We walked in the Ronald McDonald House for the first time years before we were guests—we were visiting to learn more about the wonderful work the charity provides for the families of Northeast Indiana. Time passed, and in the fall of 2014 Andrew and I were preparing to welcome our first child. It was an uneventful pregnancy, and three days after my due date our daughter Eleanor finally arrived. She surprised us with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and twenty minutes after delivery the neonatologists were in our room taking her upstairs.
After Eleanor arrived, she spent twenty-one days in the NICU learning to eat and get strong enough to come home with us. Once I was discharged as a patient, the doctors and nurses encouraged us to see if there was room in the Ronald McDonald House for us.
Despite the wonderful features NICU rooms offer, they still can’t provide the peace and rest the House offers. The House gave me the peace that I could be at Eleanor’s bedside in five minutes, but still rest and heal from delivery. I could go on and on about everything the House does to make families comfortable—but I’ll just say—they do everything! During my time in the House, my Mom often stayed with me and was a constant support to us. We all quickly developed a gratitude that we feel we can never repay.
Since leaving the House, we have all found our own way to try to give back to what the House offered our family. Mom has become a volunteer, supporting families as the smiling face at the front door. Andrew has been able to serve on the Board of the Charity. I’m really excited to help with the steering committee for the Red Shoe Crew—a group of mission minded young professionals supporting the house. We have all been so thankful to see how the House has grown since our stay five years ago. Yet, the spirit doesn’t change—it finds a way to provide exactly what families need to stay close to their children. We will never stop being grateful for what this amazing charity did for our family—and to the thousands who have walked through the doors.