April’s Volunteer Appreciation Month Highlighted With Special Note from Guest Family to Volunteers and Our Viral Volunteer Videos
Volunteer Appreciation Month kicked off with the first day in April by the arrival of a thank you card for volunteers which included a special recognition of weekend volunteer Mike Amfahr with an enclosed photo of Mike standing next to the young patient who signed the card, a shout out to our cooking volunteers, and the all-volunteer band organized by hospital workers.
“To all you WONDERFUL people at the RMH,” the handwritten message inside the card begins. “THANK YOU from the bottom of our hears for providing such a wonderful place to stay while Tyler was in the hospital. You do an amazing job making a difficult time a little more positive, especially for the kids. We especially enjoyed the home-cooked meals and the concert by NACHO! 🙂
“And a very special thank you to Mike… you have no idea how special that was for Tyler to be your helper. He still talks about that day and he still has that dead lightbulb! Thank you for making our little boy so happy!”
“Hope to see you again next time when we come for Tyler’s BIG surgery. ♥”
The note is signed, “From Rob, Erin, & Tyler Griffin” and includes “Tyler” written in big blue marker at the very end.
Every day in April, we featured a different volunteer or group of volunteers. Click the image below to see a compilation of videos from and about our volunteers that were posted on social media throughout the month.
Our daughter, Ashlee, and her husband, Jacob, lived in Florida and were visiting Ohio the last weekend of May 2021 for a bachelorette/bachelor weekend at Hocking Hills to celebrate our youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding that August. Ashlee was 31 weeks into her pregnancy and developed severe preeclampsia. She was triaged in Hocking Valley Community Hospital, then transported by ambulance to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital unit at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital where the medical team helped her deliver their first child, Gabriel. Our family went into support mode for Ashlee, Jacob and Gabriel as they were more than 1,000 miles from home and without anything except what they had packed for their vacation week.
Ashlee, Jacob, and two of our family members who served as their NICU additional support team used the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Riverside Hospital as a place to rest, eat, and refocus during the seven weeks that Gabriel was in the NICU. Ashlee and Jacob also were blessed with the opportunity to live at The Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, which gave them a beautiful and supportive place to live while Jacob and Ashlee were learning to parent a son in the NICU and who both were unable to work because they were so far from home.
As Ashlee’s mom, I was the visitor who was able to be their support person from The Ronald McDonald House. During this time of Covid-19, just one visitor per family was allowed in the Ronald McDonald Family Room, so I was also able to visit them at the hospital and retreat to the family room where I was close by when they needed me. I saw firsthand how the staff and physical space of both the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Riverside Hospital impacted the ability of Ashlee and Jacob to navigate the deep challenges they faced during those first seven weeks of Gabriel’s life. As a pastor who has journeyed with people in many different hospitals, I can say that the Columbus Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Riverside Hospital are two of the biggest gifts I have ever seen for families who are in some of the most emotionally and physically overwhelming days of their lives.
Gabriel will celebrate his first birthday at the end of this month and we are forever grateful for the gift you gave our family of support, space, and help during his first weeks of life. Thank you for your wisdom, vision, teamwork, commitment, and love for our family and thousands of others!
My name is Maddie Knostman, and I am the newest member of the team here at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio! I am a graphic designer, artist and visual communicator by trade, but I hope to bring much more than just strong designs to my new role as the staff graphic designer for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
I grew up in Dublin, Ohio and attended K-12 at Dublin City Schools. While I was in high school I was very passionate about creating art and volunteering with my local youth group, and I was involved in a handful of clubs and sports teams. After graduating from Dublin Jerome High School in 2016, I went down to Ohio University to pursue a degree in Visual Communication – Publication Design, in the Scripps College of Communication. Over four years of college, I was a managing editor of the yearbook, a designer for a student run magazine, the Vice President of Communications for the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, a two-time participant in BOBCATHON (Ohio University’s dance marathon fundraiser for the house), and a Volunteer Ambassador for the School of Visual Communication. I graduated from Ohio University in May 2020, and shortly after I started as an Art Director at Great Lakes Publishing Company. I directed photoshoots, designed visitors guides and perfected many technical skills over the past two years, before coming on as the new Graphic Designer at RMHC of Central Ohio.
I have an immense passion for community service and helping others. I have been involved in a countless number of charity events, fundraisers and community outreach projects throughout my life. Something I’ve always been drawn towards is working to help those that are less fortunate. I am grateful for the life I have been given, and for that I feel it is my duty to give as much as I can to those in need. Receiving a job offer to join a team that works for such a heartwarming incredible mission truly still feels like a dream come true. Ronald McDonald House Charities have changed so many families lives, and it’s an honor to be a part of a team that makes such a large impact. My life goal is to make a difference in the world that is bigger than myself. In this role, I hope to use my passion for art and design, to help get the word out about our mission, and let others know how they too can get involved helping these families going through rough times. I’m so excited to join such a lovely team of individuals, and I’m looking forward to seeing what my future in this new role holds.
We’re so proud of our volunteers and have been recognizing many over this National Volunteer Appreciation Month. As the month comes to a close, we want to show appreciation for a volunteer who became a staff member. Lulani Gaulberto celebrated her first year last week as the Executive Assistant for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio and today, National Administrative Professionals Day, we celebrate her! In addition to the duties you might expect of someone in her position, Lulani also organizes our chapter’s Round-Up for RMHC recognition program, putting together gift bags for crews working at are McDonald’s as recognition for asking customers to round-up their payment to support our chapter. When Lulani transitioned from regularly scheduled go-getter volunteer to one of the most integral staff members of this growing charity, she took a moment to answer a few questions about herself for a blog post. Here’s a re-publishing of that Q&A:
Q: How did you first come into the RMHC of Central OH community?
A: I started volunteering in 2017 when I was in a work transition. I chose Mondays so that I could start my week on a good note!
Q: What has been your position lately and what kinds of projects have you been working on?
A: In the past year, I’ve been a Volunteer Coordinator helping prepare & serve meals, receive donations; helped in Development by putting together Auction packages and assist with the Bake Sale; I’ve had some shifts staffing the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at the OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Big Lot’s Behavioral Health Pavilion; and I’ve worked two shifts as a Family Service Manager.
Q: Has there been a moment, since you’ve been with the House, that particularly touched you? Perhaps a moment involving one of our families or being at an event where you really felt you were part of something special?
A: I’ve had numerous moments but the most recent was when I was checking in a family from Kentucky. They had just arrived and she was very concerned about her granddaughter. She had not gotten any rest or sleep or a meal. I got her checked in and was giving her the details about the room, meals, their stay and then I told her that if she needed anything else, all she had to do was ask. I told her I would pack up dinner for her daughter and herself and gave her one of our Thirty-One Gifts welcome bags and she burst into tears. I nearly burst out crying myself but pulled it back in. I saw them a few days later when I came in to volunteer and she and her daughter looked rested and found out that the patient was doing well. How much better can it get?
Q: What are you looking forward to in your new position?
I look forward to contributing to all the House activities – raising money, fostering/planning/organizing/recognizing the amazing job that the McDonald’s restaurants are doing in their Round-Up campaign, supporting Dee Anders (our CEO) so she can do her thing, and being part of this growing chapter!
My name is Emma Hasenstab, and I am a sophomore at Columbus State Community College studying strategic communication. I am planning on transferring to The Ohio State University in the Fall of 2022. I grew up in Gahanna, Ohio and went to Gahanna Lincoln High School where I was involved in DECA (which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and college), acapella choir, Young Life (a Christian youth organization) and I played lacrosse. I now live on Ohio State’s campus in a Young Life house with 9 other girls along with leading Young Life at Dublin Coffman High School. Growing up I had various health issues that really made me grow a heart for kids and families who are going through some of the struggles my family and I went through. This led to the hope that one day I would work in a medical non-profit.
My dad, Karl Hasenstab, played a large role in building the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, so I actually started volunteering here in middle school and high school. During my senior year of high school, I chose to do a project on the Ronald McDonald House through the DECA program. I was able to set up a plan that would increase the donations coming into the Ronald McDonald House by improving the charities online brand presence. This allowed me to learn a lot about RMHC and it sparked an interest to work at RMHC. I reached out to Ryan Wilkins at Ronald McDonald House Charites of Central Ohio and decided to take on an internship here.
My first impression of RMHC in Central Ohio was how kind and welcoming all the employees are. They all were willing to stop what they were doing to introduce themselves and tell me a little bit about what they do here. I also noticed how hard they all work to make the experience of the guests and families staying here as great as possible. I haven’t been here for long, but I have already learned a lot about how things operate at RMHC. I am excited to further my knowledge on the different opportunities I have here and to watch how this community makes a difference in others’ lives every day. This is going to be a great experience and I am ready to dive into what this internship has in store.
Families, volunteers, staff, board members and partners that make up the community that is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio gathered last Thursday to break ground for the expansion of the Ronald McDonald House, taking up almost the entire city block on which it sits, south of Livingston Avenue. It was a special day that shined despite the threat of rain, which never came. Instead, their were smiling faces, a particularly famous clown, dignitaries and even the NACHO Street Band, made up mostly of Nationwide Children’s Hospital employees) with a song arranged just for our House that made the day more than bright. During the addresses to those gathered, it was revealed by Tom Feeney, chair of the Combined Campaign Committee, that the projected cost of the addition was going to cost five million dollars more that the original estimate of $37 million. He says, like so many other cost increases, this is due to rising prices related to the pandemic. Fortunately, our board president Bruce Burkholder and CEO Dee Anders have been able to find government grants and funding to make up most of the difference. But RMHC of Central Ohio still needs your help to cross the finish line. Click here to see our campaign this year that has A Million Reasons why we need to grow and, with your help, will be able to complete the project and provide 2,000 more nights of rest a year for families.
Click the image below to watch a video of the special day. Thanks, again, to everyone who came to celebrate with us!
Here’s NBC4’s coverage of this special event:
These past 7 days have been a whirlwind of celebration at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. On March 17, our RMHC chapter celebrated 4 decades of service to families seeking care from Columbus hospitals for their children. At the same time the community was observing that milestone, preparations were also being made for the groundbreaking ceremony, just days later, for the expansion of our current house. Today, board members, families, volunteers, and local dignitaries gathered to break ground heralding the start of construction on two wings being added to the current building at 711 E. Livingston Avenue. One wing will house new offices, a new main kitchen/dining area, and auditorium space while the other wing will accommodate more than 80 rooms for families to stay near their children. Those rooms will provide 2,ooo additional nights of rest each year for families, bringing the total nights of rest provided by the House to more than 6,500. With a total of 202 rooms, this will bring the title of “Largest Ronald McDonald House in the world” back to Columbus.
NBC4’s Matthew Herchik, reported on today’s groundbreaking festivities, speaking to one family that’s currently staying at the House and our CEO, Dee Anders. Click the image below to see his story of today’s momentous occasion.
To mark the occasion of both the 40th anniversary and the start of the new expansion, animation video creators Pixel Park, made a wonderful short movie with video visits from some families that have stayed at the House in the past and released the video on March 17. Click the image below to watch the heartwarming video.
To learn why we have A Million Reasons to grow again and see how you can help us house even more families by supporting the expansion, click here.
As the 40th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House is nearing, we wanted to hear some family’s thoughts on the new expansion and what they look forward to in it. Tara Germann has been staying at the house on and off for 5 years with her daughter Sofia. The first impression Tara had on the expansion was the extra 80 rooms it is going to provide. She said that she looks forward to the extra space “so more families get the opportunity to stay at the house and fewer families to be put on the waitlist.” She was put on it once before and she says it’s a tense feeling, saying “It causes more anxiety as you wonder whether or not you know where you will be staying.” She points out many don’t even have the funds to pay for a hotel for one night while waiting to come off the list. “Having this safe space is monumental when your child is at the hospital,” she adds. “Due to being able to come to the house for an hour during the day and take a quick break from the hospital, regroup and go back throughout the day is nice. It also helps us not have wear and tear on the car driving an hour plus away each day back and forth.” I asked her about the expanded kitchens and dining spaces and she said she looks forward to being able to continue to come here and eat throughout the day when she takes a quick break from the hospital environment, “which is a great relief knowing you have a fresh meal daily!” Lastly, I asked what her favorite part of the new expansion will be and she said the 80 rooms, “and more things for her daughter to do as she uses the community rooms a lot for playing games and being able to get her out of the room structure and get her into something else that is not at the hospital, and help distract her.”
Brittany Newman has been staying at the house since June of last year with her daughter Kenzley. Kenzley is currently on another wait list. She’s waiting on a new heart from a matching donor. Her first impression of the new expansion is excitement for families to avoid being on a wait list for a room. She says that she has not been “waitlisted” before, which has allowed her to be with her daughter more than she would be able to if she was put on one. A daily drive from work to Columbus and staying with her daughter until she goes asleep around 11 would make it nearly impossible to see her daughter multiple days in a row. She thinks that the additional rooms will help all families, even ones who she knows personally who have been put on a waitlist before. The idea that they would no longer have that problem is beyond words for Brittany. I asked her about the expanded kitchens and dining spaces and she said she looks forward to being able to use the new personal kitchens with her kids on the weekend to make dinner. The specialty rooms are important to her family as it helps them have an outlet for a normal day so that they are not just sitting in a normal hospital room. She said that their favorite part of the expansion will be “having more green space and open areas as it helps it feel more like home.”
Paxtyn was born with a rare genetic condition called Apert Syndrome which affects about 59 babies a year. It causes early fusion is the sutures in the skull, webbed fingers and toes which have no joints, cloth soft palate, condensed nasal passages and eye sockets which causes the eyes to bulge and breathing difficulties such as sleep apnea.
We did not have a diagnosis before birth, we spent about a month in the NICU with her on oxygen and many tests being done. We have had many, many hospital stays and surgeries at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Specifically, Paxtyn has had 3 major head surgeries, 3 surgeries on each hand, a surgery on each foot, a cleft palate repair, ear tubes inserted, adenoids removed, treatment for thinning of the tissue in the sinus area and a skin graft.
We still have a lot of surgeries coming in the future. Despite everything Paxtyn has been through and all the delays, she’s still our spunky, wild, full-of-attitude two-year-old. She is adored by her siblings Prestyn, Paisley and Peyton. Paxtyn loves baby dolls and CocoMelon and playing outside like any other kid. She’s definitely defeated all the odds. Paxtyn is so loved by her entire family.
“The best view comes after the hardest climb”