passion I share with them will start a story for them similar to mine. I would tell them be yourself, be a good listener and smile!  A simple smile or a hello can have a great impact on families that are struggling with their son or daughter’s illness. It’s a volunteer role that at the end of your shift you can take comfort in knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. How many places can boast something such as this?


 

Meet Pat

Group of Ronald McDonald House volunteers

Photo: Pat is front and center in this group volunteer photo!
 

What piece of advice would you offer to new volunteers joining the team?
 

I WOULD ADVISE VOLUNTEERS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EXCELLENT TRAINING PROGRAM, ENJOY FELLOWSHIP, SMILE AND BE WELCOMING! THANK YOU, RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE HAS BEEN A GIFT I WILL FOREVER TREASURE. 

Mario and I opened the McDonald’s in Strathroy in 1983. He was on the first Board of Directors, and I helped fund-raise from an office on South Street. I began at the House with Helen and at that time our duties were many, admitting guests, cleaning rooms, whatever was needed. One memory that comes to mind: A young girl newly admitted to the house told me a story about her McHappy Day socks: they were given to her by a “nice lady at Mc Donald’s Sarnia, she had red hair”, that was my daughter Colleen. I am proud to have a family contributing to this “home away from home”.


 

Meet Yolanda

35 year volunteer

Photo: Yolanda is ready to come inside and keep families close!
 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

 

IT IS EASY TO OUTLINE WHY I AM STILL VOLUNTEERING.  THE VOLUNTEER POSITION WAS SO VARIED OVER THE YEARS. I LOVE MEETING FAMILIES EACH WITH THEIR OWN PERSONAL CHALLENGES OF HAVING TO MOVE TO LONDON FOR A TIME PERIOD TO DEAL WITH A CRITICAL SITUATION.  THE GRATITUDE EXPRESSED BY THOSE FAMILIES HAS NOT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS. LATER, I BECAME A BOARD MEMBER AND ENJOYED VARIOUS ROLES WHILE STILL CONTINUING TO BE AN IN HOUSE VOLUNTEER. THE HOUSE HAS A WAY OF BRINGING COMMUNITY GROUPS AND WORKPLACES TOGETHER.

 My working career started at the Thames Valley Children Centre (now RMH’s neighbor), but it was previously located a short distance away, close to the old Victoria Hospital. I often drove along Baseline Rd. and watched the construction of the original House.  Later signs were posted outside requesting volunteers! It so happened that I was also the Speech-Language Pathologist for a toddler who was undergoing significant cleft palate repair and the parents sang the praises of being able to stay at the RMH. So in September of 1985, I provided a resume and was interviewed by the founding Executive Director and got the job! 

There are many special and tender moments with families!  I especially value the Hannah’s Mail celebration and knew the charming little girl and her parents for whom this event was named. There were also special moments volunteering on McHappy Days! One year, I was warmly greeted by the manager of the McDonald’s on Wellington Road South (a rather busy location I might add) and the energetic staff and crowd committed to raising funds for the House. I barely survived the challenging half-hour taking and fulfilling orders at the drive-thru!  

 

 

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