Established in 1981, Ronald McDonald House® Toronto seeks to provide a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families to heal better together.
I honestly had no idea what to expect, but felt confident I could handle the situation. Over at my own blog, I do talk about special needs frequently, so I know a lot about Ronald McDonald House (particularly the one in Toronto).
Before having children, I used to be so punctual! I wish I could get that back. Thankfully, I was able to find parking quickly (quite the feat in downtown) and was only 2 minutes late. I have to admit I was quite glad I wasn’t the only one running a few minutes behind schedule!
A group of fabulously connected women (and a few token gentlemen) got together in the houses beautiful lobby. We began the morning with refreshments and introductions about the house in general. There was talk of hashtags (I’m going to be honest with you. I have a hard time embracing the twitter, but I figured this was a worthy event to dust off my handle. ;))
We really got to experience something great. This particular house is the largest in the world, boasting 81 rooms for families, and it just opened it’s doors at their new location (240 McCaul St.) in November. Their previous space had been quite small, running out of room and having a waiting list. Thankfully, with this new building, they don’t have a wait list and they are still doing their goal, helping families in time of medical crisis.
Our next item on the agenda, we heard from 2 parents who are benefiting from the fabulous services at the Ronald McDonald House. Both of their children are patients at the Hospital for Sick Children with relapses of leukemia.
When I’m not hanging out on the interwebs, I volunteer at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre, where I share my family’s story to enhance a deeper, more personal relationship with staff within the hospital. When these two moms began speaking, I could tell it would be hard to have a dry eye in the house. One thing that got to me though was Cameron, a 4-year-old little girl (daughter to the fabulous mom on the right) with leukemia thanked us all for coming. Totally made my day.
The rooms are quite gorgeous. They have some rooms that resemble a bachelors apartment and they also have suites where there are 3 separate rooms for the family, a kitchen area and living area together. I can certainly see how people would feel so comfortable and at home there. It had such a great atmosphere.
I am certain the Ronald McDonald house left no stone untouched. They had taken into consideration everything parents and families would need to be able to fully relax. There is a library that is a quite place to debrief, a gym, a business centre, reflection room, work out equipment, theatre, lounges, a school, outdoor play equipment and kitchens. There are 6 kitchens set up side by side. Each has its own oven, stove, microwave, cabinets etc. Just another way to make people comfortable. They can cook on site or usually once a week an organization comes in and cooks for the whole house.
We ended up back in the lobby we started in. The last speaker of the day was Michael “Pinball” Clemons. His words were so inspirational. He explained that he was poor growing up, but never knew it. His home was filled with love no matter how tough things got. He explained that we (as human kind in general) should appreciate the people who aren’t so nice, they might be struggling with something too. If you are looking for a great person, don’t look at their awards/accomplishments. Look at what they’ve done for someone else.
This was such a wonderful event. Thanks so much, Julie for allowing me to cover it for you. Although the 2 parent stories were talking about leukemia and not cerebral palsy; most special needs parent can identify with practically everything that has been shared by another special needs parents.
Cheryl is a 30-year-old mother of 2 living in Toronto, Ontario. Lauren is a rambunctious 4-year-old and Jillian is a very active 2.5 year old. Jillian was diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy at 13 months old. Cheryl can be found at Beautiful Side of Hectic and 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
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