by Megan Koester
November is here – I’m not sure how that happened, but the clocks have been turned back, the weather has gotten brisk and the holidays are upon us. Growing up, this time of year was about traditions. We would always partake in hot chocolate, zoo lights, cutting the Christmas tree and volunteering.
As I grew older, the holidays started to feel more like to do lists and less like fun traditions – gifts to buy, food to prep, and places to be. That all changed three years ago when I began working at the Ronald McDonald House.
The stagers came to our House and put up decorations in each room on every floor to make this place feel like home. Community groups came to bake cookies and provide warm meals for the families. Church groups, families, corporations and friends took time together to collect and drop off items from our wish list. Families came together and gifted nights of rest for families instead of gifts for each other. It was amazing! The House was abuzz with people who have made time in their lives to help families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
Our families are dealing with the stress and reality of having their child in the hospital for the holidays. All of the sudden, their family traditions are put on hold and their lives are turned upside down. However, when those families come to the Ronald McDonald House for a night of rest, they are greeted by the sights and smells of home. It is truly amazing to watch our community come together to make this House a home for the holidays. They give so much of themselves to comfort the families at the Ronald McDonald House. It reminds me of the importance of traditions – the feeling of being together as a family and the spirit of the holidays.
This year will bring more traditions. We will continue our traditions with friends of the Ronald McDonald House as we make the holidays special for each of our families. It will also be the year that I begin a new set of traditions with my own family. This April, my husband and I welcomed Brady and Blake, our twin boys, into the world. We are already discussing the family traditions we want to create and the memories we want to share during the holidays. These past three years have reminded me to value our time together and to create traditions that will allow us to make the holiday spirit special in the lives of others. I am enjoying getting back to my roots and feeling the excitement November brings and the ways we make this season memorable.
by Mackenzie Schuler
It’s taken us a little bit of time to get here, but RMHC of Central Ohio has finally started a blog! The Ronald McDonald House serves as a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children. We serve families from all over—from Ohio, all over the United States, and even overseas. The majority of our families have children who are patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, but we serve families from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Mount Carmel, the OhioHealth system, and any other area hospitals. On average, families stay 8 nights at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, but families can be with us anywhere from 1 night to 2 ½ years. It is really important for us to make sure our families have all the amenities of home—from home-cooked meals to laundry to fun multi-purpose rooms, our House provides community, functionality, and relaxation for all our families.
My name is Mackenzie Schuler, and I am the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for RMHC of Central Ohio. There is something so unique about RMHC of Central Ohio—it is difficult to describe if you have never visited. From the first day I interviewed here, to each and every day when I walk through these doors, I feel very humbled and blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and giving people.
My story with how I got involved with RMHC of Central Ohio begins six years ago, when I was in my senior year of high school, two days after Thanksgiving. I am originally from Iowa, and my family is full of hunters. My grandpa Dave was out hunting in a tree stand on a cold Saturday evening, when the tree stand broke, and my grandpa fell 15 feet. He shattered all of the vertebrae in his spine, and his break was so severe, the doctors were worried he would not survive.
That Christmas was the most difficult holiday I have experienced so far in my life. We spent Christmas in the ICU with my grandma and the rest of my family. It was not only painful to see my grandpa hooked up to every machine imaginable, but it was heartbreaking to see my mom, aunt, and grandma in such a position—they were spending every night either at the hospital or at a hotel, miles away from the hospital. They were not eating, sleeping well, and not able to have any sense of normalcy during that difficult period of all of our lives. I wished more than anything my family could be together.
Even though my family did not utilize the Ronald McDonald House, I am so grateful for everything the organization provides to keep families together when they need it most. The families staying at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House are the most resilient people I have ever encountered in my life, and their strength reminds me daily that my bad days are incomparable to what they are experiencing.
My grandpa’s accident was the defining moment that helped set me up perfectly for my position with RMHC of Central Ohio—it opened my eyes and made me realize my passion in life is helping others in every capacity I can. His accident prepared me to be more empathetic in life. My grandpa Dave passed away the day I interviewed for my position at RMHC, and I have no doubt in my mind that was no coincidence. I hope I make him and the rest of my family proud every day, and in my mind, I believe I am.
I hope you find this blog to be encouraging, informative, and heartwarming. We hope you will all follow us on our journey to show how generous and kind our community truly is. Thanks for taking the time to read our first entry, and check back often to see what’s going on!