“Try not to become a person of success. Rather become a person of value.” ― Albert Einstein. Community Service has always been valued. While helping others it allows us to showcase our talents in something we enjoy. For my project I wanted to do something that meant more than a grade. I chose to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House here in Tallahassee. People from all over come and stay here for free while their child is in the hospital. It allows the parents some comfort. Most people that stay here have babies in the NICU, because Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is one of the few in the state with an ICU unit for newborns. It was set up by a football player whose daughter was in and out of the hospital as a child due to an illness. He teamed up with McDonald’s and together they created a home away from home for parents and families with children under the age of 18 to stay, while seeking medical care. Now, there are Houses all over the U.S and across the world.
When I first started volunteering I was really nervous. These people that were staying here were going through things that no one wishes to go through. Two boys, best friends, had been in a car wreck the first week I started. Their moms were staying at the house when they died due to injuries. It is truly an exceptional place that is valued by so many.
I’m going to be honest the first few weeks of volunteering I wanted to quit. All I did for the two hours I was there was clean. I did the chores around the house. I helped cook for the families. They literally made me disinfect all of the toys. I had sweep of a porch that was just going to have leaves blown onto it again. It was tedious work that I did not enjoy. The house could hold up to seven families staying there, but only 2 were there each time I volunteered, and they were always at the hospital. It wasn’t until my fourth week volunteering that my opinion changed. This couple checked in as I was leaving one night. They were pretty strange. The woman looked like she was in her 30’s, and the man looked like he was in his 60’s. The next time I came, the lady talked to me. She told me her whole story. I didn’t really know what to do, I was just cleaning and doing chores like I was told. But, I stopped and sat down and listened to her story, because the reason I volunteered here was so that I could hear their stories, and maybe help them. At first, I was so judgy. There was like 30 years difference between these two, and she just had a baby. Each week though she always came out to talk to me. It was kind of cool. She always wanted to talk to me, and even though she didn’t have to she helped me do some chores. I think it took her mind off of her baby being in the NICU. I got updates on the baby, and she would show me pictures of him. He was super adorable. When he was allowed to go home, I was a little upset that the “cool family” was leaving, but it was nice to see how far the baby had come.
A week after they left a girl stayed at the house with her dad. She was seeking treatment for anorexia. It was heartbreaking. She was in high school, and felt she wasn’t good enough the way she was. It’s a devastating disease. Her dad had to make sure she ate, and one time she hid her food in her mouth and asked to use the bathroom. She was going to spit it out, and probably throw up what she had already eaten. She wasn’t fat, and even she was why did it matter? Why did she feel she had to do this? That really hit home for me. People, myself included, see themselves in a different light than everyone else does. We always think the worst of ourselves, and it’s not fair.I really want to make a difference in young kid’s lives. I want to be a nurse, that’s my major. It’s a way to help people who are hurting, but also it could open doors to so many other things. I could be a spokesperson for things that I’m really passionate about. I could speak against bullying, suicide, domestic violence, and societal views on perfection.
Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald house only made me want to change things more. I want to make a change in at least one person’s life. I want to show them they have a reason to be here, and they are important. We’re all fighters and we’re all survivors of something. The Ronald McDonald House is an establishment that makes a difference, and the people that work there help make that happen. They certainly impacted my future. I will do something with value, and purpose