Everything Melissa and Brian Mart do is motivated by family. From relocating to North Carolina and starting their own business, to getting involved with the Families Helping Families program at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, along with their seven-year-old daughter Payton.
In an effort to be closer to family, the Marts moved to North Carolina, first living in Wake Forest for 11 years, and now in Chapel Hill for the past two. Brian and Melissa now work together as franchise owners at the Primrose School of Chapel Hill at Briar Chapel.
“We wanted to be business owners to spend more time with family and do something that created a legacy for Payton and give back to the community,” said Brian.
The Marts are founding members of Families Helping Families, a new program aimed at bringing families together through philanthropy.
The program is unique because it allows adults and children to work together to serve others, said Melissa. “We want Payton to understand the importance of giving to others,” she said. “We feel blessed to have the time and opportunity to give back and it’s something we can do together. It’s not just valuable to us, but valuable to others.”
Developed in collaboration with the House’s senior director of development George Marut, the program has two components: spending time volunteering and committing to a financial contribution.
Since joining the program, the Marts have participated in several service opportunities at the House. In addition to volunteering at the RMH Family Reunion in May, the Marts also cooked and served a meal with the Primrose School of Chapel Hill at Briar Chapel.
They were inspired to volunteer as a school in order to model giving to others without expecting anything in return, a character development component of the Primrose curriculum for students. Melissa said.
“We participated in a day of giving with the staff and for the first event, they chose to serve brunch for the families at the House,” she said. “It’s been nice for us to not just be involved as a family, but extend it to our Primrose family.”
Brian said the staff is excited for more volunteer opportunities in the future. “That’s the best part,” he said. “Our family helping other families and the school is a family. That’s the theme that runs through it all.”
As the Families Helping Families program gets ready to complete its first full year, the Marts are helping to spread the word and get more families involved. “The children have a lot of ideas that they can share and communicate that would make it a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience for us and the families that we support.”
As for Payton, she’s ready for ice cream parties, dance parties and science experiments with all the families who call the House a “home-away-from-home.”
Carolina Love is a series of stories written and presented by Ronald McDonald House Chapel Hill.
CAROLINA LOVE: Celebrating the stories of families, volunteers and donors who have made the House a true home away from home over the last 30 years. For three decades, we have embraced every family that has come to our door, and each has a unique story. These are but a few of the many stories the House has been a part of since it opened. Carolina Love is a behind the scenes look at what we do, those we serve and those on whom we depend to help us carry out our mission of keeping families close.