A Sister’s Perspective by Lauren Galea
I had no idea what Ronald McDonald House Charities did until 15 years ago when my little sister Morgan, who was 10 at the time, was hospitalized after suffering from a brain aneurysm and my family was in need of their support.
RMHC gives hospitalized children what they need the most – their families. The House provides families with critically ill or injured children the resources and support they need to stay strong for their child. They provide families with basic amenities like a room close to the hospital with a shower and a cozy bed to sleep in (instead of sterile plastic couches in cold hospital waiting rooms), wholesome meals home-cooked by volunteers every day, and even bereavement counseling and burial assistance in the case of the worst possible outcome. All of their support services are entirely free of charge to the families they serve.
I vividly remember walking across the street from the hospital with my dad 15 years ago to visit the House for the first time. My dad told me, “It’s JUST like a real house. They EVEN have a doorbell!” I was so entertained and amused by that as a 12 year old. When we walked in, I was in awe of all the free stuff – the teddy bear and journal they gave me, and the little essentials like the hotel sized toiletries in our room and the food, snacks, and juice boxes in the kitchen. All of the snacks and drinks were different from what I was used to having at home so I wasted no time trying them all. I remember exploring their garden and feeling like it was such a peaceful, safe, and enchanted place. My mother never left my sister’s side but my dad and I would go to the House for lunch during the day and swing by to sleep at night. It was a beautiful distraction from life at the hospital – which was heart-wrenching and often just day after day of bad news.
The staff, who are certified social workers, were such a tremendous source of love and support for us, many of whom have become dear and lifelong friends of ours. After my sister, Morgan, passed away their Executive Director at the time, Kent Burress, planted a rose bush in their garden in her honor. The staff was instrumental in our healing process and I’m convinced they are all angels.
With a critically ill or injured child, the families they serve are living through an unimaginable hell. And in this time of desperate need, RMHC gives families the strength they need to fight for their child’s life – something no child or family should ever have to do. There is a reason they call it, “The House That Love Built.” It truly is that.
At the darkest time of my life, Ronald McDonald House Charities was one of the greatest sources of strength and support for my family. And for that, I could never repay them enough.