Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Becoming McAwesome

I have mentioned once or twice about the volunteer group I manage called Team McAwesome. We create, cook, and serve brunch once a month at Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta.

Do you remember reading the Babysitter's Club and every book in the series always reminded us about Kristy's great idea and how it came to her watching her mom one night try to find a sitter for David Michael? And then her idea grew and took on a life of it's own becoming something that wasn't imagined at first? From just friends getting together to organize babysitting for neighborhood moms to hosting backyard fairs, parades and pageants? This is what happened with Team McAwesome.
2011 Rock the House Run. This is why I started to follow RMH on Twitter

In Summer of 2011, I was looking for opportunities to fulfill a goal of meeting 100 volunteer hours when I read a tweet from Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta about their Home for Dinner program. This program has volunteers come into the house, making a meal for the families staying there to alleviate some of the stress surrounding their stay while their children are at the hospital for medical treatments. We have all been stressed out in life -- maybe not to that extent, but we often forget to hit the grocery store or find time to cook a nutritious meal while we are worrying about other things in life. Thinking about all of the times I have prepared meals with my friends and the fun we had, creatively exploring new recipes while chatting and laughing, this seemed like a great opportunity to give back, hang out with my friends and try some of those food ideas I seem to find on Pinterest.

Creatively combining ingredients
I put out a call on Facebook about my idea to create a group to regularly cook at the House and initially 15 of my friends showed interest. We cooked our first Sunday brunch in December of that year, serving egg-in-the-hole, bacon and fruit salad. Friends told friends who told their friends. I was able to organize a brunch for every month of 2012, filling the 8 available spots in record time (I think the quickest one filled in 24 minutes). I had 2 of my friends sign up for orientation with me, knowing from my experiences with GirlTalk that sometimes life gets in the way every month and I could fulfill commitments with alternate hosts.

We felt we could do more then just cook. In summer of 2012, we held a Bag-o-Booze raffle to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, The Calgary Children's Hospital and to supplement the cost of our groceries every month. One of my hosts took it upon herself the challenge to complete the House's wishlist with her personal development group and did it outside of a box store in 3 hours, convincing friends, family and strangers to buy items like toothpaste, shampoo and diapers (they raised about $5000 worth of items in that short time frame).

Reaquainting with old friends and meeting new friends

The ripple effect among the team was amazing to watch. We grew monthly (as of today we are at 56 members) and each member had a different way to contribute -- from creative ideas and themes for our meals, sharing their talents with the House (our photographer member donated mini photo sessions to families staying at the house and our baker wants to donate some of her beautiful cakes), promoting events around town that would benefit the House, collecting pop can tabs for the House -- it was inspiring. We have approached a few businesses around town to sponsor our brunch by donating some of their product for the meal and it's creating even more of a community as we promote shopping locally to our group members and to those staying at the House. I now have 6 Team Leads and we are looking at increasing the frequency of the meals we serve.

Super Hero Halloween Brunch
Teen Toy Drive

Our efforts were not going unnoticed. I was invited to speak at a Networking groups luncheon about Team McAwesome and they in turn donated money they had collected all year to Ronald McDonald House on our behalf. The House itself wrote about us in their family newsletter and will be publishing an article about us in their external newsletter this quarter as well (with a distribution list of about 10,000 people!!!). And to end the year on even more of a high note, we were notified by Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta that we had been nominated and selected to receive their 2012 Volunteer Team Award in honour of Leeza Nielson. Last night was the award ceremony where we were recognized and treated to a Death-by-Chocolate buffet.

A fantastic way to celebrate with my team leads while representing all of the milestones the Team crossed in 2012 and to motivate us to raise the bar in 2013. Congratulations Team McAwesome!

1 comment:

unabashedlyashley said...

‘Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes the difference.’ - Nolan Bushnell

That must have been one heck of a shower. You inspired all of this. Look how much life has changed since then. THIS is pure McAwesomesauce!