“Ronald McDonald House Charities of Phoenix, Inc. provides a temporary home-away-from-home for families who must travel to the Phoenix area to receive medical treatment for their children and also supports programs that directly benefit children and their families in our community.”
I first got involved with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) as a sophomore in high school. I didn’t know much about what they did or how I would be able to help out considering I was young and I knew I would be working with both children and their parents. Yet once I had a chance to read their mission statement, I knew it was a charity I wanted to work with. “Home- away-from-home,” is what quickly caught my attention. I’ve always thought of my home as my safe place, somewhere I could go to escape the stress of the day or week. Being given the opportunity to work with a group that tried to give “home” back to families was intriguing.
I was nervous at first, the thought of volunteering with families who have been worn down by not only their son or daughter fighting the battle for their life, but being away from home with their families trying to make it through each day. Before we walked in, Mrs. Budnick, the mom in charge of our group, told us, “These people are fragile, any moment their lives could change with one phone call or their child’s next checkup, so you need to look confident and happy to be here.” That stuck with me over the years because in a way it embodies what RMHC does. It gives you an opportunity to use your joy and optimism to inspire these families.
Looking at the history of Ronald McDonald House Charities, it all began in the early 1970’s. Philadelphia Eagles’ football player Fred Hill became very familiar with a children’s hospital when his daughter, Kim, was diagnosed with leukemia. After quickly noticing how many families were sleeping and essentially living in the hospital during their child’s treatments, he was determined to make a change. In collaboration with the oncology department, more specifically Dr. Audrey Evans, at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia they began their search for a “home-away-from-home” for families with sick children.
Once owner of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc got word of the project, he began raising funds for the charity, hence the name, The Ronald McDonald House Charities. According to Ronald McDonald charities, there are more than 300 houses worldwide.
These families travel to Phoenix to visit any of the valley’s “world renowned pediatric centers.” Treatment, depending on why the child is sick, can last anywhere from a few days to many months. RMHC is able t0 offer these families inexpensive housing near the hospital that offers not only a physical safe place, but emotional and spiritual counseling as well. Families can make up to $25 dollar donations a day, but depending on the circumstances, housing can be free.
According to RMHC, each house offers home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and play rooms for the children. Depending on house location (nationally and globally), some also include “special suites for children with suppressed immune systems,” education programs, recreational activities, and support services for families, parents and children.
As a volunteer at any of the houses, you have the opportunity to clean, cook meals, babysit the children, and decorate and prepare rooms for future families. If you want more hands on work with the children, you can volunteer at the Children’s Hospital in the Ronald McDonald program. In addition, donations, the “Adopt a Room” project (you donate everything in decorating a new room) or donating to RMHC’s wish list of things they continue to need are always encouraged.
This charity is unique and special in countless ways. It encourages a sense of community and aims to show your neighbor you are not alone in any time of need. I encourage you to check out Ronald McDonald House Charities in Phoenix or any of the other locations! I included on my resources page some ways to get more information on RMHC and other charities that work towards restoring families.
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