It was important for me to start teaching my kids about giving back, but wanted to find something they would relate to…the Ronald McDonald house taught us more than I thought.
Recently, the kids and I were provided an opportunity to visit the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver. I have been wanting to find a place that would serve as a good local place to “give back.” The kids are young, six and four, so this notion may seem a bit premature. However, I felt there is never an age too early, and wanted them to learn about something they could do to help be “better citizens.”
And then, we were invited to visit the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). A house built with children in mind, and focussed on providing a “home away from home” for families going through a tough time. Admittedly, I knew very little, other than what I thought I knew from word of mouth, or my preconceived notions of what the house was, how it worked, and where it gets its funding.
I learned a lot…so much in fact. And yes, I am about to share all of that goodness with you…because it truly is an amazing, amazing (did I mention amazing) organization.
FYI, the kids truly enjoyed their visit, which shows how comfortable and focused RMH is on kids.
It truly is a home away from home for families going through a tough time.
When we came there, immediately the kids were in awe.
They are young and didn’t quite understand yet why kids came there, so what they saw was a welcoming environment full of kid-focused ideas.
Here is what the kids noticed: a slide in the middle of the large living room, multiple play areas, a large lego area (with lego walls), an aquarium, a fish pond, a dedicated outdoor climbing slide area (snakes and ladders), large outdoor courts, a playroom, and even a magic room (yes an interactive room where kids can use their imagination by seeing various backgrounds come to life). When talking to the sweet coordinators, they mentioned that the house was designed with the thought “what would kids want in their own homes that they can’t have.” I think they nailed it.
Here is what I noticed/learned: families come here from all over B.C. while their children are undergoing treatments for various conditions and diseases, often life-saving. In fact, 68% of the patients that visit B.C. Children’s Hospital per year, live outside of Vancouver, therefore having a “home away from home” is something that can help ease the hard time they must be enduring. There are four different quadrants, each comes with its own communal kitchen and dining rooms. The 73 bedrooms are upstairs and kept very sterile as many kids that come there are immunocompromised. There is also a communal garden (with fresh vegetables and herbs), stocked cabinets, and a large amount of volunteers behind the scenes doing things like preparing snacks, making dinner, providing groceries and so forth. There is absolutely nothing that they haven’t thought of, and it’s heart-warming.
It is not entirely funded by McDonald’s.
The fact is that a lot of the Ronald McDonald house is possible through funding. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT completely funded by McDonald’s. While McDonald’s is a partner, the house relies on ongoing funding by national partners and the help and support of people like us to keep it running.
Housing a family costs approximately $125/night, however the house chargers no more than $12/day to a family. As such the rest of the costs is completely dependent on funds. Thanks to ongoing support, Ronald McDonald house does help over two thousand families per year. When I heard this, I knew immediately, I wanted to help out. I wanted to be a part of keeping this amazing home going and doing my part to help kids and their families get some comfort while going through the unimaginable.
Being a mom, I wanted my kids to help other kids. So we looked into ways of helping out (as I think we found our charity of choice).
There are numerous ways to help out.
There are so many ways that one can help out, beyond just donating funds (which is also important). Here are some of ways that spoke most to me, and maybe to you too.
- Pledging Birthday Money: kids can be a “Birthday Hero” and host a party saying to pledge an amount to the house, as such Ronald McDonald house can set-up as fundraising page for you!
- Hosting an event for fundraising: Whether a BBQ, or a tournament, or a car wash, or picnic, there are cool ways to do some fundraising. If you do, the organization can help you with materials and a fundraising page.
- Build a community of paper houses, get a paper house for every donation you collect and have it displaced with the donor’s names on it.
- Prepare snack bags: you can prepare small baggies of treats and snacks that are kept on hand for families that return from treatment, sometimes coming at non-meal times, that they can use as nourishment.
- Collect gifts: the playrooms can always use replenishing, and because the environment needs to be sterile they need new items.
- Home for Dinner: this is a touching and very important initiative. You can hose a dining event and in lieu of a gift to the hose have the donation go to the Ronald McDonald house. There is also an option of volunteering to cook a meal for one of the quadrants of the house
I honestly could go on, but these are the things that touched me the most, and resonated with me and the kids the most. They often ask me about going back to visit, so I have told them we will pick an activity to help out often, and this made them happy. I love that they now recognize that a house that takes care of children (some their age) is so important.
To learn more and find out more about how you can help, please visit: rmhbc.ca