14 May A Lasting Impression
While our organization is based in Amarillo, the majority of families who come to stay with us at the House are coming from the surrounding rural communities of the Texas Panhandle, Eastern New Mexico, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwest Kansas. We make it a point to try to get out into the communities we serve as often as possible to meet the great folks who live there and share our story. The first question we always ask a group of people is if they have had a personal experience with the Ronald McDonald House. It is beyond rare to find a group where at least one hand doesn’t go up! Many of our volunteers, donors, event sponsors, and board members are people who have been personally affected by the Ronald McDonald House, and their experience made a lasting impression that inspired them to give back and give from the heart!
One person who falls into this category is Linda Ebenkamp, one of our dedicated volunteers today up at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at NWTHS.
“One of my husband’s nephews was in the NICU and his parents stayed at the House and talked about the Family Room at NWTHS. They were so grateful for getting to stay there and all the support they received there. Their son is now in his first year of college. When I retired, a friend at church asked me, ‘Well, what are you going to do now?’ I told her I didn’t have any set plans but might check into the Ronald McDonald Family Room. She smiled and said just a minute. She took a card out and handed it to me and said, ‘Call RMHC.’ I did and started on Wednesdays from 3-6 just until they found someone for that shift. Four months later, I realized that the shift was mine!!! My friend with the card was Virginia Keys, another volunteer for the Room –thanks for the “sign” that I should be giving back.”
A native of Hereford, Linda spent her career teaching at AISD for 30 years, and tutoring students for 8 more years after retiring from working full-time in the classroom. In addition to her volunteer work at the Family Room, she also has spent the last few years knitting numerous rolls of gauze to send to people in Vietnam suffering from leprosy, who are in need of finely rolled gauze. While the Family Room has been on temporary closure during the COVID crisis, Linda has most missed the opportunity to connect with the families and hear the stories about how their kids are doing.
“I appreciate all of the wonderful staff at NWTHS – they always make it a point to stop by to thank us for what we do with the Ronald McDonald Family Room. I also enjoy spending time with the families that use the Room and listening to their stories. So many times, they really just need someone that cares and understands what they are going through.”
In addition to getting to know so many incredible families, serving in the Family Room has also given Linda a terrific outlet to meet other great people in our community, in the way of fellow volunteers!
“I enjoy being around the other volunteers, many of who have become friends. I think it is important to give back to my community in some small way. RMH is a wonderful organization with a great mission.”
During this pandemic we are currently facing, Linda has enjoyed reading, knitting, gardening, and breaking a sweat redoing her kitchen cabinets. Watching “The Crown” on Netflix has served as a great way to kick back and relax. When this public health crisis has passed, she most looks forward to being able to leave the house without sporting a mask and a pair of gloves! When it comes to McDonald’s, her favorite item is the Cinnamelts, which are no longer served in Amarillo area restaurants, but are still a fan favorite provided to our guests up at the Family Room!
Thank you for being such a tremendous asset to the Family Room, Linda! We sincerely appreciate your service and so do the many families whose lives you have touched in some way.