In helping our community, the most valuable resource we can surrender is our time. With that in mind, four members of ALULA’s Pittsburgh team gave their time back to the community. Using the volunteer perks of ALULA’s benefits program, the team, including Chris Casasanta, Laura Forsmark, Jamie Berdine, and team leader, Bridget Russell prepared lunch for the residents of Pittsburgh’s Ronald McDonald House.
The Ronald McDonald House provides room and board, free of charge, for families with children undergoing serious medical treatment at Pittsburgh-based hospitals. The charity also tries its best to provide for all the needs of a family going through such trying times, but because of the non-profit nature of the organization, the operators of the House are not always able to offer the homecooked meals they’d like to provide for their guests. This is where volunteers like the ALULA Pittsburgh Team are key.
Though there are many roles a volunteer can play while at the Ronald McDonald house, the team chose to cook a homemade meal for the residents. After receiving a tour of the House and the specialty apartments therein, the ALULA team prepared a buffet-style meal for around 40 people. There were homemade sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, and brownies. Not only did the volunteer’s efforts feed the families at lunch, but the leftovers were reserved for that evening, or another night, perhaps when there were no volunteers present to prepare a fresh meal.
One team member in particular, Bridget, had volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house before, and is a big fan of all the good the organization does. She noted that, while cooking and serving, it was very common for families to pop in and greet the volunteers. “It never fails to surprise me just how appreciative those parents could be,” Bridget said when asked what she most enjoyed about her volunteering experience. They would often discuss the reasons for their stay; One family told of their child’s heart transplant and were grateful the meal was suitable for their child’s cardiac diet. Gratitude like that is often the best gift of all, but in these difficult circumstances, Bridget had said that their positive feedback can “…make your heart full, but also hurt. It’s bittersweet.”