My name is Maria Spain. I have been working as a Family Service Manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities for just over three years. My journey with the Ronald McDonald House started when I was a sophomore in college. I was struggling to pick a major, unsure of what career path I wanted to pursue, and seeking inspiration. One day I was speaking with a close friend who works at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and she recommended I get involved with RMHC of Central Ohio, because she had only heard great things about it. I was interested in getting involved with a non-profit, so I decided to walk in one day and see if there were any opportunities for me.
I met with Vicki, now my supervisor, and she showed me around the House. As I walked past all 122 guest rooms, I couldn’t believe how big the building was. The hallways were clean and the guest rooms were cozy. What impressed me the most, though, was all of the intricate details inlaid in every corner of the House. The music room was full of more instruments than I could think of. The library had teddy bears larger than me, and in the kitchen there were seats that looked like hamburgers. The art on the first floor walls made you feel as if you were walking through all 4 seasons in the span of 30 steps. The interior of one elevator looked like the inside of a spaceship, and it led us all the way up to a room that looked like outer space. It was truly so fun. What was more impressive than the uniqueness of the space, though, was that all of it is funded and created directly by our community. If you get to experience RMHC, you get to experience firsthand the impact that compassion and giving can do.
I started as a summer intern, and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn. I worked with some amazing people and learned so much about how a place like this runs. The good that RMHC does is a direct result of the hard work and kind hearts of all of the volunteers and staff members that show up every day to serve families. It was truly amazing, and every day that summer I was thankful to be even a small part of something so good.
In the past three years, I went from a summer intern to a full time staff member. As my knowledge has grown deeper, so has my appreciation for this RMHC chapter. I have met families from all over the world, and seeing their resilience through times of struggle encourages me daily. One of my main responsibilities at work is greeting families when they first arrive and checking them into their rooms. I am passionate about making families feel comfortable and supported during their time here. The magic of RMHC has remained just as strong as when I first walked through the hallways of the House years ago. I would encourage anybody in the community to come volunteer and experience some of the joy that RMHC brings to families.
Easton’s mom, Tania, brought her son to Nationwide Children’s Hospital from Wheeling, West Virginia hospital where he had been on a ventilator with BPD. He was discharged on very high levels of oxygen, but had to be readmitted. That’s when Tania decided to bring Easton to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he made progress and was discharged. Now, Tania and Easton are back in Columbus so Easton can come off of his feeding tube by learning to eat orally. Tania knew she could come back to Columbus because she and Easton would be able to stay at our Ronald McDonald House. Click the image above to watch our interview with Tania and hear her talk about how helpful having the House has been during this trip and previous trips with the whole family.
Fran Green has been a family activities volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House for six years. She helps families string together pieces of construction paper and foam that are cut-out shapes and characters with letters to form a banner for their room, the patient’s hospital room, or for a sibling back home. She tells us about her experience and the gratification she gets helping families be creative during a difficult medical situation with their children. At the end of the video, she gets a big surprise! You can see the creations from many families on her Facebook page, facebook.com/funwithfran. Watch the video below.
Last year, Bill Mount, our chief volunteer gardener, was awarded Gardener of the Year, by the Franklin Park Conservatory during its annual Growing to Green Awards ceremony. We’ve been so proud to have Bill bringing love to our garden, which in turn brings love through fresh vegetables and fruits served as part of meals to families staying in the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. What’s more, the garden has been a great way for families to rest from the stress of the hospital, strolling through the gourd tunnel, picking flowers, or even helping to plant knowing the seeds they put in the ground now will some day help feed families going through a serious medical situation with their child too.
This year, the garden is being nominated for the Boyd W. Bowden Garden Impact Award for Wellness and Health, which is presented to a community garden that has shown a significant and sustainable impact on the health and vitality of the community while developing connections to Nutrition, Wellness, and/or Food Production.
Here are a couple of examples given to support the RMHC Garden’s nomination:
The garden was started with the intent to provide fresh, homegrown produce to families with sick children. Everything grown in the garden goes directly into the kitchens at Ronald McDonald House. This provides three meals days, 365 days a year for families with sick children. It’s also providing education to the families and volunteers at the House through accessible recipes that can be made at home.
Chef Blair Arms has received comments from family members staying at the House about how they had never tried a particular fruit or vegetable, until they saw it growing in our garden. Sometimes it’s the curiosity of the children themselves that prompt the tasting of something new, after a stroll through the garden. When a family has a sick child, they look for answers in science and medicine and they turn to nutrition, perhaps in ways they never had before, to augment their child’s well-being. This happens not just from the families sharing the produce, but also mentally, by strengthening family bonds as they gather to create their own meals in the family kitchens using what they’ve found in the garden.
RMHC of Central Ohio is anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winners of the award. We’ll keep you updated here and on social media as the garden changes and evolves while continuing to feed our families.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (RMHC) – A new specialty license plate has just been created to help raise awareness and funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities across Ohio.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles is now offering the plates as of today, Thursday, August. 5, 2021. The proceeds from the sale of the license plate will be split among the RMHC Chapters across the state, including RMHC of Central Ohio.
RMHC of Central Ohio serves families of children with complex and life-changing medical diagnoses and injuries. Families of hospitalized children can stay at the House across from Nationwide Children’s Hospital whether they offer a donation toward their stay or not. The Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at The Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital also provide a space for families to rest and regroup without leaving the hospital.
“We are here to help families going through a difficult time while their child is in the hospital. By purchasing this organizational plate, Ohioians can help ease their journey.” said Dee Anders, CEO of RMHC of Central Ohio. “We are looking forward to seeing the House with a heart plate all over the state!”
In 2019, RMHC of Central Ohio approached Former District 26 State Rep. and current Franklin County Commissioner (D) Erica Crawley, about introducing a bill for to propose adding an RMHC license plate. Her bill passed through committees and eventually reached the governor’s desk in October 2020. Then, the Columbus chapter spearheaded a campaign to collect petitions necessary for the BMV to move forward with production. “Ronald McDonald House is a critical resource to families during their most challenging times, for those from Franklin County and across the globe,” said Commissioner Crawley. “I was proud to introduce the legislation to create an RMHC license plate that would increase awareness and generate new resources to further assist families in their times of need.”
Crawley’s proposal was eventually added to Senate Bill 163, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-District 16. The bill was to create a new group of specialty plates, including one for RMHC. Governor Mike DeWine signed it into law in October of 2020.
“I know many times that I walk up in a parking lot or some place and just notice some of the different things on the license plates,” said Gov. DeWine. “It’s a great way to publicize and it’s a great way to get the public’s attention about something that’s very, very important.”
“This will continue to bring awareness to the important services local Ronald McDonald’s Houses provide to families in need of support so that they can be strong for their children receiving medical care,” said Sen. Kunze.
RMHC supporters can now purchase the plate for $35 in-person at the BMV or through OPLATES online. Of this, $25 will go to RMHC. Customers who agree to let the BMV give their contact information to RMHC, will allow RMHC of Central Ohio to distribute funds to the customer’s local chapter. The remaining $10 is a service fee to the BMV for processing purposes.
Expected July 27, Journee Rae Jackson started her life very early on March 27. “My pregnancy started with no concerns or complications, always received a good report with each doctor’s visit,” says her mother, 30-year-old Jayna Jackson of Michigan. Jayna tells her story in a GoFundMe site she set up to help pay medical bills. “Until midway into my second trimester, I found out during my anatomy screening, my cervix was short. At the time, I had no clue what that meant. Early labor never crossed my mind, being that her due date was July 27th it just couldn’t be!” Journee Rae Jackson arrived March 27 weighing 1 lb., 8 oz. as what’s known as a “micro-preemie.” After being transferred from a hospital in Toledo to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Jayna has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. Click the image below to hear Jayna’s heartfelt message to our supporters.
I began volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in 2015 as a “go-getter.” We go-getters complete all kinds of tasks to help keep the House in good order: clean and restock guest rooms, wash/dry/deliver to housekeeping rooms laundry (sheets, towels, comforters, etc.), empty trash, and clean “common” rooms such as the library, exercise room, and the princess and Lego rooms.
Because of the diversity of duties, I rarely ever have two volunteer shifts that are the same. And I really enjoy meeting and interacting with the staff of the House, especially the volunteer coordinators and the family services managers. Everyone is always so very appreciative of the time that we volunteers give to help out around the House.
Volunteers are always encouraged to take one or more breaks during their four-hour shift. Several years ago, I sat down with some kids in the dining room to color and explain to them what I do as a volunteer. Not only was it a nice change from my regular volunteer duties, I was able to meet and connect with several families who were dealing with the stress of having a child in the hospital. Providing a small diversion by sitting down and coloring with their kids enabled me in a small way to help carry out the mission of the Ronald McDonald House.
When 14-year-old Bella Harris held a donation drive for snack packs in her Lewis Center neighborhood, she had no idea the amount of support she would get from the entire community, along with the help of her Girl Scouts troop too! Click the image above to watch & listen to her describe how she came up with the idea and thank those who helped bring in 3-car loads of snack packs and other necessities for families staying with us.
From time to time, we like to share with you – our community including volunteers and donors – messages of gratefulness we receive from family members who have stayed with us.
Today, while I was going through some pictures for a collage I was doing I had come across a picture that was taken last season and it totally had me in tears, we had such a hard time last year with feeding issues, bowel issues and other issues that we had to travel at one of the most busiest times of the year, we seen snow, we met Santa, the Grinch but out of all the things he loved every time we are there he always wants a picture with Ronald McDonald, I remember the first time he took a picture with Ronald he was at his sickest moment, he had his NG tube and we stayed at the RMH in Macon Georgia and it was a blessing to us, and ever since then every time we visit we always have to get a picture with Ronald.
I wanted to share these pictures with you all at your House, and tell you what a major blessing it is to know each and every one of your staff and we are grateful to have a place to call home when we are there. God bless you all… please stay safe and healthy.
-Dawn Elizabeth Hughes, Noah’s mom
For several years, Village Green Properties in Central Ohio have had a fundraising day called Splash Day, centered around the pool at its residential complexes. On May 2 Industry, Village Green’s newest Columbus property, held it’s first Splash Day at its roof-top pool. Welcoming guests and residents of the party to the lobby was a red and white play house with a yellow flower box on it’s big window. It turns out that a couple of the Industry staff decided to use some left over construction materials from the new structure to build that play house to be delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. A few days later, the man who built the little house was dropping it off at the Ronald McDonald House for children to use while staying in our big House. Click the image below to see a short video about the arrival of the little house and hear from the Industry maintenance pro who built it.