Celebrating our Volunteers
In order to provide our guest families with all that they need during their stay, we rely on more than just our staff members. The generous folks who volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha (RMHC) are the lifeblood of our organization – in a typical year, nearly 3,000 individuals from households, friend groups, schools, other nonprofits, and corporations donate approximately 10,000 hours of their time to support RMHC in house operations, events, and program initiatives.
That’s around $300,000 in cost savings for the House!
We are incredibly grateful for each and every one of our volunteers, and because April is National Volunteer Month, we wanted to shine a light on a handful of helpers who make our families’ lives easier.
(Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.)
How long have you volunteered for RMHC, and what volunteer activities do you do here?
Emily Schmitz; ALLO Communications: Since January 2023, I’ve been on the Wings & Wheels Lincoln planning committee.
Hannah Coleman; Concentric Corporation: For about seven years, I’ve volunteered for Meals That Heal, and I’m on the committee for the Kids & Clays Sporting Clays Tournament, planning and assisting with the event.
Patty Bauerle; Retired: I’ve been volunteering with friends through Meals That Heal since May 2022.
Janet Winter; Retired: For the last four years, I’ve volunteered at the front desk, answering the door, answering the phone, or whatever else needs to be done. I also help with Meals That Heal once in a while.
Jay Nelsen; Retired: I started volunteering around eight years ago. I organize and store in-kind donations, stock shelves to keep the donations available for the families, organize the pantry and other storage spaces around the House, help weigh pop tabs and take them to the recycling center, assist at special events, tend to the gardens and flower beds, and manage minor maintenance tasks.
Lauren Taylor; WOWT 6 News: I first volunteered about three-and-a-half years ago. Pre-COVID, I did “Dinner with Louie and Lauren” on Thursday nights at the house. I would bring my French bulldog pup to the House during dinner time and we would hang out with the kids and their families. Post-COVID, I have been on the Virtual Gala and Wings & Wheels Omaha planning committees since 2020.
Why do you choose to partner with RMHC?
ES: As a baby, I had several medical problems at birth. I spent 2 months at the Denver Children’s Hospital, and my mom and grandma stayed at the Ronald McDonald House during that time. They’ve always talked about what a blessing that was for them while they were going through so much with me. I’ve always wanted to volunteer, and when this opportunity came up, it was so special to me, because it’s a way I can give back now since the RMHC had provided so much for my family in the past.
HC: I believe that RMHC does so much good for our community and for those in need. As a mother, I cannot even fathom what these parents are going through on a day-to-day basis, getting their children the care they need. I am grateful there is a place like RMHC to provide some comfort in their time of need.
PB: I believe in the RMHC mission! The staff members are good stewards of the gifts and talents people donate to their organization.
JW: The elementary school where I worked collected pop tabs for the House. When I retired, I needed something to do, and Ronald McDonald House came to mind.
JN: A volunteer can see the difference they make, and the entire staff – as well as the families – always say thank you! You are working alongside caring people who want to support the families.
LT: I love the mission of the House and doing what I can to help take burdens off families facing hardship.
Do you have a favorite memory of volunteering with the House?
ES: Since I’m new, I just have enjoyed meeting the new people so far.
HC: I really enjoyed when my family came to cook for Meals That Heal, and my son made friends with a little girl staying in the House. It was a really special moment to see kids playing and having fun even though they are personally going through such a stressful time in their life.
PB: We love getting to know the staff and guests, when possible. A favorite memory was tasting some authentic Jamaican food made by one of the guests. It’s nice to share a smile and laughter during times of struggle.
JW: One night for Meals That Heal we made enchiladas. I remember one of the guests said she hadn’t been able to get her son to eat, but he was eating that night. Every week is memorable, and I love the people that I get to be around in the office.
JN: Unfair question! 1) My first Wings and Wheels. Exhausting, exciting, encouraging—seeing the money raised and the community support for RMHC, plus all the pretty people and the planes and cars. 2) Being trusted with organizing the garage sale before we evacuated for the expansion (summer 2018) and being granted access to everything to help make the move manageable and the sale successful. Then getting to help move it all back when RMHC reopened, and the freedom to get items where they were easily accessible to the families, yet not taking up space the families could be using.
LT: Louie and I loved interacting with all the kids! Their faces would light up on Thursday nights when Louie would run into the house!
What would you say to someone considering volunteering in our community?
ES: I think if someone has a passion for an organization, it’s great to give back and volunteer in different ways.
HC: Do it! There are so many different ways you can volunteer at the House. If you don’t know where to start, just call and ask! I’m so glad I became part of their volunteering family over the years. I’ve gained a lot of friends and experiences along the way!
PB: Serving people in need is what we are all called to do, and when we come together to do so, it is pure joy!
JW: It is so rewarding to volunteer. You get to meet people from all around the nation. I love volunteering at RMHC.
JN: If you are having one of “those days,” come here. Within an hour you will witness the community support for the good being done here, you will see the families struggle and succeed. Volunteering at RMHC will change you for the better while you are caring for and supporting the families.
LT: I would 100% recommend that they volunteer for the House! It’s for a wonderful cause and the families are so grateful and appreciative of the support they receive.
Our volunteers are a critical part of providing families with a home-away-from-home, and we are always looking for more friendly folks to lend a hand. If you’re interested in donating your time, you can check out all the opportunities on our Volunteer Hub or contact Ann Woodford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-346-9377.