Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Ronald McDonald House

One of the most recognizable restaurant chains, especially to the very young :), is the golden arches- or McDonalds.  While they are probably best know for serving burgers, one of the incredible outreaches of McDonalds is the Ronald McDonald House-RMH.  There are more than 300 hundred houses in over 50 countries.  "RMH acts as a place to stay for families with hospitalized children who are receiving treatments.  They provide over 7,200 bedrooms to families around the world each night, with an estimated $257 million in lieu of hotel costs."
My family was blessed to be able to stay at the RMH in Cleveland during my BMT.  It is conveniently located walking distance from both the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, though they do provide shuttle service. RMH was an incredible blessing to us all.  It was so nice to know that if I needed something, or something came up, or I was just having a down day, that my parents could be there in five minutes. Also, as my parents and Rachel alternated spending the night with me, it eliminated the nearly hour drive back home.

At RMH, each family receives a room, that contains two double beds and a bathroom.  The Cleveland RMH is currently expanding to 54 rooms, to be able to accommodate even more who request to stay.
Our room...with extra mattress
Through the foyer and building are several open living/relaxation areas-couches, fireplaces, bookshelves with books and DVDs.  Because the RMH is currently under renovation, a few of the rooms were closed, like their play and art rooms. There are also TVs, a piano, and a Foosball table!
One of the family areas

The laundry room
There is a huge dining area, that contains two lovely kitchens, completely stocked with food, down to spices!  There are also several refrigerators  there are two communal fridges-which contain condiments, staples, and communal food.  Then there are the family refrigerators and freezers.  Each family has a box in which they can store their personal food items, that they either cook or purchase.
Family fridges and freezers

Part of the dining room; piano in the back

The entrance to the dining room
RMH fills a very great need, as it relives a burden for families with sick children, from all over the world.  My family met several families from the Middle East, most of whom have an extremely limited English vocabulary.
Families at RMH have children with varied medical needs.  One little tyke needs 5 organ transplants, and has been here nearly a year.  An 8 year old received a heart transplant.  There are kids with cancer, from out of state and out of the country, many for BMT. There are also several families with children in the ICU.
Playing outside with new friends!

Joseph and Yassar. He is 12 and was my neighbor at Rainbow, as he also has cancer.  He is from Saudi Arabia, here with only his dad.  He barely speaks English, but always has a smile!
Foosball with Yassar; 
Rachel, David and Walker- who received a heart transplant
One of the things we learned at the Cleveland RMH is that they have less then a handful of people on staff, but over 150 volunteers.  Volunteers play a vital role in RMH.  Most evenings and some afternoons there was dinner provided, as various volunteer groups brought and cooked dinner.  Some nights volunteers would come and entertain the children.

There are many ways you can help RMH.  Volunteers my family met represented restaurants, businesses  college groups, churches, and individuals.
Here are just a few ideas...

My dad's company has volunteered at RMH for many years.  They go in with simple manpower; their projects have included painting, renovation, yard work, and simply house cleaning.
Many groups and individuals make meals. They make use of the full kitchen facilities of RMH.  Some meals are simple, others fancy, but all fill the universal need for nourishment.  One group had a "Ballpark Feast" with hot dogs and the like.  One lady single-handedly made custom salads for each guest.  The "Lovely Lunch Ladies" made a full Easter dinner! "Home-style Dinners" was meatloaf, potatoes, and strawberry shortcake. Our church made chicken, potatoes, salad and brownies.  Most of the college groups made Mexican tacos.  All leftovers are put in the communal fridge, so that families can use them later.  There is no limit to what you can make! It is a blessing not to have to think about cooking meals for the family, when there is so much going on medically.  And for patients like me, who dislike the hospital food, my family would bring some of the leftovers, which I could eat.
Starting seeds


  • Every Thursday night a couple Case students came to RMH.  They came simply to entertain the kids there, playing board games for a couple hours.  
  • Periodically, groups from Ashland University came with activities   Once they had egg dying, another time tie-dye t-shirts. Entertaining the kids for a few hours also gives parents a bit of a break!
Games for the big...Catan

And the small...Chutes and Ladders!
  • Money isn't the only thing you can donate! However, if you do eat at McDonalds, they always have a donation box- just drop your change in!
  • Books and DVDs- they have a library collection.
  • Toys- one boy asked for toys and games for RMH, in lieu of birthday gifts for himself.
  • Handmade items-quilts, hats, pillowcases...small gifts that show someone cares.

The kids with our adopted grandparent, the Abbots

David and John making puzzles

The benefit of homeschooling-you can do it anywhere! 

And your teacher is always with you...

Chocolate milk! 

Simply having fun!
There is so much we who live in our homes take for granted.  RMH has so many families that haven't been home in months.  They are already going through a great family trial of having a child in the hospital.  For many from out of the country, there is also a huge language and culture adjustment, not to mention the food! There is so much that we can do to help ease the burdens in their life.  Please look at this link from RMH entitled 100 Small Gestures-"Sometimes it's the small gestures that can make a family's burden a little less heavy when they are caring for their sick child.  Help us offer even more small gestures to families who need them by making on of your own."

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