Refuge from the Chaos

Given that each year we provide roughly 2,000 nights to about 200 different families with sick children in need of a home away from home, it just naturally makes sense that we would get to know these new friends quite well during their extended stays. After sharing living space, meals, and many stories with the same faces for days, weeks, or even months…how could these people not start to feel like a part of our big, extended, RMHC family?

But while we naturally get so accustomed to the families experiencing trying times who call us their home away from home, we shouldn’t forget the many families who benefit from RMHC who we may never even meet. I’m referring to the 600 plus new guests each year that are served by the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Northwest Texas Healthcare System and the many smiling youngsters in our area hospitals who are recipients of the 2,000+ toys and gifts we distribute each year through our “Gifts from the Heart” toy delivery program.

Haven’t heard of the Ronald McDonald Family Room? You’re not alone. That program might just be one of our best kept secrets that really ought not to be secret at all. The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a refuge for families who are taking care of sick or injured kids around the clock and in need of an ever-so-brief source of respite and relief. Through this program, which is fully staffed by volunteers who keep the place operating 12 hours each day, we offer snacks, drinks, reading materials, a quiet room, and even laundry and shower facilities for those who just can’t get away. We often hear from local Amarillo families who do not need a place to sleep during their child’s care, but are immensely benefited by this resource while they are logging 16+ hour days caring for a sick kid.

We recently heard from the sweetest family here in Amarillo who wanted to reach out and see what are biggest needs were and how they could get plugged into helping #teamRMHC. Since our staff is usually on site caring for the families who are physically staying with us at the house, it is always heartwarming and exciting to connect with the many families who visit our Family Room or have gifts delivered to their kids. The Poole family was actually able to benefit from both of these programs and we were so ecstatic when they wanted to reach out to us to thank us and share their story as well as some adorable pictures of their son. Here’s what they had to say about how RMHC was able to provide a sense of refuge during a very chaotic and stressful time in their lives:

” Just recently our son was diagnosed with leukemia, just three days shy of his 4th birthday. We were admitted into PICU. Not only had we been punched in the stomach with the news that our youngest child has cancer, but he was going to have to spend his 4th birthday in the hospital having a bone marrow biopsy and starting chemo. It was the beginning of the hardest time of our lives. It was so comforting knowing the Ronald McDonald House was there to help. They brought our son a birthday gift, and since we were there for two weeks they sent a few more toys to make sure he was happy and had plenty to do during his stay. There are no personal bathrooms or showers in PICU. I was able to shower in the shower provided by the Ronald McDonald Family Room, they had snacks and drinks that were so nice to have for when my other two kiddos came in after school to have some family time. They even had a basket full of yarn and how to crochet instructions. I was able to keep my mind busy and teach myself to crochet. We are so grateful and thankful for the Ronald McDonald House and it’s comforting to know they will be there to help during our next stay at the hospital. We are so blessed by them!”

Our favorite thing is obviously getting to see families return home with happy, healthy children. But a close second has to be the many opportunities we have each year to re-connect with these inspiring and resilient people, which fortunately are interactions that happens fairly often! In so many ways life is a cycle, and we can’t even begin to tell you how many of our volunteers, donors, meal groups, community ambassadors, and organizers of “Wish List” and aluminum pull tab drives are actually families who have stayed at our House or been impacted by our programs and services in way or another.

We are so grateful for all of you who rally behind us to make this mission a reality of providing hospitality, comfort, and support to families with children receiving medical care. Let’s all send our best thoughts and all of our good vibes to the Poole family at this time… if you’re reading this, just know that we are rooting for you all!