Planting Seeds of Hope with Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio

“It was so nice to take a breath, get out of the office, and work with each other in a different environment.” For Hope Gunn, project controls coordinator for substations-transmission in our Westerville office, that was part of the appeal of turning out in force to help breathe new life into a garden at the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio — all 10,000 square feet of it.

With COVID-era restrictions making volunteering in 2020-2021 a little more difficult than usual, the large garden was one of the few locations that could accommodate a volunteer force of forty NRE employees. Planted to help feed the more than 4,500 families who use the services of the RMHC each year, it requires a good deal of time and sweat to keep it in good shape.

“We planned the garden in 2020 before Covid,” recalls Kate Becker, director of volunteer services at RMHC of Central Ohio. “Then when the pandemic started last spring, it was up to me and a small group of volunteers to keep the garden up and running.”

Over the course of 2020, it was exhausting work for Kate and her group of volunteers as they planted, watered, weeded, and harvested vegetables that would feed guests at the Ronald McDonald House. As a non-profit, their goal was to use the extra land they have on their property to grow their own food, thereby lessening food costs and helping their money go a little further than it would buying produce from the store.

“It was a huge help to have a group with New River come in! It took four days for us to accomplish what New River did in two and a half hours.”

Many hands make light work, and if you know anything about the people at New River Electrical, you know it was important to get our hands dirty. “A lot of people on our team have been impacted by Ronald McDonald House’s work. While we were there, some of our employees mentioned real-life connections with someone who had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House,” says Hope. “Last year, when the pandemic started, New River Electrical had supported RMHC with a monetary fundraiser. When we circled back around to another way to help them in 2021, they said they had a project where we could physically help them. We knew that’s how we wanted to support them this time.”

For employees at New River Electrical, a chance to work hard for a worthy cause was a welcome opportunity. “We have a lot of able people,” laughs Hope. “Right when we pulled up, people had shovels in hand, ready to go.”

“New River Electrical was absolutely incredible,” Kate says. “I’ve been with RMHC for ten years, worked with volunteers from banks, construction, and lots of other industries. New River Electrical was one of the best volunteer groups we have ever hosted here. They came so ready to work, so ready to help. We would have them back tomorrow.”