Ronald McDonald House: A place you hope you never need but are glad it's there if you do

Ronald McDonald House

 

I feel very lucky to have attended the recent Celebrating Moms Event at Ronald McDonald House Toronto. I’m sheepish – and frankly, lucky – to admit that I didn’t know much about the House before my visit.

For starters, the new Ronald McDonald House is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Steps from Sick Kids Hospital, the House is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, but somehow manages to feel blissfully quiet and peaceful. The common areas are spacious and impeccable. The modern kitchen facility is enviable. The guest rooms are luxurious.  And it’s no wonder, as the rooms were designed by the Four Seasons Hotel, which donated its time to the project.

But the facility, amazing as it is, was not the most extraordinary part of the visit. We heard testimonials from two moms currently living in the House. What stuck with me? When a lovely mom, currently living at the House with her cancer-stricken four-year-old described what it was like to learn that her daughter was ill. “You don’t think this is going to happen to anyone you know, let alone happen to yourself.” She will stay at the House all summer, away from her husband and other child, while her daughter recuperates after her bone marrow transplant.

The average stay at Ronald McDonald House is 30 to 35 days. Can you imagine that? The stories we heard weren’t atypical: Mom and her child move to Toronto to get the help they need at Sick Kids Hospital while dad and the other kid(s) stay behind at home.

The good news? The old Ronald McDonald House, able to accommodate 26 families had a constant waiting list. There were never enough beds for the families who needed them. (And apparently sleeping in a chair in your kid’s hospital room really sucks.) Here, at the new house, 81 families can be accommodated. They’ve cleared out the backlog. Since opening their doors, they have been able to house all who have needed it.

It goes without saying that I feel beyond lucky to have three healthy daughters. Just because we don’t need Ronald McDonald House doesn’t mean we shouldn't talk about it though. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support it. (The House is a fully independent charity.) In a thoughtful parting gesture, all guests at the Celebrating Moms Event received little coin banks. Here we are working on filling up ours.

Isn’t it amazing that a place like Ronald McDonald House exists for those who need it?

 

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