Giving Back by Feeding Hungry Families in Dallas
IA spends an evening with Ronald McDonald House Dallas and executes a full dinner service for its guests.
The Dallas/Fort Worth region in Texas boasts some of the most comprehensive healthcare in the United States, from specialists to support providers. According to a recent study commissioned by the Dallas Fort Worth Healthcare Council, 85 local hospitals contributed $14.4 billion in labor income. When the Dallas office of IA Interior Architects began its search for charities to which it could contribute on behalf of the firm’s 30th anniversary, the city’s robust healthcare sector provided a wealth of options.
The firm chose to spend an evening at the Ronald McDonald House Dallas, and made a full dinner for families who utilize the organization’s services. “The mission of RMHD is to serve as a temporary home-away-from-home for families whose children are receiving treatment for a serious illness at a Dallas-area hospital, to lessen the burden, reduce stress, keep the family intact, and improve the quality of life for these families,” explains Skyler Baty, business development manager who led the project for the Dallas office. “Nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child—not where they can afford to stay or where they will get their next meal.”
IA’s Dallas team organized their evening of cooking by sharing recipes on Pinterest to plan a menu of green salads, enchiladas, guacamole, and chocolate chip cookies, all made from scratch. As project lead, Baty completed kitchen training for safety to direct the team on proper functionality of the kitchen. “Due to the size of our facility, the city required we build a commercial kitchen, which is unusual for RMH,” says Gracie Thompson, community and family activities coordinator, RMHD. Kitchen teams must comply with the state’s food safety laws: Hot food must reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and cold food must be served below 41; the six gas ovens need to be started safely, and work surfaces need to be properly cleaned and sanitized. Keeping the kitchen in working order is especially important, as Thompson says the Dallas outpost is only one of several RMHs internationally that provides three meals a day. “We have a great community base here and I think that’s in part due to our local warm spirit,” she says.
“I felt proud to represent Dallas for IA at RMH by showing hospitality to the families we served,” says Katie Lazarine, a job captain with IA in Dallas. “I think many people don’t volunteer not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know where, when, or how to help, and I was so appreciative to IA for supporting the 30th anniversary charity events across all of the offices.”
For some of the volunteers, the act of feeding the guests of RMHD was the event’s main reward. “You could tell a lot of the families had been at the hospital all day and probably ate at the cafeteria,” Baty says. “The best part was being able to provide the families some comfort after a day spent in the hospital and having them come back for seconds.”
“I enjoy being able to give the families one less thing to worry about—they have enough going on!” adds Frances Bruns, managing principal of IA in Dallas. “The IA team did an amazing job and pulled together a fantastic meal in record time.”