Volunteer opportunity: Ronald McDonald House

Home connotes feelings of warmth and comfort, but families devastated by illness lack that homey environment when they have to stay in hospitals and hotel rooms. Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation provide families going through difficult times of sickness with a home-away-from-home.
Fortunately for Mercer students and organizational groups, the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia, located just a few blocks away from campus on Forsyth Street, is always seeking compassionate and eager volunteers to help make the House a “home.” Whether affiliated with a group or serving as an individual, anyone 16 years or older can offer his or her personal skills to support the nonprofit organization and families staying there.
“The Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia is an organization where you get to meet a lot of great people who truly appreciate the services the volunteers provide,” said House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Keysha Smith. She said volunteers make the burden of disease easier for the families.
Individual volunteer positions available include office and managerial assistance, greeting families and sponsors, cleanup and fixing-up the House, gardening, staffing booths at festivals or exhibits, mailing or fundraising. Basic tasks range from making brownies to making beds.
Smith said that personable and well-rounded people are the best type of volunteers for the service opportunities available at the House. However, she said volunteers usually interact more with caregivers than with patients themselves.
With only six staff members (three full-time and three part-time) and shifts beginning Monday through Thursday at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 9:00 p.m., the House never ceases to need more volunteers. On the last Wednesday of each month, the House holds volunteer training sessions so volunteers can become acclimated with the sorts of tasks they will be performing.
The House especially searches for volunteers when they have upcoming events. On March 16 the Sixth Annual Pull for the House will take place downtown, and on April 3-6 the Pro-Am Horse Show will take place at the Perry Agriculture Center. Both of these events are in high need for volunteers.
Group service opportunities include sponsoring meals for the families or hosting a donation drive based on the necessities of the House.
Most group volunteers usually reserve volunteer times on the weekends. A maximum of 12 people per group is requested, and there is no appointment or orientation process necessary for groups.
Efforts are made to accommodate skills set with the type of tasks assigned to each volunteer, whether that be making a bed or taking out the trash. A certain flexibility, however, is required from volunteers.
Callie Sartain, a freshman who has volunteered a few times at the Ronald McDonald House with her sorority, said “it feels really nice to be able to provide a home cooked meal to help those away from their own homes.”
Sartain gave this advice for first time volunteers at the House: “go with an open heart, an open mind and a cheerful attitude.”
First time volunteers will be assigned a position where they feel most comfortable completing the task and may even be paired with an experienced volunteer.
Applications for individual volunteers are available at the Ronald McDonald House website (www.rmhccga.org), and additional questions concerning volunteer opportunities may be directed to [email protected]