Any family that has had the unfortunate experience of having to get their young patient to a Columbus hospital during the holidays, and had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House instead of being home, knows about what’s known as Santa’s Workshop inside the House. Thanks to generous donors in our community, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio finds it’s basement storage area filled with toys & gifts from these special elves for family members of all ages during the holidays every year. Santa’s gifts for babies & kids are made available for parents to choose from in one of our large common rooms that’s closed off for parents to shop for their children privately and, of course, without charge. It’s one of the ways RMHC tries to alleviate the stress of being away from home while a family’s child get’s the care they need. This year, the pandemic has made this workshop even more necessary, to avoid having to risk making a trip to a store or waiting for a package to arrive.
Stephanie Stanavich of WBNS 10-TV reported on one family’s recent experience with Santa’s Workshop. Click the image below to watch the story as it aired Christmas Day, after a brief ad.
In a year that many would, perhaps, like to forget, a few bright moments stand out. For our Ronald McDonald House, much of that brightness is the gleam of light shining off the new equipment in our Columbus Crew exercise room. For Columbus, the light comes from the shiny 2020 Major League Soccer Cup that now belongs to The Crew. After the team played its 25th and last season at MAPFRE Stadium, they were able to bring home their second MLS Cup win. That stadium will now be the site of The Crew’s practice facility as the city readies for the opening of the team’s brand new stadium downtown this coming summer.
It’s a great comeback from a major league sports franchise that almost left the city a few years back. A campaign by Crew fans to keep the Crew in Columbus worked. So it seems the Crew players & community have the same perseverance as many of our families. This year has been especially challenging. COVID-19 almost canceling the soccer season. The team managed to get a 9-1-3 record, and tough-out major injuries on some players in September & October, but winning only once in seven games. Then, when the playoffs started, eight players tested positive for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the Columbus Crew organization was committed to making sure our families stayed as healthy as possible while staying at the House. It had been 5 years since the workout room had originally been decked out in black & gold by The Crew and supplied with new equipment. This past week’s $10,000 renovation was made possible by The Crew, MLS Works (Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform, & Major League Soccer itself with an assist from MLS community partner, AT&T. Our own craftsmen volunteers were happy to put muscle into the assembly of much of the new equipment just before the revealing of the renewed room.
The reimagined space had a mini-celebration last Thursday – the eve of the eve of the MLS Cup game – with former MLS Cup Champion and MLS Great Frankie Hejduk, along with Crew Cat (Crew SC’s club mascot), onsite to surprise two families staying at our House. The special moment also featured virtual greetings by Crew stars Gyasi Zardes in addition to the team’s Chief Business Officer and EVP, Steve Lyons and a lunch provides by MLS Works for all families in the House. It was a fun celebration for the two families who were able to see the new improved exercise room first, even if none of the players could be there.
It was announced later that day that two more players – a couple of the team’s best – had tested positive for COVID-19 and wouldn’t be able to be in the MLS Cup. And yet, last Saturday, with all those odds against the Crew, they pulled out a 3-0 win over Seattle, the current MLS Cup holders. Before leaving the celebration, Hejduk promised a couple of families that he would bring the cup here to the House! We’re not sure if he was joking, but our families have sunglasses ready to see the sunshine reflected off that cup in person!
When the year comes to a close, often times people and businesses are looking for tax deductions. One of our board members made an excellent suggestion in a recent Fleet Management Weekly article. You might be asking, “What does fleet management have to do with keeping families together as their child gets medical attention?” Read the article at the link below and share the article with those you know who are in charge of fleet vehicles. A donation of a car, truck, tractor, motorcycle, boat, etc. could provide nights of rest for our families.
“You can stay as long as you need,” the friendly faces told us. This is what we remember so very clearly that first time we stepped into the Ronald McDonald House. It was bright, alive, and with a smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. We barely understood any of the many directions about rooms, meals and wristbands, but what we did hear – and feel – was a warm welcome.
Earlier that week in November 2016, our full-term baby stopped moving in my belly. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, our son was delivered through a traumatic emergency C-section. He was born almost dead; he had a very faint heartbeat but after nine minutes of resuscitation efforts, the medical team got it beating at a normal speed again.
On full life support, he was flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and immediately given the “cooling treatment.” The brain can more easily heal while the other parts of the body cool into a dormant state. Doctors say they learned this from studying children who fall through ice and are brought back to life. Our unconscious newborn stayed like this for three days before being warmed up.
After he was warmed, it was very touch-and-go for about two weeks. He was on a respirator, in a drug-induced coma, and completely still and silent. We didn’t see him open his eyes or hear any cries. We didn’t know if he was going to make it. We heard predictions like “brain dead” and “blind” and perhaps not being able to breathe or eat on his own.
Yet, he made a miraculous recovery. He came to life again. He opened his eyes, started breathing room air, and even sucked a pacifier. Our son – Isidoro – was reborn.
Isidoro stayed in the NICU for one month until he was strong enough to go home. Having a place to rest and recover from childbirth, cry, and just be when your newborn is in the NICU is an unspeakable blessing. Trauma is very debilitating but everything about the Ronald McDonald House made it less so. When he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy months later, we realized life was going to be woven with frequent visits to Nationwide Children’s. That’s when we fully recognized what an even more amazing home RMH is.
Yes, the House has a bed and a shower. But it is so, so much more. It has been there during unexpected and unfortunate hospital stays beyond the NICU. More importantly, it’s allowed us to stay in our beloved community and not pack up and move to be next to the hospital. The House has been a home-away-from-home. We can cluster follow-up visits over a few days while staying at the House rather than drive back and forth constantly with a child who has to miss meals and naps due to the long car ride. Also, our son has had the opportunity to enroll in weeks-long intensive therapy sessions which would be impossible without a place to stay. We’ve seen bursts of development afterward. Without a doubt, I can say the presence of the house has led to better outcomes for our son. Now that Isidoro is a toddler, he loves the toy room, the splash pad, and the therapy dogs. The hospital isn’t something now to dread but actually look forward to.
Finally, there is the untold blessing whether a family is there one night or 1,000 nights: the built-in support group that comes when moms and dad from all across the globe are gathered under one roof to care for their sick children. Parents of kids with special needs often feel alone and isolated. At RMH, we don’t feel that. There is comradery, empathy, and understanding from those around us not felt anywhere else. What a relief to be among parents who get it.
As we reflect on this past year, it’s painful to think about all that’s transpired. Our son had some setbacks early in 2020 and then the coronavirus came. The global pandemic has created and unearthed uncountable needs for families: food security, rent assistance, racial justice, health care, natural disaster relief, and the numerous other needs from crises facing our nation and our world. The need is great. How does one choose where to give?
I think what is unique about the Ronald McDonald House is that it addresses so many of these needs under one roof. As we’ve seen with COVID-19, illness is rarely discriminatory. Sick children are born every day to parents of all walks of life. And the Ronald McDonald House takes in each and every one of those parents – all skin colors, all income levels, all political parties, all religious beliefs, all geographical locations. And it has kept doing so despite the pandemic. Next to me in the dining area there have been fully-covered Saudi women, Amish men in their straw hats, a school teacher from rural China, and a veteran from West Virginia, all there together because of our children’s medical fragility. We are able to be there together because of one simple act of kindness – a gift to the Ronald McDonald House. Please consider making your gift this year.
The Korpi Family
Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently celebrated six months of serving children needing mental health care at its Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion. The Ronald McDonald Family Room is celebrating three months of serving families of those patients, having opened on the fifth floor of the BHP on September 15. In the short time that this important family resource has been available, families have expressed to us their thankfulness for the family room. We would like to share with you one of those
Abigail Brumme often greets those family members when she’s working at the front desk in the room. Here, she shares some of the moments family members have expressed gratitude for our family room.
Abigail Brumme writes, “I stopped at the [Ronald McDonald] House today before heading to the BHP [Ronald McDonald Family Room] to load up on some needed items.” She gives credit to Lulani Gualberto, one of our volunteer coordinators, for what happened next. “It ended up being the perfect time because Lulani had made some fresh bagel chips so I grabbed a few bags to bring to the family room. A dad stopped in the room and told me how thankful he is for the snacks we have. I told him about the bagel chips and he said “Something homemade?! You know I have to try it!”. He said they were delicious and was so excited about a freshly made snack. Something as “simple” as something homemade/fresh can bring a moment of happiness. When being away from home for your child’s care, it’s the things like this we get to offer to make a difference for every family we serve.”
Abigail concludes, “Lulani, thank you for making the delicious bagel chips! You definitely made that dads day a bit brighter.”
Another shared moment from Abigail involves the grandmother of a patient at the BHP who struck up a conversation with Abigail as the woman’s daughter and granddaughter were going through the check-in process elsewhere in the building.
“She came up to the desk and asked me if I wanted to see a cute video one of her other children/grandchildren sent her,” Abigail notes. “It was a video of her other daughter and two year old daughter singing “Skinnamarink a Dink a Dink” which I hadn’t heard in SO long. The grandma was in tears about how much it meant to her that they sent them the video of encouragement. Which was a reminder to me of how important the little things are really such big things in life – like the moments we get to create at work for the families where we probably don’t even realize the impact it has on people.”
This comment was just this past week: “There is a mom that has been using the BHP Family Room to shower since her kiddo has been inpatient for a week now. When she was leaving the room today she asked me if there was a way to donate to the Ronald McDonald House because in her words “This room has been a life saver. It almost feels like I’m home.” Those words were the sweetest reminder that we’re all doing what this organization was created to do.”
Abigail, we’re thankful for you sharing these moments that show the difference we’re making at the BHP.
My name is Kenna Scaife and I recently started as a Development Associate here at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. I will be working on Paint The Town Center Red and the Dublin and Fall Handbag HULLABALOO!™ events.
When I was in High School, I was introduced to The Ronald McDonald House through a club called Club Hope. The club’s mission is to raise awareness for childhood cancer through various fundraising events and volunteering for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I loved all the work the club was doing so I decided to run for president! I was president of Club Hope for two years and throughout my time, we would make blankets, wrap Christmas presents, and serve dinner at the house. Once I was able to come to the house myself and take a tour, I knew that I wanted to work here some day!
I went to college at Ohio University. Go Bobcats! I graduated in 2019 with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Public and Environmental Health. After graduation, I landed a job with The Muscular Dystrophy Association. I was the lead on their event Muscle Walk and had a hand in numerous other events. I loved every moment of my job with MDA and cherish all the relationships I built with the families. My journey has now led me to the wonderful Ronald McDonald House and I am so excited to get started with planning events! I have always hoped that I would end up working here and I am so grateful the opportunity presented itself! Working in the house and seeing all the families motivates me even more to have the most successful events possible. Seeing first-hand the impact these fundraisers have on the families is incredible and I am so happy I get to be a part of that.
10-year-old Marcello Cervantes, a young gymnast from Tampa, suffered an injury playing football. He’s a tough kid, so he thought nothing of it. But his mom, Jeannette, noticed him sitting in a strange way and took him to a local hospital. After uncertainty as to what exactly was afflicting Marcello, Jeannette did some research online. Based on an intuition Jeannette had, she and her husband, Marco, decided a doctor at a children’s hospital in Columbus might be best able to help Marcello. Soon, they were making plans to travel to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. When making preparations to come here, someone in the doctor’s office recommended the family stay at our Ronald McDonald House. Marcello was so thankful for the opportunity his family had to stay at our House, that he decided to have fundraisers to raise money for RMHC before even leaving Florida. Click below to watch our interview with Marcello & Jeannette.
We can now call our own volunteer Master Gardener Bill Mount an award-winning gardener. Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Garden’s Growing to Green program promotes community gardening and city beautification. On October 15th, the Conservatory hosted its annual Growing to Green Awards virtually with a Zoom meeting online and Bill was invited to attend.
“We’re proud to host this event every year to honor the amazing work of urban farmers and community gardeners across central Ohio,” the Conservatory’s webpage proclaims. “The Growing to Green Awards honors the dedication and hard work of many central Ohio communities and individuals while furthering Growing to Green’s objective of promoting participation in city beautification and community gardening.”
Bill was announced as the winner of The Community Gardener of the Year award. Each year, FPC says the award is presented to an individual who is exceptionally dedicated to their neighborhood garden and or the movement of community gardening in central Ohio.
An award of $250 will be given to Bill to be applied toward the Ronald McDonald House Garden. Thank you, Bill, for all of your hard work and congratulation on this prestigious award!
Recently, Sue Orme, Clinical Educator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion asked that we provide an introduction of our Ronald McDonald Family Room by way of a blog post that will be published in the BHP’s internal staff e-newsletter. Our program manager, Vicki Chappelear, wrote the following wonderful synopsis for our partners at the BHP.
Who we are: The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a program of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. The Ronald McDonald House opened in March of 1982 with 15 bedrooms as a result of passionate volunteers who had a vision to start a House in Columbus. We have now grown to 137 bedrooms. The Family Room at the BHP is the second Family Room in Columbus with the first being at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist which opened in July 2017.
What we do: Our Family Room space serves as a respite for families away from the demands of inpatient and outpatient units. We offer a quiet place to make phone calls, grab a cup of coffee, eat a snack, do laundry or even take a shower! Families can also access a beautiful, serene outdoor courtyard where they can get a breath of fresh air and sunshine. We truly understand family centered care means keeping the whole family healthy and we are doing our part to meet those needs outside of patient care.
Where we are: The Ronald McDonald Family Room is located just off the elevators on the 5th floor. We are adjacent to the west courtyard.
Why we do it:
• I think the Family Room is important because it allows families to remain close while also providing a space for family members to take time for themselves. Whether it’s getting a cup of coffee, enjoying the courtyard, or doing a load of laundry – the Family Room is a spot for families to feel relaxed and refreshed. I think family members are best able to care for and encourage their kids receiving treatment if they’re also taking care of themselves and the Family Room provides that space for that to happen. Abigail Brumme, RMCH Family Activities Manager
• Families with children at the BHP need a place to rest and disengage from the stress created by having a child with mental health issues in treatment. Darla Stover, RMCH Program Director
• “This was truly my home away from home. I felt I had a safe place every day to go to. I will never forget. I am so grateful and appreciate it so, so much. Took so much off my mind, so I could focus on (my child).” – a guest of the BHP Family Room
We love our farming families and their communities. McKalynne Helmke was one of the 4-H members who sold her steer at last year’s amazing Ohio State – College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Charity Steer Show. But her support didn’t stop after the steer show was over. She’s continued to get the support of local businesses in Tuscarawas County and major support from Sarchione Ford Of Waynesburg in her drive to get food for families that need to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus.