Belly Hugs Volunteer Blog by The Right Relief

Belly Hugs

April 24th, 2024

I had the opportunity to visit Ronald McDonald House® in May 2019 when a friend was staying there while her son was hospitalized. As a former teacher, the inviting décor, atmosphere and playroom got my attention instantly. I went upstairs to the Family Dinner Kitchen, and my friend grabbed some packaged leftovers from the fridge as volunteers were cleaning up from dinner. As someone who loves to cook and bake, I was in awe. What a gorgeous kitchen! I got information that night about volunteering as a Kitchen Keeper and began right away.

I thoroughly enjoyed the work of stocking snacks, cleaning out fridges and pantries and making those beautiful counters gleam. To make the guests day even one percent better by having a snack ready or a clean kitchen to eat in was so “worth it.”

I was equally interested in volunteering with the Family Meal Program and wanted to start right away. However, I didn’t have enough people to help, or dollars to purchase groceries for so many people. So, to make a very long story short, I founded a nonprofit in September 2019 called The Right Relief Inc. We care for caregivers so that they feel a sense of relief. We cook for individuals in southeastern Wisconsin and deliver warm “belly hug” meals right to their doors, free of charge. And of course, I bring my “Relief Squad” volunteers about once a month to cook dinner in the Family Meal Kitchen!

It is such a rewarding feeling when we all cook together and work to provide a nice meal for caregivers at the end of a long day. Their appreciation is inspiring. To be in such a hard situation and still show so much gratitude to us volunteers is remarkable.

My favorite meal to make is breakfast for dinner. The kids especially love it and it makes the whole House smell wonderful. It reminds me of my dad’s weekend brunches. We always had cinnamon rolls (from a can!) as an “appetizer.” He was a great cook and I use some of his recipes when I cook for caregivers.

My dad passed away in 2012 from brain cancer and I only wish that my mom, sister and I had a place like the Ronald McDonald House to be able to get some relief during the time of his illness. Sleeping in a hospital is not fun. Eating junk food all day was not great for our own health. The Right Relief Inc. continues to volunteer with the Family Meal Program because I know the difference it makes for families and caregivers.

Hollie Mealy
RMHC Volunteer and Founder of The Right Relief Inc.

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