- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Get Involved
- Ways to Give
- News & Events
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.
The 15th Annual Sporting Clays Tournament last weekend was a record-breaking fundraiser for us bringing in more than $200,000!
What does it take to put on this event, one of the biggest fundraisers for our charity? Planning begins the moment the previous sporting clays tournament ends. When the weekend of the big event arrives, it all starts at 4 a.m. Friday morning and doesn’t stop until a full clean up late Saturday. In a text thanking staff & volunteers, Senior Development Director Jamie Foltz, listed off all it took to get the event off with a bang: “From the 4 a.m. ice runs by the morning crew, the road trips to Urbana with 350 egg McMuffins in tow, to scheduling 30 pros, 50-plus volunteers and 70-plus teams to getting 250-plus auction packages donated and working that tent hard to get bidders and wine sales, to rearranging & cleaning carts, the managing and safekeeping of more than $20,000 in equipment, to being responsible for all that cash we raise each day, you guys make it all work.” Foltz then added, “And let’s not forget the raffle donations that helped us raise over $18,000 and those matching gifts that got us to $25,000 in donations! I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for each of you.” Special thanks is also given to the event partner, Kids & Clays, as well as Texas de Brazil for an impressive lunch.
Of course, all of this wouldn’t matter if not for the donations and those who buy the tickets to attend the event. Those proceeds all go toward keeping families together in a time of need.
The saying goes, “Families that play together, stay together.” When a child is injured or sick, we say, “My child’s hurting, so I’m hurting.”
Parents know that quality family time helps to build strong relationships among the members of the family. Every year, National Family Day is celebrated on September 26 to celebrate investment in spending time together as a family. When most people think of family, they think of the people who are tied to them by marriage or blood, but the definition of family has evolved over time. These days, anyone who shows deep altruistic love and support for another, may be considered a member of the family. On this day, we’re encouraged to spend time with those we consider to be family by cooking or sharing a meal together, playing a game together, or just taking a moment to connect with one another. The advance of technology allows instant connection through mobile devices with texting and video calls, not to mention social media. So we all like to think we’re tuned in to what’s going on in the lives of our family members all the time. But even with that kind of technology, there’s still a barrier of distance. You can get much more from communication with a loved one, beyond sight and sound, when you’re literally sharing the same space.
Here at the Ronald McDonald House, we know that in-person connection is especially important when a child is sick or injured and is getting medical attention. Research shows having family there when a child is dealing with a health concern can help the patient – and the patient’s medical staff – during a great time of need.* Our family is our support network, and in usual circumstances, simply gathering with family members for quality family time can help lead to positive and healthy choices. Sharing time, whether through meals or activities, has been shown to lower the risk of unresolved family conflict. The benefits of gathering regularly with family can really become evident when a family is suddenly thrown into the midst of a young member’s health crisis. When a child is admitted into a hospital, the bonding that’s developed during past family activities becomes even more important.
So we encourage you to spend some time together with your family members today. Build those relationships within your family. The stronger those relationships, the better the support when it’s really needed.
The numbers are in, and this past summer’s 32nd Annual RMHC Joe Mortellaro Golf Classic was the most successful ever, bringing in nearly $400,000. Sponsors Motorists Insurance & Grange Insurance deserve a lot of credit for their huge support of this event. This is the largest fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio bringing together hundreds of golfers at four area courses. If it wasn’t for the generous support from our golfers, corporate partners, donors, and volunteers, we would not be able to continue keeping families close here at the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. We wouldn’t be able to give families a place to rest and recharge at The Ronald McDonald Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. And we wouldn’t be able to provide traveling check-up clinics through our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. So, on behalf of our Board of Trustees, event chairs, staff, and the families we serve, thank you to all who helped make this year’s past golf classic, the best yet! Check out this video below capsulizing this big fun day!
Thank you to Brooke Mendoza for creating this video.
Eight-year-old Matthew Offers is a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. So imagine his surprise when head football coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley walked into his room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to visit him this past Saturday. The Offers family is from Licking County and often stays at The Ronald McDonald House here in Columbus. Matthew was born with congenital heart disease and has spent much of his young life in Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The family was staying at the House this past weekend when Matthew’s dad got a call on his cell phone from a phone number he recognized as a Dublin area phone number. Matt Offers says he recognized the prefix to the phone number because he’s an employee of Cardinal Health, which is headquartered in Dublin. He thought it was work calling. But it was Coach Meyer asking if he and his wife could make a visit to Matthew in the hospital. WCMH-TV reporter Dan Pearlman came to the House to interview Matt & Heather Offers about the visit. You can watch Pearlman’s report here.
At the Ronald McDonald House Charities International Conference late last week, the RMHC global organization awarded ten RMHC chapters from around the world with the prestigious “Hearts and Hands Award,” which is accompanied by a generous $20,000 grant to the winning chapters. RMHC of Central Ohio was honored for the Team Cuisine program, highlighting the McDonald’s food donation program. We’re honored to be recipients of this prestigious award for such a unique program considered to be a role model for RMHC chapters across the globe. What follows is the award-winning submission prepared by our team which explains how this innovative program works to help feed our families, save food resources, and save money:
What happens when you combine the heart of the Ronald McDonald House, the expertise of a world-class chef, generous volunteers from throughout the community, and an innovative opportunity to cut food waste and benefit families from our partners at McDonald’s? In Columbus, Ohio, we call it Team Cuisine – and it’s magical. From the beginnings of the Ronald McDonald House movement, providing stress relief for the families of seriously-ill children has been our goal. What better way to reduce stress than by providing excellent, healthy, delicious food for our guests at no cost to them?
Last year, our team learned that owner/operators of McDonald’s restaurants in the area could choose to freeze and preserve food that they could no longer serve for the purpose of donating it to eligible local charities. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to pair our expertise in hospitality with the food expertise of McDonald’s. Recent statistics show that over 30% of food in the U.S. goes to waste. We saw a chance to be a change-agent in regard to that statistic and created a pilot program to put that food to work for families at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. But before getting into that, let’s look at how the meal program grew at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
In 2014, our building expanded to a massive 137 guest room facility, able to accommodate hundreds of people each day. With that expansion, we collaborated with local commercial kitchen experts to build a new state-of-the-art volunteer kitchen that could serve families cafeteria-style. But something unique started to happen. We noticed meal options were limited, and our guests were eating very similar meals each day. We believed we could do better. So, our leadership put together a plan to improve the RMHC meal program. After piloting a program with two contracted chefs, and receiving tremendously positive feedback, we decided to hire a full-time chef. In order to accomplish this, this new program, Team Cuisine, would take the ingredient purchases out of the hands of the volunteers. Now, they could make a donation of $350 for breakfast or lunch, and $450 for dinner, rather than shopping themselves. We launched this new program to tremendous fanfare on January 1. And to make it even better, our development team was able to secure a sponsorship of the program by Alliance Data Systems to the tune of $50,000.
To lead this new program, we tapped Chef Blair, a highly-experienced food services professional from The Ohio State University and a volunteer at the House. Her experience in high-volume cooking, paired with her love for the mission of RMHC, made her uniquely qualified for the job. And she has been a hit. Working full time, her energy and passion for the House has helped us to grow our relationships with corporations in the community. And with her buying expertise, we have dramatically decreased the cost of ingredients for our meals. Our team is currently spending less than $150 per breakfast and lunch, and less than $200 per dinner, providing over 350 meals each and every day that are healthy and with great variety. This includes more fruits and vegetables, and fewer carbs and sugars. We are also now able to provide more protein – which is where our friends at McDonald’s come in.
After learning that McDonald’s was able to put good food to good use and donate unused protein, we had an idea – use it for Team Cuisine meals at the Ronald McDonald House. One of our local owner/operators loved the idea and agreed to participate to help reduce our budget and provide a great outlet to give good food a second life. Now, twice per week, volunteers from the House visit a local McDonald’s to pick up fish, sausage, hamburger patties, chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, crispy chicken and more. We are currently receiving 25 to 50 pounds of protein twice per week. Needless to say, this has been a welcome addition to our offerings. It has been put to use in a very unique way. For instance, Chef Blair recently made delicious fish tacos using Filet-O-Fish that was donated. She also made chicken parmesan that would rival any meal from the best local establishments using McDonald’s Crispy Chicken. She even created Mexican chicken bowls and chicken tostadas using protein from McDonald’s. This has been an amazing relationship builder with the McDonald’s owner/operators and crew members, and they are full of pride knowing that this food is being put to use for our guest families.
Now corporations, community groups, and others who are looking for team building opportunities have a program at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. With their minimal investment of financial resources, groups are given the unique opportunity to work with a talented Chef, learning the culinary arts. Teams work together to make restaurant-quality food, and it’s a lot of fun. But most of all, they are making a tremendous impact on the lives of children and families from around the world staying at our House.
This year alone, 240 groups will participate in the Team Cuisine program at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. This is leading our charge to build strong partnerships with corporations in the community, and is leading directly to greater investment in RMHC of Central Ohio related to financial support and volunteerism. And the best part is that guests at the Ronald McDonald House are thrilled with the meals that they are now being provided, at no cost to them. The meals are consistently nutritious, full of variety, and delicious to eat.
Last year, RMHC of Central Ohio provided 112,500 meals. The impact of this program is vast and growing. With the leadership of Chef Blair, our Team Cuisine program stands to not only increase the number of meals provided, but healthy and varied meals, all while helping to eliminate food waste.
Here in Argentina it works as well. There is the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, the Dr. Humberto Notti de Mendoza hospital, the Hospital de Niños de la Santísima Trinidad de Córdoba, and the Dr Jose Penna de Bahia Blanca Hospital. They help, within and outside the country of Argentina, a great number of children with cancer diagnoses and other complex diseases.
Thank you from my heart! There is no price for what you do.
Jose Pissoni Family
When David Beckham first toured the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, and saw all of the specialty rooms and amenities available for families with children in area hospitals, he says he “fell in love with the community ‘feel’ and services provided” right away. But the parts that really made him fall in love with the House were the kitchen and family dining areas. That’s when he says he knew he wanted to bring his culinary talents to the table at RMHC of Central Ohio where he contracts with the House to help groups make meals. Now, we don’t want you to think the retired soccer superstar by the same name somehow found himself in Columbus, took a tour of the House, and decided to guide volunteer groups in making meals. Although that David Beckham is known to be quite a health foodie (and is reportedly in talks with The Food Network to be the channel’s newest celebrity chef), that’s not the David Beckham that we’re talking about here.
Our David Beckham might be considered more down-to-earth and many in Central Ohio know him as “being your food guy.” Chef David, as he’s known in our House, has always had a passion for connecting people with, as he puts it, “the real food that they don’t know they love yet.” He adds, “You’ll be surprised at how delicious real food can be, especially after you discover what you love.” He’s known around here for striking up a conversation with family members in the kitchen area to talk about food. In fact, he’s been overheard asking a kid about a particular healthy food and getting a “YUCK” for a reaction, and then getting an expression of pleasant surprise from that same kid after a sample of the concoction David’s made has been tasted. “I try to showcase all my love for culinary arts to each person that is staying at the House,” he says.
In addition to his culinary creations here at our Ronald McDonald House, Beckham is the founder of a personal chef delivery system called Simply Beckham, based in Columbus, which offers in-home delivery especially for weight loss, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pescatarian, gluten free, or special allergy diets.
So, although you won’t find our David Beckham talking soccer while stirring up trouble on a TV food reality show any time soon, you and your friends might just find yourself under his guidance when you sign up to make a meal here at The Ronald McDonald House. To sign up your family, group of friends, work team, or organization to make a meal through our Team Cuisine program, click here or email Meika.Hilles@rmhc-centralohio.org.
As many of you may know, we have a full calendar of family activities here at The Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. Usually, there’s something for families to do every day at the House. Sometimes siblings and patients have a little down time from the hospital or just need to do something to take their minds off of medical stuff for a moment. Some activities are geared toward the entire family. Some are meant for just the kids. It’s all thanks to volunteers who might have a special skill or talent that they can share to those family members who might be interested.
Most Thursday afternoons, you can find “Jack the Woodcarver” set-up somewhere in the House dining room with a stack of plywood and a variety of carving tools. If they didn’t hear the announcement, some folks walking by might think he’s working on some sort of maintenance project. But Jack Paese (as others might know him) is volunteering his time to carve images of beloved cartoon characters onto these slabs of plywood for children who staying in the House and happen to be around at that time.
Every week Jack takes the time to trace a variety of cartoon characters from coloring books onto individual pieces of plywood with pencil. He then brings a variety of them with him when he sets up in the dining room. When an announcement is made over the intercom in the building that Jack is in the House, children come to choose which cartoon character they want him to carve for them. Then Jack gets to work doing the methodical task of following his outlines until he has a finished product for the child. Sometimes the kids will add to the work of art by coloring in the character with crayons.
Jack has known about RMHC of Central Ohio for a while now and he started volunteering his time and talents a few years ago when one of his friends from a wood carving club brought Jack with him to the House. He enjoyed his first experience here so much, he decided to keep coming back and sharing his talents. And now, he does it every Thursday.
Jack said his favorite part about coming to the House is getting the opportunity to meet kids as well as their families.
If you, your family, your friends, co-workers, or fellow organization members would be interested in volunteering to host a family activity at the house, click here for more information and to fill out a form to be considered for your own family activity event!