Our House is Their Home: Part 3

Our House is Their Home: Part 3

About the Series

We’re all in this together, and at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland we’ve made a lot of changes in order to provide comfort to families during an already-stressful time, while keeping them as safe as possible from the new threat of coronavirus. 

We have ourselves also found comfort in each other and all of the members of our Ronald McDonald House Family, near and far. For the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of the things that continue to keep our House a home, our family together, and ourselves inspired.

Reflections from a “Temporary Volunteer”

—Tim O’Callahan, Director of Development

These are hard times for everyone right now, literally, every one. For the past few weeks at Ronald McDonald House, we have had to make drastic changes to the way we operate. No new families admitted. No volunteers or volunteer groups. Cancellation of A Night at the Races which raises more than $40,000 to help us operate. Most of our staff working from home to eliminate unnecessary risk to them, their loved ones and the families we serve.

I have been “fortunate” to be one of the staff members available to work at the House and help to fill the roles normally done by our incredible volunteers. Packing and delivering meals to families in their rooms, doing laundry, working the front desk, calling shuttles, taking donations left outside the door, answering phones, wiping down every door handle, desk top, and hard surface in the lobby and kitchen, and greeting the families when they return from a long day spent at the hospital with their child.

In spite of what is going on in the world, I feel so lucky. Lucky to be at Ronald McDonald House. Lucky to help fill the breach while we are short staffed. Lucky to meet and interact, even briefly, with the families we serve.

As someone who works in the “back office,” let me just say to the volunteers, “I get it!” We miss you terribly right now. Our families miss you, the kids especially. And the place misses the energy and kindness and compassion that you all bring every day.

But here’s the worst kept secret of all about our volunteers. You miss it as much as we miss you!

BarnVolunteers Miss Volunteering

So many have been in touch with our staff, wishing us well, appreciating every update from Mark Destino with pictures of the gardens around the House beginning to bloom, or the one leaky pipe that he had fixed last week.

Your replies back to Mark say it all.

I’m out cultivating the soil in my own garden and planting some bulbs at home, watching the crocuses spring forth from the ground, but I cannot wait to get back to the House and do it with all with my friends and fellow gardeners.

Staying inside but did plant peas and lettuce in my two Community Garden plots. Again, no one was there so it's still a safe activity. But I truly miss gardening with friends and will be glad when we can work together again.

Chicken and mashed potatoes mealIndividuals and Groups Help from Afar

Without the volunteer groups providing and preparing several dinners each week, the staff has made it their mission to make sure we feed everyone just as we did before the pandemic hit. Scott Lovasz, Group Partnership Manager, gets encouraging notes from volunteers and donors. Our suppliers, vendors and even some local restaurants have been amazing, donating food and supplies whenever they can. It has helped immeasurably in allowing us to get through this so far. Guests, business associates and volunteers themselves have started fundraising campaigns or made donations to support the meal program.

We are not done, of course. There are still many weeks to go before this all will end and we can hopefully return to normalcy.

We are so grateful to all those donors who have made extra contributions in recent weeks to our Family Meal Program and to the unrestricted fund to be used where our need is greatest. With the immediate loss of event revenue, we have a gap to fill. We do not want to diminish what we provide for the families who need us now most of all.

Until We Serve Together Again

So yes, this is a hard time for everyone, but there is grace all around us through adversity and I have been “lucky” to witness it. I’ve seen the world through new eyes because I have had the chance to “volunteer.”

You are all heroes to me. Heroes for what you do for us every day and heroes for staying home right now and staying well so that when this passes, you will be back in full force and our family remains intact.

We miss you. We need you. Please stay safe.