At 90, Still Eager to Help: Theresa Fox

Theresa Fox isn't letting her age keep her from volunteering.

Photo by John Emerson

Theresa Fox had two knee replacements and open-heart surgery last year, but that hasn’t kept this 90-year-old from her volunteer work at Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey (RMHSNJ) in Camden.

Since 1983, families have been coming to the Ronald McDonald House while their children receive specialized treatment for life-threatening illnesses and diseases at nearby hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Shriners Hospital for Children, Cooper University Hospital and the Wills Eye Institute. The house serves as a home away from home for families from all over the country and from as far away as Asia and Central America. It provides comfortable beds to sleep in, playrooms and toys, hot showers, home-cooked meals, a place to do laundry, transportation to doctors’ appointments and more—at little or no cost for the families.

Three days a week, Fox begins her morning at RMHSNJ by cleaning the kitchen and its appliances, then prepares a continental breakfast for the parents and children at the house—all before most people make it to work. After breakfast, she fills toiletry baskets, restocks supplies in the laundry room, tidies up common areas, helps prepare mailings and assists with any other projects that require an extra hand.

“I always want to get back to help these families,” says Fox. “They have so much sickness in their lives.”

Fox has “the eagerness of a 20-year-old,” says Sonia Guzman, RMHSNJ communications and educational outreach manager. “She is the tender presence in the heart of the house who always has a sweet or encouraging word for a family struggling to find hope for their sick child.” Fox has volunteered at RMHSNJ for more than 13 years.

It’s not uncommon to find Fox giving out hugs to children and their family members. “Sometimes that’s all you need after a long day,” she says.

Fox, who has five grandchildren of her own, says it makes her day when she is able to help make the Ronald McDonald House a more comfortable environment for sick children. “I have something to get up every day for,” she says, “and for that I am grateful.”

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