The rewards of volunteering

ADMINISTRATION HELP: Cathy Hancock is just one of many volunteers who offer their skills in office administration at Ronald McDonald House Orange every week. Photo: Supplied.
ADMINISTRATION HELP: Cathy Hancock is just one of many volunteers who offer their skills in office administration at Ronald McDonald House Orange every week. Photo: Supplied.

Become a volunteer

IF you would like to become a volunteer at Ronald McDonald House in Orange, below is an overview of what is involved to sign up.

After an initial expression of interest via phone call or email to the house, prospective volunteers are invited to an orientation session and a tour of the house. Volunteers are provided with an overview of how the organisation works and the procedures and processes in place to ensure compliance with privacy issues for families.

Volunteers are required to undergo a Working with Children check and a Criminal History Check, however prospective volunteers are guided through the process at the house and costs are covered by RMH Orange.

Volunteers who sign up are asked to work a three-hour shift at a time and while some may choose to volunteer once a month, there are other volunteers on the roster who volunteer every week. It is completely up to the individual volunteer as to their level of commitment.

Volunteers are provided with a uniform and name badge to wear during their shift and Executive Officer of RMH Orange, Rebecca Walsh, said that help was always available for volunteers. "Anyone who is thinking of volunteering can be assured they will be buddied up with someone and mentored through their first few shifts until they feel completely comfortable," she said. "There is always someone around who can help out - we are very much a team".

Rebecca said during her time in her role she had also seen some lovely friendships develop among volunteers. "While there are strict protocols about developing friendships with families, it is a very different situation for our volunteers and they enjoy catching up with each other for social outings away from the house," she said. "Among our volunteers there is very much a sense that we are all a 'family' and are all working towards the same goals of taking the pressure off families at a time when they need it most".

LEARNING THE SYSTEM: Newly inducted volunteer Helen Renney is shown the ropes by long-serving volunteer Eve Blore. Photo: Supplied.

LEARNING THE SYSTEM: Newly inducted volunteer Helen Renney is shown the ropes by long-serving volunteer Eve Blore. Photo: Supplied.

Volunteer Voices

Barbara Bloomfield:I have been able to use the skills from my working life to help out, and I have made some lovely friends at the house. I also helped with the quilt making for the bedrooms.

Karen Bouffler: I just love helping other people who are in a time of distress because their child is hospitalised. There is a very happy atmosphere in the house with all the volunteers doing their best for families.

James Sutherland:I volunteer on the overnight shift and for me as the father of two very young children, it is a way I feel I can contribute by helping children and families at a time in their lives when they need it most.

Elaine Curll: It is a way of helping out families who have sick children and are a long way from home at a difficult time in their life.

Judy Reppen: It is knowing that you are helping families who are experiencing a rather traumatic time when their child is ill in hospital. I love the friendship and fellowship of the other volunteers and staff.

Dennis Tuck: I started volunteering for Ronald McDonald House because it does great work in supporting families. You can be flexible with the hours you volunteer and I really enjoy helping people.

Narelle Gordon: I love it because of the camaraderie of all the volunteers, and seeing the relieved looks on the faces of families when they come in and see the house - it makes it all worth it.

Joanne Gallagher:I just enjoy everyone's company as the house is such a friendly place, and it is a good feeling helping families at a time when they are often worried about their sick child.

Sandra Hatswell: It is satisfying to be able to support families the way we do in so many ways. The house is such a happy and positive environment and I really enjoy the companionship and the friendships I have made with other volunteers.

Roger Toffolon: I am a 'newbie' having started a year ago, but it is a great opportunity to help help children and families who are so vulnerable at a time when their child is ill. I really enjoy the company of everyone on my shift.

Denise Schmich: I was among the first group of volunteers who signed up in 2015. Volunteering at the house is like being part of one big happy family and I really enjoy it so much as everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

Margaret Fisher: I think as a volunteer we do everything we can to help families stay together at what is a difficult time. It is such a homely environment and not only do I enjoy giving back to the community, I get to volunteer with a wonderful bunch of people.

Volunteer Opportunities

Along with the volunteers who are rostered on to house duties at RMH Orange throughout the day and night, there is another passionate group of volunteers who contribute in so many ways Ronald McDonald House.

A number of volunteers help raise funds for RMH Orange, spurred on by the knowledge that all funds raised remain in Orange and go directly towards supporting families and the cost of running the house. A hard-working Ball Committee works all year long planning the major fundraising event of the year - the annual themed Gala Ball. Although this year's event had to be cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, plans are well under way for next year's ball.

Other volunteers include those from local businesses who come into the house on a regular basis for a 'cook up' involving cooking a range of pre-prepared meals, which are placed in the community freezer for families to use in emergency situations.

There is also a loyal band of volunteers who generously contribute time in their own homes to knit baby clothes for premature and newborn babies for those families who find themselves at Orange Health Service. This group of volunteers also knit beautiful hats and scarves which we present to families when they arrive, as they often feel the effect of a sudden climate change, particularly if they have come from west of Orange.

Executive Officer of RMH Orange, Rebecca Walsh, said the volunteers could never be thanked enough and that RMH Orange was always on the lookout for more. "On behalf of everyone at Ronald McDonald House we want to thank you for your efforts - you do a fantastic job all year round". Those interested in volunteering should call 02 6363 1960 or email admin@rmhorange.org.au.

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