Michelle Alison Mary and Ellen pose after volunteering

The Sisters, et al.


Everyone should have a friend like Michelle in their lives. Cheerful, gracious, loyal. Michelle is the friend who stays up to talk to you until 2AM on a rough day and the one who arrives at your doorstep with a big pot of chicken noodle soup when you’re sick.

At the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, we are lucky that Michelle’s on our team – that she’s on our families’ team.

Five years ago, Sam, 21 at the time and the son of Michelle’s friend Susie, was in a serious car accident. He was airlifted to the hospital and spent more than a week in the ICU. The family spent the next few months in Phoenix at Barrow Neurological Institute. The family didn’t ever want to leave his bedside, but luckily the Ronald McDonald House was close by, even if only for a quick shower, a meal, or a nap.

“I could see how important [the RMHC] was to support these families,” says Michelle. “It’s having a place to go to. Saving the expense of having to pay for housing close to the hospital and to have to provide your meals.”

Sam pulled through, and when they all returned to Tucson, they knew they had to give back. Michelle, Susie, and several friends formed a group they dubbed “The Sisters” to cook in the RMHC Chef for a Day volunteer program. Every month they make meals for families who are experiencing the trauma of an often seriously ill child. In recent months, Sam has started to join them, thus, they are now “The Sisters et al.”

“It’s pretty special that all the meals are here and the food is here. You don’t have any more energy for that when you’re just trying to cope with everything that’s going on.”

When Michelle retired from her career as a rheumatology nurse, she found the opportunity to give even more to the RMHC. Now you can find her bright smile every Monday morning at the front desk, caring for families, and giving them the support they need.

What’s the best thing about volunteering for Michelle?

“I go back to, for me, I really like the fact that it’s a local charity. I like that I see donations are being used here. I think that for me, that’s a real important thing…I can see how important volunteers are. I really think that the volunteers here are pretty commendable. I see young people here — kids doing internships. I guess it’s just the mission here. It just really hit home for me.”

To all of our guest chefs, the providers of food, and fulfillment, and family – today we celebrate the gifts that you give to the kids, moms, and dads of the Ronald McDonald House.