Friday, November 20, 2009
This past Tuesday, Wifey’s House had the privilege of attending a McHappy Day at McDonald’s event at one the Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses. Yes, Wifey’s House. I pulled Miles, 8, and Milan, 6, out of school an hour early so that they could come with me to learn about how the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) helps more than 4 million children and their families a year, and how we could help them, too.
When I received the invite to attend this event my schedule was booked, ahem, overbooked, but there was something inside telling me to make this happen, and to bring the kids with me. (OK, for many who know me well, ahem, know that not booking a babysitter was a BIG step for me.) I want to make community service a bigger part of my life and strongly believe it’s important to instill that in our children while their young.
Miles and Milan were an easy sell. Hello, McDonalds was in the title and um, the town car they sent to pick us up made me, “the coolest mom ever!”
One step into the new 50-bedroom facility located near Emory on Gatewood Road, and I knew I made the right decision to come … and that I’d want to come back again, and again. I’m not going to bore you with all the marketing details that explain how 84 cents of every dollar donated is used to fund RMHC programs globally. Or that local RMHC chapters serve approximately 3,700,000 families each year. You can read about all that on the RMHC website here.
I want to share with you what you can’t read. What I felt when I walked through that door – love. The love and peace that flowed through that building was contagious. You couldn’t help but feel the love that came from every single person that worked or volunteered in that house. These people have made it their mission to provide assistance to families when their child is sick, to offer them a place to stay, food, transportation – a home while they are in need. What I loved most is that it was genuine. As a former entertainment publicist I can spot
bullshit a song and dance a mile away, and this was the real deal.
We toured the beautiful facility and learned about how much thought and care was put into making sure it was comfortable yet safe for the children and their various illnesses.
We also had the opportunity to speak with several family members staying at the house and heard first hand how RMHC changed their lives and literally kept them off of the street while their children were in ICU fighting for their lives.
One couple had been there two weeks. Their daughter was born with holes in her heart. She was flown to Atlanta, three hours from their home, and they were left behind to get to her however they could. Well, they did, with only the clothes on their back and barely a dime in their pockets. Once their baby was settled in ICU, they were left with no where to go. A social worker told them about RMHC which literally keep this family together.
Several things this family shared with us were moving, but one thing especially struck me. The father told us that he used to walk into a McDonald’s look at the little glass donations house that sat on the counter, turn away and pocket his change. “I never thought that I would NEED the help that that box offers,” he said, choking back tears.
Today is the official McHappy Day fundraiser. I invite you to visit the RMHC web site, and follow them on Twitter (@RMHC); they’re using the #McHappyDay hash tag. I also challenge you to get involved. Next time you buy a happy meal for your kids, drop the change you get back in their donation box. All that change adds up and changes people’s lives. You can also find a local RMHC near you and donate your time. Involve your kids, talk to the staff at the house and see what they need. It could be as simple as your kids and their friends baking cookies or collecting cans for their pantry.
Winks & Smiles,
Photos courtesy of Marlo Herring