Volunteer Spotlight: Marie Kaufer

Ronald McDonald House Volunteer Spotlight: Marie Kaufer

Kristen: Marie, can you tell me how long you have been volunteering with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho, and what your first volunteer experience was?
Marie: I started volunteering in October of 2017, and was introduced to the organization by my neighbor, they are part of the Simplot company. She invited me to help with the fall fundraiser, and I jumped at the opportunity, because we had just moved to Eagle, Idaho and where my husband was stationed. I had always been a volunteer for PTA and boosters so I said, absolutely, I’d love to because I wanted to get connected to the community. So at that event, I just said, whatever you want me to do to help. Carol asked me to help with the auction baskets and to help decorating, and one of my tasks was to pick up the balloons from Zurchers. So I had my car full of balloons, and I pulled up to JUMP, and this lovely lady was happened to be at the curb. I opened up the trunk and all these balloons started flying away, and she was like “oh, honey, let me help you.” It was Ingrid, one of the volunteers from the House. So here she and I are wrangling 100 balloons and she was just so kind.

We have been friends ever since ever since, she helped me get involved. She told me her story, and it was a divine appointment! I just fell in love that from that moment on… the mission, the community and the heart that Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho represents for families. So, it’s just been wonderful!

Kristen: What would you say is your most rewarding part of volunteering with RMHC of Idaho?
Marie: Gosh, I love the special events, because it brings people together. I just love seeing the many people that are involved with the charity that are out in the community. Also, to just put faces with names and make connections and relationships. That’s what it’s all about, you know, they see the heart of this organization and what we stand for and how we want to help people. It’s wonderful just to be a part of it.

Kristen: You are a core volunteer, so you work at the front desk on Tuesdays. What made you want to dedicate your time weekly?
Marie: Well, again, I love to be a part of the community. I think of it as a puzzle, and everybody has a piece of this big puzzle. No matter what you’re volunteering to do, small or large, whether you’re going out to get groceries, or at the front desk and greeting people or answering the phones, it’s all an integral part! So I wanted to come back and be at the front desk to just get to know people and to give my part to give back.

Kristen: What are some of your favorite things that you get to see or experience with families or just in the House in general? 
Marie: I have given tours of the House and one of the most impressive things that people always enjoy is the playroom with the balloons. I love the balloons in the playroom because it kind of identifies Boise uniquely. And then one of my other favorite things is the magic closet. It’s so fun to show the magic toy closet to kids, even showing it to adults is so special.  You open up the door and it just takes your breath away, just to know that all the toys in there are donated. To see how much people care. And is there something about the innocence of a child and when they’re facing challenges everyone’s heart opens up for that. You can just bring a smile or joy to a child that otherwise has a lot of other things going on, or even if it’s a sibling, it just lightens the mood for them. 

Kristen: What does it mean to you to be a Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho volunteer?
Marie: A year ago, my daughter in law who lives in Boise, their baby was born with a hole in her heart. Shortly after she was born, she was back at St. Luke’s with a feeding tube for about five days. She was about a month old at that point, and she started to fail to thrive. They thought the hole would close, but it didn’t, so she needed surgery. So here I was now in this position that I never I’ve been on this side of. We had to go out of state to UCLA for the surgery. There wasn’t a Ronald McDonald House close by there, but we stayed at a similar place. It really brought it full circle for me to appreciate everything that families are going through, and the services and the things that we can offer to families who are going through a tough time! The stress and the worry is at a maximum and the little things about the day to day…coffee, or a homemade meal is so important You’re just so consumed with your situation that all everything else falls away (as it should). And yet, you could come back to a clean, nice room, there’s fresh cookies or a meal, something like that, it’s a big deal. So I’m grateful that we can provide all that to families. It’s so fulfilling, so rewarding. I just I love being back, it’s my way of paying it forward!

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