Paula Sarrett – Faces of RMHC

If you’ve followed us for very long, you probably already know that unlike many RMHC locations, our Family Room in Amarillo is fully staffed by non-paid volunteers, 12 hours per day, 365 days out of the year. That’s just how generous the folks are here in the Texas Panhandle! But can you believe that we often have a waiting list just to sign-up for a shift at the Family Room? In fact, many of our current Family Room volunteers got their start as substitutes, just helping to fill in the gap with vacant shifts when regular volunteers are under the weather, or take some much needed vacation time. This is exactly how Paula Sarrett first got involved with RMHC.

Just like so many of our other volunteers on Team RMHC, it’s the connections made with the precious families that inspire Paula to continue helping. That happens to be one of her favorite aspects of the volunteering experience.

“I love to meet the families coming in the room and learn of their stories.
And they are always very appreciative of everything we do in the room for them! Plus the shower and laundry facilities [are nice].”

Paula is a native Amarilloan, and spent 8 years working as a realtor.  In her spare time, she enjoys refinishing stuff and dabbles in a bit of gardening too. Since the pandemic has started, she has also been making masks with a machine given to her by a sister, and has also spent some quality time working in her yard. When it comes to activities to help with rest and relaxation, Paula has been catching up on The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and HBO’s Westworld.

As an effort to help do our part in flattening the curve and keeping our community safe during this crazy time, our House has taken many precautions and made a number of changes to our operational procedures. One of these major changes, has been temporarily closing our doors at the Ronald McDonald Family Room for a little while until it is safe to re-open. Paula, like so many others, is eager to safely get back to the room to resume caring for families who must be in the hospital with a sick or injured child.

“I miss meeting and seeing the families and feeling like we made their day a little brighter by having snacks and drinks when they couldn’t get away from hospital.”

Since beginning her role as a Family Room volunteer, there is one particular moment that shines out as Paula’s favorite memory from the experiences so far.

“One little boy came into the hospital for cancer treatment and his mom would pull him in his little red wagon up and down the hallways. I would always stop and give him a little toy from our room.  He was so cute!”

When it comes to a “go-to” order at McDonald’s, Paula says their infamous french fries have to be her top guilty pleasure. Once the pandemic has passed, she most looks forward to hopping in the car to visit kids and grandchildren down in Dallas and Austin. Having Paula on Team RMHC has been an utmost joy and pleasure for our organization! For anyone who might find yourself on the fence about pursuing some opportunities to give back through the Ronald McDonald House after it is safe to do so, we share a final, inspiring word from Paula about just what it means to her.

“I want to feel like I contribute something to people in need and especially it is tiring and stressful in a hospital when your loved ones are sick, especially children and I am retired!”