Bridging the Gap

We often share stories about just how many of our supporters have personal stories themselves of how Ronald McDonald House has been a source of refuge in a difficult season of their lives. When we go out to speak to groups in the surrounding rural communities that we serve, it’s only on a blue moon that somebody doesn’t raise their hand when we ask if anyone has had a personal experience with RMHC. Today, there are more than 350 locally-operated, independent Ronald McDonald House chapters operating across the globe, all doing the same thing in their communities: providing hospitality, comfort, and support to families with children receiving medical care in a home-like environment.

But that hasn’t always been the case. The first Ronald McDonald House wasn’t built until 1974, which filled the void in what was a serious unfulfilled need in so many communities around the world…’I have to travel a long distance for my kid to receive medical care for days, weeks, or even months at a time..where will we stay?’

This is a familiar story for one of our longest-serving and oh-so generous volunteers, B.J. Campbell. Back in 1985, B.J. sadly lost a precious angel to heart troubles at only 10 months. She spent 10 nights with her daughter at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, spending all day and night in the hospital room, where there was no Ronald McDonald Family Room, a resource that would have provided B.J. with a chance to do laundry, take a shower, access complimentary snacks, drinks, and reading materials, and get some rest and relief, all without stepping outside of the hospital.

When B.J. first learned about the Ronald McDonald Family Room set to open at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, she was immediately excited and on-board to sign up as a volunteer to help serve families experiencing struggles similar to what she had gone through herself. That was nearly 20 years ago. What’s been the most enjoyable part thus far in her many years of service?

“Meeting the families and even having them come back with their babies that had started out in NICU.  I had a dear friend that had a baby girl born at 2 lbs. 4 oz, and in NICU. Now she is 16. So tiny and such wonderful care in NICU for 3 months.  So awesome!!”

In addition to engaging in work that is blessing to so many families, B.J. also feels blessed to have met so many incredible families and fellow volunteers through her time serving at the Family Room. One particular moment stands out as a favorite memory from all of the volunteer shifts she has logged.

“It has to be when I was allowed into NICU by the charge nurse then to see the 5 babies (quintuplets) born to a family and they were lying side by side in a crib.  What a sight to see.”

During these times of sheltering at home, B.J. has enjoyed watching Hallmark movies and The Price is Right as well as catching up on books from her reading list, and doing some spring cleaning. She also works in a legal office and has been able to continue doing some work during this time. If you run into her in line at McDonald’s, she’s bound to be ordering a Big Mac with fries and a big Diet Coke…does the all-American meal get much more classic than that?

It’s when we hear stories like B.J.’s that we really see just how important it is for families to have a place of refuge when their children are in the hospital. With all of the stress, chaos, challenges, and unknowns that families face each and every day they are away from home, we are proud that the Ronald McDonald House can be a source of stability and security to fill the void and bridge the gap for families facing difficult circumstances as their children fight the biggest battles of their lives. Though B.J. experienced such a tragic and heartbreaking situation in her own life, she has allowed it to open doors for her to give back and bless so many families for so many years.

We appreciate your generous heart, B.J., and so do our families!!