The Sydney Roosters Under 20s squad had commenced a volunteering engagement with Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney (RMHCS) prior to COVID19.
While social distancing has put the face-to-face component of the Under 20’s community work with Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney on hold, the relationship remains strong.
As Rachel Stoddart, Relationship Manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney Chapter explained, prior to COVID19, the Under 20s squad, led by Damon Spooner had been helping out at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick in a number of ways.
Everything from raising money and awareness, to cooking BBQs, chatting to families, cleaning the grounds and playing footy or PlayStation with the kids.
Whatever needed to be done, the boys were willing to jump in and make it happen – all in the name of a very worthy cause.
RMHCS is a haven for seriously ill children and their families. It provides the families with children being treated at Sydney Children’s hospital, a place to stay and build community, providing them with the much needed support during a really tough moment in time.
Whilst the House remains open, RMHCS is operating at a reduced capacity and has put the safety of the families and volunteers first. This did mean pausing the face-to-face visits that the under 20’s were providing on a monthly basis.
This month, with initiatives turning virtual, Damon and squad member Hugo Patterson will be taking part in the Inaugural RMHCS Corporate Partners’ Roundtable.
This is an online event where partners of RMHCS are able to share how they have leveraged their relationship to benefit their own businesses.
They will meet other RMHCS corporate partners during the online meeting and have the opportunity to share the program that was specifically developed for the Sydney Roosters and the meaning that it has had for both the players and the families staying at the House.
When social distancing measures are no longer needed RMHCS and Sydney Roosters look forward to continuing their community program and putting some smiles on the faces of lots of little Sydney Roosters fans, raising spirits during what is a very difficult time for the whole family.
Hugo Patterson, a regular volunteer at RMHCS was asked to share in his own words the experience of volunteering with RMHCS and why he was interested in participating in the virtual roundtable.
Why were you interested in volunteering with RMHC?
My interests in volunteering at RMHCS starts with my family morals and ethics. I was brought up in a very loving and caring household during my childhood, with mum basically putting others before herself and that was something that really stuck with me.
This translated through my life, where I was the Captain of Community Service at school in Year 12 and thoroughly enjoyed my involvements with other charities such as the Salvation Army and the Cancer Council.
But my interests in volunteering with the RMHCS mainly are associated with toughest periods of my family’s life. My eldest brother, Max, lost one of his closest friends during his HSC to Sarcoma.
I have also watched my youngest brother, Oscar, closest mate go through a challenging battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma this year and thankfully he is in remission at the moment.
This made me realise that the support of families during the most challenging times, whether it be through meals, support of siblings or just companionship is one of the most important parts of the journey. Losing someone that you love puts need for support into perspective and I see this put into action at RMHCS.
What was it that you were doing during volunteering engagement?
Each Wednesday afternoon, Damon and few of the boys would gather up a few of the Sydney Roosters 20s and head to RMHCS.
The arvo started with helping out cleaning and maintenance work at one of the houses associated with RMHCS.
This was a chance for the boys to help out the families staying in the house and giving them the chance to come home to a clean and organised inside and outside of the houses.
This consisted of mopping, cleaning and sweeping inside and then outside consisted of weeding, blowing and sweeping.
Then when these jobs were done, we were able to head back to the main campus of RMHCS and help out playing and just generally mucking around with the children in the playroom or outside on the playground.
In the playroom, there were toys to play with and just take the kids minds off the day, whether good or bad, and just enjoy themselves.
Sometimes, they were lucky with a few of the boys would dress up and impersonate as animals such as Cows, gorillas and crocodiles. Tuku Vaipulu was a fan favourite with his impersonation of a Gorilla.
What were the key benefits for you and your team mates from volunteering? Why would you recommend volunteering to others?
I think the biggest benefits experienced by everyone visiting and volunteering at RMHCS is just understand the amount of effort it takes for all the people within the organisation running the house and caring component for families.
Then on the other side you deeply understand the day to day efforts of the families who a sibling, son, daughter or any other family member is going through any treatment within the hospital and how sometimes all the hard work just completely drains them.
Personally, I am grateful for my experiences at RMHCS and gaining a broader understanding of how life works within the RMHCS. The benefits experienced may be large or small, but the feeling of putting a smile on young children’s face and their families is the greatest gift.
Along the way you encounter some incredible people.
For myself, I met two young lads by the names of Rocco and Christian.
When we visited, I remember Rocco being a massive Stars Wars fan and Christian was really into the rugby union, especially the ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby. Few weeks after visiting the boys, I came back to find out Rocco’s treatment went well and that he had left the hospital for a little while and headed home.
Christian had some positive news in his treatment as well. I said I’d buy Rocco some Star Wars Lego toys, so hopefully run into him in the near future.
Meeting these two would be a strong recommendation to why volunteering not just at RMHC but any charity you can brings a great reward and humility to why we are so lucky. I am humbled for the opportunity so far with RMHCS and hopefully I can be back there to visit soon!