Baker’s Dozen of Brontos Volunteer at Ronald McDonald House

Nanette George

Nanette George

One of the great things about working here is the opportunity to donate time each quarter to assist hard-working teams at local nonprofit organizations. It’s a great way to give back to the community and do a little team bonding.

I was delighted to spend two hours at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Durham to bake cookies for the organization’s patients and families. RMH provides comfort, lodging and support to seriously ill children and their families, who live far from the exceptional medical care provided at hospitals in North Carolina’s Triangle region. The Durham House is located less than one mile from Duke Children’s Hospital and provides for up to 55 families every night.

Thirteen Brontos – a baker’s dozen! – showed up at the Durham House with bags of supplies to make brownies and chocolate chip cookies. The Durham House has a large kitchen and a dedicated volunteer who showed us around the space and helped us get the area cleaned and ready for baking.

We baked cookies by the double batch, quickly forming assembly lines to add the right ingredients. Along the way, we shared stories about baking and Bronto, and we peered up at the ceiling tiles, which had been decorated by Durham House residents and their families as a visual testament to their courageous battles with illness.

During our tour of the facility, we learned that every family that visits the Durham House receives a white ceiling tile when they check in, and they are encouraged to decorate it as they wish. Some of the tiles included the patient’s name, photograph and details about his or her story. I looked at one colorful tile that featured Disney’s Tinkerbell. Her dress was blue and her wings were red, making her look a lot like a superhero.

As I measured my ingredients, I thought about the little girl behind that tile and wondered what it must feel like to come to such a place, where people care so much about what you’re going through that they bring in volunteers like us to bake treats for those long days of doctor visits, pre-operation preparation and post-op recovery. It made me smile, just as my teammate Melissa Blavos did when I snapped this photo of her after pulling our first batch of cookies from the oven.

It was a sweet day, and I came back to work with renewed energy to take on my workweek. I was thankful for the time to be at the Ronald McDonald House, to do something special for families in their time of need and to get to know my fellow Brontos even better along the way.