With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, many people are likely to be enjoying vacations this week (including me!). Like the best hotels, our Ronald McDonald Houses are apt to be full.
When I think of summer vacation, I immediately envision a lake cottage loaded with family and friends, a little exercise, and lots of good food—a welcome respite from the daily routine.
By contrast, “summer vacation” for families at our Ronald McDonald Houses means medical tests, surgeries, and lots of waiting and hoping for good news. Theirs is an un-chosen journey toward an unclear destination, far from the comforts of home.
Quite a few of our summer guests are “regulars”—arriving around the same time each year for required treatment of congenital conditions. And while the circumstances prompting the visits are challenging, these families know they’re returning to a place they’re welcomed—by people who care for them (and who they enjoy). Such “reunions” help minimize the anxiety.
While the Ronald McDonald House isn’t anyone’s destination of choice, staff members and volunteers do their best to help families make the most of their sojourn—whether it’s a one-time stay or annual occurrence. This year, an intern at the West House is organizing a “summer camp”—which we hope is enjoyed not only by our sick children, but also by their brothers and sisters, who sometimes need the extra attention (or diversion) even more.
What I appreciate about summer at the Houses—and what our guests experience every season of the year—is the knowledge that, no matter what circumstance brings a family here, every visitor can count on care that’s unmatched by even the finest five-star hotel. We don’t pretend it’s a vacation. But we’ll continue extending the most genuine hospitality around!
Tom Soma, Executive Director