By Kelley Baster
I first started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House when I was a student at Ohio State. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do in terms of a career. When I changed my major (again), my new class schedule left me with some extra time, which I decided to spend volunteering. Little did I know that this would actually answer my career question more than the classwork did.
Seven years later, here I am working as a Family Services Manager. A lot has changed since my volunteer days. My job duties now consist less of laundry and more of checking families into the house, giving them the information they will need while staying with us. The house has also grown significantly. The addition of 40 more guest rooms has allowed us to serve more families, and the Lego room and princess room have provided countless hours of fun for patients and their siblings.
Nonetheless, even as things have changed, many things remain the same. I sometimes see volunteers and families that were at the house when I started, some of whom have even been coming here for years before I started volunteering. And, even more importantly, our purpose here has remained the same: to keep families close and lighten the load that they are carrying. I once overheard a guest here saying that her friends and family back home don’t understand nearly as well as her Ronald McDonald House family did. She said this in a conversation among three families of drastically different backgrounds. The fact that she was focusing on how much they had in common truly stood out to me. She, like many here at the Ronald McDonald House, recognized how much we’re all in this together.
These are things that you can’t experience by working or volunteering just anywhere. That’s why I always tell people this is the first job I’ve had where I don’t look for a new job when I go home after work!