It was a lovely Spring day that had myself and Renee Downs (local blogger and co-founder of BlogJam)…dropping in to visit Ronald McDonald House to see what it’s all about.
Founded in 1982, Ronald McDonald House is located a few minutes walk from the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax. It’s a home away from home for out-of-town families with sick children…a bright, comfortable and lovely place where families can take a break, while still being available for their child when needed. The home has 16 rooms and houses parents, siblings and children who may be able to come “home” rather than stay at the hospital full-time. Since it began, more than 25,000 families have been cared for and supported at the Ronald McDonald House Atlantic.
Along with the House, the charity also has two “Family Rooms” located at the IWK and at the Moncton Hospital…offering a bit of calm and support inside the walls of the hospital.
Beth, from Family Services, gave us a tour of RMH and it was more than clear…that she both loved her job and the families she helps. What started as volunteering while attending high school and university, turned to full time work after graduation. With plans to attend med school, Beth is pretty sure she knows what field she wants to work in…and the Ronald McDonald House has been part of her decision.
The House itself feels much like any home. A large living room area with comfy couches is likely the place where families gather to discuss the events of the day, support one another and relax in front of the fireplace. The playroom is filled with toys and most evenings, it’s the place where children can be found huddled around a video game…a room that’s filled with much fun and laughter. The kitchen boasts three fridges filled with food (much of it donated) and every night, the Home for Dinner program kicks in…where local organizations prepare a meal for the families staying at RMH or visiting the Family Rooms at the hospitals. On nights and weekends, there are plenty of organized activities and games to keep the kids busy…with a big focus on siblings. And there’s even a playground…for the sunny days.
While there’s sometimes a waitlist, the 8 staff members at RMH do everything possible to accommodate the families in need…some who stay a single night and others who end up staying much of the year. It’s a community…where families support one another…this is their home.
The house itself is a well oiled machine with 135 volunteers who are there to make it as comfortable as possible for the families in their care.
There are plenty of ways to help out Ronald McDonald House.
- Drop your spare change in the coin box at your local McDonald’s
- Make a financial donation
- Donate items from the Wish List
- Volunteer at the House or one of the Family Rooms
- Participate in the Home for Dinner Program
It’s a “feel good” place where families are helping one another…forming friendships and building a community of love and support…through difficult times.
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On May 4th, McDonald’s restaurants across Canada join in a special tradition to bring together their employees, customers, suppliers and special guests to raise money to help families and children in need across Canada. $1 from every Big Mac sandwich, Happy Meal, & hot McCafe beverage sold in McDonald’s restaurants will go to local children’s charities across the country. This year marks the 23rd McHappy Day in Canada.