Every day, I get to witness how a simple act of kindness can provide comfort for someone going through a very difficult time. As the Assistant Director of Volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Philadelphia Region (RMHC Philly), I also see how much those giving kindness grow and find fulfillment through their actions.
Imagine that your child has a serious illness and you have to travel far from your home to make sure they receive the best possible medical care. Where would you stay? What would you eat? And how would you afford it? At RMHC Philly, we strive to answer those questions for families facing that challenge, giving parents and guardians the opportunity to focus on their children’s health. But we couldn’t do it without the support of volunteers.
Simple Act, Big Impact
Our guest families often tell me how much it comforts them to see a welcoming smile from a volunteer or to eat a warm meal prepared by our guest chef groups after a long day at the hospital. Similarly, our volunteers let me know how good it feels to see how much their actions are appreciated. They know they’ve directly improved someone’s life once they see how much our families depend on our services.
Some volunteers come through our doors twice a week, some once a month, and some just once a year. I know that with our hectic schedules, it’s not always possible to commit to volunteering, but I’ve seen that those who do commit get a lot in return. They develop friendships with other volunteers and a sense of community and purpose as everyone works together to help families facing the most difficult time in their lives.
A Longstanding Commitment to Giving Back
A lot of corporate groups, such as Independence’s Blue Crew, volunteer often because they understand the value of team-building through helping others. The Blue Crew has been volunteering for nearly 20 years. They visit twice every month to prepare meals at no cost to our guest families. Not only do they prepare nutritious meals, they also get to collaborate with our staff chefs, while serving and interacting with our guests. During one of the Blue Crew’s visits, a guest parent told me, “After a long day of remote teaching, then travelling, it was so nice to be welcomed by a hot meal being served. I even got to try something new!”
Even when we had to suspend in-person volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Crew kept their commitment to the house by sponsoring two breakfasts every month.
The Blue Crew also helped RMHC Philly pilot a virtual volunteer opportunity through WeHero, a company which provides virtual volunteer solutions. For the pilot, 50 Blue Crew volunteers and their families assembled 150 hospitality kits at home, which were then shipped to RMHC for guest family use. These kits included personal toiletries like soaps, lotion, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, mints, and messages of hope and encouragement.
Supporting Families All the Way
Groups like the Blue Crew are invaluable to our operations. They help us manage the large amounts of food that must be prepared to feed all of our guest families. There will be 127 families once we are at full capacity again. Of course, there are numerous other ways that groups and single volunteers help our families, including supporting our fundraising events, driving our hospitality shuttles, decorating the house, hosting activities, providing expertise, and much more.
“These families are going through so much. To be able to put a smile on their faces at the end of a long day makes everything we do worthwhile,” said Rogelio Riley, Blue Crew volunteer and project lead for the monthly Ronald McDonald House project.
Do What You Love
We find that many of our volunteers will align their passion with one of our volunteering opportunities. Those who love golf may help with our golf outings. If they love music, they will help with music therapy. If they simply love to help others directly, they will opt for front desk duties, where they can assist families with anything they might need. Others may actually find that their passion for giving back is a calling. In fact, at RMHC Philly, several of our current staff members started working here as volunteers.
I encourage everyone to try volunteering at least once a year and to continue working on self-fulfillment, especially if it helps others. It’s a win-win situation!