Meet a StudentsCare “Buddy”

Categories: 40 Stories for 40 Years

Meet Megan McLaren, a StudentsCare Buddy

A newer program that benefits kids staying at the West County Ronald McDonald House called StudentsCare connects Saint Louis University student “Buddies” who offer fun friendship and support to patients and families during their stay in St. Louis. The organization started sending students to RMHC in 2019 to volunteer with guest families staying there through World Pediatric Project.

The volunteers keep the children engaged in academics, games, art projects, and celebrations of family milestones and holidays. Outside the House, guests enjoy exploring the city with their Buddies, including local St. Louis favorites like the zoo or the iconic Gateway Arch National Park. One event in 2019 that RMHC families participated in was a cookie decorating event during Valentine’s Day.

“We decided to bake sugar cookies from scratch and buy lots of fun sprinkles and colored frosting to let the kids get creative. It was such a fun day,” says Megan McLaren, a former SLU Buddy. “We were able to connect with those who did attend and learn their stories while enjoying some treats. I know we all thoroughly enjoyed the kids’ reactions as they proudly showed off their creations to everyone who stopped by.”

Volunteers get engaged for a variety of reasons, from a personal connection to fulfilling a school requirement or gaining experiences for a future career. For Megan, spending time with families at RMHC was a way to give back to the community while pursuing her degree and becoming a nurse.

“My experiences were unique and allowed me to connect with those from all walks of life. I know that much of my bedside manner has developed from the skills I gained as a volunteer, and my appreciation for the work RMHC does for many of my patients and their families, says Megan.

Now, Megan uses these experiences to move on to the next chapter of her career and understands the organization’s impact.

“It has been so special volunteering with RMHC while in college, and now seeing the other side of their support in my current position. As a nurse working in a large metropolitan children’s hospital, I see countless families benefit from the services that RMHC provides. Having a child undergo medical treatment can be a daunting, terrifying, and stressful situation. This is only compounded by traveling to a city away from the comfort and familiarity of home.”

To all the student Buddies who support seriously ill children and their families through StudentsCare, we are so appreciative of you bringing a bit of normalcy to families who are experiencing anything but that.