“How did that happen?”

by Kent Burress

“How did that happen?”  As a child, I cannot tell you how many times I heard that question – usually there was some broken object involved.  And the two preferred answers were the classic “I don’t know” and the also very popular “I think the cat did it.”  Poor cat.

Now fast forward to June 28, 2012.  We are opening a new Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. David’s Medical Center – and I can tell you how that happened.  And there is no cat involved.

First, I want you to know that when the first family checks into the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. David’s Medical Center it will be the culmination of over eight years of patience and perseverance.  There has never been any doubt that a Family Room was needed, but finding space for the Family Room was always a challenge.  Anytime I would visit the hospital I would scope out the floors looking for possibilities – persistence does have its rewards.

Two summers ago Kyle Parks, one of our board members, and I had lunch with Earl Maxwell from the St. David’s Community Foundation.  We didn’t talk about the Family Room at all.  We actually talked about the Healthy Smiles Program 
that is supported by the Foundation.  Earl connected me with Dr. Patrice Coons who is the clinical director of that program, and she and I met a couple of weeks later, and I toured one of their excellent mobile dental clinics.  Somewhere in our conversation I mentioned the Ronald McDonald Family Room Program.  A week or so later I got an email from Dr. Coons saying she had mentioned the Family Room program to Deborah Durham and that there was interest in learning more.  Deborah Durham set up a meeting with Mark Clayton, the senior vice president of strategic planning and business development who then set up a meeting with CEO Richard Hammett and Rhonda Sagesar, director of St. David’s NICU who called in Mike Ridgway, the St. David’s Medical Center Facility Management Director – and we were off and running.  So that’s how it happened.  I may have skipped across a few details.
But here’s the point I want to make.  All along the way, everyone made a sacrifice of something very important to them – whether it was the possibility of an additional dental van in the near future or much needed floor space at the medical center.  I know those sacrifices weren’t made lightly.  But I also know that they were willingly made so that families with newborns in the NICU would not have to sacrifice being with their new babies during a very frightening and uncertain time.

So what does that have to do with you?  I’m asking you to make a sacrifice as well – of your time to volunteer at the Family Room, or of your pocketbook to financially support the Ronald McDonald Family Room program and the families that will be staying with us.  Like all the other sacrifices that have been made, I know yours will not be made lightly or easily – but you can be confident that by making a donation or lending a hand you will make a powerful and enduring difference in the lives of our families.

This entry was posted in Kent, Ronald McDonald Family Room, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Volunteers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “How did that happen?”

  1. Pingback: Local operation – global connections | RMHC Austin

  2. Jess says:

    I had never been in a RMHC before the premature birth of my twin daughters, after the hardest day of my life we stepped through the doors and were greeted by the warmest welcoming staff. We entered our room and it was the most unexpected thing, a nautical theme room with heartwarming quotes that bordered the walls with whimsical decor. Encouragement everywhere you looked. Also a surprise, meals prepared for us, stuffed animals and knit blankets with tags that said, “Take me home”. You had a sense that every detail was put together that had been in your shoes. It was a magical place. We are so thankful for our time there.

    • rmhcaustin says:

      Jess – thank you for this very kind comment. I hope all of your family is doing well. I am glad that your experience here at the House was a supportive and positive experience. We do our best to try and ensure families feel welcome and well cared for, and I appreciate hearing about those moments when we succeeded.
      All the best to you

  3. rmhcaustin says:

    Thanks for sharing the story of the Family Room opening, Kent! It’s good to get the back-story and know how so many little things came together to make this happen.

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