VOL. 127 | NO. 1 | Monday, January 2, 2012
Comforts of Home Within Reach
Happy New Year! I hope you and your family enjoyed the holiday season and I wish you all the best for a wonderful 2012. Last week we discussed how a New Year’s resolution focused on recognizing and affirming the efforts of at least one person each day could have a profound impact on our community.
This week let us highlight an organization providing a “home away from home” for families who are in Memphis while their child is receiving treatment for cancer or another catastrophic illness at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis.
When children are sick, parents know it is important to be together as a family and to be able to focus attention on physically comforting them. Indeed, research has shown that family presence in the hospital helps children cope better and heal faster. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis enables families to do just that – focus on the health of their child by providing a home where families can preserve a sense of normalcy with home-cooked meals, comfortable beds and recreational activities. Just as important, the families find a strong support system and establish friendships with other families facing similar anxieties, hardships and uncertainties.
Since opening in 1991, Ronald McDonald House of Memphis has housed more than 6,000 families from nearly every state and 45 countries. In 2011, that number was more than 650. The average stay is 24 days, and the patient range is from birth to age 19.
The beautiful home, strategically near St. Jude, offers 51 hotel-style bedrooms, along with large living rooms with fireplaces, common dining rooms with play areas, kitchen space, laundry rooms, an exercise room, TV lounges, playgrounds and more. The amazing part is that all families stay completely free!
Although Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis is solely associated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and receives generous support from the hospital and McDonald’s owners and operators, the organization is an independent, community-supported nonprofit that is independently owned and operated.
The cost per family stay is approximately $2,600, and the vast majority of funding comes from individuals, corporations, foundations and civic groups here in our community. Plus, the organization relies on over 500 volunteers each year to help cover daily and weekly shifts and provide help during major fundraising events, like its annual Radiothon in February and the Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival.
There are many ways to help their efforts. Learn more by visiting www.rmhc-memphis.org or reaching out to the organization’s executive director, Caron Byrd, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consider taking a tour of the house or pulling together family or coworkers to cook dinner for the families. Encourage others to save pop tabs and donate them during their Pop-Tab-Palooza in October.
Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at email@example.com.