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.
This is one of the most exciting times of the year for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. It’s the time when our chapter has the honor of hosting other RMHC chapters for the RMHC Midwest Summit. It’s a great opportunity for staff members from these various chapters to share knowledge and ideas to improve all of our organizations. This year’s summit welcomes more than 50 chapters from around the country and even a few from Canada.
The three-day educational/training opportunity also allows attendees to participate in a variety of educational sessions. The gathering kicked off today with a general session featuring an inspirational talk from Dave Kaufman, CEO of Motorists Insurance Group who has also been a volunteer and past board member at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
This year’s venue takes place at Top Golf with the unique opportunity to have specialty sessions in the open-air.
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.
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.
By Christin Dornback
This is Christin, the new writing intern at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. I come to RMHC by way of The Ohio State University and their commitment to connect students and community through direct service-learning courses. I am a senior English major minoring in Nonprofit Management, and my biggest motivator is community and our shared stories. I love running and yoga, warm, caffeinated beverages, trying to keep houseplants alive, and hiking!
I’ll be contributing to this blog by sharing the stories that RMHC of Central Ohio holds, and I hope to connect the world outside with the magic that goes on inside of the house– because it really is magic.
During my freshman year of college, one of my loved ones, Erin, was diagnosed with a degenerative cognitive disease. For the months before and the months following the diagnosis, Erin was in and out of a children’s hospital. Although our family didn’t stay in a Ronald McDonald House during that time, I became aware of the specific needs that a family has while their child is in the hospital. I understand, on some level, that the place between needs and the fulfillment of them is where the magic must come in.
When you enter Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, you understand that this is where magic lives.
Here at the House, there is an abundance of support and love in the air here – and it’s not simply because Valentine’s Day is approaching! There is kindness, smiles, and laughter throughout the halls: results of the dedicated care and efforts to bring comfort to our families by the staff and volunteers. I hope to share this magic, show you the hearts of our families, friends, staff, and volunteers, and help us all focus on joy in the face of hardship as RMH is Keeping Families Close in our community.
February is related to two things – being the coldest month of the year and Valentine’s Day. Because you can feel the effects of February’s subzero wintry temperatures, I will write my first blog about the later. That topic is obviously more warm and fuzzy!
Valentine’s Day! It’s a day to appreciate those we love and shower them with gifts of flowers, chocolates, clothes (fun socks are my favorite), or jewelry. Some may find themselves at an exquisite restaurant sharing a nice bottle of wine to pair perfectly with their dinner. Or, for me, I like the practical and simple – spending time at home with my kiddo and husband-soaking up the smiles and laughter.
At the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio, it’s Valentine’s Day 365 days of the year. On my first day in my new position I felt nothing but LOVE! There is a sense of kindness in the volunteers, an affection from the staff and comfort in the families because of the love they feel in the House.
The staff at RMHC greeted me with warm smiles and welcome notes, sharing how grateful they were to have me! A Tervis sat on my desk that read, “Share the LOVE”! Throughout the hallways of the House there are signs that have such comforting phrases as, “Life takes you to unexpected places, Love brings you Home.” My favorite place in the House (right now), is at the end of a hallway, where a set of large scrabble tiles spell out the words, “FAMILY, HOME, LOVE”, next to a comfy chair with a fluffy pillow.
The people who fill the House, take extra special care of each other. Volunteer groups come in and prepare meals, baked goods, and prepare activities for the families. For example, the Banner Lady, (this is how she refers to herself), brings in cut-out shapes and letters which she spreads across two tables for families to construct banners. These brighten up their patients’ hospital rooms or their own rooms here at the House. The banners hang with as much love as was put into making them. Generous donors make contributions allowing for families to wash their clothes, sleep in a comfy beds, have running water for a shower, access computers, or enjoy the piece of the outdoor garden.
There are so many other expressions of Love that I could tell you about, but I invite you in to visit the House and see that LOVE in action for yourself. Come see the smiles, come see the gestures of kindness, come see families giving other families comfort sharing their experiences & challenges.
The Ronald McDonald House has always had a special place in my heart and in my first few days as a team member, it has become a whole new level of special to me! Ronald McDonald House Charities, truly does keep families together and Valentine’s Day happens 365 days-a-year here!
Four years ago this month, I toured the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus for the first time. The House and everything it offered blew me away! I told myself I would volunteer and make a difference. But I didn’t follow through for a long time. Life got busy and I was working in an industry where my schedule had no consistency.
Five months after touring that house with 88 bedrooms, an accident on a family vacation left my youngest brother, Austin, paralyzed and on a ventilator and my family checked into a small Ronald McDonald House in Tallahassee, Florida with only eight bedrooms. I can’t begin to describe the surreal feeling of going through the motions of getting to the hospital, waiting in a room for the doctor to finally come talk to you, and that doctor telling you that this accident will have a best-case scenario of your brother being a quadriplegic. Those first hours were honestly the scariest moments of our lives because we had no idea the outcome and it wasn’t anything that we could ever have been prepared for. Austin spent June 1 through November 18 of 2015 in the hospital with my mom by his side while the rest of us split our time between working and traveling back and forth from Ohio to his new hospital in Chicago.
I know firsthand that what we here at RMHC of Central Ohio provide for families is more than just a bed near the hospital. It’s the community of support that comes from strangers taking care of you and every family going through something completely different who can still relate to the chaos that comes with the daily uncertainty of a hospital stay.
Since that fateful year, I’ve been a volunteer, a volunteer manager, and now a member of the development team here at RMHC of Central Ohio. As Strategic Partnerships Associate, I’m working with the community to make sure families with ill or injured children in the hospital can rely on our House for years to come. I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received from the community because it takes a village to keep the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House running.
One of the “Villages” I am immensely involved with is our Red Shoe Society, which is a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting RMHC of Central Ohio and our families. Each month, week, and day I’m amazed by what this group accomplishes. From Saturday morning breakfasts, to Friday night kitchen cleaning, to various community fundraisers this group has fun while supporting the House. With each member of RSS donating just $12 each month to RMHC, we’ve raised over $8,000 to support the house! Can you imagine the impact on the lives of our families if more young professionals joined us in supporting our 12×12 program for the House? The possibilities are endless and only requires a minor budget adjustment.
I’m optimistic about 2019 and all the ways families from all over the country – and the world – will be impacted by the relief that is provided by RMHC of Central Ohio this new year and for years to come.
Marilyn & Bob Holb like to volunteer their time reading to students at Salem Elementary School in Columbus. About a month ago, Marilyn read the book, “How I Became a Super Hero” to fourth grade students at the school.
The book was written by our House’s frequent guest, 8-year-old Ashton Zari. Ashton was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease around his third birthday and since then, he has spent more than 300 nights at the Ronald McDonald House. Ashton says he decided to “write a book to make people in the hospital feel better”. He also says he wanted to encourage people to understand the power of kindness.
After finishing reading the book to those 4th graders, the Holbs informed the children that all of the profit raised by the book is donated to The Ronald McDonald House. This inspired the children to do a little writing of their own. They decided to write greeting cards to Ashton to thank him for writing the book and for helping the Ronald McDonald House. They also wanted to let him know the book was uplifting for them too. Marilyn & Bob delivered the cards to Ashton while he was staying at the House recently, and we were able to listen in as Ashton read a few of the cards aloud to his mom, Amanda, sister Addison, and brother Alex while sitting in the Ronald McDonald House dining room. Click the links below to hear Ashton read a few of the cards.
Ashton just celebrated his ninth birthday on December 20th while staying at our Ronald McDonald House and shared the celebration by giving to other kids staying with us . Happy belated birthday, Ashton! For more about Asthon, visit Ashtonsbirthdaywish.org, or you can purchase “How I Became A Super Hero” directly at Ashtonsbirthdaywish.bigcartel.com.