“Kids are always going to get sick, and many are going to get critically sick—and they’re going to need us,” explains Holly Buckendahl, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana. “We need to make sure we’re there for them and their families every single time so we can keep them together and get them access to the health care they need.”
Not only does RMHC-CNI run five local Ronald McDonald Houses—which provide rooming, food and emotional support for families dealing with a sick child—but it also operates three Family Room programs and two pediatric mobile services. This year, the organization expanded mobile services with a second vehicle, more than doubling the number of pediatric medical visits it can offer.
“It provides essential health services in underserved areas of Chicago, and kids get checkups and immunizations,” Buckendahl says. “We’re just trying to fill that niche in the community and to keep kids in school.”
It’s just another way Buckendahl and her team of 80 staffers (and thousands of volunteers) touch the lives of people in need of assistance. And as a working mom of two daughters and a trained social worker, Buckendahl knows this job is exactly what she wanted.
“I had my eye on this charity years before I even took a job here,” she says. “I always wanted to work somewhere my kids could understand what I did and could also get involved from a community service perspective. It was incredibly important to me to work for a charity like this.”