21 Sep Volunteer Spotlight: Rohans Serve Ribs with A Side Of Empathy
“Every family that comes through a door at Ronald McDonald House has had that one-second when everything was normal, then it wasn’t. All different stories for sure, but they are ‘walking the walk’ and not by choice. We have the opportunity to walk a portion of their walk with them. It is such a privilege for us.”
—Marcia Rohan, ARMHC volunteer
On the first Monday of every month, Howard and Marcia Rohan cook dinner at the Peachtree-Dunwoody Ronald McDonald House. While the main dish varies, the motivation remains true.
“Our family has always been involved in volunteer work. We were looking for a volunteer experience we could do together,” Marcia said, adding Howard was about to retire which would allow them to do this together.
The Rohans learned about Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities when their 18-year-old son had a traumatic brain injury in an accident. “We were blessed with a great outcome with our son but it was a very long journey,” Marcia said, adding they saw the “accommodations [made] for families, from out of town, who were facing their own long journeys.”
That experience and Marcia’s as a nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta—Scottish Rite lead to a visit with the resident manager and a new “job” of having “dinner with the families, and just talking to them” once a week. Now for the last 10 years, they also dish out dinner once a month with fellow volunteer Pam Kelly.
“I knew the Peachtree-Dunwoody housed the families far from home whose children were involved in both the inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs,” Marcia said. “We were blessed to be close to home during our journey. Ronald McDonald House families are not. We knew we had a connection to these families though our stories were different.”
In December 2015, the average number of mouths to feed changed “tremendously” when the new 30-room Peachtree-Dunwoody House opened. Despite this increased number of families, Marcia said proudly, “We still cook ourselves!”
Howard is sous chef, or “dishwasher and cleaner upper,” along with the grandchildren. “Our teen grandchildren have grown up with the Ronald McDonald House Charities and are great helpers in the kitchen!”
As for menu planning, Marcia says that she always try to cook meals the families would have at home. “With everything these families are going through, I want them to look forward to dinner!” And, yes, they do accept special requests from families. Favorites include homemade macaroni and cheese, chocolate lava cake, applesauce and poppy seed chicken.
Howard and Marcia find themselves bonding and making memories while grilling ribs, shucking corn, and peeling potatoes.
This monthly service satisfies more than just appetite.
“Every family who comes through a door at Ronald McDonald House has had that one-second when everything was normal, then it wasn’t,” Marcia says. “All different stories for sure, but they are ‘walking the walk’ and not by choice. We have the opportunity to walk a portion of their walk with them. It is such a privilege for us.”