By Kerry Schulman, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona

Kerry Schulman

Imagine, after months of your child not feeling well, you get a call that alters not just your life but the life of your entire family. Your child is really sick.

Your mind goes in so many directions. First and foremost, you need to find the medical treatment your child needs and deserves. To complicate things further, that care is not near where you live. Instead, you will now be traveling hundreds of miles away from home for your child’s treatment. The scenario suddenly becomes much more challenging. And stressful. And costly.

Recently I had a small glimpse into what our families go through. My daughter, who attends college out of state, needed emergency surgery. Right away, locating the care she needed in an unknown city and navigating last-minute transportation took precedence above all else. The uncertainty and stress of that alone were immense.

It reminded me what an imperative resource Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central and Northern Arizona (RMHCCNAZ) is to families. We allow them to stay together and close to the medical care their children need when they are far from home.

A pillar to our “home-away-from-home” is our Dinnertime Heroes program, which provides nightly dinners at all three Valley Houses. I realize how important this program is to our mission when I reflect on how valuable my own family dinners are. Not just the meal but taking the time to hear to share our highs and lows and really connect with each other.

So, imagine for a minute how your family dynamic would shift if your child’s medical needs interrupted all of that instantly. If all at once you found yourself away from home, your support system, and everything you know. Time around the dinner table together would become sacred.

For families like Chantel’s who spent 112 nights at Ronald McDonald House when her daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder, the moments wrapped around the same table kept them going.

“It’s like having a family meal every night,” Chantel shared of the Dinnertime Heroes program. “We can come and connect with other families, get a little bit of a break from the intensity of what is going on.”

Dinnertime Heroes from Mayo Clinic

The House relies heavily on community volunteers to help us care for families. Sadly, during the pandemic, we had to pause our volunteer program, including those dedicated Dinnertime Heroes.

Since reopening the program, volunteers have been slow to return to prepare meals, putting immense strain on the program. Without them, this important part of our mission will have to be temporarily paused due to financial limitations.

Today I want to ask you to help keep this vital program running so that on top of everything else, our guest families don’t have to worry about dinner each night.

Whether it is organizing a meal delivery or bringing your employees to the House to prepare a meal, your commitment to the Dinnertime Heroes program will be a priceless gift to families.

To learn more about this opportunity, please visit www.rmhccnaz.org/meals

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Posted by Annelise Patterson