October and November Volunteers of the Month

steve-mueller-2“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill

Meet our Volunteers of the Month, Steve Mueller and John Goss. These two have played a pivotal role in the launch of a new program we have implemented to serve more families, our Happy Wheels Cart. Steve was approached by one of our board members, Brad Kirk, to construct a hospitality cart for the Happy Wheels program. Together, they went up to the Stanford Ronald john-gossMcDonald House to use their Happy Wheels cart as a model to replicate. With a plan set in place, Steve (owner of Closet Creations)  approached his neighbor John Goss (owner of Storage Systems), who happens to be in the same industry to join forces all for the sake of supporting families going through a difficult time.

The Happy Wheels cart was created to be able to serve more families in lieu of staying overnight due to room availability . This cart will go around the hospital a few times a week, where volunteers will distribute snacks, books, fun activities and toys to provide a little comfort as it travels the hospital hallways. This program would not have been possible without the new cart that was built by Steve and John and we wanted to show our recognition to them by naming them our October and November Volunteers of the Month. Thank you Steve and John for all of your hard work and congratulations on this award!

1. Your name and a little about yourself.

SM: I am a General Contractor. I have lived in Fresno all my life and married to Nancy and we have 3 children. I graduated from Bullard High School.

JG: I have lived in Fresno 66 years and have four children and four grandchildren. My 8 year old is hydrocephalic and has had numerous surgeries here at Children’s Hospital.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

SM: Through our church and  just wanting to give back to the community.

JG: A friend (Steve) told me about a project that he needed help with.

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

SM: Planning and preparing meals for the families. I built the Happy Wheels Cart and am on a committee for Christmas bags for the families.

JG: Happy Wheels cart construction

4. What is your favorite part of our House? 

SM: It is all great!

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

SM: Just knowing that in some small way that you might have put a smile back on someone.




The Garcia Family Story

The Garcia Family was excited and preparing to welcome two beautiful twin girls into their family on September 15, 2016.  When mom Cendy went into labor in June, the Garcia family had to shift all of their focus and energy on getting two extremely premature twin girls healthy and strong enough to leave the hospital.  At just 28 weeks gestational, Baby Abigail weighed 520 grams at birth, and sister Sophia weighed 1250, so both of these little angels had quite the fight ahead of them to stay alive. “They are our miracle babies by the grace of God,” mom Cendy says, and “God has remained faithful, surrounding us with so many caring and loving people.”

When both babies were initially discharged from the hospital, all was well until Baby Abigail started to take a turn for the worst.  She fell extremely ill and has since been re-admitted into Valley Children’s Hospital.  Abigail has been diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease and is on continual oxygen support, and has also undergone Heart Surgery.  Due to being on continual life support after Heart Surgery, Abigail slipped into Cardiac Arrest and was luckily revived.

With such a sick little one, and being away from Baby Sophia and two older brothers Josian and Giovanni, it has been extremely hard for Cendy to cope with all that is happening without her family by her side.  Cendy states, “It has been a difficult time for our family, but I thank God for Ronald McDonald House’s staff and volunteers because every day we get words of encouragement and support, and we have also gained support and hope from families staying at RMHC that are in similar situations as well.  I believe that being a NICU mom is hard and to leave our baby’s site is difficult, but RMHC makes it possible to be closer to our precious princess Abby (as we live in Turlock, about an hour and thirty minutes away).  We are uncertain to when [Abby’s] discharge will be, but as of today God has remained faithful to us and a beautiful little girl.”

Families like the Garcia’s are in extreme need of support during these difficult times, and providing a comfortable place to stay is the least we can do.  Together, we keep families like The Garcia’s close.  Together, they can help their little ones heal.


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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.


The Ronald McDonald House is like a hotel.

Dear RMHC,

I went to a hospital to go see my baby boy. He’s really sick. I came with all 9 of my siblings to see Seames. After that, we said good bye to him. I stayed here in Fresno. I’m staying at Ronald McDonald House. Everyday I’ll see him sleeping. now dad says we’re staying until he comes home with us 🙂 The Ronald McDonald House is like a hotel.

Love, Marceline

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.

September Volunteer of the Month

kenny_1“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they have the heart.” -Elizabeth Andrew

Meet our September Volunteer of the Month, Kenneth (Kenny) Seim. Kenny has been involved with our House since he became employed by Cargill in 2008. Cargill, as a whole, is one of our biggest supporters and promotes the importance of our mission in their work culture. As a volunteer, he has helped cook and serve meals for our families but more specifically, he has been a vital part of our FORE! THE HOUSE Golf Tournament since its start in 2012. This is one of the largest event fundraisers for our organization and each year has raised significant funds to help support our families. Kenny goes above and beyond when it comes to this event because he knows the impact it has on our organization in helping us serve our mission. He is also a true advocate for our House and really instills what we do with his fellow colleagues. Thank you Kenny for all you do and congratulations on being our September Volunteer of the Month!

1.How did you start volunteering with our House?

Since my Cargill employment in 2008 I have helped cook and organize many events at the House.

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

I have helped organize cookouts for the families, I assist the team with getting meat donations for various activities such as Sporting Clays, The Red Heart Ball, and The FORE! The House Golf event along with any other activity that meets the criteria for donations.

3. What is your favorite part of our House?

My favorite part of the house is the kitchen area.  I say this because when people come together to cook and eat, friendships and learning can be made.

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

My favorite thing about volunteering at The House is helping to make The House a better place for the families that utilize it and making their stay as comfortable as possible

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

My favorite pastimes are spending time with my wife & children traveling to various places, cooking, fly fishing and golfing.

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

August Volunteer of the Month

Francis Torres-Garcia 2
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” -Gandhi

We are very happy to announce our August Volunteer of the Month, Francis Torres-Garcia! Francis began working at our House in 2015 but prior to that she had volunteered at the Chicago RMHC House since 2011. Francis assists our House in many different ways that include her bi-weekly front desk volunteer duties, helping out at our events, and also attending outreach booths within the community to help raise awareness about RMHC. With her outgoing personality and yoga-minded ways, she is always a joy to have around.  Thank you Francis for all you do for our House and congratulations on being our August Volunteer of the Month!

1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.

Francis Torres-García. I’m a volunteer Junkie. A yogi with extreme wanderlust. I am a lover for adventure and spontaneity.  Always looking to try new things. To see new things. I love to meet  people and help in any way possible. Giving back to my community is how I feed my soul.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

I started volunteering at the Chicago House back in 2011 because a friend hosted a fundraising event to help the House. I’ve never heard about the House before that. I had recently moved to that city and was looking for a place to give back, to help out.

Then in 2015 I got told we were moving to Fresno, the first thing I did after I got the news was goggle  “Ronald McDonald House in Fresno” went through the web page and found Sven’s email. Wrote him a letter (while at the Chicago House) explaining my situation and so yes, I was already volunteering before even having a house to live for myself.

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

Meals of the heart: cooking a meal for the whole house. Special events like wish list drives, support in race events, Christmas Party, translations, front desk, check in families, cleaning, etc. Pretty much anything that needs to be done, I’m down to help.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

That everyone knows everyone. That it’s a small house so everything is more personal and you can make people feel special. Cozy.

Free ice scream could also be in the list. hahaha

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

My extended family, the way they make me feel like home. A support group.  We all say we volunteer to help others but in reality we get so much more back. When I know I made a difference in someone’s life simply by listening or catering to their needs.

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

I consider myself a really outgoing person, but when it comes to having all the attention to myself I get really shy and cave in. So, nope, no karaoke singing for me. I love yoga, hiking, jumping out of planes and pretty much every extreme adventure I can find. Favorite pastime is yoga, spending time with my friends, exploring and food, I LOVE FOOD.


July Volunteer of the Month

Mike Stafford“One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time” -Unknown

Meet our Volunteer of the Month, Mike Stafford. Mike is the store manager at the Madera Lowe’s and has been a tremendous supporter of our House through the Adopt-A-Room program. When he was approached with the idea to assist in renovating all 18 of our bedrooms, he jumped on the opportunity. Since then, all 18 rooms have been renovated where, with the help of Mike and Lowe’s, they provided an affordable price and most of the labor. Many of their employees dedicated their time to help with this mass project in support of the our House. Phase 1 of the Adopt-A-Room project was completed on June 9th where they finished the last 10 rooms in 2 days. Thank you Mike for spearheading this entire effort and congratulations on being July’s Volunteer of the Month, we could not have done it without you!

1. Your name and a little about yourself.

Mike Stafford I’m the Store Manager for Lowe’s in Madera, Ca. Born and raised in the Visalia area.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

About a year and a half ago Marisa approached me at my store about the Adopt a Room program and how she wanted to elevate the program.  We discussed how we can renovate the rooms and give them a homier feel.

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

Organized over 200 volunteers totaling close to 3,000 hours to renovate all 18 rooms.  Upgrades to the room include; paint, flooring, baseboards, lighting, closet kits and blinds.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

The piece of mind the house gives the families staying there.  The last thing a family needs is to worry about living expenses when their child is being cared for at Valley Children’s.  They get a newly renovated room, a hot shower and a meal to eat for free.  The best part is these services help keep the families together.

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

Being part of an organization that makes a huge impact on families across the Valley. Also getting to see firsthand the impact the House makes on the thousands of families that stay there every year.

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

I’m terrified of sharks so much that I will not get in the ocean farther than the water hitting me just below the waist.  I’m a huge shark week fan.  FYI I’ve never had a shark encounter. But I have recently been to a beach that had a shark siting notice that expired the day of my visit and thought to myself I hope the shark knows that it said expired today and moved on.

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.