This week’s blog is a “thank you” note to all who have made The Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital such a success in it’s first year. Since opening in July last year, the room has served over 500 families, including more than 7700 family members, for nearly 2300 hours. Those are hours spent taking a break from the patient’s room nearby and taking an opportunity to grab a bite to eat, get a cup of coffee, doing some laundry, taking a quick shower, relieving a little stress playing a video game, or just relaxing at the kitchen table.
Here are just some of the recent comments folks have given after using the family room:
“So thankful for this room. My second son was in the NICU before you had this room and I wished there was a place that my husband could have brought my other child and I could have visited. It would’ve been fun for my son too. My third son was in the NICU three months ago and this room helped so much. I stayed at the hospital with my newborn for 2 weeks and going up to this room even to just shower was a nice break from reality, even if it was only 30 minutes.”
“Loved the NICU family night. Glad to have the ability to bring my food to the hospital and have a space to keep it cold and heat it up. Saved me money.”
“It was awesome to be able to sit down and talk to parents who were going through the same thing. It was calming and relaxing to talk to other parents.”
So “thank you” to all of the donors and volunteers who have made this special room possible and who continue to help us keep families close. Thanks to our partners at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital for making the room possible. Thanks to the hospital’s employees & volunteers as well as the staff at Nationwide Children’s NICU at Riverside who all make sure families take advantage of this amazing space. And thanks to The Blue Jackets Foundation, The Lady Jackets, Worthington Industries, and Safelite AutoGlass for making Central Ohio’s first Ronald McDonald Family Room possible right from the start.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to get more information about volunteering at the family room inside Riverside Methodist Hospital, email Vicki.Chappelear@rmhc-centralohio.org.
Hey all, Anna B. here – I recently graduated from Miami University and landed my dream job working for the Ronald McDonald House! Throughout high school and college, I pictured myself in just about every career aside from this one. I simply never considered it an option to work somewhere I’ve come to know and love. The Ronald McDonald House always just seemed like a fun place to spend an evening baking for the families or stopping by to drop off pop tabs. I never thought I could actually work here. That is, until I sat down with my soon to be boss (shout out to you, Jamie Fotlz!) about a year and a half ago to hear about what she does for a living. She opened my eyes to the world of fundraising and development – specifically, the role of planning fun and unique events to achieve the mission of an organization. It was that day that I decided I wanted to start building a career at RMHC and join the team of people who “keep families close”!
My earliest memory in the Ronald McDonald House was back in 2009. I was in seventh grade, and my friends and I came into drop off pop tabs. My mom’s trunk was full of them! It was the start of summer, and after a full school year devoted to taking every single pop tab off of the Gatorade cans at lunch. It cracks me up every time I tell someone from middle school that I work here. They immediately bring up the memory of my friends and I wearing big janitor gloves digging through the very full (and very gross) trash cans during our study hall. I don’t remember what exactly sparked this kind of devotion to RMHC – but, we loved collecting pop tabs. We came in and got a tour of the House. I was amazed by how much fun and love filled a place that I assumed would be really sad. I am still captivated by the love and joy that fills this home-away-from-home. Its proof that kindness for one another goes a long way.
Now, its 2018 and I am still collecting pop tabs, but I finally get to spend my days here at the Ronald McDonald House full time! I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work alongside so many amazing staff and volunteers. Jamie had flowers waiting on my desk on my first day, Tom the volunteer invited me to ride on the dolly during lunch on Thursday, and George, the craftsman made me my very own ice cream scoop. Everyone has been more than welcoming my first few days. There has yet to be a dull moment.
I’ve always liked the quote “a house isn’t a home without a family” because it rings so true, especially inside these walls. I owe everyone here a huge thank you for welcoming me into this McFamily!
By Jamie Wintinger
Ella Wintringer is 10 years old and a member of the Skating Club of Western New York in Buffalo, New York. She started on the ice when she was 5 years old and fell in love with the sport. Ella also loves to read, play her flute, practice Tae Kwon Do and play with her new puppy Penelope. She has two brothers; Andrew and Joshua who love watching her figure skate. Ella has skated twice at the New York State Empire Games in Lake Placid, NY on former Olympic ice and in February 2018 placed 3rd in her Freeskate program, qualifying for the 2019 State Games of America.
Ella’s figure skating hasn’t always been easy because of her medical disorders. When Ella was 3 years old she became very sick with motility problems that led to a long journey involving numerous hospitalizations, various hospitals, specialists, tests, procedures, surgeries, medications, etc. that did not make Ella better. In 2013, Ella was referred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital Motility Center and we experienced the amazing Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. This past fall, Ella had her lower gastrointestinal tract reconstructed and the House became our home away from home. Ella had repeat motility testing and an intensive colorectal program which required us to be there for two weeks in April. These two very long stays were much easier to get through with the wonderful volunteers at the House supporting us along the way.
Even our short trips for doctor follow ups over the years are just as amazing! The House creates a comfortable environment for friendships to form between suffering children and Ella has always left having made a new friend or enjoyed a new experience. Our family is so thankful for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. Whenever we return from an appointment, test or surgery in Columbus, Ella laces her skates and glides onto the ice like nothing ever happened. Skating is her passion and provides a place where she can leave all of her medical worries at the rink door. Skating truly heals! Ella is extremely excited to be a part of Skate It Forward and support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio!
We learned about Skate It Forward at Ella’s last two-week stay in Columbus while we were looking at the House’s Facebook page. We saw they shared something from Skate It Forward. We were interested and approached a staff member at the House. We wanted to give back to RMHC because Columbus’ Ronald McDonald House has been so amazing and generous to us over the years! (Ella’s brother has also been a guest there when he had to come for testing to see if he had the same disorders as Ella.)
Skate It Forward presented Ella with the opportunity to skate her Obladi Oblada Freeskate program in their show on Satruday, June 16th! Ella is beyond excited for this incredible opportunity! It is the perfect combination. Skating and giving back to the community are two of her favorite things! She has given back to Nationwide Children’s Hospital Motility Center, locally to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and to Make-A-Wish of WNY, so adding Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio to her give-back projects was absolutely perfect!
We hope to see you at the rink!
Editors Note: If you would like to attend the Skate it Forward event, click here for tickets.
By: Amy Smith, Volunteer Coordinator
Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio and I’m honored to be working alongside them. I started my journey as a volunteer purely to feel closer to a place that had given my family so much.
At 11 years old, my cousin stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Dayton on and off for two years. They were able to give my aunt a place to stay and be close to her son. After a LONG two years, my cousin was healthy and no longer had to stay at the Dayton house. My aunt always talked so highly of Ronald McDonald House and how hard the volunteers worked every day. Those words had always stuck with me. That’s why I decided to give of my time at the House in Columbus.
I started as a volunteer here at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the House. Volunteering gave me the chance to meet people from all different walks of life all working towards the same goal: making families feel as comfortable as possible. The house holds such a special place in my heart, I would always say I would do anything for the house.
After volunteering for some time, I was given the opportunity to become a coordinator for volunteers here at the place I love. I said I would do anything for the house, and this gave me the chance to use my skills to really do anything for this house. Since I stepped into this new role, I have a seen volunteers go the extra mile for our families and the house. They go above and beyond the call of duty and their passion for the house is like nothing I’ve seen before. Their passion drives my passion and I can never say “thank you” enough to them for all the hard work they do.
Nearly three thousand visits have already been logged by those looking for rest and recharge in The Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital since the opening of the room in July of last year. Three-hundred seventy-six are the number of families we have served over that same time in this first Ronald McDonald Family Room opened by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. We have been honored to serve these families, most of whom have had a baby in the NICU at Riverside Methodist Hospital. Our Family Room space offers a respite where moms, dads, & siblings can take a few minutes to refresh and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. A snack, a shower, a recliner, even a video game or two are just a few of the things patients’ families can enjoy while in the Family Room. One of the really great things about the Family Room is that we are able to serve families right here in our local community. While families staying at the House come from afar, the majority of families who use our space at Riverside Methodist Hospital live here in Franklin County! We are delighted to be able to give back to the very community that has supported us for 36 years!
To help visitors to the Family Room, we have more than a hundred volunteers who attend to the guests’ needs every day of the year. Our volunteers present a warm inviting space and help meet the needs of families. Dedicated volunteers like Art and Karli (pictured). Art Hersey always shows up for his shift and kindly asked ONE TIME if he could take his birthday off! And Karli Schomaker is a busy mom of two who often works with Art and knows just what it takes to help parents keep kids entertained for a bit. Our volunteers not only serve families by offering towels and toiletries for a shower (862 showers so far!), laundry detergent to wash their clothes, and a listening ear, sometimes they even provide a hug! We are so grateful for our volunteers who are dedicated to caring for our families!
Our volunteers do it all for the families. We ask guests to leave comments about their experience with the Ronald McDonald Room, and here’s just a sampling of the many positive comment we get back about this valuable resource:
· “Loved the NICU family night. Glad to have the ability to bring my food to the hospital and have a space to keep it cold and heat it up. Saved me money.”
· “So thankful we had this spot to gather our thoughts and nourish ourselves during a very stressful time. Thank you.”
· “Thank you for providing this area!”
· “It was awesome to be able to sit down and talk to parents who were going through the same thing. It was calming and relaxing to talk to other parents.”
· “Thank you for providing a space for our family! Our youngest was in the NICU during flu season and our other 3 children were not allowed on the floor so they spent some time in RM area while we were passing kids off from one parent to another.”
By Blair Arms
Food. If we are fortunate enough, we are able to eat three meals a day; maybe more dependent upon our lifestyle. Some love being in the kitchen, others wouldn’t know what to do with a knife. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by grandparents and parents that cooked. I remember being in my Grandma Lou’s (Grams) kitchen when I was little on Thanksgiving, and seeing her freak out because we forgot the mashed potatoes and gravy! Luckily my Grams, a stay-at-home mom of 5 children, whipped out the potatoes from her pantry and put me to work. “We will use the microwave if we have to!” she said. That memory is one of my first memories of being in a kitchen and learning how to make homemade mashed potatoes and gravy (from the turkey drippings, of course). That memory is also one of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in culinary arts and why I link cooking/baking to family.
So, imagine being told that your child has to go a hospital, far away, for an unknown amount of time, and you don’t know anyone in that city. Not only do you have to go to that hospital, but you have to be at the hospital all day to ensure the best care for your child. When do you have time to shop for food? Even if you find the time, would you really want to cook? Our job at RMHC is to take that stress away and create a home environment so you don’t have to think about how you are going to feed yourself and your child (among other things).
Team Cuisine started in July 2017. One Chef volunteered their time, prepared the menu, shopped for groceries and helped prepare the meal. When the program picked up, RMHC knew they had to make Team Cuisine a full-time position. That’s where I come in!
My position as Head Chef is to ensure that the group has all of the necessary equipment and ingredients to make a meal for the families during their stay and that they can prepare it safely with the best sanitation practices. Upon arrival, I survey the group to see how many there are, break them off into teams, and they work at one of the stations that I have set up. After the meal has been prepared, the group serves the meal to our families, as well as takes care of the dishes and cleaning of the kitchen. The whole process is very hands on and interactive.
When coming up with menus, I consider what is being prepared during the week, and what I can buy within the budget. By doing meals through Team Cuisine, we can ensure that the families are being fed a well-balanced and delicious meal, and that the groups know how to prepare a nutritious meal for 100-150 people.
One thing I try to emphasize when I am working with a meal group is that RMH is first and foremost a house. I want the group to envision them being in their own home and making a meal for their family, putting the love and effort into the meal for RMH just as they would if they were at home. I believe that is what makes the group’s experience more authentic and an avenue for some great memories.
Our motto is Keeping Families Close. What better way to keep families than through food?
The Trans Siberian Orchestra(TSO) announced its highly-anticipated Winter Tour 2017 will be returning to Columbus! Over the past 20-plus years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum, musical powerhouse, and its annual winter tours a beloved, multi-generational holiday tradition. 2017’s tour, a completely updated presentation of TSO’s unforgettable “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” is set to begin on November 16th and will visit more than 60 cities, for 100-plus performances, before concluding on December 30th in Columbus, Ohio!
As in all previous years, a portion of every ticket sold benefits select local charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. To date, more than $13 million has been distributed from TSO to worthy charities all across North America. Tickets go on sale Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.
See the full press release here:
For 27 weeks, Brittany Mullins pregnancy had gone perfectly. No signs of trouble—just smooth sailing for her and husband, Chance, as they eagerly awaited the coming birth of their first child, Asher, a boy, in the Gallipolis, Ohio, area.
But then, a sudden increase in the size of Brittany’s baby bump and pre-term contractions sent the concerned parents to the hospital.
“We got an ultrasound and found out there was fluid on his abdomen,” said Brittany. “We weren’t sure what was wrong. There were a lot of scary diagnoses.”
Four short weeks later, the extra fluid caused Asher to be born prematurely at 31 weeks. He lived his first four weeks of life at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, before being transferred to the NICU at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
“He was diagnosed with a posterior urethral valve, which meant urine wasn’t draining correctly, causing the fluid on his abdomen,” said Brittany. “He had surgery at one month old and his prognosis is good.”
Brittany said it was the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room that kept her and her family going during the tough time.
“I couldn’t imagine driving two hours back and forth to see him,” said Brittany of the House for Asher’s first four weeks at Nationwide Children’s. “It was so helpful to have a place to shower and eat. Plus, I have an immune disorder so I have a specific diet. And the family kitchens helped keep me from getting sick while I was there.”
When Asher was transferred to Riverside to a bed for more critical babies, it was the new Family Room that helped her and her family.
“Having the family room allowed me to move in with Asher and breastfeed him,” said Brittany. “It’s allowed me to stay here and have a shower and eat. It’s been such a blessing to us.”
Brittany said it’s the little things that the Ronald McDonald House and Family Room offer that keep families going.
“When your baby is in the NICU, fighting for his life, you forget the little things,” said Brittany. “And to have people there supporting you and making it available to just be clean and to eat makes a difference. It made all the difference in his care and his discharge time.”
Brittany has just one thing to say to all the donors who made the Ronald McDonald Family Room possible: “You have changed lives by making the Family Room available. It is of the utmost importance in our lives that we can express to them how thankful we are.”
I was first introduced to Nationwide Children’s in my clinical as a nursing student. Through my experiences in the hospital I learned very quickly how much the Ronald McDonald house does for the patient with 5 appointments in one day, the confused sibling, and the exhausted parent who’s just trying to keep up with it all. Seeing first hand from the nurse’s point of view how much the house does for families in need encouraged me to get involved. I will continue working at the RMHC, however, because of the infectious positivity that surrounds the people who run it. Every volunteer and employee here is an integral part of why the house is so effective in helping these families and I am so glad to be given the chance to be a part of it!
Hello, Central Ohio! I’m excited and honored to be writing this blog from inside the Ronald McDonald House, a 120,000 square-foot facility serving nearly 5,000 families each year, as its new Communications Manager.
Since the first day I began covering Columbus news as a reporter back in 2007, I always held a special place in my heart for Ronald McDonald House Charities and its Ronald McDonald House. As a mother, I could relate to what families staying in the House were going through.
I remember the day I had to rush my child to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital emergency room after she tripped on a flipped-up rug and tore her forehead open above her eye on the corner of a table. Suddenly, I was that parent, sitting in the emergency room, alone, waiting to see if my kid would be OK. I felt the helplessness of not knowing, of waiting, of wondering, of worrying; but I was lucky. I lived in Columbus, Ohio, where I was privileged to have access to the best healthcare my child could ever receive at Nationwide Children’s. Where I could easily make arrangements for work, for groceries, for assistance, for anything I needed.
Some families are not so lucky.
Families from every state in the union and across the world have traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to give their child the same care I received at Nationwide Children’s and other area hospitals ~ the best care. And when they find out it will take weeks, or months, or years, to help their child, where do they go? Where does someone from California stay when they’re thousands of miles from their home? How do they eat or get transportation? How do they do laundry? How do they find a sense of normalcy in a situation that is no longer normal?
They come to the Ronald McDonald House. They come to a place where they can live life, uninterrupted, during the greatest interruption they will ever face ~ a sick child.
I didn’t fully grasp that concept until I actually started volunteering for the House in 2012 as a member of its Red Shoe Society, before moving into making breakfasts for the families and financial donations, the, eventually, donating a video hosted on the RMHC website’s Home page. Through those experiences, I knew I wanted to be part of the organization ~ had to be, somehow, someway. I saw what the volunteers and the staff were doing with their lives, the way they were helping children and families in need, and I just knew I had to join in.
It is a dream come true.
And now, as the RMHC Communications Manager, I get to help Ryan Wilkins, the Director of Communications and Facilities, and all the RMHC team tell the RMHC story and more. To me, it is the greatest story I will ever write. It speaks to a calling in my life, a purpose, a mission, an opportunity to do more than a job. It is an opportunity to help change lives. To make them better. For parents just like me. For kids just like my daughter.