There’s always a freshly baked cookie and home-cooked meal awaiting the guests of the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan thanks, in part, to Louise Fabeck.
Louise knows firsthand how the simplest kind gesture – however small – can provide a enormous comfort to those who need it. Louise herself was a guest of the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor 17 years ago when her son, Steven, was undergoing treatment for leukemia at C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital.
Sadly, Steven lost his courageous battle with cancer in June 1989 at the much-too-youthful age of 16. The following year, she and her husband Mark learned of plans for a Ronald McDonald House opening in Grand Rapids. Eager to get involved in the organization that had helped them during their time of need, they came first to assemble beds and then prepare the house for its opening.
Twenty years later, Louise is still volunteering for the house, having logged more than 1,500 hours of her time during the last decade. Every month, in addition to the two regular shifts she works, Louise serves on the McCookie and McMeals committees, baking cookies (her favorite is chocolate chip), and recruiting volunteers and area businesses to donate meals to guests.
The homemade meals and cookies are an important part of Louise’s work. Like it was yesterday, she remembers her own experience: of endless days and nights spent in the hospital, of cafeteria meals and fast food, of doctors, nurses and medical personnel, and of the stresses of waiting for some glimmer of hopeful news regarding Steven’s condition. During that time, the Fabecks were able to find some badly needed solace in the comforting kindness of the Ronald McDonald House.
Today, Louise continues to find healing in providing that kindness to other families in need – those going through situations not unlike her own.
Louise says: “You know, maybe you had a bad day, but you come to the house and you see these children struggling against all odds and you think ‘wow, they are doing it in light of such hardship’; it is a very humbling experience. It has also been a healing experience for me.”
And what would she tells others who are thinking of volunteering?
“You can start small and donate some meals, or join the McCookie bakers. There are a number of ways to help at the house – to put your time and talents to use. You just have to find a place or a cause that is special to you.”
In the case of the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan, it is Louise’s priceless gift of time and talent that is so special to us.