Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

Meet IVC Albany member Paula Hamilton

by | Jun 10, 2024

Paula Hamilton is an Ignatian Volunteer Corps member serving at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany.  Paula and her husband David live in Delmar.  Paula offers her reflection about her service for Ronald McDonald House at Albany Medical Center.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is a global family and children’s charity “dedicated to supporting families with sick children in their time of need.”  Locally, the Ronald McDonald Charities of the Capital Region operates a three house haven on S.Lake Avenue, across the street from the Albany Medical Center campus, where families can stay free of charge while their child is hospitalized. At the hospital, RMHC provides support through a Family Room and a Comfort Cart, benefiting families with children in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, as well as the pediatric units and the Melodies Cancer Center.

The hospital is where I currently serve. In the Family Room, we provide refreshments, freshly prepared sandwiches, information about Ronald McDonald House, and a peaceful space for families to unwind and take a respite from the hospital environment.  With the Comfort Cart, we visit pediatric patients’ rooms to provide coffee, tea and refreshments to parents who have stayed overnight with their children. We also extend our visits to the Melodies Cancer Center and the pediatric emergency room.

Volunteering with RMHC over the last ten months has been a rewarding experience. I encounter families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, races and nationalities; yet, the common denominator is that they all have a child in need of sometimes very serious medical care. These families are in need of support and comfort; and through the Ronald McDonald House, I am grateful to be able to help them in some small way. The appreciation expressed by the families is heartwarming and reinforces the importance of the work.

During our IVC Albany Lenten Retreat on March 19th at the Dominican Retreat Center, our retreat leader, Father Jason Downer, S.J., shared a touching story about one of his high school teachers. He recounted how this teacher had written a song with the profound message when his teacher was in hospice, “I gave you each other, Take care of each other.”

I am reminded of this message when I volunteer at the hospital. And, I am reminded of this message at our monthly Ignatian Volunteer Corp gatherings when our volunteers share about where they offer their service and how it impacts them.  It’s inspiring for me to witness the dedication and compassion of our volunteers when I learn how they put their faith into action.  It’s also a welcome bit of good news in the midst of the sad and troubling news we often hear.  For that, I am grateful!