APCO Gives Back: Cooking up a Meal for Families at Ronald McDonald House

With several new team members and two years of skills-based volunteering with local Chicago organizations under our belts, our team decided to dedicate our most recent annual APCO Gives Back day to Ronald McDonald House.

Ronald McDonald Houses offer families a place to call home so they can stay close to their hospitalized children at little to no cost. At every House, families enjoy home-cooked meals, as well as private bedrooms and playrooms.

Our role was to provide lunch for 25+ families staying at the House. We planned a nutritious menu that would be enjoyed by even the pickiest of eaters. On the morning of June 27, a small team headed to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for meat and vegetable tacos, cheese quesadillas, taco salads and all the toppings and trimmings to complement the meal. We also bought healthy snacks that the families could take with them to enjoy later in the day.

Our full team arrived on-site an hour and a half before meal-time and got to work. Feeling like contestants on MasterChef, we cooked the meal, served it to the families, prepared leftover boxes for any latecomers and cleaned up the kitchen in time for the next group to come in and make dinner.

This team-building activity got us out of the office to do something new and allowed us to get to know each other better while helping a local organization and families in need. We enjoyed interacting with the families that joined us for the meal, watching them fill up their plates and knowing that we had made a very small impact during a very difficult time.

Our APCO Gives Back day was a good reminder that, as busy as we are, making time to volunteer and give back to the community is as important for the community as it is for our own well-being and happiness.

This might explain why some volunteers get a “helper’s high” — they feel stronger, more energetic, and more motivated after helping others even in the smallest ways. When Gallup surveyed more than 23,000 people on this topic, nearly 9 in 10 reported “getting an emotional boost” from doing kind things for other people.