Every non-profit needs a support network. In a recent article, I unearthed the fact that Austin’s Ronald McDonald House Charities relies largely on local donations to keep its doors open and continue to serve ill children and their families.
Since then, I became friends with Friends of the House. Friends of the House is a group of young professionals that organized in Austin five years ago. Their mission is to raise awareness for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin (RMHC) and support RMHC with volunteer hours and donations.
On May 19th, Friends of the House hosted its first House Party at the Lytle Pressley Contemporary Gallery on West 6th St. The gallery was packed with over 150 supporters of the Ronald McDonald House. Smiles were on every face as attendees mingled, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from Apothecary Café and admired the abstract and colorful art on the walls.
In the background, DJ el john Selector set the mood with his upbeat, non-intrusive music. Along one side of the gallery, tables were set against the wall to facilitate a silent auction. Friends of the House bid on Zumba classes, salon gift certificates, artwork and even a Texas flag that had been flown over the State Capitol building. When all was said and done, over $19,000 was raised for Ronald McDonald House Austin at the first-ever House Party.
Event co-chairs Shannon Ferguson and Justin Clowers hope that the House Party will be the first of many. But Friends of the House is much more than art gallery fundraisers. Members actively display their support for RMHC in their everyday lives. They volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, cooking and serving meals for residents. They also volunteer at Ronald McDonald family rooms in local Austin hospitals. (Family rooms give families a place to rest and recuperate during their child’s hospitalization.)
Some of the more athletic participants of Friends of the House join Team Ronald, a unique and exciting fundraising initiative. If you have a sports event coming up, you can raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House through Team Ronald, receiving gear to display at various fundraising benchmarks. This opportunity isn’t exclusive to Friends of the House, and the details are on the Team Ronald web page.
Beyond volunteering and fundraising, Friends of the House organizes networking events for members. They’ve hosted a happy hour and scavenger hunt on the top floor of the Ronald McDonald House, as well as a Lunch and Learn speaker series.
Which Austin non-profits do you support with your time or donations?