Service, teamwork, community, family! These are the words used by our team members to describe their recent experience volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in Orange County. The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill, hospitalized children, enabling the families to stay together while the children receive necessary treatment.
Our enthusiastic group of photographers, editors, and other “foodie” team members delighted in planning, purchasing, and preparing the delicious and nutritious meal of broiled chicken, bow-tie pasta, homemade marinara sauce, salad, garlic bread, and watermelon, using the kitchen and cookware at the Ronald McDonald House. “We took ownership of the entire meal,” photographer Robin explained.
Senior editor Kelsey described how her favorite part of the experience was preparing the marinara sauce, perfecting its flavor, with team member Dave. “We all worked so well together, but it was the one on one moments.” Speaking of the experience, she added, “It expanded my knowledge of teamwork and emphasized the importance of teamwork both in and out of the workplace.”
After preparing the meal, the chefs were encouraged to sit and eat with the resident families, a meaningful part of the activity. “We heard amazing stories,” reported Dave.
“The best part of this experience was talking to the individual families and hearing their stories,” said owner Aubrey. “One family was from Norway seeing their baby girl be born via surrogate, and another family from Oregon had triplet girls! I got a great sense of the faith they have in their current situations and also the relief they feel at the end of the day when they have a nice home-cooked meal waiting for them.”
Robin related her own experience with the families, “Some chit-chatted, but others just needed food. Some looked exhausted. I feel for them because you can imagine all the stress—financial, caring for sick children … They weren’t dragging, though. There was just a weariness.”
Drone operator Dan expressed that serving at the Ronald McDonald House was “personal” for him. He shared how a couple of years ago a Ronald McDonald house in a different area helped his niece Victoria when she was treated for cancer. “She was too young,” Dan said sadly. Unfortunately, Victoria passed away at age 14. “I really appreciate what they do there,” said Dan.
Robin revealed, “It was a good feeling helping people, and it felt good while we were there, but I didn’t get the full impact until afterwards.” Robin explained how she shared this experience on social media, and a friend of hers emotionally expressed her thanks, as she had once received help from the Ronald McDonald House herself. Robin continued, “I get teary thinking about it now, how much she valued it.”
This sentiment was emphasized in a thank you letter sent by RMH volunteer Wendy Knowles after the event:
All the team members interviewed emphasized that they would love to do this again. “It’s the least we could have done!” said Aubrey. “Serving with my team members was so much fun, and I would love to do it again soon!”
After leaving neatly packaged leftovers for those still at the hospital, the team reset the kitchen. Robin shared, “We tried to leave the kitchen better than we found it. We wanted to make sure we were invited back.”
We encourage other groups to organize similar service events, “If you want to put together a group to serve these wonderful families at Ronald McDonald House Orange County, please click here.