Volunteer Spotlight: Rebecca Wright and Katie Marsden
For more information about volunteering with CJSTUF, including opportunities at the Richmond Ronald McDonald House, visit our Volunteer Page
Rebecca Wright and her daughter Katie have been long-time friends of Rachel and Roger Reynolds, founders of CJSTUF. They also happen to be very enthusiastic in the kitchen, and have been excited about the opportunity to volunteer through CJSTUF’s Meal Fairies Program at The Ronald McDonald House in Richmond. Read below for more about Rebecca’s experience as a volunteer with CJSTUF.
Our favorite quote from Rebecca about volunteerism:
“I totally believe in the “butterfly effect” — Even the smallest fluttering of your “wings” can have big effects down the road. So we choose to “flutter.”
What motivated you to become a volunteer for CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation’s Meal Fairies Program at Ronald McDonald House?
[My godson] Kieran went to Sloan-Kettering in NYC after he finished his treatment at MCV, and we always stayed at the RMH there. That’s a much larger facility, so restaurants provide meals a night or two a week. It was great to be able to come back to a nice meal after a long day of treatment (which can be very intense and exhausting for everyone) and not have to worry about what we were going to eat.
How did you learn about CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation?
Roger was Katie’s freshman advisor at Randolph-Macon, and she often babysat for Charlotte. She was just devastated when Charlotte was diagnosed, particularly coming a year after my godson’s diagnosis (for whom she also babysat). So we’ve followed the “story” from the get-go. I’ve worked with several local and national pediatric cancer organizations, but this just seemed like a great way to “pay forward” some of the support that we have received over the past seven years and do it in a way that would honor that precious little girl. It’s so very hard to lose a child (I have personal experience and have watched too many “cancer friends” endure it), so I also want to support Rachel and Roger in their efforts.
Can you share a little bit about your experience preparing meals for the families at the Ronald McDonald House?
Doing this is fun! I love to cook for people, and the RMH kitchen is pretty amazing. This just seemed like a natural fit. I follow their guidelines and plan meals that we can prepare in two hours. I bring separate tote bags with all the ingredients for each dish, and Katie and I decide in advance who is going to cook what. (The pre-planning is really important.) Then we just grab a tote bag and get to work!
Tell us about yourself and what you do when not volunteering for CJSTUF.
After 38 years, I retired from being a high school English teacher in Henrico County in 2011, then did a consulting job with the AP program for two years, and am now finally, really retired! (Well, I still sub and tutor during the school year.) My hobbies are cooking, gardening, and NOT doing housework! Everyone in this family LOVES kids — In addition to Katie, we have a younger son who is a student at VCU and works as a counselor at the Jewish Community Center, and I have four grown stepchildren with their own kids and step kids, PLUS a large extended family — So throwing down a big meal isn’t a problem.
As I said, I have done some volunteer work with pediatric cancer organizations — Connor’s Heroes, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and CureSearch, and have written some articles/presented at conferences. Now that Kieran is (knock on wood!) doing so well, I have more time to devote, because I was chief babysitter/assistant nurse to that boy for several years! Honestly, having experienced all of this so closely, I feel like a slacker if I’m not doing SOMETHING involving support, because I know that there are people out there who need it.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for the CJSTUF Meal Fairies program through Ronald McDonald House?
Again, it’s fun! It takes only a few hours, and we get to work in the kitchen of our dreams. Sometimes a guest comes through, and we get to chat for a bit, but usually we’re just there doing our cooking thing.
I think that, sometimes, people hesitate to get involved with a project because it may take too much time, or maybe they think they don’t have the skills, or maybe it will turn out to be more than they bargained for. This doesn’t, they probably do, and it won’t!