I've always known that the Ronald McDonald House existed. I can't remember the first time I'd heard the name. I did not realize until yesterday what the Ronald McDonald House was all about.
I was invited to an event to learn more about the house and what I can do to help. I took it for granted that because Ronald McDonald was in the name, McDonald's was bankrolling the place. I also never knew about what they actually do there because I have been fortunate enough to have not needed their services. I knew they were a charity but beyond that I really had no idea. McDonald's only donates a portion of the money they need to run the house and thus are always in need of donations be them monetary, time or supplies.
The Ronald McDonald House has been helping families through difficult times for 30 years now. They have recently opened their new Ronald McDonald House which is stunning. The house helps families whose children and receiving treatment at Sick Kids and Mount Sinai. The house is literally a home for these families; families whose permanent homes are 70 kms away from Toronto and the treatment their children need. These families, without the house, would be sleeping bedside in the hospital with their children, renting condos or would not able to come at all because they have no place to stay.
I was really touched by the stories of two families we heard at this event. It is impossible to imagine how difficult life is once your child is diagnosed with a serious illness. Not only is there the diagnosis; there are serious life changes, from having to quit a job to not being able to see your other children as your sick child's immune system is so decimated that any exposure to outside germs can be fatal. I was heartbroken by these stories. I am greatful that these families had the Ronald McDonald House to turn to.
The house is amazing. It is able to house 81 families in different units. Not only does each family have their own private space, there is a library, gym, reflections rooms, a business room, outdoor play space with BBQs and their own accredited private school. There is a huge kitchen where families can store their own food and cook. Not only does it have these things, there is also huge amounts of support for families from the staff at the centre and from the other families living there.
I came away from this event feeling very lucky that I have two healthy children and wondering how I could help. The house has a wonderful program called "Home For Dinner" where corporate groups or other groups can come in one evening and cook a meal for all the families staying at the house. Listening to the two families speak, it became clear that this program is invaluable for these families. After a long hard day at the hospital, to be able to come home to an already cooked meal was so helpful.
That is why I and some of my other mom friends are planning a "Home For Dinner" night for us moms to give back to other moms.
If you are interested in learning more about this program and forming your own group to help, you can visit this link for additional information http://rmhtoronto.org/sites/default/files/RMH%20Toronto%20-%20%20Home%20for%20Dinner%20Flyer%20-%20February%202012.pdf .
All volunteer opportunities can be found at http://www.rmhtoronto.org/volunteer.