A couple of weeks ago my NAIT friends (co-workers) Marta, Gina, Natalie, Kendra, Razanne and I, along with some of our +1s, cooked a Home for Dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House! I’ve been a volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House for over a year as a member of the Red Shoe Society. One of the main things we did was organize events (Red Shoe Crawls) that raise money for the House. The other thing we did was organize Home for Dinners.
The Home for Dinner program alleviates the stress of families staying at the House – they don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner because volunteers in the community make it for them! Here’s how it works:
- Gather a group of six-ten people
- Bring in ingredients and prepare a meal of your choice (enough for about 40-60 people)
- Enjoy the food with the Ronald McDonald House families and tour the House
- Clean up
It’s a really great volunteer opportunity and also an awesome team building activity too. They’ve also expanded – and you can now volunteer to cook Home for Breakfasts and Home for Lunches.
Prior to the July Home for Dinner, I had organized one of my own dinners (last year) and had also helped out at two other ones (organized by other members of the Red Shoe Society).
It’s such a heart-warming and fulfilling experience and I’m glad I got a chance to do it with some of my work friends!
Our menu was: Caesar salad and garden salad for appetizers, a Pasta Buffet for main course – featuring spaghetti and penne, with choice of meatballs and meat sauce, vegetarian/tomato sauce, and chicken alfredo – plus garlic toast. And for dessert – Make Your Own Sundaes!!!
Our dinner was a hit. We saw many families going back for seconds, and packing a bunch in tupperware for leftovers. There was also a wonderful man who kept coming up and asking us for the recipes for the salads! The families gave us a round of applause at the end of the meal, which was very touching, and the entire group got to go for a tour of the House led by Executive Chef/Home for Dinner coordinator Matt Mang, where they learned a lot more about how the House helps families!
Like I said, it’s a great, heart-warming experience, and wonderful for team building too. Now that the ladies in my group were exposed to the Home for Dinner, they have the experience to go and organizer their own – with their own network. And on and on it goes. There’s generally a volunteer group cooking a Home for Dinner every single night – which really shows how wonderful the local community is.
The grocery shopping is the hardest part about organizing the Home for Dinner – I spent hours and hours and hours at the grocery store trying to sort out right quantities. Our menu was pretty simple too – what with the pasta buffet and make your own sundaes, can’t imagine trying to grocery shop for more elevated dishes! lol. Also, trying to figure out where to store all of the groceries for easy transportation is also hard, but NAIT Food Services was a huge help and let me use their fridges at work!! The fun of the actual cooking and eating with the families makes the grocery shopping headache a distant memory though. :) Each person in our group pitched in $20 for grocery shopping (if you’re doing team building, maybe your department could cover the cost. They do offer tax receipts for grocery shopping!)