September Volunteer of the Month – Joanna Snobel
Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight a stand-out volunteer (or two) and how they support families. For September, meet Joanna Snobel, who has been a welcome face at our RMH near Comer Children’s for more than two decades.
If you ask Joanna what she loves, she rattles off a list without hesitation: “I love knitting, crocheting, cooking, baking, and volunteering.” And Joanna’s actions back this up – she has volunteered with us for 25 years!
In her time with the organization, she has utilized all of her passions – cooking meals and baking cakes for families, knitting and donating baby blankets, and committing six hours each week to volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House near UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. To say we are fortunate to benefit from all that Joanna loves is an understatement. She has become a true staple at the House near Comer over the years, and everyone who meets her counts themselves as lucky – especially if they’re at the House on Fridays when she makes her famous popcorn!
Thank you Joanna, for all you’ve done and all you continue to do for RMHC-CNI. It truly is volunteers like you who make our mission possible.
- How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI?
As of September 14, 2021, I will have been a volunteer for 25 years. It’s hard to believe how long it has been, but I first got started with the organization in 1996.
- Where do you usually volunteer, and what do you typically do?
I’ve spent my entire 25-year volunteer “career” at the Ronald McDonald House near Comer Children’s Hospital. I’m happy to help however I’m needed at the House, and I’ve done everything from making beds to giving tours. I’d have to say that my favorite thing to do is volunteer at the front desk. I love tackling administrative projects, and whenever I have down time, I do some of my other passions – crocheting and knitting. I taught myself to crochet at age 9 and to knit at age 21, and I have now made more than 750 afghans and baby blankets to donate to the House!
- Why did you first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
There were actually a few different things that inspired me to become a volunteer. The first is that I had a grandson who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he received treatment at the hospital that is now Comer Children’s. Though my grandson unfortunately passed away, I was motivated to become a volunteer while going to see him in the hospital. During my visits I saw nurses entertaining several kiddos and realized there must be ways to help out, get involved and lend a hand to those children and their families.
At that same time in my life I was employed with the federal government, and they often facilitated a campaign which shared information about how to support different organizations. I spotted Ronald McDonald House Charities during one such campaign and was immediately interested. I was persistent and reached out three different times to get details about volunteering, and I’ve been involved ever since! You can find me at the House for six hours every Friday, and it’s one of the highlights of my week.After two and a half decades, what keeps me coming back is how much I enjoy seeing people at the House, talking to the families, and making connections with the kiddos. Many of the children at the House have come to know me over the years, and it’s those relationships that I’ll always remember and treasure.
- What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a volunteer?
I’ve always found different ways to leave my mark at the House. So far I’ve purchased a leaf for the donor wall, I have a brick outside, and I donated many pots and pans when this location first opened. But I’d have to say that one of my greatest accomplishments was when I cooked lunch for families, about 16 individuals, once a month for an entire year. When I cooked, I really made a feast. I prepared dishes like pork chops, turkey tetrazzini, lasagna, shrimp and chicken gumbo, brisket, and cake! I managed to make those meals by myself, and it became something the families looked forward to each month.Another accomplishment of which I’m particularly proud is receiving the Ann Eppen Award from RMHC-CNI. That award recognizes the long-term achievements and contributions volunteers, and I was so honored to be celebrated in that way.
- What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
Of course I have so many memories, but one that stands out for me is volunteering at the Golf Classic. Doing that allowed me to meet celebrities like basketball player Steve Kerr, football player Otis Wilson, baseball player Carlton Fisk, and hockey player Tony Esposito. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would get to meet people like that, but volunteering gave me that opportunity!
Another one of my favorite experiences is getting to meet people from all over the world at the RMH near Comer Children’s. The families are always so kind and open, and it’s not uncommon for them to share their favorite foods and recipes with me. Those moments of meeting people and making those connections are what’s truly special.
Thank you Joanna for your truly outstanding commitment to helping families get better together!