Here at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, we’re fortunate to have the support of many organizations in the Central Ohio area. One of the comments we often get from folks who participate with groups that come to the House is how much they gain by being here. Meal groups participating in our Team Cuisine program learn new cooking tips. Cleaning groups pick up household tricks for removing tough stains. Some volunteer groups learn tips about making simple household repairs from our team of volunteer craftsmen. Beyond those more obvious gains, there’s also the reminder and appreciation for what you have and just the satisfaction of giving your time. Sharing the love just feels good to the one who is sharing. But the benefits of working at the House can have even more of an impact for special needs students who regularly come to help our House.
For these students, learning even more about life at the House helps them to grow to become their full potential. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio partners with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities in a program called Summer Youth Work Experiences where students get real-world work experience as they help to keep our House in tip-top shape. OOD recently produced a video which follow the work of Max, one of the students that benefits from working at the Ronald McDonald House. You can watch the video here:
Sometimes, the special needs students who come to the House also leave a positive impression on our families and their child patient. Be the One is a program that was started at Walnut Ridge High School by Dawn Heideman, a teacher in the Columbus City School District, after witnessing the impact of tragedy on a student’s life. Dawn decided that she would be the one individual to provide comfort, guidance, and encouragement to students who had experienced traumatic anger, depression, & loss in hopes that those students will be the one person to go on to make a difference in another young person’s life too. The program expanded two years ago to Linden-McKinley High School and now helps 125 students who have been through traumatic life experiences at a young age.
Several times a year, Dawn brings her students here to the Ronald McDonald House to meet families of seriously ill children and to spread joy by hanging seasonal decorations in our large dining room. Last year, her students met with a patient named Orian from Maryland staying at the House. The students and Orian developed a bond after learning that he had been bullied because of his disabilities. Inspired by the Six Word Memoir project, Be the One students were encouraged to write a book of their own experiences for Orian who has been encouraged by the book every day. Read about the Be the One’s gift of the group’s book to Orian in a blog from Six Word Memoirs by clicking here.
“Thank you Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio for supporting my family and my GrandBoo in the #ronaldmcdonaldfamilyroom at OhioHealth Riverside NICU. Being in the NICU is a challenging time for all families. Some families spend months in the unit caring for their newborns, but to experience a place where families can go and relax and be taken care of, was truly a blessing. Thank you for being there for families and my family! My granddaughter JB thanks you too! Greatly appreciated! ❤”
This was the kind comment left by Cassandra White-Graves in response to the above picture of her and her granddaughter, Alaya Anderson, taken last month in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. It was posted to our Facebook page after we captured the moment of the two taking advantage of the play area in the room while awaiting the arrival of Alaya’s sister. Our Ronald McDonald Family Room at the hospital is the first RMFR in Central Ohio. It has only been open a few years and thousands of family members have already made use of the room to relax and recharge in between visits to the NICU or pediatric patient’s room.
One thing that visitors to the RMFR often say in feedback about using the room, is how grateful they are for the staff member who welcomed their family into this restful space. Yet, there aren’t staff members keeping the room available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The fine folks that keep the room open and attend to the needs of families using it, are actually always volunteers! Recently, a web page was set up as a way for folks to show support for the RMFR and the volunteers who make sure the room is clean and whom provide an ear of empathy and sympathy. If you would like to contribute to this volunteer-based fundraiser, just click here.
On Wednesday, July 10, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary with cupcakes for visitors to the room. Families and hospital staff were invited to the family room to take part in the celebration. We invited Trish Wright, president of the Wright Ways Foundation, to the family room. She and her family had used the family room almost exactly a year ago. Trish had given birth to Chosen at the hospital and Chosen had to stay in the NICU for a few months. Her family found the family room to be just what they needed during that time. Chosen and her family came back for our celebration and to help Trish donate care bags for NICU moms on behalf of the Wright’s Way Foundation. Click the image below to hear her story.
The 4th Annual Nationwide Children’s Hospital DISCOVERYx program two weeks ago included our own Chef Blair Arms with a talk titled, Beyond Our Patients: Keeping Families Fed. She was one of 7 presenters selected for the afternoon’s TEDx-inspired event. An email from the hospital to staff said the planning committee was looking for hospital community workers to showcase the sharing of ideas, opportunities, experiences or discoveries and how these have contributed to improving health and wellness at the hospital and beyond. The hospital’s DISCOVERYx event has been enormously popular and some of it’s speakers from previous years have gone on to present at both the Columbus TEDx and National TEDx programs.
The planning committee invited enthusiasts from every discipline or area within the hospital community of employees to apply and selected speakers based on their passion and ability to deliver innovative ideas. A professional coach even helped prepare the selected presenters for their appearance on stage during the live event. Through communication, speakers were expected to share thought-provoking ideas to spark conversation, make connections and inspire others. Chef Blair met that expectation, giving an emotional testimony about why she loves her job of guiding groups of people through the process of making healthy meals for families staying at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. Watch her presentation below.
It’s been an exciting month for book-lovers who stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, and we’re not talking about lovers of e-books. Our library has remained pretty much the same for years. But just a few weeks ago, a team of volunteers came in to revamp our library. Over just a few days this during National Library Week AND National Volunteer Week, a team from L Brands including Susan Geier, Carrie Kenneth, Chris Nowicki, Ed Kunzelman; and KP Designs & Associates painted walls and added new built-in cabinets and book cases. You can even literally curl up with a good book within an in-shelf nook!
The week after we reopened the library, 22-year-old Kendal White, a recent graduate from Ohio Dominican University, arrived at the House with a group of friends and supporters to donate books gathered during a recent book drive. White says he’s passionate about literacy and asked his community of friends, family, ODU alumni, & Central State University Columbus alumni to donate children’s books for our library. He hoped to get 200 books, but more than 1,100 were collected, including some books for adults. Thanks to his group of volunteers for sharing the books – along with coloring activities & games – to support our families. It was a great way to also wrap up National Volunteer Month.
Over the last two months, I’ve had the opportunity to intern at RMH and interact with families, staff, and volunteers, learning a lot about who and what makes up the House with a Heart.
When I first walked in and met with Ryan, my expectations were situated within the objectives of the class that I am taking alongside of this internship. The intended scope – storytelling – fails to encompass what projects I have worked on and what writing I have done during my time here.
My expectations shifted from purely telling the stories of those within our House walls to taking on tasks that are relevant for any writer looking at entering the nonprofit sector. I saw firsthand how necessary it is to be adaptable and oriented to the needs of an organization over the desires of oneself.
My creative writing and storytelling fix was filled through a few blog posts, short interviews with a volunteer and a board member, and shaping short content for our Staff Stuff newsletter. These projects would have been sufficient in exposing me to the voice of Ronald McDonald House Charities, yet my internship went further.
Having a background in business writing and marketing, I found that my technical writing and editing skills were valued in a strategic capacity. Tasks ranged from crafting a press release to teaming up with Jessie, the marketing intern, and creating a small marketing plan. I also edited our website’s copy and made suggestions for revision. These projects, among others, gave me the opportunity to apply the skills I had previously accumulated in the classroom in a “real” setting.
As a student, I think there’s often a fear of being unprepared when leaving campus, graduating, and moving into an organization doing great and wonderful acts of love in the community. Long gone is that fear, as I feel the guidance I received, responsibilities I was tasked with, collaboration I participated in, and the love I saw proves how valuable this opportunity was and is. While my impact at RMH may have been minimal, the impact of this internship for me was massive.
Through writing, this internship presented me with the chance use my voice to amplify Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio’s voice. It has offered me a moment of time I can look back at and know that I was lifted up, for the benefit of both RMH and myself, a student, a part of the Columbus community, and a person who will go on to write and write and write.
For that, I am beyond thankful.
Thank you to everyone in the House who made me feel at home from the start, and especially to Ryan and Rick.
Earlier this month, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio and Post House Creative’s short film, Something’s Missing, received a gold ADDY award for Public Service (Film, Video, & Sound). The short film, which is written, directed, edited, and produced by Post House Creative, tells the story of a family with a seriously ill child in a way that Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio has never done before.
The decision to feature less dialogue was deliberate, in efforts to emphasize the visuals captured on screen. The use of motivated camera movement, negative space, and certain shots, chosen specifically to keep the audience wanting more were effective in creating a worthy advertisement that moved the hearts of the viewers.
In a March first ceremony, the 2019 Columbus ADDYs were awarded by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Columbus and are the first tier of a three-tier, national competition held by the national AAF organization. After winning at the local level here in Columbus, Something’s Missing will go on to compete against other ADDY award winners at the district level. If Something’s Missing wins at the second-tier, it will then vie for a national ADDY.
This year’s Columbus ADDYs were judged by Doug Buchanan, editor in chief of Columbus Business First; Christin Norris, who is Lead Experience Designer at Digitas Chicago; Camron Gnass, a professor in the Advertising Department at Michigan State University and was named one of ten most influential people in Mid-Michigan under the age of 35; and Jan Mullins, an award-winning writer, producer and freelance director based in Atlanta, GA.
Congratulations to the team at Post House Creative on winning this esteemed award.
By Bryant Somerville, WBNS 10TV
There are times we feel complete. Other times, most of us know the feeling of a missing piece.
For Heather Vincent, that piece is normalcy.
“We don’t have normal,” she said. “We don’t know what normal is.”
When her son Jackson was 2-1/2, he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He went through all of his treatments and eventually was cancer-free for about two-and-a-half years until it came back.
“And then we found out in January he relapsed,” she said.
Jackson is now 6. Lately, the Ronald McDonald House has been a second home.
“We were here 51 days,” Vincent said. “We got to go home last week and now we’re back.”
Back to the hospital. Back to the treatments. Back to the lack of normalcy.
But there is a piece of normalcy, as small as it might seem, that Jackson carries with him.
Jackson loves Lego. In the past year, Vincent says he’s built upwards of 40 sets at his house. At the hospital, while doing treatments, he builds.
“Yesterday, we sat and built Legos all through chemo, so we were there for three hours and I don’t think he thought about chemo once,” she said. “He just focused on the Legos and didn’t realize he sat in the bed for three hours. He just was building Legos.”
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center, knowing many children can’t make it to Easton, decided to take the fun to the Ronald McDonald House Thursday.
“Yeah, they bumped up his chemo this morning so he could come back and make it here so he could do Legos,” Vincent said.
It’s a much-deserved distraction.
Maxx Davidson is the master model builder for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus.
“You get to bring some smiles to kids’ faces who might not get to have an opportunity for an event like this all the time,” he said.
An opportunity to be normal.
“It almost takes you back to normal for a little bit,” Vincent said. “Takes you out of the cancer world for a while.”
Could You Imagine?
If something went missing from your home, would you notice?
For families with a sick child, something does go missing.
That something is stability. Security. Time. Each other.
Some mornings, it is quiet – the kind of quiet only empty houses can be. Some mornings, the toast is left uneaten and the sleepy ones must find their way to the car and begin a drive they’ve done time and time again. Some mornings, the coffee isn’t enough to make the journey bearable, the smiles are forced, and the difficulties are as daunting as can be.
The process that you thought you would be going through together, you find yourself apart – supporting your child, taking care of obligations, and doing what you can to keep yourself and your family afloat. But you feel like a fish out of water. You are stretched too thin. There are bills piling up, household cleaning you don’t have the energy to do, and a brave face to be put on.
When a family is split between long commutes to hospitals and keeping up with the responsibilities that life demands, the toll that it takes is severe – emotionally, physically, socially, mentally. At Ronald McDonald House, we are committed to easing up the load that befalls families with sick children.
It has been a long and lonely day and night listening to the soundtrack of a hospital room: medical equipment beeping, sighing, dripping. You and your child’s breathing filling the room. Nurses and doctors entering and exiting, asking how you’re doing, helping your child. Your phone jingles, alerting you of texts from your loved ones saying they’ll be there to “switch shifts” in a few.
You pack up your bag, kiss your child’s forehead, and leave the room. But instead of driving three hours back home, you walk across the street. You check in. Someone hands you a key and joins you as you walk to your room. You enter and set your bag on the bed before falling into it yourself.
After you take a shower, you pay some bills, join in the communal kitchen at lunch time, update your loved ones on Facebook, and return to your room afterwards. You grab your coat, your keys, and your bag. You walk back across the road to the hospital and up to your child’s room. Your family is there. Together.
In our new short film, Something’s Missing, written, directed, edited, and produced by Post House Creative, we wanted to show that when something’s missing, the whole family feels it.
Post House Creative and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio are connected through the married duo of Timothy M. and Kimberly Flaherty, who own Post House Creative and both serve on our Marketing Committee. Tim and Kimberly became involved and fell in love with the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities a few years ago, and Tim remembers that it felt “natural for us to be able to help in the marketing role. Our staff has helped out cooking a couple meals and other charitable things with the House.” Their daughter, Isabelle, plays the sick child in the short film.
While we usually choose to focus on the hope within the realities experienced by the families who stay within the House walls, we took a new and different route this time. Instead of shorter testimonies, we decided to employ advanced story-telling and create a cinematic piece which leaves the viewer haunted.
When planning, Post House Creative asked, what if Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio wasn’t around or a family didn’t know about it?
While the haunting feeling isn’t found through ghosts or post-apocalyptic zombies popping up on your screen, this film demonstrates how harrowing it is to experience what families with sick children go through without having something as critical as a place to stay near the hospital; a place which doesn’t require payment. Without a place to stay, the logistics of taking care of a sick child are scary. When families have access to a place that is close by, they can rest their head on an actual bed, eat warm food, stretch their legs, shower, and form community with others in the House, and the logistics are more manageable.
Tim explains their decision to feature less dialogue was deliberate and to focus on what visual were captured on screen. They used motivated camera movement and certain shots, chosen specifically to keep the audience wanting more and to emphasize actions speak a lot louder than words.
Post House Creative’s vision has allowed us to tell a story of families in need. They created Something’s Missing without compensation, meaning that all cast and crew volunteered their time, energy, and resources to write, direct, edit, and produce the film. We are so grateful for their generosity and continued support of our mission to keep families together. Their quick turnaround when following a tight timeline is another testament to their skill and dedication.
We are forever grateful. Thank you to the volunteer cast of Ryan Forrestal (Dad), Isabelle Flaherty (Sick Child), Ellie Maetzold (Sister), and Melissa Roslovic (Mom). Thank you to Tim and Kimberly Flaherty, writer Scott Baldner, producer Tony Adkins, editor Kirk Mason, Director of Photography John Massarella, and the rest of the Post House Creative team.
You can help us keep families together by visiting RMHC-CentralOhio.org.
I was asked to write a little bit about myself for this blog. So here it goes. My name is Jessie Strait and I am a junior at Capital University studying public relations and music. I recently joined the RMHC family as the marketing and communications intern, and I am very excited about it!
Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to be (I still kind of don’t). At first I wanted to be president of the United States, then I wanted to have a talk show, and then I thought I should stick to something easier, like being an internationally-renowned pop star. As I started to mature, my career goals did as well. But I still kept the same ambition. In middle school and high school I was a part of a performing group that travelled around central Ohio, performing songs for residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities (we even visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital). Though I found joy in singing, I found a deeper joy in talking with the residents afterwards and hearing their stories. As we continued to perform, I continued having meaningful conversations with people. Before I knew it, college was around the corner. And being a pop star isn’t a major. So, at the age of 18, I did some research on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life until I retire. No pressure. Because this task seemed daunting, I went back to what I love- developing relationships with people. People get a bad reputation and the news cycle seems to perpetuate that idea. I pride myself in loving people, past the flaws. Sure, it’s hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. So when I heard the words “public relations”, I thought I might enjoy that. And so far, so good. I have learned the skills necessary to help an organization reach its publics in meaningful ways. Oh, and if my pop career works out, I added music as my other major. Just kidding, I just like music. But also, watch out Ariana Grande.
I have always lived in the Columbus area, so I am very familiar with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the RMHC of Central Ohio. My friends have volunteered here. I heard the stories of families that have been helped by this amazing charity. I knew that RMHC is one of the best organizations in the Columbus community. So when I got the opportunity to intern with RMHC, and help the charity that has made a difference in so many peoples’ lives, I was overjoyed. I am going to work hard to support the RMHC mission. I am excited to be a part of this family.