By Joel Merrill, Facilities Director
I was asked recently to write a few lines for our blog this Independence Day. It was suggested that maybe I write a little about myself and my work here at the House. A spotlight of Joel Merrill, if you will.
I am not the story. I am just a person who is thankful this July 4th for having this incredible opportunity to utilize my years of maintenance training and my love of the Ronald McDonald House Charities all at the same place.
I consider myself the luckiest guy on the planet. I am able to work with the many volunteers and staff members that are here to keep the Ronald McDonald House a wonderful home away from home for the families that have sick and injured children at one of Columbus’ local hospitals. Families from all across America that may be far away from other relatives & friends with whom they might usually be grilling out with or sharing a fireworks show with on this holiday. While there are too many local volunteers to give good credit to here on this blog, they all, without exception, give their time, energy, and experience every time they come in. The volunteers have the biggest hearts and care so very much for the families from across the country and around the world. After all, volunteering is the all-American thing to do.
The volunteers that I am honored to work with the most on a daily bases are people that we call our “craftsmen.” They work on projects mostly that involve making things or making things work again. They build benches, event sets, and toy boxes, among other things. They make repairs to the buildings. They upgrade rooms. They keep the yard mowed and trimmed. They help keep this big House the great temporary home away from home that it is. And we wouldn’t be able to do it all without the help of group volunteers who sign up from time to time to come in and help spruce things up. Groups like workers from the Honda manufacturing facility in Marysville. Or the workers from American Family Insurance that set aside a Saturday last month to come in and help with landscaping and painting rooms, for example. We even have a Deloitte Day every year when so many of those folks get to leave their computers at the office and come in to get their hands dirty. That’s what America is all about.
I have been involved with the Ronald McDonald House in some way for about 10 years now and have never lost the awe of just how the volunteers can do what they do.
I hope that I never become so involved with being a staff member that I lose the “sight’ to see and observe how my fellow staffers and volunteers interact with the families that are our guests. It is just amazing to me to see the joy in the children’s faces when Mel sits with them and just talks. Or to see the love that Dottie puts into every room that she “restocks” for a new guest. Or how warm Courtney is with the guests. Those are just a few examples of the “Heart” that is the Ronald McDonald House.
Take a little time to reflect, during the 4th of July holiday, on how wonderful heart -warming the Ronald McDonald House is and how much of an all-American welcoming, positive “vibe” there is here. If you haven’t had a chance to see inside the House, yourself, we invite you to call and set up a tour. Listen to the interactions. Observe the love, the compassion, and the caring that is spread by all.
I do not know how anyone can spend 5 minutes here and not fall in love with everything/reason that the Ronald McDonald House is here.