Step outside your box: Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan

By in Opinions

There’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee, a freshly baked cookie, the pitter- patter of little feet and a rewarding volunteer experience to reinvigorate the typical bleary-eyed and school-weary student.

Look up from your books and just across College Drive, and you’ll see that all of this and more can be found at Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan.

Scholarships, internships, college applications, graduate school applications, job hunting — the demand for post-secondary students to be involved in their communities is an ever-growing expectation. To set yourself apart from the crowd, there are few better ways to gain experience and show personal commitment than by getting involved in volunteer work.

Additionally, the personal benefits of individual growth and involvement in social networks can make a big difference in your life outside of school. Opportunities for meaningful and rewarding volunteer work abound at RMHC-SK.

RMHC-SK provides support and accommodation to Saskatchewan families with children who are receiving medical care in Saskatoon. Since 1985, families from around the province have found a comfortable, accessible and safe space away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. Whether by helping children receiving chemotherapy treatment, parents waiting for premature babies to grow, or simply patients returning for follow-up appointments, the House has made a huge difference in the lives of many families.

In 2016 alone, Ronald Mc- Donald House supported 1437 families in Saskatchewan. The facility itself contains 34 separate guest rooms and all the amenities that you would hope to find in your own home. Kitchen and pantry spaces are provided for each family, and laundry facilities are found on each floor. A games and media room for entertainment, large playrooms and a fitness room are among the spaces commonly utilized by families.

Running a charity with an operating budget of over $1.5 million and a house that spans 43,000 square feet can be a challenge, and RMHC-SK relies heavily on the support of volunteers. Volunteer co-ordinator Kim Gilbert emphasizes the importance of volunteers to the House’s function.

“We depend on our amazing team of volunteers to create a welcoming, comfortable, home-like environment for the families who stay with us. Roles vary from hospitality to administration, maintenance tasks, cooking and family programming,” Gilbert said.

Given the unpredictability of medical treatment and the emotional experiences that come along with it, volunteers are in a unique position to provide help and support to those who need it, when they need it.

Tamryn Eglington, a fourthyear arts and science student and RMHC-SK volunteer, says the House has made a big difference in her life.

“School can be quite stressful, and coming here is a really nice break from schoolwork, [and] I’ve found it very inspiring to speak with staff and families about their experiences. I was initially drawn to the Ronald McDonald House, because I want to become involved in the medical field, and I was looking for something to expose myself to those types of environments and situations,” Eglington said.

 

It may seem challenging to fit a volunteer gig into an already busy school schedule, but Eglington believes the House is a convenient choice for students.

“It fits well with my schedule, and the staff are very accommodating during finals or when other things come up,” Eglington said.

If anything, it’s worth a try for the experience.

“Sometimes, when you go to other volunteer positions or work it feels like a chore, but I can’t name a time when I’ve had a shift and not wanted to be there. When I get a chance to engage with families, it’s really interesting and very rewarding.

If you’re looking for a place to apply, it’s a great choice. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Eglington said. If you’re interested and want to learn more about the roles RMHC-SK are currently recruiting for, visit their website at www.rmh.sk.ca.

Photos: Jiem Carlo Narag/Photo Editor