Jefferson Award Winners: Suzi & Rod Obermeier

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Highlighting Local Volunteers

The Jefferson Awards engages the Partners in our communities to highlight local volunteers. The goal is to spotlight the great work they do and to inspire our community to put their service ideas into action.

From the 2019-2020 Honorees, a local panel of judges select one winner that will travel to the National Gala in Washington, DC. to represent Northeast Kansas.  From the nationwide winners, one will be selected for a national Jefferson Award.

A Topeka couple is proving when you volunteer as a team you can do twice as much good.

For the past three and a half years, Suzi and Rod Obermeier, from Topeka, have been volunteering for the Ronald McDonald House of Northeast Kansas.

“You never run out of things to do,” said Rod. “Especially in a house as old as this one.”

While the home may be older it has a big purpose, making sure families who have sick children in the hospital have a homey, and affordable place to stay.

“You meet such nice people too,” Suzi said while describing the most rewarding part of their volunteer work. “You know you meet the families, and a lot of them are here for quite a while so you get to know them.”

If anyone knows a thing or two about showing love and compassion and being there for family, it’s the Obermeier’s. 

This year they celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. 

Despite both of them being retired, they spend almost more time each week at the Ronald McDonald House than they do at their own home.

 It all started a couple of years ago when the CEO of the Northeast Kansas Ronald McDonald House, Mindee Reece, visited the Obermeier’s, Optimist Club to give a speech.

“Like a good optimist, I said what can we do to help you?” said Rod.

Mindee told the couple a majority of the rooms in the house were in desperate need for a paint job, she had the paint, just not any painters. 

The Obermeier’s gladly accepted.

Little did Reece know she had just recruited what would become two of the most dedicated volunteers the Topeka Ronald McDonald House has ever had.

“Our families, when they check out they always ask me to make sure Suzi and Rod are here when they bring their kids back,” Reece said. “That way the kids can see them when they are healthy and out of the hospital. You know they’re touching lives.”

The house itself may be named after a clown named Ronald McDonald, but it’s clear what makes the house a home is Suzi and Rod.

If you would like to learn more about how you can volunteer and give back to the organization like the Obermeirer’s, click HERE.

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