Sometimes, you just need a hug.
Especially when you’re a child and you’re hurting, or afraid, or confused … there’s nothing like a mom or dad, someone you love and trust, wrapping their arms around you, and giving you their strength.
That’s why we do everything we can to keep families together. It’s hard enough for parents to see their child go into the hospital — and it’s hard enough to be that child — without being kept apart … far from someone you love.
This year, with pandemic restrictions, we’ve all learned something about isolation. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right. At Ronald McDonald House, things feel right. It’s never great to have a child in the hospital. But if your child has to be in the hospital, you want to be there for your child … to give a hug, hold a hand, share life’s moments. It’s better to be together. Way better.
Liam Bailey can tell you first-hand. He’s 11. He has to be in the hospital — for months — receiving treatment for a complicated condition.
But his family lives seven hours away, in upstate New York. Without Ronald McDonald House, says Bill, his dad, “there is no way we could afford to be here for our son. We would be forced to leave our 11-year-old son alone.”
Ronald McDonald House was this family’s only hope for staying together.
“Ronald McDonald House is a critical part of our son’s treatment,” Bill says. “It’s our home right now.” And they are thrilled. This place is “a true giving gift of love!”
They’re grateful for the clean, fully stocked, fully equipped kitchen, the secure and comfortable bedrooms, the laundry facilities, the beautiful courtyard — and the basketball hoop outside, which Liam’s younger siblings love. The Baileys were delighted to find “many comforts of home, such as video game systems, movies, board games, cable TV, and very comfortable living room areas.”
But best of all, Bill says: “the warm, supportive staff and volunteers here believe in the Ronald McDonald House mission, and do whatever they can to help families” — including craft-making activities, yoga, Reiki, and more.
Bill and his wife Cheryl have drawn strength from other families staying at “our House.” “They are great listeners, encouragers, and friends,” Bill says, “during very stressful and uncertain times. People with children with long-term disabilities can relate to each other. Like many other Ronald McDonald House guests, we have become friends.”
Isolation? Not here. This is a place that “fosters the true meaning of community,” Bill observes — like “volunteers and local merchants who come by to donate items, prepare meals for guests, clean up, offer building maintenance expertise … even tickets to area family events. The joy of giving … It brings out the best in humanity.”
Bill has one more good word of advice for all of us: “Give of yourself in some way to this incredibly valuable mission.” Yes, young Liam’s long hospital stay has been challenging … but “we are comforted and truly blessed that we have a place to live for as long as he is being treated.”