The Santellanas – Faces of RMHC

Volunteering always requires the act of giving of oneself. But if there’s one recurring pattern we’ve learned from the hundreds of volunteers who have served our families, it’s this: the intrinsic reward of giving for our volunteers allows them to feel like they actually “get” more in return than what they actually “give.” For Diana and Joe Santellana, their “giving” includes a 70 mile one-way drive just to get to Amarillo where they are able to serve our families.

Diana and her husband, Joe, make the long trek from Friona each month just to put their gifts and abilities to use by helping families at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at NWTHS. Diana has been volunteering with us since 2005. For the past 11 years, Joe has joined in on the fun and they’ve turned it into a tag team, partnership-based effort! Diana recently retired from a career in education, where she had spent many years teaching in Friona and at Clovis ISD. In addition to blessing RMHC families, she continues to give back in the classroom, as she volunteers in Friona, at the Hereford Catholic school, and also does substitute teaching for the schools in Bovina and Hereford.

It was when their daughter had a baby in the hospital that the Santellanas were inspired to become a part of Team RMHC, themselves.

“My daughter stayed at a Ronald McDonald House with her baby in Houston, Texas and they were so good to her during her time of need, so I want to repay the good deed that the Lord blessed us with others.”

Falling in line with many of our generous volunteers, The Santellanas, too, have had a personal experience with RMHC that inspired them to get involved. They were able to see firsthand what the Ronald McDonald House is all about, from the other end of the spectrum, after the birth of their first grandchild nearly a decade and a half back.

“When my grandson was in the Houston hospital, we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.  I remember my mother cooking in the kitchen and other moms would congregate in the kitchen while she cooked.  One young mother from Africa, in particular, loved to pull up a stool and visit with my mother while she cooked, although neither one could understand each other since they both spoke different languages.  The kitchen of the Ronald McDonald House has always been the heart of the home, just as it was at that time.”

During this pandemic, Diana has enjoyed reading and also recently started getting into watching “house remodeling shows on HGTV. She is raring to get back to church and all of her various volunteer and teaching outlets once this global health crisis has subsided, including her role at the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

“There are many things that I miss about not being able to volunteer but the one I miss most is the the reaction of the people when they would learn that I could speak Spanish. They would get so excited that at that time we would become best friends.”

If these last few days have been any indication, it definitely appears that the dog days of summer are officially upon us. This means Diana is in good shape, because it’s the perfect time to swing by McDonald’s for her favorite dish: their ice cream!

There is good to be found in just about everything. While the hospital stints that Diana’s family experienced many years back were full of stressful and scary times, one silver lining is that it later ushered in the inspiration to become a source of hope for families currently experiencing the feelings she herself had once experienced. We are so grateful for the Santellanas and appreciate the many miles they rack up each year coming in from Friona in order to bless families!