June Volunteer of the Month – Jenna Grigalauski
Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight a stand-out volunteer (or two) and how they support families. For June, meet Jenna Grigalauski, whose knowledge and love of cooking has been a huge help for guest families during COVID-19.
- How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI?
I started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital (in Winfield, IL) in October of 2017.
- Where do you usually volunteer, and what do you typically do?
I’m an individual volunteer at the CDH House, and I can honestly say that no two shifts are the same. There is always something going on around the House, and I really enjoy that! Typically, I help with laundry, prepare rooms for families before they check-in, organize donations, or even take care of the garden in the summer and fall.
Given the current restrictions due to COVID-19, I have been able to help even more by planning and preparing meals for guest families. I have a background in food science and the culinary arts. Being able to cook and bake every few weeks has brought me so much joy!
- Why did you first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
I started volunteering because I needed to do something positive and meaningful when my grief was most heavy and overwhelming. My husband, Adam, passed away in June of 2017 after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia just months earlier. Volunteering is my way of honoring my love for him, and serving community members who are going through challenging times is what keeps me coming back.
- What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
This past fall, I was beginning to prepare a meal and dessert when a family was heading out the door for an afternoon filled with doctor appointments. The young patient wanted nothing more than to stay and help in the kitchen. I told her that I would be cooking for a little bit, and I would still be there when she got back. She returned a couple of hours later and was very excited to be given a job. So, she sat at one of the kitchen islands while I worked at the other. We found sprinkles to decorate the frosted Rice Krispies Treats that I made, and Halloween stickers for her to customize the single-serve dessert bags. We chatted and enjoyed each other’s company the whole time – it was great!
- What does it mean to you to donate your time to RMHC-CNI?
Donating my time to RMHC-CNI means being able to serve community members. It’s my hope that I might be able to understand a little bit of what they are going through. I empathize with having a loved one in the hospital. It’s exhausting on so many levels. Knowing there is a group of people who care and “take care of the small details,” from preparing homemade meals to ensuring rooms and the House are safe and clean, makes all the difference in getting through the tough days.
Thank you Jenna for your outstanding commitment to helping families get better together!