CU Denver leaders pitch in for CU in the Community

Volunteer team prepares and serves lunch for families at Ronald McDonald House of Denver

February 5, 2015

“CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning Dean Mark Gelernter talks with guests of Ronald McDonald House while volunteering”

Pictured standing from left are Mark Gelernter, dean of the College of Architecture & Planning; Provost Roderick Nairn; Chancellor Jerry Wartgow; Laura Goodwin, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs; Scott Cao, president of CU Denver Student Government Association; and Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Seated in front (with Ronald McDonald) is Raul Cardenas, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.

Families arrive at a Ronald McDonald House during one of the most difficult times of their lives—when a child is seriously ill or injured.

The leadership team at the University of Colorado Denver volunteered at this important community resource on Jan. 28 as part of the CU in the Community campaign.

“It’s nice to do something where you feel you’re doing some small part to help,” said CU Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow. He and other members of the leadership team prepared and served lunch to guests at the house, 1300 E. 21st Ave., Denver. As they visited with guests during lunch, the CU Denver volunteers discovered that families at the Ronald McDonald House come from all over the country as their loved ones receive medical care at area hospitals.







The visit was eye-opening, according to the chancellor. “You realize just how fortunate you are when you visit a place like this and see what other people are facing,” he said.

The CU Denver team provided a potato bar with all the fixings, rolls and desserts in the house’s picturesque dining room. Other volunteers included Scott Cao, president of the CU Denver Student Government Association; Raul Cardenas, associate vice chancellor for student affairs; Mark Gelernter, dean of the College of Architecture & Planning; Laura Goodwin, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs; Genia Herndon, assistant vice chancellor of university advancement and student engagement; Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Provost Roderick Nairn; and Leah Novak, program and events manager.

The CU in the Community program encourages faculty and staff to spend a half-day of their work week volunteering in the community. This year’s featured partners are Brent’s Place and Ronald McDonald House. Past featured partners have included Habitat for Humanity and Food Bank of the Rockies.

Cassandra McKee, house manager at the Denver Ronald McDonald House, said that many services of the home-away-from-home would not be possible without volunteers. “The public takes care of us over here—like you guys from CU Denver,” she said. “Basically, whatever a family needs while they’re displaced from home, we have it. Thanks to the public.”

The Denver Ronald McDonald House has 31 rooms that can each accommodate four people. Because demand is so great, the house is undergoing a renovation that will see 44 rooms and 30,000 square feet added on three floors. Currently, McKee said, the house has to turn away an average of eight to 10 families each day.

“We can’t do all this alone,” she said, “So all these people who help us are vital.”

The CU in the Community campaign continues through Feb. 28, 2015.