In advance of our Saturday celebration of Ronald McDonald House’s 30th anniversary, The Daily News ran a full page “thank you” listing the thousands of names of others who also love this effort.
I hope you saw it — though you may have needed a magnifying glass to read all the names.
I was first introduced to the Ronald McDonald House in Galveston as part of my job responsibilities when I worked at The Coca-Cola Co. managing the McDonald’s account across the state of Texas. I was able to visit and work with the executive directors of over 14 houses across the state.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love when I met the house staff and Margie Chavarria at the Galveston House and was introduced to some of the families and children who were staying at the house.
My heart was immediately attached to these wonderful children, with immense hope, as they were rebuilding their bodies from burn accidents with the help of the great folks at Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
At first, I would visit with some of my McDonald’s customers and cook dinner at the house, spending a couple of hours serving the dinner, engaging with the families, while in the complete amazement of these children.
Over the years, my passion for fun led dinners became theme parties and events: Valentine’s Day Bingo, St. Patty’s Day, Easter Egg Hunts, Hawaiian Luaus, Fourth of July Red, White and Blue Cookouts, Halloween, and my personal favorite, our Christmas Pajama party. The children were thrilled to have the excitement and I was having so much fun laughing, playing, singing and being a child myself during our evenings together.
It’s hard to believe it all began 20 years ago for me. During those years, I’ve been honored and incredibly proud to serve on the advisory and executive boards; building amazing relationships with my fellow board members and the staff. I’ve had a chance to see so many of these incredible children come back annually for care, as they grow up into adulthood, all while inspiring me with every visit.
The Ronald McDonald House is such an amazing and personally rewarding experience for which I will always be forever grateful. It’s what love is all about.