This group of women I am emailing now collectively raised over $366,000 for RMHC families in 2019 (at our women-focused fundraising events). Why? Because you each care about something greater than yourself. You believe in helping fellow moms, dads, brothers and sisters, whose faces you will never see, whose hands you will never shake, but whose hearts you did touch. We don’t get to choose when our child gets sick or when we will need help from others. But we do get to choose what we do when faced with a need in front of us. Thank you for becoming an army who kept our doors open for critically ill children and their families last year.
This year, our families’ burdens have only snowballed. With the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic conditions, many families we serve have suffered from recent job loss, a lack of insurance benefits, and wavering financial security. Not to mention the pre-existing worry over medical decisions, mounting medical bills and strain from distant support systems.
Just like a family, RMHC is nothing without those who support us when we need it most. The Columbus Ronald McDonald House is, and always will be, committed to providing a steadfast source of hope for families. And our RMHC family is only strong because of the people who are a part of it.
Please consider sharing this link to your social media to spread our COVID-19 Response Fund. The women included here have more influence over our city than any of us can conceive.
We are thankful for you!
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio is committed to the health and well being of our community. Our team is working diligently to address concerns with the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). In an effort to maintain the safety of our community, we have suspended non-essential volunteer groups. In addition, many meal groups have cancelled or rescheduled for a later date. As you know, the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room are completely dependent upon volunteerism to operate.
In these challenging times, we are fortunate to have many people asking how they can help us at RMHC. If you are interested in helping us provide meals to guests of the Ronald McDonald House, please consider making a donation. To learn more about supporting the meal program, called Team Cuisine, please email Katherine.Becker@RMHC-CentralOhio.org. To make a financial donation to support our operations, please visit rmhc-centralohio.org/donation-form/.
In addition, RMHC of Central Ohio has postponed our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Handbag HULLABALOO! Dublin in compliance with Governor DeWine’s Executive Order. We will be working with our event committees to announce the rescheduled dates for those events as they become available.
Please know that we sincerely appreciate the support of our community, and look forward to the day that we can open our doors once again to volunteer groups.
RMHC of Central Ohio
We love to share notes of appreciation from our guests and past guests. This one came to us on Facebook giving praise to overnight family service manager Tammy Miller. Tammy has won several Family Service Manager of the Month” awards and is known to be part of the overnight super duo, including FSM Amanda Toth, who decorate the front desk area during holidays.
Just an appreciation post to give a HUGE shout out to Tammy last night (2-22-20). Our little Kipleigh was sick throwing up and just not feeling the best. Earlier, we had been in the office and Kip seen a unicorn. She loved it, but we didn’t get it. Whenever we came down at 11 pm, Tammy helped us get kips temperature and helped us while she was getting sick. Tammy got her a new blankie since she had gotten sick on her blanket from home. Then Tammy said she looked for the unicorn but it wasn’t there. The next morning, we were walking out of our guest room to find a unicorn just outside the door for our sweet girl and it’s safe to say that made Kip happy.
There is nothing better then seeing your child smile, especially over something someone didn’t have to do, but only did it out of the kindness of their heart.
Thank you, Tammy, for always making sure we have what we need and making our girl smile when she didn’t feel good. You are AWESOME!!
A very thankful mommy and daddy
Breanna and Brandon Neff💕
In about March 2018, I was asked to attend a “quilt guild” meeting with a friend I had recently met. I have sewn all my life but knew nothing of quilting and thought I had no interest. I mistakenly believed quilting to be all about making a bedspread. But, in an effort to honor my friend’s request, I agreed to go. I was absolutely enthralled with the “pictures made out of fabric” that I saw at that meeting. I knew this was something I must do. I bought a new sewing machine in May of 2018 and took off like a racehorse out of the gates.
My first quilts were a series of nursery rhyme scenes from my own original drawings. I hoped to sell them but figured I could give them to my grandchildren if they didn’t sell. Much to my surprise, when I showed them to the owner of a local children’s book store, she bought them all and asked me to make a few more. She hung them above the bookshelves in her store and they fit perfectly and look great. Then she asked me if I would make a quilt from a watercolor picture that her son had made for her. She wanted this quilt to be bigger so children could snuggle in it on the reading couch in the back of her store. I first spoke with the artist to ask permission because I want children to know that they have ownership of things that they create. I make a big deal out of this with every quilt I make. When I completed this quilt, which depicts a mouse saying “Please read”, I knew I had found a calling. This process combines my passion for children’s original artwork with my lifelong love of fabrics.
The children’s bookstore asked me to put business cards on their counter and I began to receive calls for quilts. One day I met a woman who asked me about my quilting. I will never forget her question to me after we had spoken just a few minutes. She said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use your talent to honor children who have died?” She told me that she had just lost her great nephew two weeks prior and that she had some of his last pieces of artwork. I was quite taken aback and told her I would think about that. My husband and I decided that we really did not need the money that a quilt business brings in, so……I contacted my new friend and said that, yes, I would make that quilt as a gift to her great nephew’s mother. At that point I began telling each family that there was a catch to this gift. When I brought them their quilt, they would need to refer me to another family that I could sew for. Not necessarily a family who had experienced loss but a family whose child was experiencing illness. This worked well but extremely slowly. I knew I could do much more. I mentioned this to a friend and she told me to contact the Ronald McDonald House so I did. It was a great decision because now I have access to many families that I can honor with a quilt.
I figure it takes me about 20 hours to make most of the quilts which measure about 3’ x 4’. This includes time for fabric shopping and a lot of staring at the original artwork. The most fun part of the process is deciding how to approach the project because the medium used makes different approaches necessary.
I make sure each family receives their quilt within a couple weeks. I have delivered nine quilts to Ronald McDonald families so far.
My very favorite comment was made by a father from Spain. He and his wife bring their two daughters to Columbus every three months for treatments. He pointed at the quilt I had made the girls and he said, “This is great reminder………of you………of here………of all”. That’s about when I lost it and I cried all the way home in the car. I think I would like those words printed on a plaque or something.
I do it because I love to do it. I love to get inside a child’s head as I analyze what they drew first and what later, or how they used the marker or paint brush. I love the honesty and the freedom and the charm of children’s artwork. I love to work with fabrics.
The culture of quilting seems to me to be about two things really: comfort and legacy. I hope that families find physical comfort snuggled under a quilt I have made. And I label each piece carefully so that when it’s found in a box, many generations from now, it will also serve as a legacy for the child that inspired it. I get more pleasure than I can describe from looking at children’s artwork and trying to recreate it. I am beyond honored to be a part of their stories.
I plan to continue to make these quilts indefinitely, as long as I am financially able. I use only quality materials and they are not inexpensive. It is my paying customers that allow me to continue to make gifts. As long as I can rustle up a few paying customers, I will make quilts for the families of Ronald McDonald House.
I have always been a person who goes after what they want; who makes things happen; that type of person. In my retirement years, I have been overcome with the feeling that it’s time to stop that; to just relax and see what comes to me. This new approach to life is working miraculously for me. Not one aspect of my quilt making has been my own idea. Each step has occurred because someone asked me to do something or encouraged me to do something. Two years ago I could not have imagined that I would be doing the things that I’m doing today and I’ve never been happier. As I said earlier, I am beyond honored to be a part of the Ronald McDonald House and the families that I sew for. Sincere thanks to all of you.
If you’re passion is your vegetable garden, you probably think of your garden even in the winter. Otherwise, most folks may not be thinking of gardening in February, even though it has been unusually warm during the start of the month. We here at the Ronald McDonald House, however, have been thinking of gardening because we’re excited about our a new garden – our garden – behind the House!
RMHC recently acquired older houses behind our main building and those structures had to be demolished because they were in terrible condition. “With two empty parcels now within our fenced area we wanted to beautify the space,” says our Volunteer Director, Kate Becker. So with the plan green-lit, and funding from a grant approved by Scott’s Miracle Gro via The Columbus Foundation, it was decided that the 8,000 square-foot space would become a garden full of tomatoes, herbs, beans, squash, broccoli and flowers.
“Our intention is that we will use the produce that we grow to help feed the families staying here,” Becker said. “Since we have a Chef on staff who is focused on creating healthy homemade meals for our families this was a perfect fit.”
Of course, it doesn’t just take money to make a garden happen, it takes gardeners. With help and enthusiasm for the prospect of a garden at our House, regular volunteer Bill Mount jumped at the opportunity to help get this piece of our new property growing. Mount is an experienced gardener with contacts in the world of community-gardening, so his help will be invaluable.
Stay tuned for updates about the garden as spring comes!
Groups from Cardinal Health volunteer on a regular basis at our Ronald McDonald House, giving more than a thousand hours of their time. The company supports our families in many ways. On January 29, the volunteers made lunch for our families and helped clean up our dining room. The organizer of the group, Michael Heller, knows the stress of having a child inpatient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, so he can relate to the parents staying with us. Christina Keegan has volunteered many times with Cardinal Health, but this is her first time volunteering at the House and loved the experience. Hear them talk about their experiences in a video tribute we’ve put together from the recent visit. You can watch the video by clicking the image below. Thanks to Cardinal Health and its employees for helping us keep families near their hospitalized children.
In its first five years, BobcaThon raised nearly $350,000 in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. But for the Ohio University students behind this year-long fundraiser that culminates in a 12-hour dance marathon, it’s the stories of courage and resilience from area residents served by the nonprofit that will echo throughout their lifetimes.
“There are moments of real emotion where we all kind of realize what the impact of this event is and how important all our work is,” said Maggie Wolf, BSC ’20.
An Ohio University senior, Wolf has participated in BobcaThon since her first year at OHIO and is serving as president of this year’s fundraiser, which will come to a close on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the BobcaThon 2020 12-hour dance marathon. The event is the pinnacle moment in a year-long campus- and community-wide quest to raise awareness for children with serious illness and their families as well as funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, which provides free housing, meals and other assistance to families of children in Columbus-area hospitals.
Wolf has seen the impact of the nonprofit’s work firsthand. A couple close to her stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while their son underwent cancer treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Sadly, the boy passed away last summer.
“That’s the connection I really feel now,” said Wolf, adding that stories like these are the reason BobcaThon exists and a big component of the dance marathon, during which families served by the Ronald McDonald House take the stage and share their experiences.
These stories, Wolf said, don’t always have happy endings, but they remind everyone how necessary their efforts are.
“A lot of the time it’s professors or administrators from the University who are telling these stories about their children,” Wolf said. “And even if you might not know the professor, it’s really eye-opening to see that they live right here in the community and are facing such a challenge.”
Coming off a record-setting year in which BobcaThon raised more than $110,000, the BobcaThon 2020 leadership team worked with advisers in the Ohio University Alumni Association to solicit some expert advice on how to sustain the fundraiser’s momentum. They consulted with an individual who has studied dance marathon fundraisers and who advised them, in light of their extraordinary success over the past five years, to focus their efforts more on awareness than dollars raised.
“We shifted our focus to outreach and trying to partner with as many student organizations as possible, so we could set ourselves up better for future fundraising,” Wolf said. “We added new positions to our team, so I think we grew in different aspects than just the dollar amount that everyone sees.”
Wolf said that organizers expect about 370 dancers to participate this year, 55 more than last year. Each BobcaThon participant has been asked to raise at least $100.
For the students who participate in BobcaThon, it’s an opportunity to make an impact on a community that most of them will only call home for a few years and a chance to see the power of their philanthropy in action.
For Wolf, her final BobcaThon will be bittersweet as the fundraiser has not only been a significant part of her OHIO experience, but one she will carry with her after she graduates.
“BobcaThon is what helped me secure my internship and made me passionate about nonprofits going forward,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about how to present myself in a professional way and how to lead my peers, which at first can be kind of awkward. And, being a part of BobcaThon has given me a chance to give back to a community that has given me the best four years.”
The sixth annual BobcaThon kicks off at noon on Feb. 15 in the Baker University Center Ballroom and ends at midnight when this year’s fundraising total will be announced. For information on how you can get involved in and support BobcaThon 2020, visit the BobcaThon Facebook page.
(MARYSVILLE, Ohio) – The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) BEST Program for youth ages 8-21 years hosted the BEST Celebrity Showdown at the Clark County Cattle Battle to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. The event was held on Friday, January 24, 2020, at the Champions Center in Springfield, Ohio. The Clark County Cattle Producers assisted in coordinating the event.
Youth who raised a minimum of $100 participated in this year’s community service project, dressed up their cattle and presented them to the celebrity judge, Erica Collura of Cincinnati 12 News. Through donations from family, friends, the community and members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, youth participating in the Celebrity Showdown raised $16,370. Additionally, a silent auction was held with numerous items selling to generous supporters that raised an additional $3,710 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. In total, the event raised $20,080, and contributions can continue to be made through May 2, 2020.
Incentive prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers at the OCA BEST Program Awards Banquet on May 2, 2020. Donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio will continue to be accepted after the Celebrity Showdown until the BEST Banquet. Anyone can donate conveniently online at https://www.ohiocattle.org/best/community-service. Donations can be attributed to a BEST participant’s name through the online donation form. Online contributions may be made through May 2, 2020 to be accredited to the BEST participant’s cumulative fundraising total for the year.
About Ohio Cattlemen’s Association BEST program
BEST is a youth program of the OCA that recognizes Ohio’s junior beef exhibitors through a series of shows. Juniors who participate in these sanctioned shows earn points for their placing at each show. The OCA BEST program promotes educating Ohio’s juniors about the beef industry’s issues and rewards the successful accomplishments and hard work of those junior beef producers.
About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio keep families together and near the medical care they need. Core RMHC programs — Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs — provide access to health care and enable family-centered care. For more information, visit www.rmhc-centralohio.org or call (614) 227-3700.
My name is Ashley Agle and one week ago was my first day as a Special Events Intern. I will be working alongside the Development Team to help execute the Handbag HULLABALOO!™ events in both Dublin and Powell. I discovered my passion for this mission during BobcaThon my freshman year. I knew from that moment I wanted to be more involved in BobcaThon and Ronald McDonald House Charities. I have spent the past two summers volunteering at the House in Akron and I have had three different positions on BobcaThon’s team. This year, I am a Co-Director of the Dance Marathon where my friend Dani and I are planning every minute of the big day. We are working on finalizing details because the Dance Marathon is just 24 short days away! Last year we raised $110,020.06 for the House and we are hoping to exceed that!
I am currently a senior studying Child and Family Studies. In a typical week, you will see me running all over campus. I am a proud Ohio University cheerleader where I get to cheer on the Bobcats at football games and men’s and women’s basketball games. I am a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity and I volunteer at various non-profits that highly impact the Athens community. I am also squeezing in as much time as I can with my friends before the bittersweet g-word happens… graduation. I have had a wonderful experience as a Bobcat!
I have dreamed of interning at the House and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Everyone has made me feel so welcomed and I look forward to every day I get to spend here. I am excited to make an impact on these families while learning as much as I can along the way!
Editor’s Note: You can support BobcaThon, which culminates with the big dance event on February 15 by clicking here. To learn more about Handbag HULLABALOO! sponsorship or tickets, click here for Dublin’s and click here for Powell’s.
For nearly two years, Paula Johnson Neal has been a volunteer at our Ronald McDonald House. She currently staffs our front desk on the first Sunday of every month and greets arriving visitors and families with her warm smile. The Sunday afternoon shift is typically the busiest check-in time for families. Professionally, Paula has worked as a teacher and preschool director for 25 years. She currently works at the YWCA of Columbus as the preschool director over the organization’s center serving children experiencing temporary homelessness. In addition to volunteering in her spare time, she enjoys zip lining and writing.
Her interest in serving children and families in their deepest times of need matches RMHC’s mission to create, find and support programs that directly improves the health and well-being of children and their families. Paula says witnessing families in distress can be heartbreaking, however, she believes the benefits of being a comforting resource outweigh it. “My employment and volunteer status reminds me that we never know what children and their families are going through. The importance of teaching kindness to all – especially children – needs to start early.”
This past June, Paula decided to combine her love of writing with her love of children by becoming a published author of a children’s book titled, “I’M GONNA HAVE A GOOD DAY!” As Paula describes it, “It’s is a multicultural children’s picture book that provides a window into a classroom involving a bully named Gabby. Gabby wants to have her kind of day at the expense of her classmates.” Fed up with Gabby’s words, “I’M GONNA HAVE A GOOD DAY,” not matching up with her actions, Gabby’s classmates take a stance. “The book’s cliffhanger provides an opportunity as a conversation starter for teachers and parents with children to discuss the importance of instilling and displaying kindness,” Paula says.
Paula points out that the urgency of the message this book carries during this critical time in our society can’t be understated. “This book is very important because children, as young as 4 years of age are experiencing some form of bullying type behavior in preschool, grade school and on the playground.” Paula goes on to say that, “Many may argue young children are learning how to socially and emotionally interact with their peers. Sadly, behaviors that are precursors to bullying and actual bullying do exist in many early childhood settings.” In addition, Paula adds, when consciously and unconsciously left unaddressed, rather than used as teachable moments, “children displaying precursor behavior and children on the receiving end may enter kindergarten socially-emotionally ill-prepared.”
Editor’s Note: Paula has chosen to further support the mission of the RMHC by donating a portion of the books proceeds during the month of January to RMHC of Central Ohio. Her book can be purchased on her website, paulajohnsonneal.com.