When Karen Monaghan, catering supervisor, and William Kwong, executive sous chef, heard about opportunities to contribute to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Alberta they decided to put their western hospitality skills to the test. They rounded up other employees to help cook for the families through the “Home for Dinner” program (which also includes breakfast, brunch and lunch).

Pictured: Brenna, Stampede Concession team and Julia, Stampede front of house serving captain.
Pictured: Brenna, Stampede Concession team and Julia, Stampede front of house serving captain.

The Ronald McDonald House in Calgary provides a home away from home for out-of-town families with sick children receiving medical attention in the Calgary Children’s Hospital. More than 18,000 families have stayed at the House since it opened and it is one of 14 homes across Canada and one of more than 300 Houses worldwide.

Ronald McDonald House offers up to 23 families a home away from home while their child is under care at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The average stay in the House is 21 days – the longest stay has been 376 days.

“Being away from home can be stressful and lonely especially when you are away from the rest of your family and in new surroundings. Providing comfort and kindness to these families is what the volunteer program at the House is all about,” said chef Kwong.

It’s been a little over a year now since their first volunteer visit, and the Calgary Stampede Food & Beverage team continues to assist with Sunday brunch once a month.

“The team looks forward to helping out as much as we can — we have such a large pool of talent at the Stampede that experienced volunteers can go with new volunteers,” said Monaghan, “this is so that we can ensure every meal prepared meets our standards, and also gives employees the opportunity to meet people outside of their department.”

Pictured: Astrid from the Stampede Porter team touring one of the fantastic playrooms at the Southern Alberta Ronald McDonald House
Pictured: Astrid from the Stampede Porter team touring one of the fantastic playrooms at the Southern Alberta Ronald McDonald House

“Everyone’s favourite part of volunteering, aside from seeing the happy faces of the families who stay at the House, is touring the facilities,” added Monaghan. “When you go through the House you really get the sense that it is more than just a place to stay [the House] is designed to help keep kids, teens and adults get through an emotional time.”

When asked what motivates the team to undertake these monthly brunch duties, chef Kwong said “volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House is a great opportunity to help families in need and give them a great western welcome to Calgary.”

Pictured: (L) Brenda, (M) Karen and (R) Astrid touring Ronald McDonald House
Pictured: (L) Brenda, (M) Karen and (R) Astrid touring Ronald McDonald House

These volunteers embody the Calgary Stampede’s values of western hospitality, integrity, pride of place and commitment to the community—aside from monthly brunch duties, the Food & Beverage team is always on the lookout for more ways to make a difference in our communities, such as participating in Disability Employment Awareness month.