Sat Apr 21 2018

Redefine your personal potential

Written by Jim Germain



Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan (RMHC – SK) provides a supportive home-like environment in both our House in Saskatoon and our Family Room in the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert to support families of sick children.

Ronald McDonald charity house in Saskatchewan

RMHC – SK plays an essential role in improving a child’s health and well being through Family Centered Care. Research shows, patient outcomes are improved with the family’s presence and support both in the hospital and when families are near their sick child. A family functioning cohesively and who is not in a state of crisis is better equipped to assist their child with the demands of illness. Staying close by allows parents and caregivers to better communicate with their child’s medical team which improves adherence to complicated treatment plans. With the focus on Family Centered Care, families can become part of the health care team by providing emotional support, monitoring ongoing health, advocating on behalf of their child, and understanding their child’s long term health-care needs. Through the work of Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms we support this collaboration to help keep families close so they are better equipped to care for their child.

The HOUSE

Ronald McDonald charity house bedroom in Saskatchewan

At the Ronald McDonald House located in Saskatoon, we focus on providing accommodation for families of sick children receiving medical treatment for a requested contribution of $10/night, but more significantly, RMHC-SK prides itself on maintaining a warm, comfortable and safe atmosphere where families have the opportunity to connect with other families in similar situations. Through the doors of our House, you will find families struggling with a child’s fragile health or celebrating healing milestones while at the same time dealing with the routine necessities of everyday life. Over the past 33 years we have been able to support over 22,000 families in this province. But in addition to accommodations, RMHC-SK provides a variety of family supports including our Generous Helping Food program which includes breakfasts 4 days a week, dinners 3 times a week and access to community pantry food that helps in providing nutritious snacks for long days at the hospital. Our food program also supports volunteer bakers who come to the house to provide daily baking that is both comfort food and wholesome. The Generous Helping Food program provides families with healthy, nutritious meal options and reduces the stress of planning and preparation for their family. Other supports that are present in the House include weekly pet therapy visits, expressive art therapy, massages and various other comforts aimed at easing the stress and burden of supporting a sick child.

Ronald McDonald charity house collage of baking and crafts

Since 1985, RMHC – SK has supported families from across the province which started as a 13 bedroom bed and breakfast facility is now a 42,000 square foot home with 34 guestrooms and expanded living pace to address the demand in the province of families requiring support. Now we can offer families 2 large kitchens with seven designated work stations, two maternal baby care rooms, and 6 large gathering spaces, with additional play room focused on children and youth. Designated laundry rooms with 2 washers and 2 dryers on each floor, where families have access to this facility anytime they require. Special gifts for families upon check-out include a handmade quilt provided by quilters from all over Saskatchewan, and a gift of a toy for the children (siblings and patients) of the house to help create the joy of childhood during difficult times.

Through the doors of our House, you will find families struggling with a child’s fragile health or celebrating healing milestones.

Families staying at the house are comprised of parents, siblings and/or extended family of children receiving medical care in Saskatoon, who live 40km outside of Saskatoon. They can stay for a night, a week, or months and are welcome to stay as long as their child is receiving medical care in Saskatoon. Accommodation at the House ensures a reduced financial burden for families associated with a stay away from home.

Ronald McDonald charity house in Saskatchewan

RMHC - SK relies on community support from donors and volunteers. With nearly 300 volunteers who bring their support to the House in so many ways, we are able to bring the programs to families of the House and the Family Room that they require the most. In 2017, our volunteers gave 9220 hours of service to the families and the organization which includes serving 3228 people at breakfast and 4671 people at dinner.

The Family Room

In addition to the House, RMHC-SK opened its’ first Family Room on September 27th, 2016 in the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital. On average, RMHC-SK supports over 2200 families annually from every corner of the province through our House in Saskatoon and our Family Room in Prince Albert.

Ronald McDonald charity house kitchen

The Ronald McDonald Family Room program in Prince Albert is an extension of RMHC-SK (and the House in Saskatoon) and provides a quiet retreat from the medical setting but is just steps away from their sick child. Since opening the Ronald McDonald Family Room in September, the Family Room has supported over 3,200 families who have had 11,500 visits. That’s a lot of care, compassion and coffee!

Ronald McDonald charity house living room

At the end of the hall on the Pediatrics Unit, this 1300 square foot space has been carefully designed and decorated to contribute to a families’ mental and physical wellbeing during a stressful time. The Ronald McDonald Family Room is similar to a home and here are a few features:

  • Quiet living room with a TV and fireplace• Kitchenette with coffee, tea, fresh baking and a variety of healthy snacks
  • Dining space
  • Sleeping nooks
  • Play space for kids
  • Arts and craft opportunities
  • Private bathroom and shower
  • Laundry facility
  • Phone, computer and complimentary Wi-Fi
  • And most importantly, an opportunity to chat with staff, volunteers and other families
Child painting artwork at the Ronald McDonald charity house

The Family Room is available to families 7 days a week 365 days a year, between the hours of 9am and 9pm and is offered at no cost to the families of sick children admitted in the hospital. Support from the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Prince Albert community, in particular, has been both incredible and instrumental in programming and ongoing operations.

Of course, you can’t talk about Family Room operations without mentioning the unwavering support of Family Room staff and volunteers who through their time, energy and support provide a warm, supportive and inviting space for all entering our doors. In 2017 we were supported by 27 volunteers who gave 3,290 hours of time, hosted 23 movie nights, brewed over 1,100 pots of coffee and baked 160 batches of cookies. And the efforts don’t go unnoticed, one family wrote.... “the Ronald McDonald Family Room made the stay in the Hospital not so lonely. Seeing happy faces and children lift my heart. Very comfy, clean and appreciated from the bottom of my heart. This place saved me many tears of loneliness. A million thanks.”

How RMHC-SK operates

In order to fully operate both the House in Saskatoon and the Family Room in Prince Albert RMHC – SK receives funding through a variety of sources including McDonald’s – our Founding and Forever Partner, corporate & individual donors and third-party fundraising events and activities from around the province. Through McDonald’s corporate giving strategy, all the funds raised through McDonald’s programs throughout the province, which includes coin boxes in restaurants, $0.10 on every Happy Meal sold and a portion of McHappy Day funds, stay in the province to support Saskatchewan families that require a stay at the House.

Over the past years of support through McHappy Day alone, McDonalds has donated over $994,000 to the operations of both the House in Saskatoon and the Family Room in Prince Albert, Having no government funding, we rely on the support from our provincial communities to continue to enable us to bring these important services to all families in need.

The McIntyre Family, visitors of the Ronald McDonald house, crowded around a newborn baby
The McIntyre Family

McHappy Day FAMILY STORY

Kenlee was born 10 weeks premature. She spent over a month and half in the hospital, first in Regina and then in Saskatoon, where we stayed at Ronald McDonald House. I walked up to my room and on the chalk board it said “Take a Deep Breath... You’re Home Now.” I broke down in tears. Our family had been separated for a month while in Regina. RMH allowed us to be together again. Our son Karter asked Santa to “bring mommy and Kenlee home for Christmas.” I was so upset we wouldn’t be at home, but it was truly the next best thing celebrating at the House. They made it so special! Staff and volunteers make every day easier with kindness, support and love. The playroom is spectacular; Karter still asks when are we going back to our “second home” to visit. ~ Raeanne, Darren, Karter & Kenlee McIntyre, North Battleford SK

FAMILY QUOTES

Everyone was so supportive and friendly. I felt like they actually cared about our family. The very moment we stopped in the House we felt Home, Love and a sense of Family. Clean, quiet, safe and easy access to the hospital. Very accommodating and inexpensive. Each person, staff and volunteers made sure to speak to us every chance they had. That was truly wonderful and appreciated.