Volunteering is good for your soul

I am not one to really make New Year’s resolutions because I think most of the time you are setting yourself up for failure. I am sure many resolutions that were set last month have already been broken.

Before the New Year I was reflecting on how great 2012 was. In addition to getting married, I continue to have good health, I have a roof over my head, I have a job that I love, I have a husband who works so very hard and I have great friends and family who surround me. I am very lucky.

When Jan. 1st rolled around I wanted to make a point of being more grateful for my life and to really appreciate how lucky I truly am. I didn’t want to just ‘think’ about it – I wanted to put those thoughts into actions.

This is where the Ronald McDonald House came in. I have always been interested in the facility and what they do. In case you haven’t heard, the Ronald McDonald House, which opened about a year ago, is a home away from home and a place to unwind for out-of-town families who have children in the hospital.

I have never had to use a House myself and I don’t even know anyone who has had to use one either, but my interest started when it was announced one would be built in Red Deer.

As I followed the progress through writing stories for the paper and attending press events, including the grand opening, I heard the inspiring stories from those who benefited from the facility. I quickly realized what the people at the facility did was very special and I wanted to be a part of it somehow.

Late last year I heard about the Home for Dinner Program. It is one of many programs offered at the Ronald McDonald House. Groups of up to eight people can cook a meal for the guests who are staying at the House. Sounds simple – and it really is. But something so simple is something that is so appreciated by those on the receiving end.

A couple of weeks ago my mom, mother-in-law and myself cooked our first meal at the House after attending an orientation. Our group, called The Fabulous Foodies, made tortellini soup for all of the guests.

As we were cooking some of the houseguests came to the kitchen and told us how good it smelled and how excited they were for dinner.

We were able to eat with the guests as well which was really neat. Although we sat with the other volunteers who were at the House, it was so nice to see the guests enjoying the meal that we had cooked. They even thanked us after as well.

It felt so rewarding to be able to do something for the families who have so much on their minds as all of their energy is spent on their children who are in the hospital. Often cooking goes by the wayside as they spend their days with their children. Most of us have the luxury of having a home-cooked meal each and every night. You have no idea what goes on in the lives of others, and one small action can mean so much.

We have since cooked another meal last Friday and the experience was just as special. I actually enjoyed it more the second time and I know I will continue to enjoy it even more.

I am looking forward to continuing with the Ronald McDonald House throughout the year. Our group has signed up to cook a meal at the House once a month.

I have volunteered before, but this has been a reminder of how much I enjoyed it. It really is good for the soul.