Jones|Carter Culture: Mary Barton– Ronald McDonald House
We are proud to have team members that understand the importance of giving back to the communities where we live and work. Many Jones|Carter team members are active in their communities not only as engineers, planners, and surveyors but as community members and residents as well.
We sat down with Mary Barton, Business Development Manager, to learn about her experience volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in Austin and how others can get involved.
How did you begin volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC)?
The first time I went was almost three years ago. I was invited by friends in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry who were already involved with the house.
What does a typical day look like at the house?
We prepare meals for the families that are staying at the house so that they don’t have to leave the hospital area for food. At full capacity, there could be as many as 20 people staying at the house, so we prepare meals large enough to feed everyone there.
Do you have to be a good cook?
Not at all! Advanced cooking skills are not required, just a willingness to help others.
How often are you able to volunteer?
As often as possible. I try to schedule a time for our staff to cook every couple of months and then I find time on my own to cook in the evenings with other volunteers. I also volunteer with the Red Shoe Luncheon as a table host.
You’ve helped create the opportunity for other Jones|Carter personnel to volunteer. What is it like to share this experience with coworkers?
It’s been a lot of fun to show people what the house does for so many families in need. Each time we cook at the house a different group of people volunteer. It’s great to see our team get to know one another better outside of the office.
How do you feel working together in an environment like this impacts company culture?
We discovered at our last cook day that a coworker’s family needed the house while their child was recovering from a very serious illness. So we learned that our efforts not only help strangers, but also one of our own. I think it helps create a more connected group of employees.
Are there other ways to get involved with RMHC outside of volunteering at the house?
Yes, there are lots of ways. The house is always looking for volunteers to help with the Happy Wheels Cart, or for young professionals to be part of the Friends of the House. There’s also the Annual Red Shoe Luncheon that is taking place this year on September 5th. I will be one of thirty table hosts at this event where we introduce the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas to our guests.
Why is this organization close to your heart?
I try to put myself in the position of those who need a resource like this. I can only imagine how your life might be turned upside down if your child was ill. Knowing that by simply cooking a meal, I can help a family who really needs to focus on their child’s health and recovery, is very rewarding.
Why does this organization matter?
It matters because parents shouldn’t have to worry about where they’ll get a meal or where they’ll stay when their child is hospitalized. The house is a free home-away-from-home for families who need to be close to their child as they recover or receive treatment.
Why do you feel volunteerism like this is important?
I think it’s important to support organizations like this that provide so much for families in central Texas. And I believe it’s important both personally and professionally to give back in the community where I live and work.