Cooking up a little compassion

Kindness Kitchen1

When your child is hospitalized nothing else seems to matter. Getting healthy and going home becomes top priority. This is where the Ronald McDonald House and Kindness Kitchen at Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) come in, offering support, comfort and convenience to families in need. The Ronald McDonald House staff explains what the Kindness Kitchen is, ways you can volunteer and why it’s their mission to keep families together while creating a home away from home for those in need.

What is the Kindness Kitchen?

The Kindness Kitchen is the name of the meal program that serves the Ronald McDonald House and Parkview families. Every evening, the families and loved ones of patients can count on a warm meal to refresh and refuel them while they stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

What does the Kindness Kitchen do for patients and their families?

The Kindness Kitchen provides free food and meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House within PRMC. Every morning we feature a continental-like breakfast bar, we provide grab-and-go snacks throughout the day, and then each evening families can look forward to dinner being served at 6 p.m.

The Kindness Kitchen not only satisfies a family’s physical needs but also feeds their souls. Being able to get away from the stress of the hospital and enjoy a meal while reconnecting with loved ones allows parents and siblings to cling to a bit of normalcy during a difficult time.

Can anyone volunteer at the Kindness Kitchen?

Yes! Anyone and everyone can volunteer in the Kindness Kitchen! We appreciate all our Kindness Kitchen volunteers or “Meal Partners”. It’s such a wonderful service and opportunity for families, friends, church groups, coworkers or any kind of team.

A former Meal Partner shared her thoughts on the opportunity. “Volunteering in the Kindness Kitchen with my co-workers was so rewarding in many ways,” LaToshia Gilbert, said. “Not only did we get to serve others (which is what we love to do as nurses), we had the blessing to serve those who are experiencing something I could not imagine … having a child hospitalized. Since you have to make all the food right there in the Kindness Kitchen, our team got to work alongside each other in a different environment; cooking, cleaning and really just having fun. This gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better, to become more than just co-workers. We learned about each other’s lives, families, hobbies, etc. This was more rewarding than I even realized it would be. I have been telling other co-workers about it and even asked my women’s bible study group if they’d be interested in volunteering there. The Kindness Kitchen is a blessing to many families, and just as much of a blessing to anyone who steps foot in the doors as a volunteer.”

As a Meal Partner, you can choose your own menu or visit our Pinterest page for meal ideas if you’re needing a little inspiration. We also recommend visiting our website to fill out the Meal Partner form and check out the Meal Calendar to view available dates and times to schedule your meal.

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What can someone expect if it's their first time as a volunteer?

Volunteering comes in a few different forms and first timers should plan on providing enough food for roughly 25 people. You can go about this in a few different ways:

  • Provide all the ingredients and prepare the meal in our kitchen.
  • Serve prepared food purchased from a retailer or wholesaler.
  • Cater in and serve a meal from a local restaurant.
  • Have a meal delivered from a local restaurant while Ronald McDonald House volunteers serve.
Are there any other donation opportunities?

Absolutely! We have a solution for everyone. If you are unable to physically participate as a volunteer or Meal Partner, you can fund a meal by donating money or gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores or donate ingredients for a meal and we can do the cooking. We’re also always accepting financial gifts and donations of wish list items such as groceries for the pantry, cleaning supplies and toiletries.

If cooking and meal planning aren’t your things, we also allow groups to come in and do other service opportunities in addition to or instead of providing a meal. If this is something that interests you, please reach out to Tina Watts at tina.watts@parkview.com or 260-266-6274 for other volunteer service opportunities.

Where are you located?

We are located inside PRMC within the Women and Children’s Hospital. You can find us by entering through door 2A and walking straight down the hallway until you reach the House on the left. For questions or more information, please contact Gretchen Spires at rmhmeals@parkview.com or 260-266-3590.

Final thoughts

Remember, your donation or volunteering of time may seem small, but it’s a generous gift to families in need. A meal can be a simple, yet special moment of relaxation and refreshment during a time of uncertainty. When you volunteer in the Kindness Kitchen, you’re not just preparing a meal, you’re giving a family the gift of support, comfort and compassion.

Generosity means so much. As one former recipient of such kindness shared, “I know while my husband and I were staying at the Ronald McDonald House, we appreciated a nice, home-cooked meal so much,” Lindsay Davidson, past Ronald McDonald House guest, said. “It was so nice to get out of the NICU, have other families to talk to, and be able to just get away from it all.”

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