10 (or so) Questions with ... Carmen Thumann
Columnist Steve Lange talks to the Family Activity Coordinator at the Ronald McDonald House.
We have one mutual friend on Facebook. Do you know who that is?
Ken Klotzbach. We’re almost cubicle partners at the Ronald McDonald House.
He and I just did a 35-mile hike in the Porcupine Mountains. I’m sure he told you all about it at work and ...
... and about how brave I was to hike the last five miles on a torn meniscus.
Actually, that I did hear. Yes. That I did hear.
Everyone I talk to tells me how much kids like you. Is that what drew you to this job?
I’ve always had a connection with kids. And I’ve had that natural connection that kids are drawn to me. When this opportunity at the Ronald McDonald House came up, it was like three dream jobs in one.
What were the dream jobs?
The three dreams jobs were that I always wanted to work with kids that were sick. I love coordinating activities and making plans from the big things to all the fine little details. And I always have wanted to run a bed and breakfast. So it was like all three in one, and here I am. Almost eight years later.
Wow. I guess that is a perfect fit. So, the tattoo on your foot says “Walk by faith.” And, just to be clear, I could see that from the photo you sent me earlier.
It does. You are correct. So I grew up on a dairy farm outside of Zumbrota. I went to Christ Lutheran School through eighth grade, and my faith is just really one of those things that are really important to me.
And you wear that on your sleeve, or, really ...
On my foot, right.
And your siblings are ...
Brad is the oldest, then I have a brother who was killed in a farming accident when he was 3, Kevin. Then my sister Colleen. Then it’s me, and my younger sister Marcella.
You grew up on a farm.
Dairy farm. It was the best childhood. Every kid should be raised on a farm. You learn the value of hard work and family and neighbors helping each other.
What were your typical farm chores?
I was never tall enough to help dad with the milking, so I always fed calves and bottle fed the goats.
Why would someone need to be tall for milking? I mean ...
To hook the milkers up to the pipeline.
OK. Right. What does the Family Activity Coordinator at Ronald McDonald House do?
I get to plan and coordinate everything from our volunteers that have therapy dogs that come in and visit to a phenomenal local artist that comes in and does a lot of messy fun painting. My goal every day is to help those families that have been at the Clinic or sitting in the hospital all day to take their mind off of that and have a healthy distraction and think about something else. I’m not going to take their problems away. I’m not going to be able to fix what’s going on or their child’s diagnosis. But if I can have them think about something else for an hour or two in the evening, that was a successful day.
One recent story?
This week, we opened up the playrooms for the first time in a long time and I got to restock the playrooms. And last night, there were two moms just cooking dinner and their kids were playing together. And it’s amazing knowing that space is available for them to make those natural connections and those friends that they will take with them and stay in contact with far beyond their stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
Most embarrassing hobby?
I don’t know that any are embarrassing ...
Just tell me your hobbies and then I’ll tell you which one is most embarrassing.
I like to write. I love to be outdoors, walking, hiking, exploring state parks. I love taking pictures. I love a good chick flick. I watch made-for-TV movies ...
There! That’s it!