Krista Dudson knows the large kitchen at Ronald McDonald House Auckland Domain better than most.

In 2015, Krista signed up to become a volunteer at Ronald McDonald House. After selling her own food business, she was looking for an outlet where she could combine her two passions: making food and helping people.

“I love food,” Krista tells us, “and I love even more to see other people enjoying what I cook.”

As a mother of two, Krista also empathized with parents going through a medical journey with their child. Especially when that journey took them so far away from home.

“I also have two children, one of which has had more than a couple of trips to Starship,” says Krista, “so I knew how stressful it was for families going through medical problems with their children. This seemed like a logical fit for me, and one I do not regret.”

For the most part, Krista spends her volunteering shifts working hard in the kitchen, either preparing complete meals for families to share or baking delicious baked treats for parents to grab on the go. On occasion, a kind donor will gift the House a particularly special ingredient – such as a freshly caught snapper – and Krista really gets to let her skills in the kitchen shine.

She’s considered a bit of a magician by some. Her ability to pull together a meal or treat from any ingredients on hand goes unmatched, and she always makes sure that nothing goes to waste!

This is a good trick to have up her sleeve, especially when she takes on the role of supervising some of our Heat and Eat group volunteers.

“This usually involves me directing them, showing them around the kitchen and sometimes helping out when they need an extra pair of hands.”

Heat and Eat group volunteers come in to prepare easy to warm up meals for parents and caregivers to grab on the go while their child is on a hospital ward. It’s an essential resource for Ronald McDonald House guests to have, so Krista’s involvement in making sure cooking sessions run smoothly is so important.

As a volunteer, Krista has made a lasting impact on many families who have come through the Ronald McDonald House doors. One of her favourite memories is teaching a mother from Vanuatu how to bake a birthday cake for her child.

“She was going back to Vanuatu to try and make one for her son’s birthday when she finally got to go home,” says Krista. “That was incredibly rewarding.”

“If I was to say one thing to inspire others to get involved, it would be how wonderful the place is. From the staff and their incredible positivity and warm spirit, to the families who, despite going through such heart wrenching journeys, are so grateful for your small act of kindness. It is a truly rewarding and inspiring place.”

Krista is such an important part of the RMHC New Zealand family. Without her care and passion for helping others, our kitchens would be a very different place. We are so grateful for her contributions. Thank you so much, Krista!

If you would like to get involved in volunteering at RMHC New Zealand, you can find more about it here.