The Winter’s Story

“Thank you to the generous people & The RMH who continue to help make this happen. I get to be right around the corner from my baby boy instead of living in the NICU or commuting 3 hours a day. My husband & I are forever grateful to all the staff, volunteers, & the other families here for the moral support.  #worklungs #chdawareness #birthdefectawareness #TeamRiley”

The Winter Family is currently staying at RMHC while Baby Riley fights to grow strong & healthy enough to undergo open heart surgery.  After over a month in the NICU, his parents are openly sharing their story to inspire others, and to spread the word about Congenital Heart Defects & VACTERL Association (Issues associated with the heart, limbs, & vertebrae).

Mom Vanessa shares below, giving the world a bit of a glance into what this family is having to deal with on a daily basis: “One of mine & Wesley’s biggest concerns was since Riley got switched back to the stronger ventilator, we felt Riley was taking steps back. We honestly felt their was no improvement & that we were back to square one. Cultures came back & he does not have any infection which is good. Since Riley is a premature baby, has a heart condition, & curvature of the spine; it has a big part to do of him needing assistance to breathe. (Which he can breathe on his own he just needs the extra help.) The ventilator he is on is helping get the secretions (fluid/mucus) out of his lungs. The goal regarding this ventilator is for the settings to be lower where Riley won’t need the tube they will switch to a mask. It is whenever his lungs are ready & more improvement is shown where they feel comfortable to do it. The overall goal is once his lungs are doing better, then to be off the ventilator completely. Once that happens then the next step is making plans for Riley’s heart surgery. Riley’s doctor reassured us today that Riley is not taking any steps back but is making small steps in the right direction of treating his lungs. It’s just a day by day process that the medical staff is figuring out as well because Riley’s health is very complex. They are continuing him on antibiotics just to play things safely. He is also still on medication regarding the blood clot in his artery. They are remaining confident that the medication will treat it. Also our chunky little man was able to continue with his feeds, & his stomach is handling it well! The biggest thing I want to express to you all & this is what the doctor & nurse told me. “Riley is doing ok today but you have to remind others you know that he is a very sick baby & is requiring constant care because his condition is critical. His health right now is so complex that we are trying to figure out the best options of treating him. His health is constantly changing & we are focused on getting him stable with his lungs that way we can talk about getting the cardiac surgery scheduled. We have to get his lungs better because there is no way of risking Riley’s life with surgery because his lungs at the moment would not uphold during a big surgery like this.” All of this is literally a day by day process & it’s so overwhelming, stressful, & frustrating. (Right along with tons of other emotions.) Wesley & I have to remind ourselves at times that with how badly we want Riley off the ventilator, his body just needs the assistance because he is a very sick baby with other health conditions. At this point we just have to be patient & positive that his lungs will get to be where they need to be at when Riley is ready. We just want our son to be ok. So today was a better day with our little man & we are just so relieved because we needed a good day for all 3 of us. The last 4 days was just so scary for Wesley & I because it’s so heartbreaking to see your baby struggling & fighting for his life. Be grateful for your kids that are healthy & that you as a parent never have to go through anything similar to what we are going through. Be blessed that you have your child(ren) home. Also don’t take for granted the moments you get to hold, hug, & kiss them. Wesley & I only got to hold our son one time & would give anything to experience what other parents tend to take for granted. I know our journey is going to be a long one, but what keeps us motivated is looking at the further picture of when the time finally comes for discharge, we will get to have that constant bond 24/7 with Riley. Until that day comes, please continue to #PrayforRiley for strength & healing; but to also help restore my belief & faith that things will get better.”

Families like the Winter’s are faced with the unimaginable, and are forced to cope with the stress & burden’s of having a critically ill child in the hospital.  Thanks to RMHC, this family is able to stay together during the most difficult moments, and are able to remain right by Riley’s side as he fights to get healthy.

Click here to follow Team Riley Winter on Facebook.

Donate today to make sure that families like the Winter’s are able to stay near their ill child when they need their parent’s support the most.

The Hurtado Family

The Hurtado Family was enjoying a vacation here in beautiful California around the month of August. They had traveled from Mexico to spend time with family & loved ones, with no intentions to be involved in an accident that would send their little boy, Frank, to the hospital in critical condition. After spending time at the hospital during their vacation, Frank was released in good health back to his family.

When a fun-filled vacation turns into a family’s worst nightmare, finding a place to stay can prove to be near to impossible. RMHC strives to keep families close to their ill or hurt child when families, like the Hurtado’s, are hit with unexpected plans. We are so glad that this family is back together again, healthy and healed!

#GiveHope this holiday season so families like the Hurtado’s can stay near their child during the most crucial part of their recovery. Donate today to make a difference for the hundreds of families we will serve this holiday season ♥

 

The Reichert Family Story

Jana Reichert had just given birth to her son, Ellis, in Bakersfield, CA when suddenly, he began having complications. The doctor gave them unfortunate news, the symptoms he was showing were more severe than they had anticipated and Ellis would have to be airlifted to Valley Children’s Hospital. While he was being airlifted, Jana and her husband Josh left town in a hurry with their oldest son, Avett, and headed straight towards the hospital.

The Reicherts knew exactly where to go when they got into town, a place they could seek shelter and comfort at, their first stop was the Ronald McDonald House.  They entered the House and dropped into the seats at the registration desk. Joni, Family Services Coordinator, could tell by the look on their faces that they were in a state of despair and she wanted to do everything she could to put them at ease. She went through the check-in process and added them to the ongoing waitlist telling them that as soon as a room became available, she would let them know. They were able to stay a few nights in our spare room and as fate had it, four days later they were able to check into a room. From the beginning, they felt the House was going to be a place of stability during this unpredictable time in their lives.

Josh and Jana kept a positive outlook day to day coming to and from the hospital with Avett in tow. Sometimes, they would trade off staying at the House with Avett where he spent time being an average 3 year old, playing in the toy room and participating in the various activities our wonderful volunteers would come and host.

The Reicherts were so grateful that while they were facing a difficult time with their baby boy in the hospital, their other son was still able to be able to be a happy, carefree child. Another benefit for them was that both sets of grandparents were able to use the Day Room services while they were in town to help the family during their stay.

Ellis underwent heart surgery before he turned 1 month old and the Reicherts stayed with us while he was healing and getting strong enough to go home. The smile on Jana’s face one morning told us the good news. After 4 weeks at the hospital, the Reichert family would be going home with their healthy, happy “heart warrior” as they lovingly referred to him as.

Families like the Reicherts are a strong example of the impact the Ronald McDonald House makes on a family going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. From the first person they see when they arrive, to our caring volunteers, to the comfortable room they are able to get a moment of solace in at night.

A family coming from 2 hours away at a moment’s notice is able to find a “home away from home” just a short walk away from the hospital. We are so grateful for families like them that show us what a blessing it is to be able to keep families close to their child when they need it the most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Volunteer of the Month

This month’s Volunteer of the Month is Susan Guzetta! Susan has been with us as a volunteer for about 2 years, and has assisted RMHC families and staff in various forms. From helping the marketing department gear up for a big fundraising event, to driving families back and forth from the hospital so they can spend quality time with their sick little ones, susan does it all. Thank you so much for all you do for our staff and families Susan, you are a tremendous help!

Get to know Susan a little more in depth below!

1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.
I’m Susan Guzzetta and I’ve been volunteering for the past two years. I’m married and have two grown sons, one is studying to be a medical scientist at the University of Chicago and the other is a college student majoring in English. I worked as an English language teacher, and spent several years living and working in North Africa and Europe. I spent the remainder of my career in Fresno as a resource teacher and citizenship grant manager at Fresno Adult School.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?
My sons spent time at Valley Children’s when they were young, and I decided when I retired I wanted to give something back to the families of children who were ill.

3. What type of things have you done while volunteering?
I work at the front desk, shuttle people back and forth to the hospital in the golf cart and spend quite a bit of time addressing envelopes for fundraisers. I love helping family members and staff.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?
My favorite part of the house is the give-away table in the front hallway. I love watching the faces of children light up when they get to choose a toy or a book to keep for themselves.

5. What is your favorite thing about volunteering at the House?
I love being part of an organization that provides support for families who have children in the hospital. Providing a place to stay, food and comfort for family members is a wonderful service.

6. Tell us something fun about you that we don’t know. Hidden talent, funny story, favorite pastime, etc.
I speak French and Swedish, which doesn’t do me much good in California where Spanish would be a lot more useful! I am also an artist and have been painting on and off for most of my life.

February’s Volunteer of the Month

Our Volunteer of the Month for the month of February is one of our front desk volunteers Crystal Bohm!   Crystal celebrated her one-year “VOLUNversary” with our organization last month, and has contributed so much of her spare time to greeting those entering our front doors with her warm smile and willingness to provide a helping hand.  You are such a joy to have around Crystal, thank you for all you do!  We could not #KeepFamiliesClose without gracious volunteers like you.

Here is some more information about Crystal!

  1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Crystal Bohm.  For now, I am a stay-at-home mom who is in what I call the “taxi cab” stage of my life.  I’m busy driving my sons to and from school, church activities, music, and sports practices.  I also enjoy spending time with and caring for the elderly, and when my boys get older, I would like to become a CNA or Home Health Aide.

  1. How did you start volunteering with our House?

I was looking for a way to reach out and get to know people in the community better when I found the opportunity to volunteer at Ronald McDonald House on a volunteer website.

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

I feel like almost every time I volunteer, I have the opportunity to learn and do something new.  I drive and visit with families on the shuttle to and from the hospital, answer the phone, accept and thank people for their donations and after much experience I’ve become really good at stuffing, stamping and addressing envelopes.  My favorite volunteer experience would be the quiet afternoon I spent making pizzas for the families from ingredients that someone had donated for lunch.  That opportunity meant so much to me because while my younger brother spent some time in a children’s hospital, my parents did not have the extra money for my mom to spend at the cafeteria for meals.  That always broke my heart and I was so grateful to be able to help provide a warm meal for others who might be in the same situation.

  1. What is your favorite part of our House?

My favorite part of the House are those welcoming front doors, which open to so much relief and comfort for the hundreds of families that need RMHC every year.  Through those doors I have also seen so many people from the community walk through to give generously of their time, talents and donations.

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

I always tell people that Ronald McDonald House is the “Heart of the Central Valley.”  My favorite part about volunteering is how I have learned from the genuinely caring and kind staff and others who volunteer or donate. I always leave wanting to be a more kind, caring and compassionate person.

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

I love writing, reading and collecting poetry. I am also a huge Elvis Presley fan.

January Volunteers of the Month

“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” -Pablo Picasso

It all started with an idea. To our January Volunteers of the Month, Tom and Charlene Hoisington, this statement rings very true. Years ago, Tom, as part of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, had an idea to host a “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive when he was still living in Florida. Because it was such a success, he decided to bring his idea with him when he moved to the Central Valley. In 2015, he hosted the annual event to benefit the families staying at our House for the first time. With the efforts of him and his right hand lady, Charlene, they were able to raise 618 toys! It’s important to point out that during the event him and Charlene play and important role as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the day. When he saw the impact it made on our families staying here and the cheer it brought them during the holiday season, he decided to hold the 2016 “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive in our honor again. Despite the rainy day, the event was still a great success and they were able to beat last year’s total with 625 toys and $500 raised in monetary donations. We thank you Tom and Charlene for giving our families a reason to celebrate during Christmas and congratulations on being our January Volunteers of the Month!

1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tom Hoisington (Hoy-Zing-Ton)

From Muskegon, Michigan. Graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Have served in the US Army and Coast Guard from 84 to 09. I have held many jobs in the military such as Raidoman, Cook, Tank Crewman, Military Police, Aircrew, and Recruiter. I have been stationed in many post throughout the US, and Germany and Korea. And have seen action in Iraq.

I am a current member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. I joined the auxiliary in Orlando, FL in 2011. I am now a part of the auxiliary in Modesto. 

I am a limousine driver, Married to a wonderful lady. Father of 5. Oldest is 31, Youngest is 20.

I am also the Co-founder of the Coast Guard Auxiliary “Fill the Boat” toy drive / Public Affairs event.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

Once I had gotten to California from Florida, I had the hosted the first Coast Guard Auxiliary “Fill the Boat” toy drive in the Central Valley. We hosted this for another children’s hospital. At first, they were very gracious for what we had done for them, The following year, they didn’t respond on timely bases which meant that time was not on our side. In spite of several attempts, the paperwork that was needed to move this forward seemed to be getting delayed.  This put me in a position of having to find another deserving organisation for the toys. I came across the RMHC. After an email and a couple of phone calls, the RMHC joined us for our toy drive in Modesto. 

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

I work at getting the Fill the Boat toy drive lined up. I usually start getting organizations and people lined up starting in mid August. This requires a lot of time doing face to face meetings. I have met with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, Modesto Fire Department, iHeart media, Coca-Cola, US Coast Guard and Auxiliary,Walmart, and of course the RMHC. 

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into planning a 1 day only event. But, when the public shows up and you see the smiles on their faces once they know were their donated toys or money are going. It’s all worth it.  

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

The toy room of course. LOL , And the caring staff such as Mia, Marisa, Sam, and Sven.

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

This is hard question to answer since I live a ways away from the House.  I guess for me, I get a thrill hearing stories about were the toys have gone, and how families who thought that Christmas would be just another day can now celebrate Christmas. Stories like this warms my heart and tell me that it’s all worth it. 

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

I play Santa and my wife plays Mrs Claus for the toy drive. I am a kid at heart as well. I collect toy planes. I enjoy building model planes for fun. I enjoy music from the 60’s,70’s and 80’s and a few from the 90’s.

I am not very computer savvy. To me, technology peeked with frozen pizza’s.

Hidden fact, I used to be a field sales rep for Ringling Brothers Circus. 

I hope to win a red vet. Santa needs a new sleigh. 

December Volunteer of the Month

“What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good”-Aristotle

lisa-hallMeet our December Volunteer of the Month, Lisa Hall. Lisa recently moved to the Central Valley a few years ago after being a Bay area native. She first got connected with our House through her now daughter-in-law who was doing service hours as a student for Fresno State at the time. She has since supported our House through many different volunteer opportunities such as a regular Front Desk volunteer, at our annual fundraising events, and most recently, the Red Heart Ball planning committee. We look forward to seeing her bright smile and friendly personality every week and want to congratulate Lisa on being December’s Volunteer of the Month!

1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.

Married for 33 years, with one son who is 27 and recently married to his high school sweetheart. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that one.  Born and raised in the S.F. Bay area and recently moved to Madera.  Spent many years working in Silicon Valley and now works at a Non-profit out of S.F. from home and enjoying the opportunity to have a better work-life balance.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

Our now daughter-in-law was a student at Fresno State and was fulfilling volunteer hours with Ronald McDonald House Charities and asked if I wanted to get involved.  We held a movie night with pizza and snacks and I was hooked after that. There is nothing better than bringing some joy to families during a difficult time.

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

I work at the front desk two times a month, where I get to help the staff by answering phones, assist families, give tours, shuttle families back and forth to the hospital and many other tasks that help keep the house running.  I have volunteered at the annual “Fore the House” golf tournament a couple of time and currently on the Red Heart Ball planning committee.  I’ve even run in the Color Me Rad 5K at Woodward Park.

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

The encounters I have with the families.

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

This is not a thankless opportunity.  Everyone from the families to the staff say thank you at every encounter.  While that might seem like a common word used by all, it is very apparent at the House how thankful people are for the time you spend making things ever so better.

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

First of all, I’m a terrible baker.  It’s always so obvious during the Holidays. So I stick to planning dinners and buying presents.  I love spending time with family and friends and giving back to the community.

2nd Annual Wish List Run 2016

On December 3rd, a long-time supporter of RMHC, Runner Moe, organized the 2nd Annual Wish List Run to benefit our House! Runner Moe has participated in our 135 TO THE HOUSE race, a run that begins at the Bakersfield RMHC and ends at the Central Valley RMHC; a 135 mile run.  Runner Moe has completed the run not just once, but twice, and remains the only woman to ever do so. Moe wanted to create a fun run where the community could come together for a good cause. With last year being such a success, Moe jumped at the opportunity to host the Wish List Run again this year!

All Fresno runners were invited  to come out and support RMHC on Saturday morning.  There was no fee to register for the event, Runner Moe only asked that all participants bring items that are on our Wish List to run over to the House and drop off mid-run. Runners decorated wagons and strollers as sleighs, and wheeled all of their donated items over to our House!

We had a great turn out this year, welcoming over 100 runners to RMHC that chilly Saturday morning, as they all ran with a great cause at heart. We found ourselves struggling to keep up with organizing all of the items we were receiving from the runners, and had volunteers scrambling to keep up with transporting wish list items from the running arch to our conference room!

We are so glad that our participating runners had a fun morning, filled with smiles and holiday cheer! We are also very excited to announce how many donated items came from that morning!

A whopping 5,105 Wish List items were donated to our families to use this holiday season.

We are so blessed to have such amazing community supporters and members that continue to amaze us with their gracious acts and kind hearts.  Without them, we could not provide for our families during their time of need. A huge THANK YOU goes out to all who participated and donated on Saturday, and an even bigger Thank You goes to Runner Moe.  We are so lucky to have your continued support. You bring joy and light to our families every year, and that is a gift that is priceless.

img_3458img_3439fullsizerender-00bfullsizerender-00cfullsizerender-00d

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.

#KeepingFamiliesClose

20161019_211215-002 20160628_0429341-002 20160628_0437121-002 20161103_124800-002