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volunteer stories

Blanca and Gil Fontes

Blanca and Gil Fontes believe in the importance of giving back to the community. Their commitment to this belief is easy to see.

13 years ago, Blanca signed up to volunteer at the House. She gradually increased her volunteer hours and in 2004 she was honored at the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island’s Annual Gala.

Blanca currently volunteers as a Shift Relief Manager twice each month and she even recruited her husband, Gil, to help starting in 2003. Gil also believes in volunteering as he is a member of the Shriners and donates his time to attend nearly 100 events each year as “Gilly the clown.”

Both Blanca and Gil have become invaluable to the House. Through their dedication, friendly dispositions and overwhelming generosity, they help make this House a warm and pleasant place.

We are fortunate to have volunteers like the Fontes who dedicate themselves to serving the House and the community.

volunteer ronald mcdonald house providence

Mary Jane and Paul Dow

A story of giving back, as told by the incredible Mary Jane and Paul Dow:

In April 1998, our 1st grandchild, Andrew, was born in Virginia with a very severe heart defect requiring him to be medivaced from Washington Children’s Hospital to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. We followed by car with our son and daughter-in-law. We had no idea where to stay or what to do, so we were relieved when the hospital social worker referred us to the Ronald McDonald House. It was one of the most amazing experiences in our life – the accommodations, meals and compassionate support. It was months before we could talk about our experience without getting teary. We vowed then that when we retired, we would volunteer at the Providence Ronald McDonald House. It was the only way we could even begin to repay what we were given.

It wasn’t until 2004 that we were able to start volunteering and now 10 years later we still love to volunteer.

Friends ask us what we do at Ronald McDonald House and our answer is “anything and everything that needs to be done.” This includes but is not limited to; admitting and discharging residents, preparing rooms for new residents, baking and prepping or serving meals, assisting with mailings, and answering phones. We also assist at special events such as the family Christmas Party, the House Reunion and the House Gala. I know it sounds overwhelming but we don’t do it all in 1 day, and we do take breaks and have fun. There are jobs for everyone, no matter what your talents and interest are. People more talented than us help with major maintenance issues. Paul has some physical limitations so he does computer work which is a help to the Staff.

Our interactions with other Volunteers and Staff are great. We feel like we’ve made many new friends at RMH Providence. Although we are assigned to a four hour shift on Tuesday afternoon, the staff is very understanding and flexible when life’s events interfere with our schedule.

We feel that we receive much more than we give to PRMH. Knowing that we can play a small role in the lives of the families at Providence Ronald McDonald House at a very difficult time is so rewarding.

volunteer stories rmh providence

Pat Manocchia

When Pat Manocchia’s 17 year-old grandson was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, she was with him every step of the way given her love for her family and professional background in nursing. Pat’s grandson, Joel, was rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital when an x-ray revealed tumors in his body. Joel immediately underwent a rigorous cancer treatment schedule. Pat was pleased with the exceptional care and attention to detail that the hospital staff provided her grandson. Beyond the medical care, Pat and her family also experienced family-centered care thanks to the Ronald McDonald Family Room on the fourth floor of Hasbro Children’s Hospital. They visited the Family Room to do laundry, grab a cold soda or water, and relax in a warm and comforting environment.

Despite the fact that Pat was a nurse and passed the Ronald McDonald House of Providence on her way to and from work every day, she had never stepped inside. Joel’s medical crisis and lengthy hospitalization allowed Pat and her family to understand the impact of the House and Family Room on families trying to help a child heal and return home healthy. Thanks to the extraordinary care Joel received at the hospital and the incredible support of his family, he recovered and received a clean bill of health.

In her retirement, Pat decided to return to the hospital setting in a different capacity. She now volunteers in the Family Room every other Friday as a way to give back. Her favorite part? Pat enjoys providing a sense of warmth and “home” to visitors, just like the Family Room provided her family five years ago. She believes that “it is the simple things that make the biggest difference” and cherishes the “thank you” from each person who visits the room.

Pat has volunteered for more than 100 hours over the past two years, and has brought a smile to the faces of countless families.