In addition to housing over 4,000 families per year, occupying more than 135,000 square feet on 5 acres of land and a green space for families with a splash pad, playground and healing garden, following are some of our staff, volunteers and families favorite things at the Ronald McDonald House:
1. Talking to Families
The families are truly the heart of the House. They come from all over the world and all have a different story to tell. The staff, volunteers and guests all become one big family, all sharing experiences and strength.
Anyone that spends time at the Ronald McDonald House knows that the highlight of the day is finding out what we are having for lunch/dinner. Much conversation surrounds who is serving the food, what time is the
meal and most importantly, what is for dessert. Baked goods and to-go snacks are plentiful.
3. The Blue Jackets floor
After touring all three floors of the Ronald McDonald House, one can’t imagine there is more to see, but wait, the Blue Jackets area awaits in the basement of the House. The Blue Jackets floor is complete with a family room with video games, a pool table and a big screen TV as well as two family laundries, a 2nd TV room and a playroom to entertain the children while waiting for clothes to wash and dry.
4. My co-workers
The people who work and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House all have a common thread-they are compassionate, they want to make world a better place and they are so dedicated to the mission. As a result, the staff and volunteers become a group of close-knit friends.
5. Resiliency of the families; keeps everything in perspective Families are thrown into a foreign world with complex medical terms and long stays away from home, many times apart from loved ones. Despite the adversity, the families remain gracious, optimistic and dedicated to the healing of their children. They serve as role models to all of us and we have the utmost respect for their tenacity.
6. Having spaces that allow families to escape
The Ronald McDonald House has many spaces to which families can escape the beeping of monitors at the hospital and the solitude of their guestrooms. Some of these rooms include a meditation room, spa where free haircuts and manicures are available, library, music room, arts and crafts room and a workout room.
7. The brownies
Brownies are important to healing as are all baked goods. Brownies are especially popular with the staff and volunteers. I won’t mention names, but some are very particular about the gooeyness of the brownies. Many baking groups come to the Ronald McDonald House to make goodies for our families. Staff and volunteers taste test the baked goods for quality control.
8. Number of people from the community that come in to help
I like to say that it takes a village to run the Ronald McDonald House. We are so fortunate to live in such a giving community with philanthropic companies and individuals who give back through making meals, volunteering, sponsoring events, naming opportunities as well as contributing monetarily.
9. McDonald’s coffee
One of the clear benefits of working, volunteering or staying at the Ronald McDonald House is McDonald’s coffee. Who doesn’t like McDonald’s coffee?? The coffee is a must-have for our folks who are working overnight to make sure our families have what they need in the wee hours of the night.
10. The rooftop patio
The rooftop patio is one of my personal favorites. You can look out at the whole RMH campus and take in a few rays of sunshine at the same time. The rooftop patio is a great place to read a book, catch up on e-mail (yes we have wi-fi on the rooftop) and to host a small event.
11. The treehouse
The treehouse is one of our newest and most unique spots in the Ronald McDonald House. Lucky for us, the NHL chose the RMH stairwell to showcase the legacy they have left in Columbus, home of the 2015 All-Star Game. The treehouse provides an interactive space where kids can get exercise without leaving the building. Children can play hockey, plinko and crawl through a tube to the penalty box.
12. The backyard
You can’t believe our backyard until you see it for yourself. Three giant cement hearts make up a large part of the space. Within these hearts are a playground, healing garden and a splash pad. Throughout the grass you will see ants, logs, mushroom tables and chairs as well playhouses where children can climb and play. This playspace is the backyard to both the main RMH building but also the 5 long-term stay houses for large families or guests that will be staying for a year or more.
13. The people-all encompassing-volunteers, staff and all the people in the world that stay at the Ronald McDonald House Because we have a small staff, we rely heavily on our Housewarming Volunteers and Kitchen coordinators who all so generously give their time. We have over 400 volunteers who work at the Ronald McDonald House and another 1,000 that work events that benefit RMH. These individuals are the most caring, giving, loving, hard- working people that you have ever met in your life. Without them, we couldn’t run the Ronald McDonald House. They are the glue that keeps the House together. They keep smiles on the families’ faces and make everyone’s day a whole lot better.
14. BBQ Pulled Pork
A rare but much loved treat at the Ronald McDonald House. I see some happy campers when they smell the BBQ pulled pork cooking in our new commercial kitchen.
15. The kids
Last but most certainly not least, the kids. They pull at our heartstrings daily. Their innocence, their resiliency, their ability to smile and laugh despite their medical condition is beyond words. They are the reason we volunteer, fundraise, work all night long, advocate and put our heart and souls into making sure that their families can be close to them while they are healing.
By Darla Stover