Lockdown Heroes - Fran and Tracy

26 Jun 2020 | Articles

While many of us rediscovered the joy of cooking during the lockdown, few took their foodie passions as far as Fran Waishing and Tracy Hickford. Both volunteered to cook up a storm at Ronald McDonald House, helping to provide lunches and dinners for up to 100.

Ronald McDonald House (RMH) supports families whose children are in hospital. The families, who usually are far from home, use shared kitchen facilities to make their meals. Lockdown restrictions meant this wasn't possible and RMH had to change their operations to provide them with 3 meals a day in their rooms. That's where volunteers stepped in and filled both roles and a much-needed void.

Says Fran, ‘I was doing Ronald McDonald House reception once a week and saw the admin staff struggling to provide lunches. I’m a bit of a foodie and thought –I wouldn’t necessarily be too pleased with what was going out, so decided to make a difference.”

Fran committed to 4 lunch shifts a week. “We made nice quality café style food, and chose from what we had plenty of. Lots of eggs meant egg and bacon pie or quiche, plenty of ham filled many rolls. I discovered mixers in storage waiting to find their place in a new commercial kitchen. So out they came and pumpkin and onions found their way into soups to help the evening dinner shift or freeze what wasn’t required.”

When Tracy Hickford lost her job at the start of Level 3, she decided to commit full time on the dinner shift, helping to prepare the 100 dinners that were delivered or boxed for use by the families. Says Tracey, “I wanted the food to be healthy and feel home made. I cooked lasagnes, curries, even big roasts.

"I loved it, I can’t just sit around. I love working in community and it’s so great to make things better.”

Both Tracy and Fran love baking. Fran’s scrolls and cheese scones became legendary. She surprised and delighted one of the families with a very professional birthday cake. Tracy made extra treats and desserts for the families when time allowed. There were Anzac biscuits, Easter Cup Cakes and on Mother's Day, she organised heart shaped cookies to let all the Mums and Grandmas staying know that the team was thinking of them.

Many of the usual team of volunteers at RMH couldn’t help out during Level 3 and 4 so the staff were working under a lot of difficulty. Tracy and Fran baked for them too and the reaction they got was fantastic. Says Fran. “I enjoyed doing it, it was so nice to make people happy. For me it was a win-win”

The threat of Covid-19 was scary for everyone, but none more so than for those with hospitalised sick children. With anxiety and stress levels heightened, having food prepared and housework done with love and kindness was greatly appreciated and will be remembered for a long while to come.

National Volunteer Week is a time to showcase the many individuals that came together, like the RMH whanau, to support their local communities, Who was your Fran and Tracy in your organisation?

If you want to help others or a cause take a look at our current volunteering opportunities to help make a difference in your community. Or if you are a non-profit organisation and need some helpers, you can find out how to add your volunteer listings here. For corporates, take a look at our employee volunteering programme to see how we can help your team help the community. Otherwise, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of working together

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