“Welcome to the house that love built” is the overwhelming message that over 90 residents encounter when walking through the doors of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island. Students from the Frank G. Zarb School of Business showed their compassion when they spent an evening volunteering at the House as part of their non-profit marketing class. The students purchased food for the residents, and prepared a home cooked meal as they arrived back from local hospitals after a day of caring for their sick children.
Rigoberto Garza, a Zarb senior and marketing major, was thankful and eager to make a difference in his local community.
“Our classes at Zarb not only teach us essential aspects of the business world, but they also emphasize the importance of community involvement and volunteerism,” Garza said. “This was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences that I have had. I will forever remember the impact we had on these families, and the smiles that we brought to their faces tonight.”
Located on the campus of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, the house accommodates families caring for their children who are suffering from severe illnesses at no cost. Since the Ronald McDonald House organization opened in 1986, approximately 25,000 families from the United States and more than 80 countries around the world have been served.
Professor Patricia Ciavarello, a Zarb alumna who also is assistant dean of outreach and undergraduate programs, said the evening was a moving experience for her as well.
“I feel it is critical to be a positive influence for our students and lead by example. The smallest gesture can truly have the biggest impact,” Ciavarello said. “This experience was such a profound moment for all of us as we strived to relieve some of the tremendous pressure these families are enduring, even if it was just for one evening. We hope that they all walk away knowing they are not battling this alone and we are all praying for the speedy recovery of each child.”
Betti McClellan, director of volunteers and programs at the Ronald McDonald House, said that studies show that keeping families nearby their sick child reduces stress on the family and helps the child’s recovery process.
“We are proud to have been a home-away-from-home for our residents. This organization is a lifeline for them and without the support of the community, we would not be able to accomplish our mission,” McClellan said. “The Zarb School has been a tremendous asset to us. We are so fortunate and appreciative for their support and know that these students will make great leaders of tomorrow both inside and outside of the classroom.”