When you hear ‘Ronald McDonald’, you instantly think about McDonalds. Well that’s what I did when I first heard about the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Connecting with a staff member from the Southampton House on Twitter, I was invited in for a house tour.
I instantly felt like a celebrity being invited to the house, and yet upon arrival, the reason for the house tour became apparent. The Ronald McDonald House Charities are very unique. They provide free accommodation to families with children in hospital, allowing them to be closer to their loved ones, without the stress of trying to figure out where to stay.
I’ll be honest, before the connection on Twitter, I was unaware the charity existed. Sounds bad I know! Even more so, when I found out the house is only minutes from where I’m living.
When I talk to people about volunteering demographics, I talk about how there’s opportunities close to us that we don’t know about it. The opportunity to learn more about the charity and the work they do, intrigued me. Why didn’t I know they existed beforehand?
I remember waking up the morning of the house tour excited for the visit, and as soon as I arrived, I was taken back to when I started volunteering in 2012…
I felt I was home.
Walking through their doors and arriving at the main reception, something happened…I wanted to get involved, even before the house tour began.
The warmth in the house and the smiles the staff had on their faces really took me back to why I love volunteering. I love seeing others smile, and when others smile, I smile.
I smile when I’m welcomed into a new environment and more so, when the charity want to hear my story. I tell my story a tad too much these days, and yet when I was sharing my journey, I knew the next part of my journey was going to be at the Southampton House.
The Southampton House need more volunteers to support their services, help with the running of the main reception, to support with fundraising events and to help with other tasks; giving the house’s families a safe place to sleep.
We can’t imagine what the families must be feeling with their children in hospital, so having accommodation on site, fully supported by the charity, allows for families to focus their attention on their child.
I don’t know what it is, but I always make a fool of myself. When I was showed around the house and during my volunteering time with the charity, there was a big balloon sculpture people can get into. Luckily, my lack of hair makes it easier to deal with balloon static, and yet you can’t see it here with me pretending to growl.
I was told when signing up to volunteer, the experience would be like no other, and WOW was that statement true!
When you look at the pictures below, you’d believe it was a hotel room?! The spotless nature, the warmth within the room, and the immaculate detail in ensuring the transition of one family leaving and another arriving is time efficient.
As well as supporting the team with room inspections, the majority of my time focused on supporting the front desk. I wanted to put my welcoming nature *laugh* and bubbly personality *another laugh* to good use and support staff with taking calls (including referrals), responding to face to face enquiries and preparing their tombola.
Yep…I said tombola!
I felt my inner 8-year-old appeared when they mentioned ‘tombola’ and how I was going to help them to choose the next lot of prizes to be won. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that even though my planned time came to an end with the charity, someone will effectively be impacted by the rooms I inspected, and the tombola prizes I chose.
Even more so, knowing I’ve extended my time with the charity and will be assisting them to develop a local volunteering programme.
Sometimes your original plans need to change and I now want to use my story to inspire more local people to get involved in the Ronald McDonald House Charities and to experience for themselves why it’s a special place to volunteer.
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House Charities and to find out what opportunities are available across the UK click here.