By Meagan Esler
I don’t have lots of cash, or a big house. I work a ton of hours and don’t even have a lot of spare time, but there are some things that are just worth doing. A little sacrifice of time can do wonders for perspective and even our own health. I recently got to volunteer to help prepare a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in my area. This is where families can stay so they can be near their children as they undergo serious medical procedures or lengthy hospital stays. I was surprised at just how much this volunteer opportunity meant to me.
There is a brand new Ronald McDonald House in my area and as I viewed the schedule for meal preparation opportunities, I saw it was pretty much wide open. I just couldn’t say no to this. They needed people to come in and cook for the families. Was my life honestly so busy that I couldn’t sign up for one meal?
The women on a hospital auxiliary I belong to decided to sign up to make lunch and dinner for the families at the Ronald McDonald House. I signed up to make an Italian Pasta Salad. Others made Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Veggie Trays, Fruit Trays, Deli Trays, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Everyone brought ingredients, for cooking and for stocking the pantry, and went right to work. The kitchen was enormous. There were two huge islands in the middle and four cooking stations, each complete with stove, sink, and dishwasher. I felt right at home cooking and found all the necessary equipment quickly. You could see the comfort in the faces of the family members as they commented on how good the house smelled with all our cooking.
We served the families, including a parent whose child was in the hospital, a young girl with cancer, and a two-year-old boy with a brain tumor. He kept us smiling as he rolled his ball through the dining room, giggling all the way as he chased it. I was honored to help nourish them and hear some of their stories. When it came time for us to eat, I hesitated for a brief second as I went to get my insulin and syringe out of my purse. Should I go to another area of the house to take my injection? I decided not to leave the room. I’d never taken a shot in front of the auxiliary members before, and suspect that many of them didn’t know about my diabetes, but if you can’t take a shot in a house that comforts and cares for people dealing with very serious medical problems, where can you?
I took my shot in my hip and went up to eat. I am always discreet, but I am sure some people saw. No one said a word. Everyone continued helping themselves to food, eating, and chatting. I felt accepted. It felt good to take my shot just like I would in my own home. I told my husband, the real cook of the family, all about the Ronald McDonald House. We love to cook together and hope to prepare a meal there soon. With all the openings I saw, I hope many more people will do the same. It doesn’t take a lot of time, or money, to prepare a meal for someone needing comfort. If you love to cook, and want to help someone going through a difficult time, check out the openings at a Ronald McDonald House near you.