March Volunteer of the Month – Jeff Coffland
Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight stand-out volunteers and how they support families. For March, meet Jeff Coffland, who has spent more than two decades helping at fundraising events, participating on event committees, and making meals at Ronald McDonald House.
- How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI? I started volunteering through the McDonald’s Technology Charity Classic (TCC), which benefits the organization, soon after joining McDonald’s in 1998. So, that means I’ve been volunteering for about 24 years now!
- Where do you usually volunteer, and what do you typically do? I predominately provide support by participating at special events like the annual Golf Classic, and by making meals at the Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital.In fact, I started an annual tradition of participating in Meals from the Heart to celebrate my birthday. I have a group of family and friends that gets together to cook with me on my birthday, and we’ve done this for about the last 5-10 years. I’ve also used this as an opportunity to introduce more people outside of McDonald’s to RMHC-CNI, and that’s the best present ever!
- Why did you first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
I had heard about the organization before I worked for McDonald’s, but I still didn’t know exactly what RMHC-CNI did to serve families. So, I started volunteering as a way to get answers to my questions about, as well as help raise money for the mission.I started small by volunteering to stuff golfer goody bags for the annual Golf Classic. The next year I just showed up and asked to help with anything they needed. This led to me taking on more responsibilities during the event, and eventually I joined the committee to run course operations! Volunteering at the golf outing led me to want to help at other events because they are all so unique, so I’ve enjoyed participating in other fundraisers now as well.A lot of the reason I keep coming back is that I like helping to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. And, I enjoy spending time with the great RMHC-CNI staff members and other volunteers.
- What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
My very favorite memory was years ago when the 7th grade religious education class I taught had to fulfill a service hours requirement. They chose to complete those hours by supporting RMHC-CNI, and we wound up hosting a game night at one of the Houses. That night it was great to hear the laughter and excitement from all the kids – those undergoing treatment, their siblings, as well as my students. But what caught me totally by surprise was the impact it had on the parents. They all gathered and talked in the dining room, enjoying the opportunity for some adult time while still experiencing all the fun activity going on around them. It was a triple bonus – kids, parents, and students all having a great time. The memory still brings a smile to my face.
- What does it mean to you to donate your time to RMHC-CNI?
The best way for me to explain this is through a story. I didn’t think I’d be able to celebrate this past Christmas (2021) with my sons due to their jobs and other commitments. Christmas was just a week away when it hit me that there might not be volunteers signed up to cook meals at each of the Ronald McDonald Houses for the holiday. Sure enough, there was an opening at the House near Central DuPage Hospital, so I signed up to cook Christmas brunch.While cooking, the real meaning of volunteering for RMHC-CNI hit home while I talked to a guest mom from Wisconsin who had spent most of her life in Brazil. She shared that she had previously helped raise funds for RMHC in Brazil, without even understanding what the organization did. Then there she was, a doctor living with her family in Wisconsin, experiencing the benefits of a House firsthand in a different country. Based on her experience she was already trying to think of ways to get others involved!Once you get to know the organization, hear stories about the mission, and talk with guest families, you can’t help but want to help in any way possible. As for my sons, two of them were able to join me to cook the brunch, making it one of my best Christmases ever!
- If someone was thinking about becoming a volunteer with our organization, what would you tell them about getting involved?
Start today! Go to the RMHC-CNI website where you can learn about many different ways to volunteer. Or simply provide support making a financial donation to the organization. Any gift of time or money makes a difference!
Thank you Jeff for your many years of dedication and support!