A Home Away from Home

For ten years, the Ronald McDonald House of Northeast Indiana has served thousands of families in our area.  It has provided a place for families to call “home” during the difficult times of a hospitalized child.  Located inside Parkview Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House is open to provide comfort for families who need a bed, a meal, or simply a place to escape the stresses of a hospital room.  This home-away-from-home gives families the opportunity to stay within the same building as their child which helps comfort everyone during the hospital stay.

I had the opportunity a few months ago to attend a breakfast that introduced me to the Ronald McDonald House and how it serves our community.  I was excited to have the opportunity to volunteer some time with them.  This particular experience was different from most of our previous volunteer excursions.  My time spent with them was more about education in order to become an advocate, more than giving time to complete a project.  It didn’t take long for me to realize how important it is, and will be, to spread the word about the mission and goals of the house.  The services provided are amazing for families and I want to be able to do my part in helping to serve more that have the need.  There are a number of ways that we all can get involved to help this great organization.  I want to highlight three.

Capital Campaign

Ten thousand families have been served by the Ronald McDonald house during the ten years in existence.  Each and every one of these families were provided the service at absolutely no cost.  Unfortunately, due to the high demand for the services offer by the RMH, families are turned away due to the lack of space.  The current location is small and keeps them from helping more families.  To meet the demand, a $2 million capital campaign to build a larger facility inside the new Parkview Regional Medical Center was started.  Parkview has donated nearly 9,000 square feet (three times the current size) for the new RMH inside the hospital.  It will be located just steps away from neo-natal intensive care  and pediatric units of the hospital.  We have the opportunity to help raise the funds needed to make this happen.  Here is one easy way to help.  You can text BUILD to 20222 from your mobile phone to donate $10 to the Ronald McDonald House at Parkview.  It is a one-time donation that will be added to your wireless phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance.  It is only $10 and it is an easy way to support the capital campaign to serve more families in our area.

Donate Change

Each McDonald’s restaurant location in our area has donation canisters available for you to donate your change.  The coins donated play a huge role in the day-to-day operations of the RMH.  In 2010, this donated change accounted for almost 45% of the annual revenue.  Your donations help support the RMH in our community.  If your family is like mine, you visit a McDonald’s location on a regular basis.  If we all spared just a little of our change, we can make a big difference.  If every person who visited McDonald’s across the United States donated a penny during each visit, over $52 million would be raised for Ronald McDonald House Charities.  So, the next time you have a craving for a Big Mac or a famous McDonald’s Coca-Cola drink, make sure you donate your change.  By doing so, you can definitely help change the life of a child and their family.

Volunteer

Sixty five volunteers give their time to ensure that the Ronald McDonald House is open 365 days a year.  These volunteers have a made a commitment to the organization that is second to none.  Each has received training on the roles and responsibilities of working within the house and with families dealing with stressful situations.  They help to maintain an environment of comfort and privacy that makes the house feel like home.  The commitment they have made is also a time commitment.  I learned that I could not just walk off of the street and volunteer with this organization.  They look for volunteers who are willing, and able, to commit to a minimum of six hours per month.  It was obvious to me just how important these volunteers are and how the staff at the RMH values them.  This love towards the volunteers makes it very easy for individuals to make the commitment.  Over half of the volunteers have been serving for more than five years.  One-third of them have been volunteering since the house opened 10 years ago.  This type of volunteer retention could not be accomplished if the staff at the RMH didn’t treat the volunteers well.  When the new house opens in 2012 there will be more volunteers needed.  If you want to make a difference in our community while being valued for your commitment, consider volunteering with this great organization.

The Ronald McDonald house is a treasure within the Fort Wayne community.  It provides a service to families that you cannot put a value on.  The families that visit the house are going through difficult times.  I hope that no one ever has to take advantage of these services.  However, I have peace of mind knowing that the Ronald McDonald House of Northeast Indiana, its staff, and volunteers are there if the need arises.  Visit www.rmhc-neindiana.org to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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