Linda Martinson – Faces of RMHC

One of the best parts about being a local nonprofit with a small staff is the fact that we get to recruit a large supply of generous and kind-hearted volunteers in the community to help us fulfill our mission from day to day. And one of the best parts of having such a diverse array of community helpers is getting to know each and every one of them and learning interesting things about them and the stories they bring!

For example, Linda Martinson is one of our committed and hard-working volunteers up at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at NWTHS. She saw “The King” himself, Elvis Presley, live in concert on 3 different occasions…once in Las Vegas and twice in Colorado! If we didn’t connect with Linda as a volunteer, we never would have known this interesting tidbit of trivia!

“The first time, my friends and I had VIP passes and I was only about 3′ away from him!  His concerts were always great!  The last time that I went to his concert was about two months before he died.”

We also learned that she is an avid bingo player (and once won $1,000 in a game in Colorado) and enjoys playing games in Las Vegas, too. In fact, Linda was IN Vegas at the time the pandemic hit and had to leave when the city and its casinos started to close down. Linda is originally from Aurora, CO up in the Rockies, but decided to come sweat it out in the Texas Panhandle after retiring. She might not wake up to snow-capped peaks anymore, but has the everyday joy in Amarillo of being near her family.

After retiring, Linda knew she wanted to get involved in some organization giving back as a volunteer, and after doing some research, settled on RMHC.

“I like the feeling of knowing I can put a smile on someone’s face, calm someone’s nerves or just be there to listen. I also love to help other volunteers when they go out of town or just need a substitute.”

According to “the numbers”, she has indeed gone above and beyond to help fill other volunteers’ shifts when they have to take off or go out of town. From December of 2014 when she first started, to this past December of 2019, Linda has logged more than 2,000 hours of service. That’s A LOT of time spent helping families!

In addition to her time in the Family Room, Linda has also volunteered for our “Gifts from the Heart” biweekly toy and gift delivery program, to help put a smile on the faces of children who are waking up in hospital beds. Between both of these activities, she has nothing but fond memories to share.

“The smiles from the kids when giving them a gift is priceless.  It really helps relieve their anxieties and gives them something to get their mind off of being in a hospital.  The parents are always so appreciative that we stopped by.  Another memory is one with a young Guatemalan girl that had been abandoned by her family pretty much and she felt so alone in a hospital with a very sick child and she knew  little English.  She sought out the volunteers in the Family Room to provide her with some comfort, support and love to help her during one of the hardest times of her life.  I felt that we became friends and always enjoyed when she came to the Family Room.  She was at the hospital with her child for almost 9 months.”

During this time of social distancing, Linda has established a pretty solid routine of walking her dog, Chloe, followed by a significant amount of time reading. She has also redone her backyard and patio in an effort to better enjoy the nice, spring weather outside during the pandemic. Her granddaughters in Fort Worth have been able to come for extended visits to help in the social department, too.  Once the COVID-19 era has passed, she looks forward to going out to eat, going to church, and of course, getting back to care for families at the Family Room!

“I miss socializing with the families and volunteers and can’t wait until I can get my schedule of volunteering back.  I really look forward to my volunteer time.  Volunteering keeps me going.”

The “Cinnamelts” are Linda’s favorite item at McDonald’s. But since they no longer sell them in local stores, it turns out to be a perk that she can have some at the Family Room, where we are able to special order them for the families!

It has been an honor having you help with toy delivery and the many hours you have contributed to taking care of our families. 2,000 hours is a lot of time to spend doing ANYTHING, and we are honored you have chosen to spent your precious time giving back to bless families with sick children!