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My First Visits to Local Ronald McDonald Houses

RMH Boston PlaygroundIt was a gloriously sunny fall day last week when I drove up to Boston to tour the local Ronald McDonald House. I spent the drive up to the city listening to some of my favorite songs on Spotify. It had been a long hard week and I was happy for the respite that was the solitary drive with just me, my thoughts and the music. Trying to sort out my feelings, I lost myself in the songs. And before I knew it, there I was. In the parking lot of the house.

I pride myself on being punctual for all things and this day was no different. I had several minutes to spare, so I grabbed my purse in search of my lipstick to freshen up. And as I smoothed the lipstick over my lips while looking in the rearview mirror, my eyes gravitated towards the playground in my peripheral vision.

There were preschool aged kids playing on the swings and sliding down the slide. Giggling, romping in the leaves and doing what kids do. Play. But what struck me in that moment was that those weren’t everyday kids. Those kids were hurting. Either from some disease that’s ravaging their body or from watching their sibling battle the unthinkable. I tossed my tube of lipstick in my purse with disgust. What’s wrong with me, I thought. What’s the point of lipstick?

RMH BostonThat thought was validated as I walked up the stairs of the house and I spied the wheelchairs that were parked by the front door. Had I been removed from tragedy for so long that I forgot how trivial cosmetics are? Apparently so.

RMH toy roomThere are lots of things I love about being an ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Lending my voice to something good feels right. Helping in even a small way makes me feel like I’m making a difference. For those kids who didn’t choose for bad stuff to happen to them. For the parents who don’t know how their journey is going to end. And even for myself. It makes a difference for me too. It grounds me in a way that I really need at this point in my life.

After all the things I’ve been through in my life, you’d think I wouldn’t need a reminder to appreciate what’s good in my life. But I do. My memory is short. But meeting these kids and their families is having an impact on my life. Even if they don’t realize it.

ShiftWhile at the Boston house, I met with the house manager to learn about what I could do to help. We chatted for a bit, walked around the house and discussed the needs of the families and ways I could assist. I’ll be sharing much more on this in the future, but I wanted to tell you that it was a really good visit. I felt like I was supposed to be there and that we established a good connection. I’m excited to work with them.

I also had the opportunity to visit the Providence Rhode Island Ronald McDonald House. But this visit wasn’t as much a tour as it was a working visit. I actually met up with some pr friends to clean some of the rooms in the house…

Shift cleaning crewTo be honest with you, I don’t love to clean. But then again, who does? I hear that some people find it therapeutic, but not me. That said, when you are cleaning to help someone else out, it’s so much less of a chore.

Melanie CleaningAs I helped clean the kitchen, I reflected on how such a small thing like a clean place to eat a meal could provide comfort to a family that has so much else to worry about. Small acts of service can have major impact if you think about it. And for me it was just the tiniest sacrifice of time. Certainly we can all squeeze a tiny bit of time out of our schedules to help someone else.

washing windowsWe also worked on the guest rooms. I volunteered to scrub the walls down with the Magic Eraser. I’m a freakin’ ninja with a Magic Eraser. You know, having four kids will make you an expert with Magic Erasers. And cleaning walls. I clean walls a lot.

bathroomsBut I don’t like to scrub toilets. I trained my boys to pee by aiming at floating Cheerios. Damage control. That’s how much I hate cleaning bathrooms. I figured if I taught them how to aim properly, that I’d spend less time cleaning toilets. In theory anyway.

shift and melanieI actually had a lot of fun helping clean the house. I think the rest of the gals had a good time too. And what’s that saying… many hands make light work? Yup, it’s true. We had our chores done lickety-split.

It doesn’t really take much to make a difference. It doesn’t even take a lot of money. Can you wash a kitchen table? Can you push a vacuum cleaner? I bet you can match my Magic Eraser skills. If you even have one hour free this month, I encourage you to volunteer your time helping out at your local Ronald McDonald House.

And if you have no time at all due to the craziness of the holidays, I bet you can run over to McDonald’s and donate $1, $3 or $5 to the Give a Hand campaign where you can buy a paper hand that will be displayed at your local restaurant through the month of November. Oh, and don’t forget to enter the Family Togetherness Contest where you can win some super cool prizes like a family vacation!

Also, you can attend the RMHC Twitter party on December 10th, 6pm CST to celebrate the Season of Giving where we’ll raise awareness for this worthy cause. Follow @RMHC and look for the hashtag #togetherness to participate on December 10th.

Thank you so much for letting me share this journey with you. It really means a lot to me. To give back after I’ve received so much from so many people. Including you. Especially you. xoxo

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  1. It just shows Melanie that sometimes it is the simple things, a bit of magic eraser minus work!!, that can make a difference. Thank you for reminding us. xx

  2. Good morning Melanie. What a great cause and you and your other volunteer friends look like you had a great time helping to clean the RMH of Providence. I love your floating Cheerio trick to try to keep the toilet a little cleaner. What a great idea! Many hands do make light work and I will look into volunteering and/or giving this month. Thank you for the links above too!

  3. Tammy Steates says:

    Melanie- I was never one to donate to this program however after reading all the posts you have written, on this trip I am on I saw myself eating at McDonald’s in the Chicago airport. Needless to say I paid in cash, smiled and thought of you as I put the reminder of my $20 into that little box. I will continue to do that because I now know what impact it really does have. Thank you for being you and doing something so important for others!

  4. My daughter was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with Leukodystrophy. It’s a terminal genetic brain disease when the white matter of your brain slowly vanishes until you end up in a permeant vegetative state. She is 5 years old now. The doctors where we live do not feel comfortable treating Hailey or there are no doctors for specific needs that Hailey has, so we HAVE to go out of state. We’ve been on one hell of a roller coaster ride. Last year Hailey and I went on a flight for lift from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City where she needed to have her feeding tube placed. We’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House more nights then I can count. They hold a special place in my heart. I just blogged about collecting pop top from cans for them! It’s an easy thing to do when you might not be able to do much.

  5. Thank you for taking us inside and behind the scenes. They are so fortunate to have you!!

  6. I love that your are working with the Ronald McDonald House charity! It’s a great organization to support!

  7. You have got me thinking how I can help. Thank you!

  8. This is a charity that I never thought to donate to prior to reading about it on your blog, but certainly will now. Thanks for inspiring us all to be our best.

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