“I admit that it took me by surprise,” says Director of The School of Hospitality Business at MSU Dr. Ron Cichy. It was January 19, and he had just discovered that The School’s student Hospitality Association Executive Board had committed to preparing a dinner for the Lansing-area Ronald McDonald House – for the following evening.
He explained, “I serve as the advisor to HA, but this was the first I’d heard of this service project.” Impressed with their initiative, Dr. Cichy followed up with organizer and HA Vice President of Human Resources Courtney Moore (BA ’11) and other HA officers. “I should have known better than to be surprised,” he says. “This group is always finding ways to practice their passion: hospitality.”
On their own, the Executive Board members of HA arranged to shop for, prepare, and serve dinner to parents and children staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital. The house provides free housing for families with sick children who need to have specialized care at the hospital, far from their homes. This helps the families financially so they don’t have to pay for long-term hotel stays on top of their hospital bills, but also provides a comfortable home rather than an unfamiliar hotel room during such rough times. And community volunteers provide a home-cooked meal each night.
Five members of the Executive Board cooked pork tenderloin with applesauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, and brownies and ice cream for dessert. Fifteen family members enjoyed the dinner, and the students were also able to join in on the meal and interact with their “guests.”
Courtney explained that HA tries to do at least two community service events a semester, saying, “Sometimes the events are open to all School students, like the charity bowl last semester or Relay for Life in April, and some are smaller events, with just the Executive Board members participating. Either way, the HA board will typically arrange for and plan events, and cover the associated costs.”
There is no shortage of need in the Lansing area, Courtney says. “There are so many different people with all sorts of backgrounds and levels of need. Opportunities to serve are everywhere you turn.” She goes on, “I’ve found that helping in a hands-on way is usually just as rewarding to me as it is to those that we help. It’s a cycle of feeling good for doing good, and we’re thrilled that The School’s students are stepping into this cycle.”
Adjunct Professor in The School, Theda Rudd, was a McDonald’s franchisee, teaches HB 105 – Service Management, and was the founding Board Chair of the Ronald McDonald House in Lansing. She applauds the students’ commitment to serve, as well as their initiative, saying, “While at MSU, they are not only preparing for careers in hospitality; they’re also setting the stage for a lifetime of service.”