Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. We have many volunteer opportunities to suit your schedule and preferences, whether serving as a House Volunteer, a Teen Volunteer, working with our Meal Program or volunteering at a special event. Be sure to check out our featured volunteer profiles below! We also have many opportunities for groups to do projects; please contact the Houses directly for a list of available projects.
Trained volunteers are an integral part of the Ronald McDonald House program. Volunteers are needed on an ongoing basis every day of the week for these shifts:
Volunteers register and check-out families, answer telephones, give House tours and assist in the day-to-day operation of the House by helping where needed.
Volunteers must have the ability to relate to children and adults. A primary quality is the ability to be a good, understanding listener as parents may need to share the burden of their child’s hospitalization. Good telephone and organizational skills are important. We have a great need for volunteers who speak Spanish.
Volunteers must have their own transportation. Adult singles or couples are welcome. Volunteers are needed for arts & crafts, house decorating and those with special skills such as hair styling or massage therapy.
Check out the volunteer spotlight on MOR-TV!
A minimum of two four-hour shifts per month is requested as outlined above. Orientation is held monthly.
Teen Volunteers & Kids Activities
The St. Petersburg houses are designated Service Learning sites. High school students work alongside staff restocking pantries, storing donations, and performing light housekeeping and light yard work. They also facilitate children’s activities and make treats in our kitchens for the families.
Teens must be at least 15 years old.
The summer program begins shortly after school lets out for the summer and continues as the teen’s schedule allows during the school year.
The application process begins in March with a tour for the parents and teen. The application can be completed and guidelines signed at that time. Bright Futures scholarship applications need to be signed off by staff and the school counselor before beginning the program.
After an orientation, teens schedule a 3-hour shift from 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm (weekdays only).
The Teen Cuisine program offers service hours for providing a home-style meal for the West House families.
Contact Lise Fields in St. Pete by email or call 727-767-8166.
For Tampa, email Maggie Somerville or call 813-254-2398, ext. 317.
For teens under age 15 or for additional ways you can help, here is an Activity List.
Volunteer Of The Month
We could not run our Ronald McDonald Houses without the loving care provided by our loyal house shift volunteers. In 2015 we are choosing one volunteer from amongst our four houses who has provided exceptional service and gone above and beyond. Thank you to these amazing volunteers!
Kara Ottervanger is our May, 2017 Volunteer of the Month for RMH Tampa. Currently, Kara is not only a Shift Volunteer but also a Weekend Manager at the Tampa House. Kara is a practicing attorney in Tampa and works pro-bono with criminal justice programs to assist current and formerly incarcerated persons with legal issues. She attended FSU for both her undergrad and law degrees & worked as a Weekend Manager at the RMH in Tallahassee. Kara’s vivacious personality is infectious as she leaves a trail of happiness wherever she goes. Both volunteers and families thrive on her exuberance, & positive attitude. Her commitment to serve on such a regular basis while busy with a demanding career demonstrates her compassion and love for those who are less fortunate.
Jan has been volunteering at the Central House since 2014 and even though we only get her for part of the year she makes a big impact when she is here. Jan has a smile for everyone and always knows what to say to make people feel at home. She is eager to take on tasks and seems to take pleasure in all assignments. Whether it’s vacuuming or disinfecting toys Jan is always ready and willing to help. When Jan is not in St. Petersburg she shares her time with the Ronald McDonald Family Room in St. Louis. Jan is a wonderful lady and we are very fortunate to have her.
Jackie started as a seasonal volunteer in 2013 and recently returned to the St. Pete West House in December 2016. Along with her regular shift schedule, Jackie added a special day to prepare dinner for our guests. She enjoys walking and roller blading with husband of 40 years, George.
Jackie was in the medical field for over 45 years and upon retiring, she volunteered at York hospital in Maine in a program called “Bridges”. As she explained, “That means I visited the homes of discharged patients and helped out with grocery shopping, housekeeping and taking them to appointments.” She was also a Hospice volunteer for 17 years.
Her connection to Ronald McDonald House came through her nephew, Corey, when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 11. The family stayed at RMH in Brookline, Maine. Unfortunately, Corey lost his 18-month battle. Jackie was very close to her nephew and she saw how the help of others is so important and so necessary.
Dan Lee has been a St. Pete East House volunteer since April 2012 and has logged in almost 1,180 hours. Dan is a front desk volunteer two mornings weekly, but his input and influence go way beyond those front desk shifts. As a St. Petersburg House Operations member, Dan has served as Treasurer for the past four years and helps set goals, raise money and organize the committee spreadsheets. While our house was undergoing renovations, Dan was instrumental in selling many items on eBay to help raise money for RMH. Additionally, he served on the initial Volunteer Assessment Program Committee and helped implement the on-line Volunteer Center in 2014 and follow-up Volunteer Survey in 2015. Dan is also our go-to on a plethora of technology questions and works closely with Sue, our IT Specialist, on many computer issues. On any given Monday or Friday morning, Dan can be seen tutoring a fellow volunteer or staff member on the inner workings of their iPad or smartphone!
In short, Dan is an invaluable volunteer. No job is too difficult, he’s great at interacting with our families, gives an outstanding East House tour to visitors and supports all RMHCTB events.
Congratulations to Dan Lee –February’s Volunteer of the Month!
Melissa Ramirez has been a shift volunteer at the Tampa Ronald McDonald House since February 2016. She first became involved with us through her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. Melissa loved volunteering so much that she decided to continue volunteering after graduating from the University of South Florida with a Master’s Degree in Medical Sciences. Although she is currently interviewing for medical school, she spends most of her days at a research lab where ketones are used to prevent progression of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and at night works at the BrassTap serving up refreshing drinks. Melissa likes to run and is training for her first half marathon along with other obstacle course based races. Even with a busy schedule, Melissa gladly makes time for the Ronald McDonald House because she enjoys giving back and making a difference in her community. She loves to keep busy and counts our 7 dwarfs as her close personal friends…she is our Snow White.
Central House volunteer Kit Crowner is our December Volunteer of the Month. Kit has volunteered her time since June 2013, amassing over 250 hours by rarely missing her bi-weekly Friday shift. Kit is incredibly dependable and does not let anything fluster her. She is wonderful with our families and has a great sense for when families need to share, especially helpful to parents of critically children.
Even though Ginny and Walt Hall are officially based at the East House, their volunteer work goes well beyond the East House walls! As our weekly Pizza Hut pick-up volunteer, Walt ensures that families at all three St. Pete houses have plenty of delicious pizza for lunch. He has logged over 300 hours as a volunteer since 2011. Ginny, an East House volunteer since 2003, has been active in many areas while amassing 1670 hours!
Ginny is a member of the St. Pete House Ops Committee and has regularly organized the JHACH Social Workers annual luncheon where her creativity and panache have been admired by all! A regular Tuesday afternoon volunteer at the East House, Ginny’s knowledge of the House and her ability to calmly interact with the families adds such a calm and competent element to our day. With the inception of the Learning Lab @ RMH, Ginny signed on as a teacher/tutor for RMH families at all three St Pete houses. A retired Kindergarten teacher, it’s been a perfect fit for Ginny who has wholeheartedly embraced the program. When asked about the LL program, Ginny noted that she learns as much from the RMH children as they learn from her. RMH Charities is proud to honor Ginny and Walt as November Volunteers of the Month for their dedication and loyalty to the mission of RMH.
The St. Pete East House is happy to announce Denise Schwarz as our Volunteer of the Month for October 2016. Denise has been volunteering at the East House since April of 2011 and has logged 500 hours. Since she’s a seasonal volunteer, that’s a ton of time spent at the House in her “off-season”! When Denise is not in Treasure Island or the East House, she spends six months sailing in the Caribbean.
During her shifts at the East House, Denise primarily works at the front desk where she can be found greeting families, helping staff or preparing lunch for our families. Every task that she completes is done with a ready smile and a “can-do” positive attitude! The East House is always a bit more of a happy place when Denise is around. Congratulations and many thanks to Denise!
Mia Otterstad is a Shift Volunteer, giving many selfless hours of service helping to take care of the Tampa Ronald McDonald House and its residents. She helps keep the House clean and inviting for families to return to after a long day at the hospital. Mia also loves to bake and families have been the lucky recipients of some of her delicious Danish creations. She not only takes a regular volunteer shift two times a month but also fills in on vacant shifts whenever she and her family are not traveling around the United States. Mia came to our RMH after being transferred to Tampa from Copenhagen, Denmark. Mia’s husband Mikkel is a Commander in the Danish Military, working at the Liaison Office for Denmark, as part of the coalition forces working with USCENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base. The Otterstad’s have 17 year old twins, Olin and Jonathan that will soon be juniors at Plant High School. They all love to travel and whenever they have spare time they are taking advantage of their time here by seeing as much of the U.S. as possible. However, sometimes that can prove to be difficult with back to back visitors arriving all the time from Europe. Even with all the visitors and travels, Mia makes sure she has time for volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. In fact, after Mikkel’s tour of duty is over here in Tampa, Mia plans to take her volunteer experience back to Denmark and volunteer at the RMH in Copenhagen. What a great way to “pay it forward” around the globe. Thank you, Mia!
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay holds a special place in Ellen’s heart. Her father, Dr. Samuel Gross, was a pioneering pediatric hematologist and oncologist who founded the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland, Ohio in 1979. Her dad’s lifelong devotion and commitment to curing those afflicted with life threatening diseases while also importantly, ensuring that their loved ones had a ‘home away from home’ while treatment was being provided, forever remains her inspiration. Ellen’s first initiative began at the age of 12 when she and her best friend launched a neighborhood fundraising carnival to benefit Cleveland’s future Ronald McDonald House. Years later, now living in Tampa, Florida, her passion remains strong and has been further enriched having seen and experienced firsthand the incredible network of dedicated employees and volunteers working for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. Ellen joined us as a special event volunteer on the Storybook Ball Auction Committee, and she was a force to be reckoned with, bringing in over $8,000 worth of items for the auction, while also bringing a new table sponsor to the event. Ellen hopes to remain involved with RMHC’s most important mission to ensure that families are consistently provided the opportunity to remain united in a nurturing, home-like environment while receiving essential services and support as they journey together through challenging and difficult times.
Chris Spoor has been a dedicated volunteer at the West House for 9 years, logging in 860 hours to date. Chris is wonderful with the families and is a calming presence in their hectic day. She’s so helpful around the house and handles the entire kitchen and miscellaneous projects that crop up. We are honored to recognize Chris as Volunteer of the Month for July!
Chris has been a loyal RMH East volunteer since October 2008 and has currently has amassed over 2,170 hours. Every Thursday morning, Chris can be found at the East House front desk, greeting family members, helping staff, answering the phone, accepting donations and generally doing anything that needs to be done. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Chris met her husband Raúl in Ft. Lauderdale and they came to the Tampa Bay area following a job opportunity for Raúl. In addition to volunteering at the East House, Chris also volunteers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, where she often interacts with RMH families which allows for a wonderful bridge between the organizations for both Chris and the families. Chris enjoys being at RMH because, “It makes me feel good to be here for our families”. For our part, we couldn’t imagine a Thursday morning at RMH East without Chris Perera!
In 2012 Katie moved to Tampa and attended USF for a degree in Health Sciences. She is currently employed by BSN Medical as a Medical Sales Representative. As a member of USF’s Chapter of ADPi Sorority Katie visited RMH on several occasions to make dinners and decided to become more involved as a house volunteer. Her most recent hobby is visiting various Florida State Parks with her dog, Cheddar Biscuit, a King Charles Spaniel.
A better role model and awesome Volunteer Duo you will never find! Gail and Joe began volunteering in January 2009 and have quickly become a fixture in the East House kitchen every Tuesday night. Currently, they have a combined total of 1,633 hours! Gail and Joe welcome dinner groups, assist in every way and have a special talent for being helpful to the dinner groups without being intrusive. Everyone feels so welcome with Gail and Joe in the kitchen.
When asked about their volunteer time at RMH, Gail responded: “Joe and I feel “rewarded” to be able to help out at RMH. We enjoy interacting with the residents and the groups who prepare the meals.” It is not uncommon to find Joe chatting and joking with the children in the house, who quickly feel so comfortable at RMH. Gail and Joe recently returned from a trip to Japan, where they were able to visit the “Donald” McDonald House in Tokyo. Upon their return, they shared literature, newsletters and handmade items with us. Joe and Gail epitomize the word “Volunteerism – the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for any financial reward”.
Congratulations and many thanks to Gail and Joe!
Tampa RMH shift volunteer Kenna Felty is a lifelong resident of Tampa, Florida. She graduated from Plant High School and the University of South Florida. Kenna is married to Joel Felty and has two children from a previous marriage, Bianca (15) and Trenton (12). She met her current husband, Joel, 6 ½ years ago. They brought into the world a precious daughter named Juliana. After the unexpected loss of Juliana at the age of 13 months, Kenna sought a way to give to others in similar circumstances. The appeal of the Ronald McDonald House was being able to offer families a respite from the hospital when they have been keeping vigil by their child’s bedside. Kenna has found her volunteer experience fulfilling, knowing that the house volunteers help create a safe haven for families to escape to for the rest and comfort they need.
When Kenna met Joel, she knew that he had been diagnosed with a genetic medical condition that compromises his kidney function and could someday require him to have a kidney transplant. What she didn’t anticipate was that years later she would find out that she was a donor match for Joel. Once Joel was evaluated and enrolled in the transplant program at Tampa General Hospital, Kenna did not hesitate to be tested for her suitability as a live donor. Kenna and Joel underwent the transplant surgeries the morning of February 11th, 2015. The transplantation was a complete success and both patients are on the road to recovery. The Feltys are looking forward to a bright and healthy future together for many years to come.
This spring Jean will mark 25 years of volunteer service at Ronald McDonald House and has provided 1,450 hours of service. Jean works bi-monthly at the East House, and picks up dinners from local restaurants weekly for delivery to the Central House. She has been such a tremendous help and her dedication and support has been invaluable for all these years.
West House volunteer Mary Telford has been volunteering since December 2005 and has given 1,007 hours of her time. Originally from Long Island, NY, Mary has lived in the area for 17 years. She works every other Thursday at the desk offering family support and assists with food preparation for dinner (she makes a fabulous applesauce when we have an abundance of apples!). Several times a month she and her husband take pop tabs (collected at the houses) to the recycling center. This has been a huge help to us! Mary enjoys helping the families, preparing food and finds the work here very fulfilling.
Gregoria Camacho has been a weekend volunteer at the St. Pete East House since 2007 with 500 hours and 6 years of service. As a native Spanish-speaker, Gregoria serves all families, and is especially helpful to our Hispanic families during the weekends. She has also sold numerous items on behalf of RMHC on eBay. According to Assistant Manager Jodi, “there is no task, too large or too small, that Gregoria will not tackle”.
Gregoria currently works at Brighthouse and greatly looks forward to her Saturday afternoon shift at RMH. In fact, she drives all the way from Ruskin to volunteer. When asked about her favorite part of volunteering at RMH, Gregoria stated “It’s always a pleasure for me to be at RMH…I really appreciate the opportunity to do something that helps”.
David Mervine has been volunteering on the Saturday night shift for over a year at the Tampa Ronald McDonald House. Usually he is on his shift alone, because Saturday nights are not the first choice for most volunteers. But David wanted to be on a shift where he was needed most. He does not volunteer for accolades; nor does he want special attention for his altruistic acts of kindness. When asked why he wanted to volunteer for our RMH he simply stated: “I just want to be there for families when they are in a time of need.” He embraces our mission and wants to make the House comfortable and stress-free for families trying to recharge before returning to their child in the hospital. David prides himself on staying in the background, quietly doing necessary chores but being readily available if a family needs his help. He truly has a handle on what it is like to be a shift volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House and embodies our 2015 motto: Welcoming families to Relax, Reflect and Recharge.
David currently works as a personal banker for the Bank of America. Originally from Liberty, New York, David came to Tampa to study law at Stetson University College of Law and is now a member of the Florida Bar Association.