Flexibility: High

Social Engagement: High

What’s what: Tens of thousands of children each year are diagnosed with a critical or terminal illness and have to travel far to get treatment. Non-profit organizations that offer free lodging to these children and their families need volunteers to help provide vital resources.

Amava Take: Families with a sick child are dealing with an emotional roller coaster and financial burdens just makes it harder. Places like the Ronald McDonald House and the George Mark Children’s House give families no-charge places to stay when they have to travel for medical care. Volunteers help these non-profits keep their doors open by cooking, hosting, listening, nurturing, or by simply being there.

From the front office:

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?

Empathetic, patient and calm people do really well with families and their sick child.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

The training is invaluable and you’ll help a lot just by being a good listener.

What’s a typical daily schedule like?

Volunteers are the first voices families hear on the telephone and the first smiling faces they see at the door. They assist with meals, transport, clerical, cleaning, events and more.

From the trenches:

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

It’s rewarding to see many of the children get better and go home.

How would you describe the hard parts?

Some guests arrive after just having received terrible news about their child and helping them with their emotions can be difficult.

Would you recommend this volunteer job to others?

Absolutely. It is humbling and inspiring to be of service to families in need.

Special requirements: A background check and in-house training program is usually all that is required of volunteers.

Related Classes: Interpersonal Communication, Keys to Effective CommunicationSkills for Making Great Decisions

Finding a position: The biggest organization helping families with sick children is  the Ronald McDonald House. With 367 Ronald McDonald Houses, 249 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 50 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, they rely on more than a half-million volunteers nationwide and even internationally. Regionally, there are also several organizations offering similar services, including the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, with properties on the beach, mountains and in hospitals in Maryland and Delaware; George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA; the Children’s Inn at the NIH in Bethesda, MD; and Sherry’s House in Worcester, MA. You can search for locations near your home by using the terms “lodging for sick children and families” along with your city and state.