Update: The story below is about Fabian’s experience as a big brother in one of our Family Rooms. We are now recruiting volunteers for our new Family Room opening this summer at St. David’s Medical Center. Click here to learn how you can volunteer.
By Danny Reyna
One of the things I always heard Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin CEO Kent Burress talk about when we opened the new Ronald McDonald House in 2007 was our ability to keep families connected to each other during their time of crisis. Of course that is why 27 of our 30 rooms have a direct line of sight to Dell Children’s Medical Center, a symbol of visually being connected.
Since opening up the first Ronald McDonald Family Room, inside the neonatal intensive care unit at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas on the campus of North Austin Medical Center, I have enjoyed seeing mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings use the Family Room as a place to exhale and share with each other.
We don’t talk about the siblings much, so let me talk about one. Kids are often very excited about their baby brother or sister. This was the case with Fabian Andres, a 5-year-old big brother. Often you could hear him talking to his mom, Diane Lopez about his baby brother, Randy, and what they were going to do when they got him home from the NICU. He was cheerful and always had an “hola!” for the staff when he came into the Family Room.
What does a 5-year-old in the Family Room do while waiting for mom? Like most children his age, he could keep himself entertained on the computes we provide for playing games or watching movies. He also liked the children’s books that have been donated to the Family Room. Fabian got his fill of snacks like fruit, trail mix, soda and water in between play time. He usually had his eye out for a chocolate candy, but his aunt and mom would only let him have one.
Fabian seemed content to be spending his time at the hospital so he could be part of his little brother’s support group. The Family Rooms are helping ill or injured children and their brothers and sisters during scary times.