As the Executive Director of the Houston Ronald McDonald House, I see a lot of change. Families are constantly in and out of our home depending on their child’s treatment. Their comings and goings can be joyful and heartbreaking at the same time. Yet, one thing is constant: on the second Tuesday of every month, Southwest Airlines Employees come to cook dinner for the families in the House. It has been this way for 29 years, and they have never missed a month.
Byron Marroquin, PHX Operations Agent, never misses a month either. He uses vacation and travel benefits to fly from Phoenix to serve at the Houston Ronald McDonald House. Byron understands what our families are going through because he was once one of them. He and his daughter stayed in the Houston house nearly three months while his daughter, Paloma, received cancer treatment. Paloma’s battle lasted five years until she passed away in November 2011. For Byron, serving dinner at the Houston Ronald McDonald House reminds him of spending time with his daughte
Flight Attendant Brenda Kay Hoffman stops by the Houston Ronald McDonald House on her way home from her own doctors’ appointments. She, too, has battled cancer, and she claims the kids here taught her how to fight again. Brenda and Byron are just two of the many Southwest Employees who help kids fight their battles with laughter. Everyone knows when Southwest Airlines is in the house, because it’s not just dinner, it’s a party! Employees bring food, music, and fun, and, for one evening each month, our families can forget about their worries.
Southwest’s monthly dinners are so much more than a meal. These Employees have become Family and Family never changes.
In 2012, Southwest Airlines Employees donated over 17,000 hours of volunteer time to RMH houses across the country. Twice a year, Employees participate in serving dinner at Ronald McDonald Homes across the system. This month concluded our Spring Systemwide dinners, and 662 Southwest Employees served more than 1,456 Families across the country.