Meet a Volunteer: Alana
Alana has a rich volunteer history with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama and we are grateful to share her story!
Alana began volunteering at RMHCA in the 90’s at the original Ronald McDonald House, which was located on 11th Avenue South.
“Several of my friends had started volunteering and it sounded so rewarding I wanted to as well. What I remember most was being Weekend Manager some weekends. I’d come in on Friday and stay until Sunday to check guests in and out and make sure everything was taken care of,” Alana says.
At that time, the Ronald McDonald House had 10 guest rooms and only two employees. Today, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama has grown to a 73-room Ronald McDonald House and a Ronald McDonald Family Room with 3 sleep rooms. Approximately 30 employees support day-to-day operations and fundraise the $3 million operating budget.
“Back then, the volunteers did everything! Now, there are many employees, including a Volunteer Coordinator,” Alana laughs.
Alana had taken a break from volunteering to raise her daughter, who is now in college, and also overcome her own health issues.
“I had a brain tumor and had my first surgery in 2008,” she says. “I was in the valley for 10 years and was so sick after that. I had a stroke in 2017 and it was crazy.”
Alana’s support system of friends, family and fellow Ronald McDonald House volunteers got her through that terrible time.
“I think for the families, the Ronald McDonald House feels like home,” Alana says. “It’s a place where everybody is loving and caring and you have to have that village when you’re going through the valley.”
Currently, Alana helps support the Family Care Specialists in the evening, which is often the most active time at the House.
“I mostly help with the meals if the group needs it, or if the meal is delivered I’ll help them set it up,” she says. “Then I’ll come through after dinner to clean up and make sure the kitchen is in order.”
If you’d like to join her in making a difference, learn more on our Volunteer Page or click/tap the Volunteer button at the top of this page!
Alana says she enjoys helping guest families one-on-one.
“There’s a family who always gives us updates on their baby and it feels so good to hear if he’s doing good or his surgery went well,” Alana says. “He was able to leave the hospital between surgeries and I got to see him at the House! I just love seeing the babies. I’m past that stage of life but it just does something for my heart to see them.”
She says the relationships she built there have lasted a lifetime. A mom that she knew from that time recently reached out to her through social media to reconnect.
“It was right before I reached out to you all to volunteer again,” Alana says. “A mom reached out to me on Facebook to let me know her son was grown and doing well. And I thought, “Wow, she remembered me from those years ago.’ We all spoiled that baby! Every time we saw his stroller, we’d sit with him. He had a trach and they had to have been there almost a year. I have a picture of him now at my house.”
“When you’re here, time goes by so fast because it’s so rewarding,” Alana says. “I’m humbled by how appreciative the families are. It means the world to me to know that the little bit of effort I give is helping the families so much.”