The Oden Family Story

“Our son Austin was born at 31 weeks. He was transferred to Valley Children’s Hospital. We live in the City of Madera, so we were just 20 minutes away, but I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from my little one; it broke my heart. Thanks to Ronald McDonald House, I was able to be close to my son. Ronald McDonald House is a HOME. I felt like I was at HOME. The people here were so kind to me and my family. We are truly grateful to have been able to stay here with these fantastic people.”
-Michael & Miriam Oden

The Oden family welcomed their fourth member much earlier than anticipated. Mom Miriam went into labor and delivered Baby Boy Austin at just 31 weeks. Austin weighed a tiny 3 pounds and 1 ounce when he was welcomed into the world, and needed help gaining weight and learning how to breath on his own.
The family from Madera, CA checked into their room at Ronald McDonald House on September 15, 2016. Along with parents Miriam and Michael, Baby Austin’s older brother, 6-year-old AJ, also came along to remain close to his little brother. With having a child in grade school, and only having access to one gas guzzling truck, commuting between hospital and home was simply no option for the Oden’s.

Having a room in Ronald McDonald House allowed for mom Miriam to spend quality time with her baby boy, and allowed for Brother AJ and Dad Michael to have a comfortable place to stay between visits to Baby Austin’s bedside and grade school. The NICU only allows siblings of the patients to visit for 20 minutes a day, so AJ definitely appreciated all of the fun activities we offer for all of the siblings staying in our House during all of their downtime. AJ played in our newly renovated playroom, played with the PlayStation, got his face painted from a volunteer group, played in the backyard, and became great friends with all of the staff! (He was our little buddy!)

Mom Miriam is typically very shy and closed off, but found it very easy to open up to the staff and other checked in families during her stay at Ronald McDonald House. “The fact that there were other people in the same situation, or an even more challenging situation, made it extremely comforting to open up and talk to the other people and families staying at the House” says Miriam. Since the family has checked out, Miriam has remained in contact with two other moms.

Baby Austin began to defy all of the odds against him and was released one whole month early! When given the opportunity to be so close to their baby boy, Miriam and Michael were able to do a lot of “Skin-To-Skin” bonding with Austin. Skin-to-Skin Bonding is proven to help babies grower stronger faster and assist in the healing process! Miriam states that “Without Ronald McDonald House, we wouldn’t be able to see [Austin] nearly as much, and would not be able to do the skin to skin bonding that helped make him stronger.”

The Oden Family’s experience with Ronald McDonald House is just one of thousands that we see every year. Whether families are able to take their child home, happy and healthy, or unfortunately are not given that opportunity, RMHC allows families to be near their child during their time of greatest need; and that is a gift that is irreplaceable. Lessening the financial burden on families during these hard times is the least we can do, and keeping them close is what we strive to do.

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Pull Together to help #keepfamiliesclose

pop-tabIt’s not just an urban myth. The Ronald McDonald House really does collect the aluminum pop tabs from cans. We are able to generate thousands of dollars from our pop tab collection program every year. That would be impossible without the amazing support of children and adults who faithfully collect the tabs. It’s an easy way to do something good and make a difference in the life of a seriously ill child. Why not get your school, workplace or community organization to collect them with you?

Jordan Reich has been collecting Pull Tabs for our families for the last 5 years with his family, friends, and school.

“I started collecting these soon after my niece Kyndall was hospitalized at Valley Children’s Hospital with RSV. They did not stay at the Ronald McDonald House during this visit, but not long after, Kyndall was having more medical issues that required surgeries. It was hard for my sister and her family to drive Oakdale to Madera for surgeries that were at 3:00am. so they were fortunate enough to get a room at the Ronald McDonald House. 

Later on, Kyndall’s older sister needed to have a procedure so they once again got to stay at the House. Today, my nephew Kayson, their little brother will be having a surgery and they will have once again been blessed to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. The help of the Ronald McDonald House has been tremendous and bother their family and ours can’t thank you all enough for what you have done. 

I wanted to start collecting the pop tabs because i saw the way you helped families in need,” Jordan Reich. 

Pull together to help #keepfamiliesclose!

Pull tabs can be delivered to the Ronald McDonald House at 9161 Randall Way, Madera, CA 93636.

RMHC Family Thank You Note

Good Afternoon,bain-family_vertical

As you may know my wife Laura Bain and I were residents of the Ronald McDonald House from May 2, 2016 until August 13, 2016.  We wish to tell the story of our son Evan Andrew Schwartz and share with you our journey along the way.  Our son Evan was born on 04-30-2016 at 29 weeks and five days gestational age, his original due date was to be 07-11-2016.  At birth he was 2 lbs 13 oz and 16 inches tall. Laura began having what we now know were contractions on Wednesday 04-27-16 and by Thursday afternoon she was in the hospital. Later that night at 11pm her water broke and a few hours later she was airlifted from Mercy Merced to St Agnes Hospital in Fresno. The next day at 4:36 am Evan was born. Truth be told, at the time of his birth we didn’t have a name for him and we were not aware of the gender because we chose to be surprised. 5 hours after birth, he was transferred to Valley Children’s Hospital and was diagnosed with an Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA).  On the second day of life, he under went surgery, to correct the TEF and place a G-tube in his stomach. After the surgery, doctors said it was now a matter of him gaining weight in order to undergo the EA repair surgery.  They said he could be in the hospital up to six months depending on how everything goes.  Needless to say, life changed quickly over night and we were now in a situation where we would have to travel over an hour one way just to be with our son.  Luckily, we were moved to the top of the list for the Ronald McDonald house and by Monday, May 2nd we had a room.  The room we were given was more than accommodating, clean, and very spacious.  All the staff of the house were always amazing and accommodated our every need.  My wife and I took the first two weeks off of work and then traded what we called “shifts” at the hospital once we returned.  One of us would be at home while the other would commute to work every morning after being by Evan’s side. We are very grateful for the room we had at the Ronald McDonald house which allowed one of us to be by Evans side nearly every day. After about a month of being there at the house our room was completely transformed. New beds, hard wood floor, paint, base boards, light fixtures, blinds, artwork, and even a closet organizer.  My wife and I were absolutely astonished by difference those changes made. We were very blessed because day after day Evan made good progress and continued to gain weight as the doctors had hoped.  It seemed like an eternity but after about three months, Evan gained the necessary weight to under go the EA repair and just like that we had a surgery date, 08-11-2016. The surgery was a complete success and then it was just a matter of time for Evan to learn to feed on his own, which the doctors told could take a few days up to a couple months.  Remarkably, Evan was able to eat on his own after the seventh day of recovery and by Tuesday August 23, 2016, 116 days after our journey began, we were being discharged from the hospital.
Thank you for everything you did for my family. You all made our experience so much more comfortable and much easier.

 

Thank you again,

Matthew, Laura and Evan

Lowe’s “Adopt A Room” Program

We opened the doors to our Ronald McDonald House on February 14, 2001 and have served thousands of families over the years; keeping them close to their children in their time of need. Over the years the rooms have seen a tremendous amount of wear and tear due to the hundreds of families staying in each room. We saw that there was a great need to renovate the 18 bedrooms and wanted to provide our families with a relaxing place to retreat too.

The “Adopt A Room” Partnership is a program allowing companies, organizations, and families to be the exclusive room sponsor for one of the 18 rooms at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley. The $5,000 annual donation  sponsors all of the families who stay in the adopted room throughout the year & provided a room upgrade in partnership with Lowe’s. 20% of the donation went towards the room upgrade & 80% sponsors the families that stay in your room.

Last April RMHC Central Vally partnered with the Madera Lowe’s Home Improvement on the “Adopt A Room” Program! We went to them in hopes that they would partner with us and provide extensive discounts in order for us to complete the renovations within the program budget we created. They not only agreed to give us a discount on the products we were seeking, they also volunteered to complete the renovations at no cost! Lowe’s is very community serviced focused and was just as excited as we were to partner with us for this program.

We completed the first room renovation on April 21, 2015 when our McDonald’s Co-op adopted Room #117! We put the family staying in Room #117 up in a nearby hotel and completed the renovation in just two days! The family was in awe at the upgrades that were made to the room and the difference it made in their stay.

Once we completed the first renovation, we started approaching other donors to help us support the program. We received amazing feedback and pretty soon had more than half of the rooms adopted. Lowe’s came in and renovated two more rooms, but now we had so many of our rooms adopted, Lowe’s couldn’t keep up with the ‘once-a-month’ renovation schedule we originally decided upon.

Lowe’s completed their first mass renovation on November 5th, updating five more rooms. At this point, we had all but 10 rooms renovated and we were entering into the holiday season. We still needed to get three more bedrooms adopted. Over the next couple of months we were successful in getting the remaining bedrooms adopted.

We now had the remaining 10 rooms adopted, we just needed to figure out when and how we were going to complete the renovations. Lowe’s committed to completing the renovations for the remaining 10 rooms on June 9, 2016! With help from neighboring Lowes stores, we were successful in completing the renovations! Over 100 volunteers dedicated two days to complete the remodels for our families. It was quite a sight to see! Volunteers from Wells Fargo, VF Outdoor, CCWF, and Murphy Bank, four of our room donors, also participated in the renovations.

We are proud to say that all 18 bedrooms in our House are now upgraded and provide a warm space for our families to retreat to after a long day at the hospital. Thank you to Lowe’s for taking on this project with us and volunteering your time to complete the renovations; we could not have done this without you!

Special thanks to our 18 room donors: Barthuli & Associates, Bishel Family Farms, Cargill, CCWF, JT AG Services, Lyons Magnus, Macy’s, McDonald’s (2), Murphy Bank, The Delph Family- McDonald’s, The Torres Family- McDonald’s, U.S. Cold Storage, Valley Children’s Healthcare, VF Outdoor (2), and Wells Fargo.

CART High School Internship

As CART students, we were chosen to intern at the Ronald McDonald House where we met our mentors Mia and Marisa. They gave us the opportunity to see what it is like at the Ronald McDonald house and what happens behind the scenes. It has been an experience like no other!
They gave us the opportunity of being able to promote the “Halfway to Halloween” event at the Grizzly Stadium. To do this we designed posters and went around town to put them up. We were also able to collect some donations to put together two raffle baskets for each night, by doing this we got to meet so many new people. During the event we sold striped socks for $10 and every pair of socks came with a raffle ticket which would give the buyer a chance to win the basket of the night. We were lucky enough to raise $625 to help the families at the Ronald McDonald House. It felt great to see our hard work pay off and to meet people who had actually spent time in the Ronald McDonald house. We are so thankful that we were given the opportunity to work with our mentors and be apart of the team at the Ronald McDonald house.
Jailene & Lalli, CART High School Juniors

Spero supports RMHC

spero and rmhc

 “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

It is February 14, 2001, the day that the Central Valley Ronald McDonald House officially opened its doors: Valentine’s Day.

It has been over 14 years since their inauguration, and as I walked through the door I immediately recognized the significance of opening on Valentine’s Day.  Their slogan, the “House that Love Built”, has stood the test of time, and is still entrenched in the core of every volunteer, employee, and family who calls this place home.

Being unfamiliar with the true purpose of the Ronald McDonald House, I quickly learned of the sacrifice all people involved took on their shoulders in order to be a part of this amazing place.   Heart-wrenching stories of families from all over California and the rest of the United States float down the building’s hallways—stories that tell of how families are left almost stranded, almost without aid, while their sick children seek remedy at the Central Valley Children’s Hospital across the street.  The Ronald McDonald House quickly steps up to the plate when such cases arise, providing a refuge for families when their children are facing serious illnesses or have been badly injured.

The Ronald McDonald House has eighteen bedrooms, which is constantly at maximum capacity, but this is a mere fraction of the number of families who are in need of shelter while their children’s health hangs in the balance at Central Valley Children’s.  The Ronald McDonald House supplies families not only with shelter, but with everything a family would need in order to feel at home during its stay.  Basic toiletries like shampoo and conditioner, paper goods such as Ziploc bags and paper plates, even plastic forks, knives, and spoons—these are just a few of the goods Ronald McDonald has each family’s disposal.

Enter Spero, which in Italian, not coincidentally, translates into “I Hope.”  Spero is extremely blessed to have partnered with the Ronald McDonald House, an institution who seeks to, also not coincidentally, infuse families with hope. Together the tandem has produced an avenue of fundraising in which ten percent of every purchase of Spero’s Products goes to the families in need.  The support comes in many forms—from purchasing snacks that will feed the families to supplying detergent so every family member can comfortably wait out its loved one’s treatment.  Helping those in need, letting them know that they are not alone during their dark trial, acting as the crutch that will not allow them to succumb to their unfortunate dilemma—that is what the Ronald McDonald House and Spero do, and that is what they will continue to do so long as people are in need of help.

The Butterfly Cove at RMHC

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While walking through the hallway towards the living room, I notice many beautiful butterfly art along both walls. It made me smile because it reminded me of my elementary school days – my friends and I would spend our recess time building little houses from leaves and branches and we would try to catch butterflies to “live” in them. Obviously, we didn’t catch any butterflies and the houses we built were not suitable for them. Anyways, back to the present…

The butterflies in the hallway traveled with me to the living room in the House where they bundled around the grape vines across the wall. As I sat there just reminiscing about my childhood and staring at the butterflies, I wondered why, of all creatures, were butterflies the ones chosen for this House. What was so special about them? Were they chosen for a specific reason? Or were they selected as decorations by coincidence? Apparently, there is a much deeper meaning to butterflies than just their artistic wings and beautiful features – butterflies symbolize hope, endurance, and life.

The families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House are here because they have a child being treated at the hospital. Every morning they walk pass these butterflies and when they return the butterflies are here to welcome them back. Whether it may be at the peak of sunlight or the last ray before dawn, these creatures are always here, just like a butterfly cove.

The families come to find rest and comfort in the House, but what they need most is hope and endurance. In any case, the one thing that is evidently the most desired is the continuation of life for their child. That is why these butterflies are here, because they represent exactly what families need and what RMHC wants to help provide. Although I still don’t know if the butterflies have a personal connection with the house, one thing is evident; this House is a place to hope, a place to endure, and a place for life. This House is a Home.

Written by: Pazua Lor, Fresno State Marketing Intern

March Volunteer of the Month

Jan Walters (2)

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!”– Helen KellerOur volunteers are truly a key factor in making our House a “home away from home” for so many families over the years. We could not do it without them. Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Jan Watters. Jan is a retired teacher who now helps fill her time by volunteering weekly as a front desk volunteer, among other things she does for our House. Her positive energy and welcoming smile definitely

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Jan Watters. Jan is a member of the Sister Servants, a group of ladies who donate their time and talents throughout the community. Jan is a retired teacher who now helps fill her time by volunteering up to three times a week. She collects the unused pastries from local Starbucks locations and brings them to our House to stock our Breakfast Bar. She has been volunteering for several years with the Sister Servants. Her giving heart and generous gesture of delivery the Breakfast Bar items are greatly appreciated by our Families. Thank you for all you do for us Patti and congratulations on being March’s Volunteer of the Month!

1.Your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Jan Watters. I am a 75-year-old retired teacher who loves to drive and enjoys serving.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

I have come many times with Sister Servants. We appreciate what the House does to help parents in their time of need.

3. What type of things have you done while volunteering?

We have washed windows, brought special items for the kitchen, helped purchase TVs for the rooms, prepared lunches and made breakfast burritos for the families.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

The kitchen is my favorite part of the House because we have so much fun cooking there together.

5. What is your favorite part about volunteering at the House?

I enjoy bringing goodies that have been donated for the breakfast bar. If I was staying there, I would love seeing such a variety to choose from.

6. Tell us something fun about you that we don’t know. Hidden talent, funny story, favorite pastime, etc.

I enjoy gardening and making bird houses out of repurposed wood.

January Volunteer of the Month: Carrie

Carrie

We often say that our volunteers are the backbone of our House. Without their help there is no way we could provide all the things for our families that help make our House their “home away from home”. Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Carrie Craft. Carrie comes to us from Merced, Ca and makes the drive to our House at least once a month to cook a meal among the other activities she does for our families.  We cannot thank you enough for everything that you do, congratulations on being January’s Volunteer of the Month!

1.Your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Carrie, I was born and raised in Merced, Ca.  I graduated in 1992 got a degree in Early Childhood development, ran a corporate preschool for 18 years then switched careers in 2011 and now work for Walmart as a department manager.  I also have a paralegal degree where I do some side work here and there.  I’m married and have 3 children, Tyler 13, Victoria 18, and Chris 23. In my spare time, I coach a junior roller derby team called California Mayhem

2.  How did you start volunteering with our House?

Last year I met the Barron Family through a Facebook charity group who’s 2 year old daughter was fighting brain cancer.  Her parents and I became good friends and in talking with them they talked about how helpful their local RMH had been (Atlanta).  I didn’t know much about the RMH so decided to do some research.  I loved that families could have a home away from home while their children were receiving treatment and that it was free.  I contacted our local RMH and asked what I could do.  My boss and I toured the Madera RMH and loved what we saw. We hosted our first dinner in June and have been here every since.

3. What type of things have you done while volunteering?

In the last year I along with friends and family have prepared dinners once a month, we have donated clothes and we are most proud of our events we are able to offer to the families.  We have provided a carnival for Halloween which included games, trunk or treat, food and costumes. For Christmas we provided gift baskets for all of the rooms, lunch, presents for staff and families, Santa and a cookie decorating station. We are super excited for the 2016 year because we have lots of things planned to keep the smiles coming.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

I don’t have one specific part of the house that is my favorite, I love it all but I think being able to sit and talk with families and to hear how all of the volunteers make a positive impact on their lives is one of the moments I treasure most.

5. What is your favorite thing about volunteering at the House?

My favorite thing about volunteering is knowing that I’m providing a positive moment for families who are in a rough spot.  To know that for a couple of hours their children can enjoy a little normal by seeing Santa or going on an egg hunt, to know they can come “home” to a warm meal or sit and shares their fears, their joys their milestones.. To become a friend to a stranger, to provide an ear or shoulder. It’s pretty amazing to be a small piece of a much bigger picture.

6. Tell us something fun about you that we don’t know. Hidden talent, funny story, favorite pastime, etc.

Something fun about me …I collect anything with frogs (not real ones lol) the fascination started when I was 5 and  I received a Kermit the frog stuffed animal, which I still have, at Christmas.  Fell in love at first sight.

On a side note I couldn’t do what I do for the RMH without all of my supporters many who I’ve not met in person.  I have an amazing online support system and I just want them all to know how much I appreciate them.  A special thanks to my wife Laci, she is my rock and number 1 supporter.  She is just as involved with the planning and prepping for all the things we do.

Fill the Boat Toy Drive

On Saturday, December 12th, The US Coast Guard Auxiliary hosted their 5th Annual “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive. This year they decided to have our Ronald McDonald House as their benefiting charity. Tom Hoisington, Toy Drive Coordinator, started this charitable event when he lived in Orlando, FL and decided to continue his legacy when he moved to California two years ago. On Saturday the Modesto Walmart at 2225 Plaza Parkway was filled with the local Sheriff’s Department, SWAT team, Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Coca-Cola, 104.1 THE HAWK! Radio and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus! People from the community were able to come and drop off a new toy in the boat parked in the area, visit the different booths and take a picture with Santa.

When families stay with us, the most important thing to them is their child staying at the hospital. During this time of year it can be hard to celebrate the holiday season and even harder for the siblings and other children staying at our House who still get excited about Christmas and joy from receiving presents on Christmas morning. The “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive received 618 toys and raised $337 in monetary donations to be used at our House. With the success of the toy drive, our families staying here will have a reason to celebrate this Christmas! Thank you to all who participated and a HUGE thank you to Tom Hoisington and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for making this possible!