This Saturday is McHappy Day and last week I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes tour at Ronald McDonald House in Parkville.
The first thing that surprised me was the fact that I have parked directly in front of the house while we were visiting the incredible Nature Play at Royal Park, without ever realizing what was happening behind the beautiful façade.
We took this picture 6 months ago, and there is Ronald McDonald house right in the background, we were completely oblivious!
From the outside, it looks like several townhouses, but inside, the houses have access walkways, making it easy for guests to share living spaces, such as kitchens, outdoor facilities and equipment, play rooms and laundries. The layout really does create a community vibe.
When I arrived at reception, I was greeted by Selma, the operations manager who presented me with some incredible stats:
In 2014, Ronald McDonald House Parkville:
provided rooms to 1,270 families
had a 94% occupancy rate
there is a wait list to gain access to a room
once you are given a room, you are able to stay as long as the hospital stay required for treatment
The appreciation of the guests is evident in the many thank you notes that decorate the walls.
When families stay at Ronald McDonald House they are provided with a room, with very easy access to the Royal Children's Hospital. They have access to shared bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities and much more.
Although it was quiet when I visited, during a time when most families are meeting with doctors and specialists at the hospital, the kitchens are usually a hub of activity. There are often organisations that will cook dinner or bake treats for families that stay in the house.
The kitchens also have pantries and freezers that are sometimes filled with food that has been donated by various groups or individuals. I know that every time I visit Royal Park from now on, I will be bringing a bag of groceries and other items from their wish list (see below)
In addition to offering a home away from home for families with a very sick child, Ronald McDonald House Charities also run a Learning Program. Illness and time away from school can have a significant impact on the child's learning. The Ronald McDonald Learning Program support these children with tailored programs to help them catch up. There is a wonderful room in the house dedicated for use of the learning program (below). The learning program also supports teachers and parents to understand the medical and educational issues for a range of serious conditions, they visit schools and run education programs.
In rare cases, where a family may be found sleeping in a car as nearby accomodation is financially out of reach or unavailable, a lounge room will sometimes be converted to a bedroom to provide emergency shelter for a family.
The team that I was fortunate to be introduced to last week are incredibly passionate about what they do. They work tirelessly to make sure that families are comfortable and have as much of what they need as they can provide- but it can not be done without the help of the community.
SO WITH THAT:
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
THIS SATURDAY 17TH OCTOBER IS McHAPPY DAY, ordering a Bic Mac, buying some new socks and a helping hand and emptying your change into the Ronald McDonald House Charity Box will help the charity to continue these and the many other programs that they run. These can be found at any McDonald's Restaurant.
I AM ALSO URGING THE FAMILIES THAT FOLLOW THE MELBOURNE KID TO #BRINGABAG TO THE RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE IN PARKVILLE EACH TIME YOU VISIT ROYAL PARK- NATURE PLAY, IT'S RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD AND THEY CAN BE DROPPED OFF AT 22 GATEHOUSE ST, PARKVILLE. HERE IS THE LIST OF THINGS THAT THEY NEED TO HELP THIER FAMILIES:
So put McHappy Day into your diary, and organise a play date at Nature Play and #bringabag to Ronald McDonald House!