“It’s all about giving back,” explained Gerry Poulin, a member of the South Pasadena Kiwanis Club, talking about the organization’s involvement in preparing dinners for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena.
Poulin explained that Kiwanis is committed to serving the children of the world and makes a commitment to serve a meal at the Ronald McDonald House every other month throughout the year.
“We’ve been doing that for many years,” he said, explaining that the goodwill gesture is through the Ronald McDonald House’s Meals of Love program, which allows families to unwind, de-stress, and fortify their bodies to spend the necessary time with their children as they go through procedures in the hospital.
Groups like the Kiwanis choose a menu, purchase the food, and prepare the meal in the kitchen at the House.
Dinner is served daily at 6 p.m. “I helps our goal of serving the children of the world through Kiwanis,” explained Poulin. “We have the opportunity to help our community. It makes us feel good that we get to serve other people in need.”
Joining the Kiwanis Club in serving pizza and salad to families were members of the Builders Club, the largest service organization for middle school and junior high students, with more than 45,000 members worldwide.
An extension of Kiwanis, Builders Club members provide opportunities for working together in service to school and community. The international student-led organization provides members with the ability to perform service, build character and develop leadership.
Julie Ryu, an ESL and English teacher at South Pasadena Middle School, helps administer the Builders Club on campus.
Members of the Builders Club attend Kiwanis Club meetings every other month.
“Our students like to volunteer and cook,” explained Ryu, noting that they also do arts and crafts with some of the kids staying at the home. Others play the piano. “Kids at the middle school are always eager to help.”
The young helpers come from the Girl Scout and Boy Scout ranks while others have no affiliation with an organization before lending a hand through the Builders Club.
“They really have a good time,” said Ryu.
“We are so fortunate to have them participate,” said Elisabeth Dever, the director of the Ronald McDonald House in South Pasadena. “We really appreciate it when groups like Kiwanis come in and cook for the families. It’s a great way for them to have a team building experience and benefit the families so they don’t have to figure out what they are going to have for dinner.”
Families can sit back and enjoy being in the home while the responsibility of preparing a meal falls on someone else.
Getting a firsthand look at how the Meals of Love program works was Evette Kim, the field representative for state Senator Anthony Portantino, whose 27 District represents the City of South Pasadena. She received an invitation from Poulin to be part of the program for one night.
Kim alongside Builders Club and Kiwanis members, were all in on the effort to heat up the pizza, make a salad, set the table and serve the guests in the house.
Dever took Kim on a tour of the home and praise was lavished on the place when it was over. “I was very impressed,” she said. “It’s a very nice place. I think the families are really enjoying themselves here. We’re very fortunate to have the Ronald McDonald House in our district.”
Meals of Love events are held about four nights a weeks per week, which is good news for Kim, who noted, “Maybe I can get here more often.”