A few days before Valentine’s Day, Carl and I had the opportunity to serve dinner to some of the families staying at the Jacksonville Ronald McDonald House with some other women from the Jaguars Organization.
The Jaguars brought in food that was catered from one of the local grocery stores (so I didn’t have to cook anything) and our job was just to help serve families. Different community organizations/groups provide dinner each and every night to RMH. We also helped any kids in attendance with a Valentine’s day craft.
I had never been inside a Ronald McDonald House before and anticipated that it might be a sad and depressing place. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was anything but that. The volunteers were so kind and caring. The families that we saw were so grateful and content with the love and care provided to them. It was a peaceful, happy place.
These are some facts that I learned about RMH of Jacksonville:
- The Home was founded as a “home away from home” for children and their families, offering a sense of community, compassion and service in support of any family whose child receives medical care in Jacksonville.
- It was founded in November 1988 with 10 bedrooms. After the current addition is completed very shortly, the house will serve 65 families.
- It has served over 25,000 families since 1988.
- Families are only asked to contribute $10 per night to stay at RMH, with average stays of 15 nights per family. No family is turned away by inability to pay however. And I question that average since most of the 16 families on the current roster are scheduled to stay at least 6 weeks for their child’s treatment.
- Approximately 70% of the families staying are from Florida, but there have been families from 23 US states and more than 10 foreign countries.
- The top 3 diagnosis of children who’s families are staying are cancer, heart surgery and premature birth.
- Volunteers help by cleaning, preparing meals, answering phones, helping with special events and performing other supportive roles. Last year, more than 1,800 volunteers gave over 21,000 hours of service to the House.
- One of the regular volunteers is Reed, the facility dog, a beautiful Golden Retriever-Lab mix who spends his weekdays at the RMH with his trainer.
I decided right then and there that I wanted to go back and help on a regular basis. So yesterday afternoon, I was trained as a Receptionist. I will be going once a week for a 4-hour shift to answer phones, screen visitors, accept donations and assist families coming and going. I am so excited about being a part of this worthwhile organization. I look forward to getting to serve these families that are going through an extremely challenging time and sharing the love of Christ with them.