On January 9, 2018, Patrick Cooper’s son was born twelve weeks premature. From that day forward for three solid months he and his wife have been by their son Phoenix’s side mostly at Children’s of Alabama.
They have kept watch over their son daily, tirelessly to the point of complete exhaustion. And each day, they walk back to Ronald McDonald House, a short couple of blocks from Children’s, to have a meal. Dinner.
When Patrick arrives, he sees Fannie Vanderburg and Brian Morris with La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House kitchen. They had been there two hours before the six o’clock dinner, chopping up carrots and vegetables preparing to make homegrown meals for dozens of families.
This isn’t a ‘one and done’ event. It’s what employees from La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries do every month. They volunteer to prepare a meal at Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House Charities is La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries’ chosen philanthropic project locally and nationwide.
Along with monthly meals, they also furnished Ronald McDonald House with recliners and furniture, in December of 2017, after the House underwent additions & renovations.
The meals are important
Sandra Hall, Meal Program Coordinator at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama described the impact preparing meals nightly has on the lives of the families.
“A lot of times people think of us (Ronald McDonald House) as pop tabs, they don’t always think about the meal program and how important that is for our families.
If your child is in a hospital here in downtown Birmingham, most of the restaurants that are within walking distance are relatively expensive. And even the food courts in the hospitals are not an inexpensive option.
Having volunteers come in and make these meals for our families is an incredible gift for them, because this is a meal they don’t have to pay for. And whatever is left over we put in boxes in the refrigerator so tomorrow when they go back to the hospital they can heat up that meal for lunch.”
Ronald McDonald House volunteers, like Fannie and Brian from La-Z-Boy, offer at least one meal a day, 365 days a year. Groups throughout the Birmingham community, volunteer and contribute dinner, and on Saturday and Sunday, brunch too.
How Ronald McDonald House volunteers make a difference
Patrick Cooper, best summed up why the volunteers and the meals at the House make a difference.
“Ronald McDonald House is relief. I’m able to spend all day with my son.
We are one and a half hours from home. Phoenix was born January the 9th. We’ve been down here everyday for three months. Being with him all day, and then walking back to the House, seeing smiling faces (from volunteers) every night means everything. It has been a blessing. Its genuine. It is like we are family. They are family.”
And the blessing is reciprocated.
It’s a very special experience. There are so many times during the day, when you are frustrated over this or frustrated over that, just dealing with day in and day out tasks.
But when you get a chance to serve, help out this special place, it puts everything in perspective. It is a blessing too,” added Brian Morris, co-owner, with Curt Morris, of the local La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Birmingham.
Volunteers are alway needed to prepare dinners at Ronald McDonald House. Learn how to volunteer and support this important mission. Visit RMHCA.org/meals and sign-up today.