A Smiling Face to Families for 20 Years

We first opened the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in September of 2000. If you’ve ever had a sick child or family member at NWTHS anytime since then, chances are likely that you’ve met Lynn Gwyn. She has been a dedicated, faithful volunteer since we first opened the Family Room doors almost two decades ago, and has contributed more than 2,400 hours of service as of the beginning of this year!

While many Ronald McDonald Family Rooms must rely on paid staff to help run the day-to-day onsite operations, our House has been blessed from such an outpouring of support from generous and committed folks in our community that ours is fully-run by volunteers, and is open from 9:00am – 9:00pm, 7 days per week, 365 days out of the year. During these unfortunate and unprecedented times we are currently facing, we have temporarily closed all of our core programs outside of lodging for families at the House, as a means to help do our part to flatten the curve and help save lives. But when the Family Room doors are open, it has always been a constant source of relief and a refuge within the hospital, allowing families who are essentially living next to their child’s hospital bed an opportunity to grab a snack or cup of coffee, pick up some reading materials, take a shower, do laundry, or use the quiet room. The only way this resource has been possible for the past 20 years is because of the time and effort invested by dedicated volunteers just like Lynn.

Lynn was born in Chickasha, OK, but got to Amarillo as quickly as she could. A graduate of Amarillo High School (go Sandies!), she played tennis all through her high school career, and wishes she could have only had her Fitbit going back at that time! Lynn first got plugged into her many years of service at the Ronald McDonald House when she first learned of the new Family Room program soon to be opening from her cousin, Sally Strange, who served as our volunteer coordinator for many years before retiring in 2011. Lynn had been friends since junior high with another one of our long-time volunteers, Kay Edmonson, and the two decided to sign up as Family Room volunteers as soon as it opened.

Each family that comes to the hospital with a sick child has their own unique story and faces their own set of challenges, and the most rewarding part of volunteering for Lynn is being able to greet each family that walks through the doors with a smile and offer them help. Lynn has always been a fan of our volunteer dinners (she’s in great company…we agree that they’re always a blast!) and right now is really missing the chance to interact with the families and catch up with Susan Barnes, another dedicated Family Room volunteer who she would always encounter each week when changing shifts.

Most of our staff has unfortunately fallen into the Netflix and Hulu traps with all of this extra time at home and so we are envious of Lynn’s self-discipline…she hasn’t turned on a single TV show or movie since the social distancing measures went into effect! Instead she’s been spending her time reading, playing games, working puzzles, sorting through filing cabinets, and catching up on projects around her house. When the pandemic finally passes, Lynn most looks forward to being able to go just about anywhere, but church, the library, and grocery store round out her top 3 picks! Her favorite McDonald’s menu item is the infallible chocolate chip cookie..and lucky for her, we keep them stocked and ready to serve at the Family Room!

Thank you for your many years of service, Lynn! We look forward to seeing you pass 2,500 hours of volunteer time when we are able to re-open the Ronald McDonald Family Room later this year!