When the Eating Disorder team at McMaster Children’s Hospital suggested the Eating Disorder (ED) day program for our daughter Olivia, we had no idea how to make it work. The minimum commitment was 6 weeks, weekdays from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Living an hour and a half away, the burden of travel time would make it difficult enough, not to mention the time away from work and the increased financial burden on our family.
However, with Olivia’s diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, we wanted our daughter to get better - we just needed to figure out how to make the journey feasible.
Thankfully, the coordinator of the ED day program recommended we stay at Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario (RMHC SCO), assuring us it was a lifeline for out-of-town patients and their families. Fortunately, we secured a room on the day of our arrival, and from that moment, the generosity of this "home away from home" overwhelmed us.
Without being able to stay at the House, we would’ve had to commute an hour and a half each way from our home in Fort Erie. It would have been nearly impossible for Olivia to complete the ED day program.
Having RMHC SCO as a place to stay during this program really helped make the financial burden much more bearable. With my husband being self-employed, he does not get paid when he doesn’t work, and I had to use my personal and vacation time so that I was able to get full pay while away. Thankfully, we did not have to worry about additional out of pocket expenses at the House since all our meals were so generously provided for us.
A favourite memory from our time at the House was spending time in the wellness room where we were able to fully relax. We also had a fun movie night in the theatre! Both Jon and I felt all the staff were so nice and so were other families staying there!
We were at the House around Thanksgiving and the reception desk was covered with notes from families sharing what they were thankful for. I wrote a note which said I was thankful for this wonderful home away from home!
As a Canada Post employee, my annual involvement in fundraising for local children’s charities gained newfound significance after our stay at RMHC SCO. Experiencing firsthand the vital role the House played in our lives, I can attest to its importance for families facing challenging times. Recognizing the need for hope during such challenges, I spent my spare time creating "hope" bracelets. I made 20 bracelets (some beaded, some made of cork, all with a silver hope charm).
One thing that everyone has in common staying at the House is that have hope. We have HOPE for our children to get better, and HOPE for better days ahead! I am selling the bracelets for a minimum $10 donation with ALL proceeds being sent to RMHC South Central Ontario. Because in times of hardship, having a place like Ronald McDonald House provides families the invaluable gift of hope, ensuring they can focus solely on their child's well-being.
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