A group of 11 pharmacy students in the Harding graduate program at recently had the opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock.
The Ronald McDonald House is described as a “home away from home” by program service/volunteer coordinator, Kristi Finley. It’s a place for families with critically ill children in local hospitals to stay for free. Dinner is provided nightly, there are laundry rooms on every floor for guests, and they also provide recreational various activities, including yoga. In 2016, 946 families stayed there.
Volunteers are a large part of why the Ronald McDonald House operates as everyone that comes and cooks meals or provides a service are all volunteers. A lot of the funding comes from donations by individual corporate owners and community organizations. Finley estimated that there are over a few hundred who volunteer every year.
Third year pharmacy student Charlie Wright wanted to see what the facility was like and to help families with members in the hospital.
“I feel as if the work they are doing is meeting a need that would otherwise go unmet,” Wright said. “Their work is inspiring, and everyone that I came in contact with was a pleasure to be around and of a positive attitude.”
The pharmacy students were able to cook meals for families, take a tour of the house and observe some of the programs offered. They were able to get involved through an organization in the pharmacy school called the Council of Students.
Vice president of finance for the Mark S. Riley Chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association, Kyeshia Ward said they are already setting dates to go back to the Ronald McDonald House in the spring.
“The pharmacy students that came were awesome,” Finley said. “They were all a joy to be around. I visited with them several different times. They had a lot of questions about how to get involved even more and I was able to take them on a tour of our new house that we here are all very proud of.”
Currently they can house 32 families at a time, and Finley’s future goal is to be able to serve more families. She wants to be able to have more groups to come in to provide not only dinner, but lunch and breakfast as well. She also said that they want to expand in their area with teens, saying they didn’t currently have much for them to do while staying there.