Has your child ever been sick? Maybe a niece or nephew? If so, you know that it’s the worst feeling knowing that all you can do is cuddle them or kiss their boo boos to make things better. Now imagine that child needed emergency care at an out-of-town hospital. Would you have somewhere to stay? Would you be able to afford the parking and accommodation for weeks, months or even years while your child was in treatment? Thankfully, there are 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada to keep families close.
Ronald McDonald House has become a home away from home for many families. It’s more than a place to rest, or do laundry, a place to eat or watch a movie. It’s about keeping families together during difficult times and creating a community of support. It’s about lightening their load so that they can be strong for their children when their children need them the most.
I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to visit RMHC South Central Ontario and while learning about the charity I was shocked to learn that:
- – 32% of families that stay at RMHC South Central Ontario have children being treated in the NICU or Oncology.
- – The average stay is about 11 nights but some families have stayed for 2 years straight and as long as 4 years on and off.
- – There is one apartment suite for families that need long-term support.
- – There are 41 rooms for families at Ronald McDonald House South Central Ontario in Hamilton.
At the Ronald McDonald House I visited in Hamilton, Ontario, I was so impressed that a place where 41 families can stay, actually feels cozy and warm, just like a home. They have a movie theatre, a games room, multiple family rooms, outdoor areas to play and dine, and two big kitchen areas for families to prepare food and eat together. One of the many things that really stood out to me was the ‘courage capes’ closet. These capes are donated by a local cancer support group. Each child gets to pick out and take home their very own special cape. Something else that I would really like to get involved myself is the ‘Meals That Heal’ program. You can sponsor a meal for the facility for $400. From there, the in-house chefs can teach you how to prepare a family-style meal for all of the families staying at the House or you can simply donate your funds to help provide a buffet night for the families. For $500 you can sponsor a bistro night where the families get a premium culinary experience with a small menu of choices.
I really hope that you consider ‘Making Fun Matter’ this year by starting your own fundraiser (visit makefunmatter.ca). With Christmas just around the corner, it’s a great way to teach our kids about empathy and to give back to those who need it most. It could be as simple as donating funds from a hockey tournament, a lemonade stand or a birthday party. I hope you will join me to help keep families close at Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. Together, we can make a difference.