National Volunteer Week




– Join us in celebrating National Volunteer Week –

From all of us at Ronald McDonald House Charities-CNI, thank for volunteering with us and helping our families heal together at our five local Ronald McDonald Houses and three Ronald McDonald Family Rooms.

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We would love to hear from each and every one of you! Send us your picture and tell us why you love volunteering for Ronald McDonald House.

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Meet Some of Our Volunteers

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Sibohan Cannon

I was incredibly blessed to grow up with great role models who spent their talents helping and healing others. It was my dream to follow in their footsteps and I realized from a very young age that I wanted to work with children. However, it was after a trip to Ronald McDonald House with my fourth grade girl scout troop that I knew I was meant to help children and their families, especially during difficult times. That trip to RMHC fueled my desire and I was intent to spend some time of my life being part of the RMHC team.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I want to be part of a compassionate world that cares and helps one another. RMHC is an organization that exemplifies that. I am proud to be a RMHC volunteer!

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John Hierbaum

I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital for several reasons. Most importantly, I volunteer to help the families staying at the facility be as comfortable as possible during their hospital visits and treatments. In other words, making them feel like the RMH is their ‘home away from home’. I also volunteer because I have always felt the need to help people whenever possible. There are many rewarding volunteer opportunities out there for anyone who wishes to share their time and talents. My personal opinion is that the Ronald McDonald House is at the top of the list.                                  

Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House is also somewhat special to me. After my service in the U.S. Air Force, my first real job was an Assistant Manager at the McDonald’s restaurant in Oakbrook, Illinois. Being retired now and helping out at the Ronald McDonald House I feel that I have come full circle. 

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Shawn Blackwell

While on a White Sox volunteer assignment to decorate the floors of the Lurie house for the holidays, my wife, Pat, and I experienced the enthusiasm and passion of both the staff and volunteers. Since I was looking for an additional opportunity to supplement volunteering at the Hines VA Hospital, it seemed quite natural to go down the road a block to the RMH near Loyola.

My short time at RMH has been filled with amazing responses from the children who are there for treatment. It gives me great pleasure to join other volunteers in helping in any way I can to make their stay feel like home. I truly believe that “service to humanity is the best work of life”.

Tricia Ullestad volunteer week pic

Tricia Ullestad

The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a respite for families whose children are hospitalized. As a volunteer, I enjoy being the person who can offer a friendly smile, a listening ear, and welcoming hospitality. 

The Family Room at Edward Hospital is a comforting home-like place to take a break, visit with family members, or have a bite to eat in an inviting and relaxed atmosphere. It is very satisfying to witness the appreciation and gratitude of weary parents when they are able to have some of the comforts of home while staying close to their children. I think back to when my own children had hospital stays, and I am glad that I can contribute to the care and comfort that Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms provide to so many.

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Bana Robeih 

I started volunteering during the Syrian Red crescent in 1998. I served at orphanages and infirmaries. After arriving in the US in 2011, I got to know a Ronald McDonald House Family. I met a loving, caring American family. I decided to be by their side in sorrow through difficult times and in happiness for a recovery of a beloved patient. 

The happiest moments are seeing a family reunite upon the return of  a mother who had been way from her children taking care of her sick child. The children running happily to their mother and recovered sibling. Here is the beauty of Ronald McDonald House. Gathering a family in warm special place with privacy. Protecting and standing by a family in difficult moments. 

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Maddie Mazzella

I volunteer at Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s because I love the children. I started volunteering at the old Ronald McDonald House on Deming in Lincoln Park and started volunteering at RMH near Lurie Children’s the day it opened. I’ve prepared meals, sung the national anthems at several events as well as volunteered. I helped to start the RMH Teen Advisory Board at RMH near Lurie Children’s and lead the group’s monthly activities. We are now at 27 members strong and growing! I love it all and have learned so much from every opportunity, but my favorite thing to do is host activities with the children. We have painted, colored, made countless crafts. It makes me feel great when I know I’ve done a little something to make the kids at the House smile!

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Julie Evans

When my son Miles was born with Down syndrome in 1999 at Central DuPage Hospital, several birth defects required five surgeries over his first 18 months including four at Central DuPage Hospital. Our family rallied to support Miles and help one another through difficult times. During a week-long stay at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, my husband slept at an apartment for families of pediatric patients near the hospital (the Oak Lawn Ronald McDonald House opened in 2008). This eased the burden of driving home each night, helped financially, and allowed us to be by Miles’ side. We experienced a taste of the many benefits Ronald McDonald Houses provide families.  I first learned about RMHC when I worked as a marketing consultant at McDonald’s headquarters.

Fast-forward to 2013. I read an announcement in our local newspaper about the new Ronald McDonald House project at Central DuPage Hospital at our community hospital where Miles was born! That same week, I contacted Mary Agnes Laguatan at the charity, met with her and asked how I could get involved. She recommended me for the Community Council, the House board that makes connections and raises awareness for the House. I also enjoyed preparing the new House for the grand opening and giving House tours. Now that the House is open, my family enjoys volunteering in many ways. I volunteer because I love giving back to a charity whose mission has personal meaning for my family.

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Parul Gupta

I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s because I want to put a smile on our families’ faces- a reassuring smile for the parents and a playful smile for their sweet children. As a Family Ambassador on the first floor, I welcome families with a warm smile and friendly greeting. I want to provide them with a moment of brightness, whether they have had a stressful day or a joyful day of progress. My younger cousin has been in and out of hospitals since he was a child and has always maintained a sweet smile on his face. By working at RMHC, I want to make families lives a little easier at their ‘home away from home’ by giving them a reason to smile.

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Barbara Kravits

The reason I continue to volunteer at RMH near University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital is because of the wonderful people that I meet each week. Everyone is appreciative of the friendship I offer and it gives me wonderful satisfaction.

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April Ranallo

I volunteer at RMHC simply because it is FUN! There are numerous events to get involved with although I tend to try and help with each one as they are all so different. The staff, others that volunteer and those we help, could not be more amazing people in the true sense of the word. I truly get more out of helping Ronald McDonald House then I give; which means they are never getting rid me. If you are not volunteering already, inquire about getting involved to help such an incredible organization as I guaranteed you will have a blast doing so!