This will be the second retirement for Connie Sartori. Her first was from her job at Southwest Airlines. Her second “retirement” will be from volunteering at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. Right from the start of her job with Southwest, she began volunteering with groups from Souwest Airlines. She’ll be moving to Florida, now that she’s retired after 25 years of service to our families. We had a chance to talk to her on her last day coming in with the Southwest Airlines meal group Tuesday night. That night, the Southwest Airlines meal group donated a brand-new grill to honor the occasion. Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for continually serving our families meals for a quarter of a century. Watch our talk with Connie in the video below as she was about to leave her last volunteer shift.
Q: Who are you guys?
A: We are a group of people that have worked together in the past and remained friends after we moved on to other jobs. We all decided to form a Maker Space Group and chose the name, Solid State Social Club. Our goal is to teach kids, teens and adults about technology and wood working. Wood working for geeks is CNC, we program the computer and the machine cuts out the parts for us.
The people involved with this project and current employer are:
Dennis Megarry – StateAuto Insurance
Tyler Wickiser – StateAuto Insurance
Josh Hamilton – StateAuto Insurance
Johan Van Zijl – Chase
Robert “Downtown Bob” – CoverMyMeds
Q: How did your group start a relationship with our Ronald McDonald House?
A: Robert was on a tour of the House after cooking a lunch meal for CoverMyMeds when he spotted the Game Room there with non-working arcade machines. Since I was already into building arcade gaming machines & Johan into repairing them, we decided this was a great start to our maker group. So we contacted Joel (the House facilities supervisor) and came down to diagnose the issues with the units there already. We were able to repair the pinball machine, and while we can repair the rest, we fund this out-of-pocket so plan to continue as soon as funds become available.
Q: What made you guys decide to do this? Have you done this kind of thing before?
A: I was already making custom arcade machines and Johan was repairing cabinets, so it was a great fit for us. Given how much RMHC benefits the community and children, we all jumped at the chance to help out.
Q: How was it all paid for? Do you have an approximate value of the machine?
A: This was all my personal donation. I bulk buy parts and usually have enough to build a few machines on hand so the expense of this was drawn out over the course of a year prior to this build. We all have families to support as well, so for the moment while we grow, we can only do things like this as we save up the funds. I build custom arcade cabinets for corporate clients who have an employee game room setup, as well as individual people. No two cabinets are alike so putting a cost on one is difficult to do. Depending on options, we’ve made them from $2700 to more than $4000. If we built yours for a customer, it would have been about $3000.
Q: What was involved in making it? Where was it assembled?
A: Making things like this is how I relax after a day in front of the computer at work. It is a lot of fun. Since our group is just starting out, we do not have space to setup shop so it was made and built in my garage (my garage is rather large).
This build though was extra special for us. Lynne Holmes, the graphic designer at the Ronald McDonald House, created the graphics for us. To finish the cabinet, our respective employers gave us each a paid day off through charity volunteering-for-a-day programs. So we need to give a big thank you to StateAuto, Chase, and CoverMyMeds! It wasn’t just us that were involved in this project.
Q: Does it have more than one game?
A: When we build one of these, the insides can go from inexpensive to OMG! Just depends of what people want. For corporate builds, as well as this one, we chose a commercial board which is pre-loaded with games that we bought off of Amazon. It has a lot of the ones adults grew up with such as: Galaga, PacMan, Street Fighter, TMNT, Asteroids, Super Mario, Tetris and many others.. There are more than 2,100 games on this board.
Q: Joel says you’re also repairing our other arcade games?
A: Yes, as funds allow we will be repairing all the machines there. The Ms. PacMan, for instance, has a blown transformer. But rather than just replacing it, the cabinet is in bad shape as well so we will most likely make a new cabinet for it, reprint the original graphics and when finished, it will be as good as new, or better.
Q: Do you have a message for the families that will be using this machine and the others you repair?
A: We built the arcade hoping that it brings a little joy to people when going thru a difficult time in their lives.
It’s been an exciting month for book-lovers who stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, and we’re not talking about lovers of e-books. Our library has remained pretty much the same for years. But just a few weeks ago, a team of volunteers came in to revamp our library. Over just a few days this during National Library Week AND National Volunteer Week, a team from L Brands including Susan Geier, Carrie Kenneth, Chris Nowicki, Ed Kunzelman; and KP Designs & Associates painted walls and added new built-in cabinets and book cases. You can even literally curl up with a good book within an in-shelf nook!
The week after we reopened the library, 22-year-old Kendal White, a recent graduate from Ohio Dominican University, arrived at the House with a group of friends and supporters to donate books gathered during a recent book drive. White says he’s passionate about literacy and asked his community of friends, family, ODU alumni, & Central State University Columbus alumni to donate children’s books for our library. He hoped to get 200 books, but more than 1,100 were collected, including some books for adults. Thanks to his group of volunteers for sharing the books – along with coloring activities & games – to support our families. It was a great way to also wrap up National Volunteer Month.
Our innovative craftsmen welcomed Jeff into their ranks about a couple of months ago. His involvement with RMH began when Jeff and his wife, Lorna, were cleaning out their shelves and brought books to donate to the House. From there, he got involved with the craftsmen. Jeff loves working with his hands and filling in wherever needed, including the front desk every other Tuesday.
“You listen to the news every day and you only ever hear of the horrible things,” he said. When he’s in the House, it’s different. “I’m amazed at the number of people that donate here and help around here. I’m just trying to give back. I’ve had a pretty good life.”
When you see Jeff around, ask him to show you what a calliope is and sounds like. You won’t be disappointed!
Front desk volunteer Shirley Meyer completed her final shift with the Ronald McDonald House on February 11 after 20 years of service to our families. We had a chance to talk to her after she said her goodbyes to staff and fellow volunteers. Click the image below to hear what she has to say about her experience giving to the House.
When folks think of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, most think of the big House located across from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. But our chapter also operates the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. The room is in the same area of the hospital as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Postpartum Unit. This family room opened in July of 2017 and RMHC of Central Ohio recently announced plans to open another family room in the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, when that building opens next year.
If you’re interested in becoming a Ronald McDonald Family Room volunteer after watching the video, email Vicki.Chappelear@rmhc-centralohio.org.
With the start of the new year, you may have noticed that our website has a slightly new look. Over the holidays, we had the opportunity to install a new format provided to us by the Ronald McDonald House Charities global organization. We hope you like the refreshed look.
In addition to that change, our House has had a few other changes to the building. One impressive and very noticeable change in the House is our family dining area. The dark wood tables and chairs have been painted a cool gray and the blue walls have been painted with a lighter shade. The windowed area also has been wallpapered with a cool white birch tree pattern, bringing a lighter feel to the large room. The entire space was redecorated with funding and volunteering by The Blue Jackets Foundation with the Lady Jackets, (the wives & girlfriends of the Columbus Blue Jackets players & coaches).
Finally, the other low-profile, but nonetheless important, project is the renovation of our stairwells. Gone is the carpeting from the landing. Carpets are a trap for dust and allergens, so these well-traveled spaces will be healthier areas for our families as well as everyone else taking a healthy climb up and down the stairs instead of using the elevators. The stairs themselves are getting a new epoxy coating, with the color being changed from a military green to a lighter gray. Thanks to our volunteer craftsmen for providing the elbow grease for this project. Supplies were provided by Quaker Chemical Corporation with PPG Industries at a deep discount for this project.
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:
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!