A Home Away From Home
By Leti Alvarez, Weekday House Manager
As the holidays begin to wind down and all the activity and hurry of the season begins to fade, I stopped to reflect back on my first few months working at Austin’s Ronald McDonald House. One of the things that really stands out is that sense of community our guests build at the house. I would have to say that the Ronald McDonald House really is a home-away-from-home. Having a sick or injured child is hard no matter what the situation, imagine being away from your home and all you know and love at the same time. The RMH helps ease that burden and help things feel a little more familiar. Some families stay with us for a few days, several months, or even up to a year while their child is hospitalized or receiving treatments. As I watch the families drift into the dining room for dinner, I notice that they stop and say hello to each other and sit at community tables. Over the holidays I saw families cooking meals together, laughing with each other and sharing stories of their child or even of their lives before the illness.
I know having familiar faces around and making new friendships somehow helps lessen a little of that fear and uncertainty knowing their child is in the hospital. One of our house guests said, “I don’t know how I would make it if I had to stay in a hotel. I would get so lonely. Being able to talk to others makes me realize I am not alone.” As the families begin to share with each other, they realize that others are experiencing the same thing. A bond begins to form between our family guests as they share both the good times and the hardships. I can see a weight being lifted off their shoulders.
We all need someone to listen to us and to be there for us; for the families at the RMH, it would be truly difficult if they didn’t have one other to comfort and share with. As I look around the house, I can truthfully say I am proud to help our guests feel a little bit closer to home.