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When Columbus-based national retailer RG Barry decided to help families during the winter holidays, it was immediately clear that Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio was the perfect partner. RG Barry is best known for its cozy slipper line, Dearfoams, and we are eager to partner with them to bring extra comfort to our families staying at their home away from home this holiday season.
On November 7, Dearfoams kicked off its national “you buy one, we give one” Dearfoams Gives campaign at RMHC of Central Ohio by baking cookies and donating 2,000 slippers to our residents. Gathering around the fireplace in our lobby, mothers, fathers, grandparents and kids alike grabbed a new pair of slippers and chatted with RG Barry staff about their holiday traditions.
RG Barry’s Chief Marketing Officer Dana Seguin told us that they have long admired RMHC for the compassion and care we provide our residents. Seguin said RG Barry’s customers are eager to shop for a cause this holiday season, and they are excited for its customers to lead this donation campaign to a successful outcome.
Beginning November 13 and lasting through December 25, for each pair of slippers purchased on Dearfoams.com, Dearfoams will donate a pair of slippers – up to 50,000 pairs – to RMHC of Central Ohio. To date, Dearfoams has donated more than 6,300 slippers to our families. Visit Dearfoams.com/gives for more info and to shop for a cause this holiday season.
We could not be more appreciative of or excited by this partnership with RG Barry, as every bit of comfort and support makes a difference for our residents. We hope Dearfoams has a successful giving campaign so our families are provided with a little extra comfort this holiday season. A final tally of slippers donated will be announced during the first week of January.
Thank you for giving back, Dearfoams!
When news broke yesterday that Urban Meyer would be retiring, many in the Ronald McDonald House community wondered what that might mean for all of the support that he and his family provide for the families that use our services. The Meyers have been very involved with our Ronald McDonald House. Whether it’s been Coach Meyer appearing at our annual golf tournament dinner, coming to visit with families, or he and wife Shelley providing the big play room in the House, the Meyer’s involvement with RMHC of Central Ohio has been unwavering.
“One of my favorite memories while staying at the House was being able to meet Urban the day of the Urban Meyer room dedication,” said Gretchen Jolliff in a Facebook comment. She and her husband Kevin spent nearly 2 years at the House as their son, Cayden, received treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Dee Anders, CEO of RMHC of Central Ohio, told NBC4’s Ted Hart, “Hopefully, he’ll stay involved with the house” and in a comment on Facebook said, “Coach and Shelly words can not express our gratitude. You have made life so much better for many families in central Ohio. Hoping to see you even more at the RMH. Buckeyes forever!”
See the NBC4 news report which focused on the Meyer’s involvement with our House here:
Yesterday was a global day of giving known as #GivingTuesday. If you follow Ronald McDonald House Charities on any social networks, you probably saw our charity joining the chorus of requests for donations. We thank you so much for all of your contributions yesterday, and throughout the year. Without you, we would not be able to keep the doors open on the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. You know all of the money you donate to RMHC of Central Ohio goes directly toward keeping families close to their children when those children are getting medical attention in a Columbus hospital. These families come from all over the planet so some of the best doctors in the world can care for their little patients.
One such family allowed us to take pictures of them and use those pictures in our #GivingTuesday campaign. Ana, Gustavo and their daughters Marta & María are from Castellón, a city in eastern Spain. Two years ago, four-year-old Marta began to have epileptic seizures. What started as only epileptic seizures evolved, in the following months, to a cognitive, speech, sight, and motor impairment. After many doctors, innumerable tests and several hospitals, Marta was diagnosed in April of last year with a neurodegenerative genetic disease that has no cure. Marta’s dad, Gustavo explains, “Being genetic, we also had to test María, our youngest daughter, resulting in the same diagnosis. It was devastating. The world came upon us … But a ray of hope appeared in the same visit of María’s diagnosis. Our doctor had found a clinical trial for our daughters’ disease at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Our “JOURNEY TO HOPE” began.”
Gustavo and Ana started sending all the tests and documentation that they requested. And, finally, in March of this year the couple was told that the family could come to Columbus to undergo selection testing. “After two weeks of evaluation, they informed us that Marta was selected, but that María, due to a series of medical incompatibilities, wasn’t eligible,” Gustavo says. “In these moments we had mixed feelings, joy for Marta and disappointment and sadness for María. But we did not lose hope that María would also enter. The doctors proposed an alternative to the FDA for our young daughter and after six months, of many nerves and uncertainty, they answered positively.” He exclaimed, “Maria was also inside!!” Now, for two years, every three months, the family travels from Spain to the U.S. “We do not know the result of this treatment, but we hope to save our daughters’ lives,” Gustavo adds.
The family has stayed at our Ronald McDonald House three times. On two of those occasions, they stayed for two months. “We would like you to know that this house is not a hotel or a common hostel. It is something more… something special. You feel welcomed, comfortable and safe, something very important when you are with your children,” Gustavo says.
When asked what he would like the donors and volunteers who support the charity to know, Gustavo finishes with this: “Our most sincere thanks! At heart, there are no words to express all the good you do. Like us, here live many families with very, very difficult situations that tell stories of overcoming, courage and above all of hope. And that hope we keep, to a large extent, thanks to you. Being in a situation like ours, far from the family and our country, without this house we would have made everything much more difficult. To feel so many people who care about us without knowing us is a blessing. Many thanks!!”
When a child’s life is spent in and out of hospitals, the presence of family can make a world of difference. Togetherness for these families is nothing short of precious, but it’s not as simple as just being there. The best thing parents can provide is not just their physical presence, but stability and resolve in the face of hardship – which under the circumstances can be taxing to provide.
Stacy Woelfel, mother to 4-year-old Caroline Woelfel, knows this better than most. Along with her husband Kyle, Stacy makes the trek from their rural home to the hospital at least once a month so that their young daughter Caroline can receive routine medical care.
Born with a hole in her heart, 4-year-old Caroline suffers from several underlying conditions including chronic fatigue, autonomic dysfunction and the need for leg braces. As such, life never been quite normal for the Woelfels. Stacy and Kyle must be the rock Caroline needs, a task that is infinitely easier when they can be fully present for their daughter in mind, body and spirit. “We’re going through a lot,” said Stacy, “but we also have a lot of support.”
Much of this support has come in the form of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC®), an organization devoted to helping families like the Woelfels stay together and get the resources they need to cope and thrive. More than just a refuge, RMHC gave the Woelfels a place to stay, decompress and find solace near their daughter between those long trips to the hospital and back. It is a base they can return to without worrying about the logistics.
“Ronald McDonald House® is here so we can have our base, and be with our child,” Stacy said. “We have the freedom to come when we need to. It’s so important. Caroline will never be alone in this. Never.”
Support from charitable causes like RMHC helps to alleviate some of the intense emotional and financial toll families like the Woelfels experience. By providing housing and spaces near hospitalized children and covering the expenses of staying together in distant cities, RMHC provides critical stability and resources to those in need. Its impact is felt keenly every day by patients and their families — and made possible through the generosity of its donors.
Sick children need great care, without a doubt. But their families need it too, and it is this holistic notion of care for the whole family that RMHC has embedded into its mission.
In fact, an international survey of 530 hospital leaders with Ronald McDonald House program affiliations found that most leaders believed that caring for the whole family contributes to better outcomes for pediatric patients. The Ronald McDonald House allows families to get this care through better sleep, reduced feelings of isolation and assistance with food and transportation.
Ronald McDonald House Charities, which operates in more than 64 countries and regions with over 360 local Ronald McDonald House programs, delivers on this promise every day. Along with its other core programs, RMHC saved families over $880 million in out-of-pocket lodging and meal expenses in 2017 alone.
For families like the Woelfels, support from RMHC manifests as much more than a monetary savings. “Caroline calls [the House] her ‘safe place’ where she knows she won’t be poked and prodded,” Stacy said. “The staff gives her high-fives and encouragement as we head to the hospital. And then she comes back and tells them how she was so brave.”
The Woelfels don’t take time together for granted, and neither do the Jolivards, another family that has received support from RMHC.
When doctors told Daniel Jolivard’s parents he needed a bone marrow transplant, he was put on hospice care immediately. After his transplant, Daniel’s father Junior took him to his appointments, hours from their home, while his mother Rachel stayed back and worked, unable to be present for her son.
“We were soon introduced to the Ronald McDonald House just across the street from the hospital where we could all be together on weekends and holidays,” Rachel said. “Despite ongoing struggles or even the roughest of days, when we are with each other, there’s always happiness.”
In addition to its convenience, Ronald McDonald House has become a valuable support network, Rachel explained: “The other families in the House have become a part of our own family, giving that much more support for Daniel as he battles back.” RMHC also has given Daniel the opportunity to spend more time with his brother, always a cause for celebration. “Nothing else matters when I see the boys’ smiles and excitement in being together,” Rachel said.
Alongside its Ronald McDonald House programs, RMHC has over 240 Ronald McDonald Family Room® programs: comfortable, functional spaces in hospitals where families can rest and regroup during hospital visits.
Since its start in 1974, RMHC has assisted kids and their families, today with the support of 508,788 volunteers. Its work also extends beyond hospitals to help children in vulnerable communities, where over 50 Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® programs provide medical and dental care.
Daniel and Caroline represent just two of the millions of children and families helped every day by RMHC. But the organization can’t do it alone; their life-changing programs depend on donations large and small which fund these initiatives directly.
On days like Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday and Christmas, times when extra emphasis is placed on generosity and togetherness, donors to Ronald McDonald House Charities can be confident in their impact on real families like the Woelfels and Jolivards. 87 cents of every dollar spent by the global office of RMHC is used to fund RMHC programs in local communities across the globe. 90% of the top children’s hospitals in the world provide access to one or more RMHC programs, which, a strong majority of hospital administrators agree, play a significant role for families.
The combined impact of many small gifts from compassionate donors has brought about tangible returns. “Donors who have supported our stay at the House have given [my family] peace, comfort, joy, courage and strength,” Rachel Jolivard said. “I cannot think of anything more important than being by my son’s side to help him fight, to comfort him and to celebrate those special moments and small victories.”
Whether it’s for Giving Tuesday, the holidays or in memory of a loved one, charitable donations help families stay together in the spirit of the season. What’s more, year-end gifts come with the added bonus of tax savings. Those that give and itemize their donations before December 31 will receive a deduction if eligible come Tax Day 2019.
For Stacy and Caroline Woelfel, RMHC donations represent the hope and happiness shared by families every day, even in the face of great uncertainty. “We don’t know what the future holds,” Stacy said. “To be together now, in this moment, is everything.”
In the end, kids like Caroline and Daniel need many things to battle their illnesses, but the steadfast presence of their families will always top this list. With togetherness, the rest can follow.
Give the gift of togetherness to families in need by donating to Ronald McDonald House Charities today.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA Today Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
Some call her “the banner lady,” but family members staying in the Ronald McDonald House come to know her as Fran. Fran Green has been helping family members staying at the House make banners just about every Wednesday night for more than three years now. She’s been sharing her special talent, as well as lending an ear to hear all about what’s going on in the lives of these families and what brings them to a hospital in Columbus.
This mid-week activity takes place at dinner time in the House. Fran sets up all of the supplies and lays out all of the colorful choices of paper just before families begin to arrive in the dining room. With the help of her special machine that can create all kinds of shapes and designs out of construction paper, Fran has been bringing a little cheer to the lives of children having to go through medical treatment, their siblings, parents, and other family members who’ve stayed at the House. With her banners, Fran shares hope and strings together memories that can last long after a family’s visit to a central Ohio hospital. Sometimes Fran even helps guests staying at the House make greeting cards too. Often times, those cards are donated to the House so other family members and children seeking care might get a greeting card on a notable occasion while staying in the House.
Tonight, Fran celebrated her own special occasion at her usual spot for banner making in the dining room at the House. It was her 60th birthday today and she celebrated it with a big birthday cake, surrounded by kids staying at the House. She says, there’s no other place she’d rather be on this night. Thank you, Fran, for all you do for our families. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
When ever possible, Fran takes pictures of guests with their finished banners. You can check out those pictures on the Facebook page she set up just for her family activity at the House by clicking here. If you have a special talent or skill that you would like share with families staying at our Ronald McDonald House, click here to apply to volunteer.
2018 has been a special year at RMHC of Central Ohio. Because of the endless support of our community, we have been recognized with six different prestigious awards. Ranging from local to global recognition, each of these awards highlights the impact that RMHC of Central Ohio is making each and every day to keep families together while their child is being treated in the hospital. The awards include:
Thank you for all that you do to support our mission!
When Connie McKinney had a baby in Southern California more than two years ago, she suddenly found herself and her newborn on a flight to Ohio, a state she had never been to before. She’s been staying at the Ronald McDonald House ever since then. Click here to hear her story.
Room #204 here at The Ronald McDonald House was rededicated Monday in honor of National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Emmanuel “Manny” Kidd. Members of the Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate School raise funds every year to continue sponsorship of the room in memory of Chief Kidd. Kidd was part of a group from the National Guard that had come to the House to make a meal in 2014. He died of cancer in 2015 and, that same year, the warrant corp sponsored a guest room here at Ronald McDonald House in honor of Kidd. The room is about $1,200 short of being sponsored by the group permanently, so during the re-dedication ceremony, Major General John C. Harris, Jr. – the highest ranking officer in the Ohio National Guard – announced he was pledging to contribute that amount to make sure the room is permanently dedicated to Chief Kidd. Thanks to members of the 147th RTI and Major General Harris for supporting this initiative. Click below to see pictures from the re-dedication ceremony and hear why Harris wanted to personally help make sure the room would always be dedicated to Kidd.
Our Housewarmers are the ‘heart’ of our House. These volunteers greet families and familiarize them with the House; receive visitors and donors to the House; restock and finish the cleaning of rooms; laundry, re-stock supplies; kitchen restocking/cleaning after meal groups, front desk coverage, assist with special project events.
But here’s how once such volunteer, Erin Kelty, describes her role:
“Have you ever spent a day (or more) on the road or in a plane, lugging heavy bags and possibly a few cranky kids, navigating through an unfamiliar city, before finally arriving, exhausted, at your destination? You check into your hotel, enter your room, sink onto the bed, and feel that sense of, “Ahhh, we made it.” Or maybe you’ve had the opposite reaction on opening the door, a feeling of “Well, I guess we’ll make it work…” as you look around at your accommodations. As a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, I get to help make sure that every family that walks through our door receives a feeling of relief and welcome. Because our families aren’t here on vacation. They’re far from home, seeking treatment for their ill children, and they deserve the best experience possible while they’re here.”
She adds, “Volunteers and staff at RMHC work together to make sure our families have clean, pleasant rooms, nutritious meals and snacks, places to gather and play, and a warm smile at every turn. Knowing that my efforts help provide comfort and relief to the families here makes volunteering very rewarding.”
Erin volunteers as a Housewarmer three days a week. She has more than 280 hours of service since she started volunteering 7 months ago. She trains new volunteers, represents RMHC at offsite events, leads volunteer groups and always has a positive attitude.
On October 15, RMHC® (Ronald McDonald House Charities®) Chapters around the world share our mission and grow awareness of our largest on-going fundraiser – RMHC Donation Boxes in McDonald’s® restaurants. On this “Day of Change,” we observe the anniversary of the charity by encouraging you to visit Central Ohio McDonald’s restaurants and drop your spare change in our Donation Boxes. We will also use this day to thank restaurant employees and share how their reminders to customers that their change can support families and children going through a rough time.
The very first Ronald McDonald House® opened in Philadelphia, PA on October 15, 1974. Today, there are over 364 Ronald McDonald Houses and over 237 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms around the world where families with sick children can stay close when they must travel far for their child’s medical care. Our House is the largest among them and we now have our first Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
As our founding mission partner, McDonald’s is committed to using their scale for good, and a great example of this is the impact from Donation Boxes in restaurants around the world. Last year, over $52 Million was donated to RMHC by McDonald’s customers through Donation Boxes alone. This allowed Chapters to provide approximately 650,000 overnight stays to families, as well as provide them meals, comfort and support. Locally, we were able to provide 2,175 overnight stays from more than $174,000 in your spare change that we received in Donation Boxes last year!
Thank you for thinking of our families each time you go up to the counter or go through a drive-thru at a McDonald’s restaurant in Central Ohio and drop your spare change in our donations boxes. Our families are grateful for your consideration.