Keeping families together by providing them a “home-like environment when families need it most!”
Imagine your child has a life-threatening injury or illness. You’re overwhelmed; you’re scared. The stress is only worsened because you’re in an unfamiliar city, away from the comfort and security of your own home, family, job, and support network when you need them the most.
That’s where Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan (RMHC-SK) comes in. At the House in Saskatoon, and in the Family Room in Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital, RMHC-SK provides the comforts of home such as accommodations, warm meals, laundry, support for siblings, and a sense of community. This means that families don’t have to go through their journey alone.
Since 1985, RMHC-SK has supported more than 26,800 Saskatchewan families from 420 communities across the province. Kitchen and pantry spaces are provided for each family, and laundry facilities are found on each floor. A games and media room for entertainment, large playrooms and a fitness room are among the spaces commonly utilized by families.
Karen Linsley, Director of Development and Communications for Ronald McDonald House Charities Saskatchewan, says that because of community partners like Saskatchewan Blue Cross, RMHC-SK can offer families so much more than just affordable accommodation. Families stay at Ronald McDonald House for just $10 a night.
“That’s for the whole family, not per person,” says Linsley. “Often families come during emergency situations but even if their trip is planned, food is the last thing they are thinking about. They’re doing their packing. They’re gathering their things together and getting organized to come. They’re not thinking about groceries. If they’ve had a hard day at the hospital, the last thing they want to worry about is getting together food to feed their other family staying at the house while their child is receiving treatment.”
RMHC-SK provides breakfast six mornings a week through their food program. They also deliver lunches to the hospital, right on the wards, so families don’t even have to remember to take them on their way out of the house. On top of that, outside organizations come to the house three nights a week, buy the groceries, prepare the supper meal and serve it to the families. Also offered are a whole host of other programs, including a Kids Care program, an Art Therapy Program and summer camps.
Ronald McDonald House relies on the support of more than 200 volunteers who do everything from helping with laundry, baking, making breakfasts, packing lunches, shuttling families to medical appointments or to grab groceries, and providing supervised activities and programs for children so that their parents can have a reprieve.
“Sometimes it’s just hard to put one foot in front of the other and to have these programs in place for you just makes it easier for the families,” says Linsley. “We’re so grateful for Blue Cross for valuing our volunteers and the work that they’re doing in our house to keep our families safe and comfortable while they’re at the house. We know that when the family can be together the child actually heals quicker because the parents aren’t as stressed and everybody can work together to create the optimal healing environment.”