Keeping Families Close
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 (click to visit page) 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.
Tampa House – located on Davis Islands – email Maggie Somerville or call her at (813) 254-2398, ext. 317
St. Pete East, West & Central Houses near JHACH – email Bree Tramontana or call her at (727) 767-8166.
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: 10 am – 2 pm | 2 – 6 pm | 6 – 9 pm
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.
Click to view 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.
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. Each month we choose one volunteer from amongst our four houses who has provided exceptional service and gone above and beyond. Thank you to these amazing volunteers for helping us in Keeping Families Close.
Kathy has been a Saturday RMHC Housewarmer at the St. Petersburg East House for 5 ½ years and has contributed 375 hours of service. Prior to moving to St. Petersburg, she volunteered for RMHC in Delaware for 10 years. She has always been an advocate for children in need and has found that preparing and serving meals to our hungry families is an excellent way to help! Whether she’s working with a community lunch group or preparing lunch for 30 guests all on her own, it gives her a great pleasure to help families at RMHC. She loves being in the kitchen and using her wonderful cooking and kitchen organizational skills to help others. RMHC and the St. Pete East House are fortunate to have Kathy volunteering with us.
Kathy Cassel is originally from Long Island, New York. Before moving to Florida, she worked 30 years for the Teamsters Local Union 282 in New York. After discovering RMH in New York City in 2001, she knew she wanted to become a volunteer upon her retirement. She retired to Dunedin to be close to her family and began volunteering at the Tampa Ronald McDonald House on Valentine’s Day, 2018.
Kathy is a faithful and dedicated volunteer. She takes her shift volunteering very seriously and has committed to at least one shift every other week at the Tampa house to assist resident families. Thankfully, Kathy is happy to help even more and pick up extra shifts when her schedule permits. She says, “It truly brings joy to my heart to be part of such a wonderful organization. I love that the little bit I can contribute can ease the difficulties these RMH families face during their children’s stays in area hospitals.” Kathy is the best Valentine’s Day gift we have received, and we are so appreciative of her service to our Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay.
Volunteer Jeannie Nissenbaum may be new to Ronald McDonald House, but Jeannie’s zeal for our mission has been a long-time passion for her. Always eager to assist staff and families, Jeannie is rarely in one place for too long. Offering her time throughout the day on both weekdays and weekends she is a cheerful face at The Central House Volunteer Desk. Indiscriminate about any task she is asked to help with, Jeannie quickly learned how multifaceted RMHC is. Three months of service has quickly gone by and we know we will have many more to come. Thank you, Jeannie, for your dedication to our families and RMHC!
Sheryl travels from Palm Harbor twice a month to volunteer her support for our guest families at the St. Petersburg West House. For the past 16.5 years, Sheryl has donated 1,828 hours of her own time. She is a kind, soft spoken person who is willing to assist with any project or guest need. Sheryl is the calming spirit for any family under stress. We are so grateful to have her as a part of our West House support system.
Tom Brannigan and Hollie Lynch have made volunteerism an important part of their lives. Before moving to Florida, they volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, PA, Caitlin’s Smiles, a program to help children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities, the Jewish Retirement Home and The Community Soup Kitchen. Since moving to Florida 4 years ago, they have made themselves invaluable by volunteering every Wednesday as Housewarmers at our St. Pete East House. Not content to just serve dinner to our families, Hollie also brings along her keyboard to serenade our families. Their therapy dog Licorice is also a RMHC regular, visiting twice a month to bring comfort and companionship that only a dog can provide. The duo also volunteers at a memory care unit in Sun City Center, where Hollie plays the piano and Licorice comforts the residents.
Although Hollie is legally blind, that has never held her back. She received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama three years in a row. Hollie is an accomplished artist, and this year she was awarded The Argentina Embassy Award in the Paralym Art World Cup 2018 for her painting titled “The Music Festival”. This is a contest where people with disabilities from around the world come together to show off their artistic talents.
We are very grateful for Tom and Hollie’s contributions to RMHC, they are most deserving of our Volunteer of the Month award.
Rose Gonzalez has been a Tampa Ronald McDonald House Shift Volunteer since 2009, accumulating 732 hours of service. As a volunteer Rose wears many hats: She serves a 3 hour shift every other week, picks up and delivers donations, volunteers at many of our events and most importantly, is a Shadow Trainer. As a Shadow Trainer, Rose trains new volunteers to become RMHC Shift Volunteers. Already this year she has trained 13 new Tampa volunteers! Many of these new volunteers bond with Rose as she trains and imparts her knowledge and experience of our Ronald McDonald House. She inspires new volunteers to not only dedicate themselves to a recurring shift but also to help at events and enlist their work place to be involved as well.
Rose was born and raised in Asturias, Spain and moved to the USA in 1977. She became a widow after losing her husband to ALS when her daughter was only 3 years old. After learning the English language and furthering her education, she began working for a financial institution. Years later, she was hired by JP Morgan Chase, where she worked for 25 years, having just recently retired. While working for JP Morgan Chase, Rose encouraged her company to support RMHC. Through Rose’s encouragement, JP Morgan holds Needs List Drives and Chore Days, in addition to matching their employees’ volunteer hours with cash donations to our organization. Rose is the quintessential volunteer and we are so very fortunate to call her one of our own.
Clare is the volunteer of the month for July. While Clare is new in town from Toronto, she has already accumulated more than 50 hours of service in just three months of volunteering. She volunteers weekly at the Central House front desk and picks up donations regularly from Fresh Market and Papa Johns. She has been such a tremendous help, not only with the families that stay at the house, but also with the Day Use program. Picking up food donations has always been an issue for us, so having Clare help with this task is a huge help. She greets everyone with a smile and is willing to help with whatever is needed. We appreciate you so much, Clare!
Don Germaise calls himself a professional volunteer. That’s because he retired from his full-time job as a reporter for ABC Action News (hunker down!) to spend his time making the world a better place. Don gives his time and resources to help many local and national charities: Metropolitan Ministries, Feeding America, Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful, Keeping Pinellas Beautiful, Crime Stoppers, Hands Across the Bay, Quantum Leap Horse Farm, Hillsborough County Schools, People for Haiti, Up Charity Romania, Globe Aware, and Habitat for Humanity. We are thankful that RMHC is also one of those charities where Don feels inspired to help.
Don was chosen by the administrative staff of RMHC Tampa Bay for his unwavering dedication to our events. He has emceed the Storybook Ball for 8 years and serves on both the Development Council and the Gala Committee. Don has spent countless hours recruiting others to support our organization through donations of goods and services, while donating numerous items himself to help our events succeed. In addition to his bi-weekly shift as a Tampa House volunteer, Don helps with bulk mailings, administrative tasks, and anything else we ask him to do! We are so grateful to call Don Germaise our friend!
Every Tuesday morning, the St. Pete East House kitchen has a lively buzz, because Maggie Knutsson is in the house and cooking a frittata or other delectable dish for our families. Maggie has been a Housewarmer volunteer since March 2012, logging 750 volunteer hours on the books (& many, many more off the books!).
In addition to sharing her amazing kitchen skills, Maggie serves on the St. Pete House Advisory Committee. In this capacity she has been a driving force behind many of our fundraisers, most notably our recent Wine Tasting event. Maggie was solely responsible for soliciting donations worth over $1,000 for this event and was instrumental in its success. Her calm and patient nature enhances not just our kitchen and dining room, but extends to our families, staff and fellow volunteers. Congratulations Maggie!
Otis Coracides has been a Shift Volunteer at the Tampa Ronald McDonald House since August, 2017. Otis first learned about the Ronald McDonald House when his son, Ethan, was born prematurely in January of 2009 and spent several weeks in the NICU. In 2015 Otis and his wife frequently volunteered time to the RMHC, preparing meals for families and in 2017 a work transition allowed Otis the opportunity to become a Shift Volunteer
Otis is eager to do all the duties that come along with being a Shift Volunteer. He checks families in and out of the house, helps with chores and whatever else is needed to keep our House clean and inviting for resident RMH families. He is a faithful volunteer, sacrificing his precious time for our pediatric families. His commitment to serve demonstrates his compassion and love for those who are less fortunate.
When Otis is not volunteering he enjoys spending time with his wife Elika and son Ethan, taking advantage of all the outdoor activities available in the Tampa Bay area. No matter where life take Otis and his family, he hopes to always be part of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Marsha started volunteering with us in August 2016. Over the past two years, she has logged more than 306 volunteer hours. Marsha has been a wonderful support to the house with her dependability and willingness to tackle any project handed to her. She is friendly and welcoming to all of our guests and fellow volunteers. The St. Pete West House is very thankful to have Marsha as a part of our team.
Dee Bucciero is a Sunday volunteer at the Central House. When the regular morning volunteer had to leave unexpectedly, Dee stepped in and took over both shifts, and now she signs up for every Sunday. Our Weekend Manager Patricia Chute says, “We are so fortunate to have Dee here on Sundays. Registering families for day use and familiarizing them with what Central House offers while they are staying bedside with their child, is a big part of what we do, and she does it so well. She’s always eager to take on those tasks, no matter how big or small, that are essential to keep the Central House sparkling clean and running smoothly.”
When we needed someone to pick up food from a local restaurant for us, Dee brought in her daughter Debbie to help us out. Together they make a super volunteer team.
Thank you, Dee, for being so kind and helpful to our resident families as well as the families who come to Central House for day use. Keep smiling and see you next Sunday!
Joyce Reichle is a St. Petersburg East House Housewarmer who has found a second home in our large kitchen. She currently works Friday evenings and Saturdays. According to Weekend Manager Stania Smida, Joyce jumps right in and seems to always know just what to do in the kitchen. She assists our meal groups or, if there is no scheduled group, works with staff, families, and volunteers to prepare and serve a wonderful meal. Joyce is excellent with the families and clearly loves spending her time here. She stays until the job is done, and comes back whenever she is free….even if she’s not on the schedule, just to help out!
Thanks to Joyce, the St. Pete East House runs smoothly, and our families are all well-fed and happy.
Irene and Clark Chen were both born and raised in Los Angeles, California. They married a week before moving out to the Tampa Bay Area for Clark’s psychiatric residency while Irene works as a research coordinator for HIV research in the USF Department of Infectious Disease at the Hillsborough County Department of Health. They both enjoyed volunteering their time for different organizations back home but immediately fell in love with the idea of Ronald McDonald House when hearing about different volunteer opportunities from peers.
Since starting, Irene and Clark love coming in on their weekends to help out the families. Clark enjoys checking in new families and giving the tour of the beautiful Tampa house. Irene excels at preparing rooms with her extreme attention to detail. The couple enjoys strengthening their marriage by working together to provide the families at RMH a wonderful experience even during at a stressful time in their lives.
Bob Monaghan is our December Volunteer of the Month. He is reliable, kind, and accommodating. We can depend on him to oversee the House when we a staff absence and trust that he can address family needs in our absence. Bob does not shy away from hard work, he is ready for anything we throw at him and he keeps coming back. He enjoys keeping us up-to-date on current events, and we let him know when fresh desserts are in the House!
Bob began volunteering at Ronald McDonald Central House in March of 2016. Between participating in the St. Pete Foodie scene, attending local social events and horseback riding in Wyoming, Bob has managed to log 1001.25 volunteer hours at Central House. His warm welcome and calm demeanor endear him to our families and RMHC staff. Giving back is a family tradition that Bob has shared with his son who also is recognized for his community service.
We are lucky Bob chose Central House to pursue his professional volunteer career, and now that we have him, we aren’t letting go!
Thank you, Bob, for all that you do.
Pat Dorsey comments on his reasons for volunteering for RMHC:
I think RMHC is such an important charity for many reasons, which include: RMHC is a local community charity; brings together people (businesses, fraternal organizations, families, and individuals) from our community to help those in need in our community.
RMHC directly helps people: It directly helps families in our community, giving them support and comfort when they are experiencing one of the most frightening they may face in their lives—the illness of a child.
Culture of caring: At Ronald McDonald House there exists a genuine culture of caring. RMHC does much more than provide housing and food—it provides a safe and warm atmosphere of support and kindness for families who are frightened by their child’s illness.
RMHC is a diligent steward of donor dollars: Having volunteered at both the house in Tampa and now the administrative offices, I can definitely say that everyone from the board of directors, to the staff, to the volunteers, are very careful with the resources that donors entrust to us.
Stories: In talking to other volunteers, I have often asked how they became involved in RMHC—there always seems to follow a story about how RMHC helped them or a family member or a friend in need and what a big difference it made and how much they appreciate our work—I love those stories!
Mary & Bob Sinibaldi are the FIRST dog therapy volunteers at RMHC, visiting the St. Pete East House with their therapy dogs for over 20 years. They started with TRex and Dino, and are now on their 2nd set of yellow labs, Saber T and Clovis. They are inspired to continue this great work because they see the difference that their dogs can make to our kids and families.
In some cases, kids won’t (or can’t) talk, but they are comforted by the presence of man’s best friend, and are eager to pet their fur and enjoy the special bond that only dogs can provide. The parents are most appreciative, even as they miss their own pets at home.
We are most grateful for all our dog therapy volunteers, who are making a difference in the lives of our families every day. Congratulations Mary, Bob, Clovis & Saber, our first-ever dog therapy Volunteers of the Month!
Kimberly Brown is our volunteer of the month for September. Kim has been a volunteer for five years, donating 400 hours of her time. Kim works as a financial manager, but she transforms into a super volunteer on Thursday nights. She comes in with an infectious smile, asking each person she sees how they are doing. Kim is enthusiastic about taking care of our families’ needs, whether that’s getting an extra towel from the linen room or lending them an ear about their child’s care. Staff trust that she can hold down the fort when they are pulled away.
Kim is also a wiz in the kitchen; not only can she whip up delicious home-cooked meals, but is an excellent cleaner and keeps things extra tidy. Her concern for our families extends to collecting pop tabs and toiletries from her office mates. We could not be more thankful for volunteers like Kim!
Francine has been with RMH Tampa for 25 years. Even before our doors opened she was working behind the scenes getting our House prepared for families with children in various Tampa hospitals. Francine was at home with two young preschoolers when she read an article in the newspaper about a new Ronald McDonald House opening in Tampa. She was grateful for the two healthy children she and her husband adopted and wanted to give back. She began on a morning shift and later went to evenings after adopting 3 more children and eventually going to work in her husband’s office. Francine has been a faithful and loyal RMHC Shift Volunteer and we are looking forward to having her on shift for 25 more years. Thank you, Francine!
Larry has only been a RMH volunteer for 6 months, but has already put in 60 hours of hard work to make himself comfortable with all the procedures. Not only has he picked up extra shifts to get more practice, but in May he covered five Monday evening shifts in a row (including the holiday) which were immensely helpful to the West House families and staff! As a retired doctor, he has a special understanding of what the families are experiencing, and his kind demeanor and genuine caring spirit shine right through to make them feel loved and supported. When he’s not spending time with families, he is busy around the house and on the patio making sure we’re sparkling clean. He’s setting the bar high and all his extra efforts are definitely not going unnoticed! Thank you so much, Larry!
Mary Hightower had always wanted to volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, so when she saw the article about the Grand Opening of the Central House she knew the timing was perfect! Mary began volunteering with her husband Robert, a 20-year veteran firefighter with Largo Fire Rescue. As Bobby’s schedule became more demanding, their son Cody stepped in to replace his dad.
Now “every other Wednesday” regulars, Mary (560 volunteer hours) and Cody (105 hours) jump right in to get things done! Mary works her magic on the seemingly insurmountable mountain of laundry and by the end of her shift it is all washed, dried and folded. Cody takes care of the families, ready to assist them in any way he can, always with a big smile. No task is too big (or small) for this “Dynamic Duo”!
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!
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 c 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.