Feb 06, 2020
A tour of Ronald McDonald House Charities® Alberta (RMHC Alberta)
Last week, Hayley and Jacquie visited the Ronald McDonald House Charities® Alberta. The Calgary house is located right next to the Children’s Hospital and “supports families seeking vital medical treatment for their seriously ill or injured child”.
When we first stepped into the house, we were greeted by the smell of baking. The house has volunteer bakers on-site, who whip up a selection of delicious cookies, cakes and brownies. Mary, the baker that day, told us she was in the middle of making lemon bars. We sat down with Claire Hoffman, Resource Development Coordinator at the Calgary house, who chatted with us about the history of the house, while we enjoyed some freshly baked Lazy Daisy cake and a cup of tea.
Everything about the house is designed to help families keep a sense of normality during a stressful and emotional time. There is a communal kitchen, where families can cook themselves a meal, and free laundry services are available. During the day, there are arts and crafts classes, such as painting with plastic syringes; these are often built around things children may experience in the hospital, in order to make them less scary. Downstairs, there’s a fitness suite, and even a teen room, which is filled with donated arcade machines and video games.
The Calgary house is lucky enough to have generous volunteers who take part in their Home for Dinner program, which provides reliable, home-cooked meals for families, every day of the year. As RMHC Alberta is one of our partner charities, companies who participate in the September Games will often volunteer at the House (as part of the Charity Challenge) by providing a night of meals for the families, and Claire told us that many of the groups return to volunteer again outside of CCC.
At the end of our visit, we stopped outside a brightly painted door that said ‘The Magic Room’. We were told that this was the children’s favourite place and upon stepping inside, we could see why. The Magic Room is a uniquely tailored space in each House full of toys, gift cards, and wonder where the children can choose a special treat, whether that’s in honour of a birthday, a milestone in treatment, or receiving the best news of all – getting to go home! It was a truly wondrous and heart-warming place.
There is a strong sense of community within the House - no one else can understand what you’re going through as much as someone who is going through the same thing - and the families rely on each other for support. No one ever expects to need a Ronald McDonald House, but the work that they do for families in need is invaluable. The House is a beacon of hope in the darkest times, and we are happy to be partnering with them for the fourth year running.
If you would like to organize a tour of the Calgary Ronald McDonald House, please contact Claire (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities, visit their website.