May 31, 2018

Smiles, laughter and the smell of sizzling burgers filled the kitchen of a local nonprofit as seven Duke Fuqua School of Business employees prepared a hot meal.

Earlier this month, Duke Fuqua School of Business organized a summer Week of Service for its faculty and staff. On May 16, Fuqua staff member Amber Riley and her colleagues spent the afternoon preparing lunch for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham.

The Fuqua group bonded while assembling platters of hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, tater tots, and corndog nuggets. One volunteer pulled the tater tots out of the oven as another stacked burgers next to her, all while exchanging jokes and stories with their colleagues.

Located less than a mile from Duke Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham works to provide a warm bed, a tasty meal and a network of support for families in need whose children are receiving medical treatment. According to Oie Osterkamp, executive director of the organization, families will spend so much time and energy focusing on their child in the hospital that they will sometimes skip meals or eat from a vending machine, so having fresh food at the Ronald McDonald House helps them rest and make better decisions for their child.

“(The families) walk in and they smell this wonderful meal that the folks in here are cooking, and they realize, ‘Wow, I haven’t eaten all day,’” Osterkamp said.

Riley, the sector manager for health care and technology at the Fuqua Career Management Center, is a member of the Fuqua Service Committee and has participated in the school’s Week of Service four times since it began in 2015. Fuqua organizes these service weeks twice a year, and this May, 88 employees volunteered with a variety of nonprofits around Durham, to include the Durham Rescue Mission, the Diaper Bank of North Carolina, Habitat for Humanity of Durham, Book Harvest, and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern Carolina. Fuqua’s next Week of Service is scheduled for December.

The Fuqua School of Business’ Week of Service helps instill a workplace mindset of “we’re all in this together,” Riley said.

“And I think it’s a really good opportunity to work with people that you wouldn’t normally work with,” she added.

Here are three ways Duke employees can organize an impactful volunteer opportunity for their Duke school, department or office:

  • Get the conversation started! Contact Duke Doing Good in the Neighborhood employee giving campaign staff for volunteering ideas by emailing
  • Form a community service committee that plans biannual or quarterly events.
  • Research and connect directly with a nonprofit that has a mission and values that align with those of your Duke school, department or office.

Through Duke’s year-round employee giving campaign, Doing Good in the Neighborhood, employees can connect with volunteer opportunities and ideas and make a financial gift that benefits local schools, neighborhoods and nonprofits. Learn more.

Story and photos by James Hardman-Cobb

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