May Volunteer of the Month – Mark Sabala

Meet our volunteers! Each month, we highlight stand-out volunteers and how they support families. For May, meet Mark Sabala, who has been a friendly face at two of our Ronald McDonald Houses since 2023.

  1. How long have you volunteered with RMHC-CNI?
    I’ve been volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s since July 2023, and at the Ronald McDonald House in Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital since November 2023.
  2. Where/how do you typically volunteer, and what do you usually do?
    I am a team volunteer at both the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s and the Ronald McDonald House in Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital. At both locations, my duties are preparing lunch, delivering lunch to another House, House refreshing, working at the front desk, providing House tours, stocking supplies, etc. I trust my supervisors so much that I’ll do whatever is asked of me.
  3. Why did you first start volunteering with RMHC-CNI, and what keeps you coming back?
    In 1995, I watched my supervisor and friend experience a tragic loss in their family. It felt as if I could do nothing for them in their grief. In 2023, I retired in June and started onboarding at both Houses a month earlier to not break stride. I’ll continue to assist wherever needed. The folks in the administration are helpful, trustworthy, supportive, and knowledgeable. I’m blessed to be surrounded by all my coworkers.
  4. What is your favorite memory or experience from volunteering?
    I’ve had many in my short time. However, in my first week of volunteering, I was sitting on the 3rd floor at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s when a 7-8-year-old child put his chin on my table and was just looking at me. I saw his father speaking Spanish to him earlier, so I spoke in Spanish to him, and he didn’t respond. He just rode off on a plastic toy bike. I saw him again by the elevator as I was going for my shift, gave him a smile, and left. Two days later I was leaving Prentice after my shift. As I was going down the escalator, I saw the same child, and when he saw me, he could not stop saying, “Hola!” We gave each other a high-five and we were both so excited to see one another.  Now I look for him and his family. But there are many very similar experiences.
  5. What does it mean to you to donate your time to our organization?
    It means there’s a purpose in this life that others may not realize. The folks here, not only volunteers, but the leaders in administration and staff, are also there to serve others. “Service before Self” is a solid mantra I follow.
  6. If someone was thinking about becoming a volunteer, what would you tell them about getting involved?
    To be excited about the opportunity to aid and assist children and their families in trying times. You are also helping the staff members in all Houses and facilities so they can better perform their duties. I believe with direction and support, we can encourage those interested, and that their efforts are ALWAYS appreciated.

Thank you, Mark for your contributions to helping families feel at home!

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