December Volunteer of the Month – Team Serene
Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight stand-out volunteers and how they support families. For December, meet Team Serene, who have been providing delicious meals and treats to guest families since 2019.
- How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI?
Our group, Team Serene, started volunteering in January 2019. We first became interested because my daughter, Serene, was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. While I already had an understanding of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana prior to that, our personal experience really showed us how important it was for families to have a “home away from home”. It’s essential for those families to have access to simple things like a meal, shower or bedroom rather than just being stuck in the hospital.
- Where/how do you typically volunteer, and what do you usually do?
Team Serene has participated quite a few times in Meals from the Heart and Cookies from the Heart at the Ronald McDonald House near Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. And, one time we also baked treats at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s. We try to volunteer as a group at least twice a year. I have a wonderful, large family and a lot of them do whatever they can to support Team Serene. My sisters, sons, nieces and nephews have all participated many times. All of us find it so rewarding to volunteer for Meals from the Heart and Cookies from the Heart. When we cook, we make Middle Eastern dishes, and we hope this gives the families some nice variety to their meals. When we bake, we create some of Serene’s favorite treats. It’s something we do in her memory, and it’s a nice way to include her in our volunteerism.
- Why did you/Team Serene first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
It was our own experience with Serene’s cancer diagnosis and our stay at the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Lurie Children’s that first got us involved. Now, it’s the appreciation of the families that keeps us coming back. When the guests come into the kitchen to eat our food, they share so many positive comments and so much gratitude. And, we like knowing that we’re giving them one less thing to worry about. Plus, the Ronald McDonald Houses are impressive. We love being in that space and seeing everything there is for families to utilize and enjoy.
- What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
Our favorite moments are always interacting with the guest families, but we also love touring the Ronald McDonald House near Advocate Children’s Hospital. That space is beautiful, comfortable and such a nice break from the hospital setting. It’s a real treat for the families staying there.
- What does it mean to you to donate your time to RMHC-CNI?
It means a lot to us to give back and volunteer in memory of Serene. Being able to help other children like her and families like ours is very special, and RMHC-CNI gives us that opportunity. Team Serene is happy to volunteer as often as we can, so we’ll definitely keep coming back.
Thank you Team Serene for your contributions to helping families feel at home!