October Volunteer of the Month – Yvette Barnabas
Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight a stand-out volunteer (or two) and how they support families. For October, meet Yvette Barnabas (pictured above, third from left), who has become a welcome face at our RMH near Lurie Children’s over the past four years.
- How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI?
I first started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s in December 2017, so I’m now coming up on four years as a volunteer.
- Where do you usually volunteer, and what do you typically do?
I currently volunteer twice each month at the Lurie House, and I used to participate every Tuesday afternoon! Since being involved as an individual volunteer, I’ve done everything from laundry and House refreshing, to being a Meal Helper and working at the front desks, to giving tours and making welcome bags, to organizing the playrooms and cleaning out family refrigerators, to sorting through Christmas presents and replenishing the toy closet. Whatever the House needs, I’ve done it.
- Why did you first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
I started volunteering for two reasons. I had a colleague whose two-month-old grandson needed a heart transplant, so I visited him in the hospital. The baby’s parents told me they were staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and they shared how much of a difference it made in their lives during a very stressful and difficult time. Hearing about their experience got me thinking about all the blessings I received over the years, and It made me want to give back.
Around that same time in my life, my daughter Natalie started volunteering with RMHC-CNI and asked me to help her cook a meal at the Lurie House. That was my first time at the House, and I met several staff members who told me more about all the opportunities to volunteer. After that first visit, we signed up to cook another meal for my daughter’s birthday with all her friends, and I become an individual volunteer shortly thereafter. Needless to say, the rest was history.
- What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
My favorite moments as a volunteer are helping children pick out a toy, video game or movie and seeing the joy on their faces when they find something they like. Even something small like stacking cups or a bouncy ball can brighten their days. I can honestly say that I feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction every time I volunteer.
- What does it mean to you to donate your time to RMHC-CNI?
I am grateful to RMHC-CNI for giving me the opportunity to help others. I have learned a few life lessons from the beautiful examples of how to live life courageously from the kids and their families at the Lurie House. I have friends who stayed with the organization during their times of need, and I am so happy that such families get the opportunity to be close to their children during such challenging circumstances.
- If someone was thinking about becoming a volunteer with our organization, what would you tell them about getting involved?
I would recommend becoming a volunteer because there are so many opportunities to be involved. People can volunteer at a House, Family Room or event, and the organization’s staff are really like family. I love going to the House and seeing their familiar faces. Plus, over the years I’ve also gotten to know some of the other volunteers and families. These connections are meaningful because people share their stories with me, and that’s something I consider to be truly special.
Thank you Yvette for your dedication to helping families get better together!