“Giving sick children what they need most…the presence and support of their families“. This is the vision statement for the Ronald McDonald House and you can see these words in action at any of the 300+ houses across the world (14 in Canada). Today I had the pleasure of attending a media event in Regina where Ronald McDonald House had a chance to thank all of the Regina donors for their support in the For Every Family Capital Campaign in Saskatchewan.
Before I tell you more about what I learned about Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan today, I’d like to share a personal story from a dear friend of mine. Her son was born by emergency c-section at 28 weeks and weighed just 1 pound 14 ounces. She has kindly let me feature her story here to help get the word out to others about the amazing support available at Ronald McDonald House.
After a horrible pregnancy from the beginning and a routine weekly check up at my specialist, it appeared I had gone toxaemic. I was immediately checked into the Calgary Foothills Hospital. The next afternoon (Wednesday, August 4, 2004 at 2:03 pm) I was rushed for an emergency c-section. Ben was 28 weeks and 1 lb, 14 oz. This was the beginning of a long road.
He was in NICU for 4 days but off the ventilator in 11 hrs. Once he could breathe on his own he was moved to the special care nursery. He stayed day in and day out in his incubator – the nurses called it his “condo”. He was 4 days old the first time I held him. He fit in my hand. It was unimaginable. Like a bad dream. Babies weren’t suppose to be this small.
On day 4 after being able to hold him I was released from the hospital. The problem being we didn’t live in Calgary – we were in the middle of moving back to BC. The social worker for the hospital came in and explained Ronald McDonald House to us. I knew the house existed but had no idea what it did or was. Since the home was filled at the time, we stayed in a hotel for 2 nights before we moved in. My husband had to run back and forth to work so he settled me in and left the next morning. I was worried I wouldn’t make it through on my own. I soon realized I wasn’t on my own at all.
Ben was 55 days old when we came home. The whole time I was there either with or without my husband, I felt at home at the Ronald McDonald House. The staff (which were all volunteers) are amazing. They all take the time to know you and your situation. The other families become friends away from home. It didn’t matter what time you came back from the hospital – as soon as the volunteer for the evening heard you come in he or she was up and greeting you. I remember having tea at various late hours and they had all the time in the world for you to talk, laugh, cry or even just sit and sip tea with you.
The house truly is a home away from home. I’d recommend it to anyone in need. It’s affordable and filled with love. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the home, I don’t know what my husband and I would’ve done. It was one less thing for my husband to worry about. To anyone who may stay at a Ronald McDonald House, don’t worry about feeling out of place or being judged. They are a support group without you even knowing. They’re for their own reasons and if they ask about your situation it’s just that they are trying to understand.
Benjamin is going to be 9 this summer. It has been a bumpy road at times. He still has a few small learning curves but it doesn’t slow him any. He’s almost as tall as me and if we tackle each other he knows he can defeat me. He reminds everyone of a very old soul. Very loving and caring but will take charge if needed. He’s the best big brother. He makes sure his little brother Justin gets to and from school each day, fixes him snacks and reads him stories.
He’s aware of his story but I’m not sure he understands it only being 9. He does however know how McDonald’s raises money for the Ronald McDonald House on certain days. When he sees the ads for these days coming, he tells everyone to go and buy something to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.
It’s a memory that started off scary but ended up perfect. Something my family will never forget.
Thank you to Crystal, Joe, Ben & Justin for sharing your story!
Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan (located in Saskatoon) is currently undergoing a $10 million expansion and renovation project that will add a 30,000 square foot expansion including the addition of 18 rooms (bringing the total to 31), laundry facilities, computer room, maternal baby care rooms, play areas for siblings, expanded kitchen facilities, and family gathering areas. In 2010, nearly 300 families (more than 30% of the 914 families who came to them for help) had to find accommodations elsewhere because Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan was not able to accommodate them. These new expansion and renovations are currently underway and are on schedule to be completed in early 2014.
Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan Interesting Facts:
- Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan has been available to families for over 25 years
- Families of sick or injured children 18 years and younger are able to use the accommodations.
- The fee per night is only $10; however, no family is ever refused accommodations due to inability to pay.
- Your child does not have to be in the hospital for long term care in order to stay at Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan. Even if you have to come for one night for a special doctor’s appointment, you are welcome to call the house to inquire about accommodations.
- For every 1 staff person, there are 3 full-time volunteers at the house.
How You Can Help:
- Spread the word about Ronald McDonald House – let friends and family know about the support and accommodations available.
- Since Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan is currently limited in storage space due to the construction phase, their wish list consists of items such as gift cards for groceries, household items, restaurants, taxis and toys.
To learn more about Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan, you can visit their website.
Have you, a friend or family member ever used one of the Ronald McDonald Houses? What would you like others to know about your experience?