Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eat a burger and make a difference (and I don't mean to your waistline)

This post is not sponsored, unless you count the cup of tea
and macaron I had at Ronald McDonald House

Last week I was privileged to be given a personal tour of the Perth Ronald McDonald House with the always stunning Amy Zempilas (her gorgeous Chloe was born on the same day as Bobbin) and learn about all the amazing programs they have there.

When I arrived, there were some lovely ladies wearing volunteer shirts cleaning the walls. I thought walls only got cleaned when tiny mutineers drew on them, but apparently not. Way to make me feel like a bad cleaner, Ronald. If you're in a place where the family of very sick children hang out, some with compromised immune systems, then you gotta clean EVERYTHING.

Using her ESPP (Extra Sensory Playroom Perception), Bobbin found the kids toy room in about 0.03 seconds. Stuffed toys hung from the ceiling, a giant jungle mural across the wall and a few of the awesome toys they have (the rest were getting cleaned - again, thanks, Ronald for making me feel like I don't clean enough) made her eyes light up. But she held on to the remote control from the lounge room despite all the awesomeness in front of her. Sigh.

Bobbin loooooooved this room so much!
I was more interested in the teen room which may have had something to do with the magical symbiosis of internet connection and beanbags. Funky graffiti art, big screens, and gaming consoles fill the room to keep the older kids entertained. Being the sibling of a sick kid can be so hard, so it's great that they can have access to these things and be able to hang out with other kids in the same situation.

Graffiti and bean bags FTW

We checked out the rooms, the BBQ area, the education room and the lounge/dining area with the kitchens. All awesome. But then we found out that the House turns away people every day because they are full to the brim. The closest accommodation to Princess Margaret Hospital is around $160 a night. At a time when you need your family to be together and support each other, not being able to do so because it costs so much to stay is just seems so unfair. If your child needed to stay in hospital for months could you camp out on a chair in a shared ward for all that time? What about if it was a year? Some families need to stay there that long.

Small but lovely
But a NEW House is being built next to the new hospital. HUZZAH! The funds for which were raised from the WA corporate community in just nine months! DOUBLE HUZZAH! There will be over twice as many rooms and they'll be up to three times bigger and have funky hide away beds that I neeeeeeeed to have in my own house one day (that link is a video to the manufacturer - their stuff is awesome!). Plus a full size commercial kitchen to cater for everyone with a continuation of the Make a Meal Challenge (where corporate groups come in and make dinner) and the new Lovin' From The Oven (groups bake for the weekend) programs.

It was great to hear so much that I previously had no clue about. I knew people from out of town stayed if their kids were in hospital, but that is just the smallest part.

Here's the bit you probably did know:
  • Ronald McDonald House provides free accommodation to regional families of kids in hospital
And all the stuff you didn't:
  • Breakfast and dinner are provided daily, plus a fridge of snacks is available (in Perth, Harvey Fresh donate all the milk and orange juice, Lawleys donate all the bread)
  • For lunches, the kitchen can be used by the families (hospital cafeteria food is both disgusting and disgustingly expensive most of the time)
  • There are education programs for siblings including homework clubs and help with transitioning them to the local school if needed
  • There are education programs for the sick child to make sure they aren't disadvantaged by missing school - this includes speech and occupational therapy plus tutoring
  • It is run thanks to volunteers and donations
  • McDonald's is the largest corporate partner and takes care of all admin costs so that 100% of every donation goes directly to the Houses
  • They provide free retreats to the families of children battling serious illnesses and bereaved families, giving them an opportunity to relax in a supportive environment
  •  Ronald McDonald House Charities are the major private funder of Cord Blood Banks in Australia
Every year McHappy Day aims to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Now in its 24th year, you can help fund all of the amazing programs by buying a burger on Saturday, 18th of October. Or if burgers aren't your thing, you can just make a donation by purchasing a "Helping Hand" in store or giving directly through the website, remembering that every cent goes to RMHC.

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