Bill Mount was introduced to the Columbus Ronald McDonald House when the first House was built on 18th Street in 1982. He was working for Converse Electric when the company was awarded the contract to do the electrical work for that first building. As the project manager, Bill was among the first to help get the House started in Central Ohio. In 2008, it was time to move into the current building, Bill was the project manager again, being there for the demolition of the old building and saving as many materials as possible for the new building. Continuing as project manager, Bill was involved in with the construction of the current House, and its expansion in 2014. “That’s how I got acquainted with the Ronald McDonald House. I really didn’t know much about it before that,” he said during a recent interview after mowing the lawn at the House. “I had seen the positive impact and the good things that happen and how it helps the families to stay close.”
After retiring in 2018, Bill said he wanted to stay involved with the House, so he continued to volunteer in various ways, including working with one particular gentleman from Continental Building Company on the golf committee for RMHC. Bill explained, “I had offered to help with the building and Todd Alexander, with Continental, said it might be a good idea.” Bill started by doing electrical work and craftsman work in the House, and now he also takes care of the yard and grounds. Bill points out, “I have been involved and I enjoy it and I think it’s a great, great facility and I’m happy to be part of it.”
Bill ‘s contributions to the House hasn’t just been with the physical building itself. “Through Converse Electric, we’ve provided a half-dozen dinners and that’s pretty rewarding. Everyone is so thankful because they’re getting a nice cooked meal,” he said. Bill reminisced about one of his favorite moments in the House, which didn’t involve fixing something, but did involve his wife. “Molly and I came down and brought dishes and plates and glasses and cups…and paint. And we let the kids paint. It was an activity in the evening. We had the paints and brushes and so forth and they painted all kinds of designs all over the plates. That was pretty fun, to interact with the kids. That night was great.”
Many folks are being asked to stay away from others as much as possible during the pandemic and our Ronald McDonald House has ceased most volunteer opportunities. Bill is one of the few volunteers still coming back to help the House. When asked why he still comes to help take care of the grounds, Bill quipped, “The grass keeps growing.” After a chuckle, he continued, “It’s pretty easy for me to maintain social distancing and stay outside. I don’t go in the House that much.”
Now, Bill has also set his sights on another outdoor activity on the property. Thanks to his extensive knowledge of gardening, he’s taken a lead role in helping our new garden grow. “Well, I was raised on a farm and I have a degree in animal science from Ohio State and I have gardened my whole life. I enjoy planting stuff, watching it grow, harvesting and working in the dirt. I still like it.” He’s really taken the lead on this project, even recruiting his fellow craftsmen and RMHC staff members one early day in April to help go through the garden area to remove rocks so he could bring in his tractor to till it. What’s more, he was able to convince Acorn Farms, a local wholesale plant distributor, to make a generous contribution to the garden. “They’re donating compost. So, I’ve hauled three loads down and I’m going to get three or four more. Once I get that spread out on the garden, we’ll till it in and mix it all up with the soil that’s there and hopefully have a bed ready to plant. I’d like to plant, if not this weekend, next week, some of the early stuff. We’re going to plant like broccoli and cauliflower and peas and radishes and beats and lettuce and things like that that tolerate the cold and cooler weather and then in a month or so, we’ll plant all the other vegetables.”
This garden won’t only provide some nutritious items for Chef Blair Arm’s meals, but Bill hopes it will also be a stress reliever for guests staying at the House. Families will be able to come out and get their hands dirty in the soil, if they would like, by pulling weeds and helping keep the garden in good condition. “Or if they just want to go out and sit. We’ll probably have some benches around and some paths through it,” he added. Plans even include a gourd archway with plants growing up each side.
It’s also hoped that the garden will offer educational opportunities for anyone involved with the garden. Bill points out that he’s learned a lot at the House and misses working with all the other volunteer craftsmen right now, but he looks forward to the time they can all work together again. “They’re a unique bunch. They’ve taught me a lot. I work with them on electrical, but they’re teaching me on other facets… flooring and drywall and so forth… so I’m learning from them and gaining that experience but it’s enjoyable working with them. They’re a good bunch of guys.”
Editor’s Note: To support the Ronald McDonald House Garden fundraiser, click here.