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Senior Capstone Essay, Research Paper

Observations

I visited the Ronald McDonald House on September 15, to meet a family that was staying there because they had a very ill child. I was there to interview Mr. and Mrs. Davis who’s had their five-year-old son, John was at Children’s Mercy Hospital. The Davis family was there because John has leukemia and needed chemotherapy. When I first met John, I was at a loss for words. I saw a five-year-old boy that didn’t have any hair (like me) and was thin like a cable wire. I thought it was great that John got to say with his family on good days. What amazed me so much was his spirit and thrust for life. Because they had faith in their little boy getting better, his parents were very much the same. I asked them what made them so upbeat and positive. They told me that they were getting the best treatment around and being close to him everyday really helped. I didn’t quite understand what they meant and asked them to explain. They told me that staying at the RMH with their son meant everything to the whole family. Instead of being in a hospital bed, or hotel room, the Davis’s kept close and were able to do everything that a family would do. Such things included playing with toys, having meals together, taking walks, enjoying closeness with one’s family, and all in the comfort of a home.

The Davis family had been there for almost a week and was very happy to find a place that allowed them to stay without having to pay. They were also elated to know that they could watch after their child and not worry about how he was doing alone in some hospital bed. While I was interviewing the Davis family, I saw so much activity going on around me that it was difficult to concentrate. It was awesome to see, because everyone was interacting with everyone. Parents were relaxing and enjoying themselves, while children were playing together and loving every bit of it. Basically, what I learned from the Davis family is that they were very grateful to the Ronald McDonald House for allowing them to stay close to their child, affording them all the comforts of home while so far away from family and friends.

Since its establishment in 1981 in Kansas City, Kansas, and then again in 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City Ronald McDonald House has given many families a home to stay while their child or loved one receives medical treatment. Kansas City Ronald McDonald House serves over 1700 diverse families every year. The Ronald McDonald House mission statement, as well as its only goal, “is to ensure a community of compassion and support dedicated to the well being of children and their families.” Another goal I see Ronald McDonald House accomplishing is bringing families together that may be experiencing the same problems as other families. By bringing them together, they can communicate feelings and sharing a basic connection through a difficult time. According to their promotional brochure, the “Ronald McDonald House is a non-profit charity that depends heavily on donations of money, time, and corporate sponsors. Hard working volunteers donate much of their time to help make the Ronald McDonald House what it is today.”

I originally heard about the Ronald McDonald House when I was a freshman at Rockhurst University because we went there as part of the Finucane Service Project. We served families lunches and took a tour of RMH. I was very impressed to learn everything they do to help families that are in need of shelter and some compassion. When I called to speak with Dianne Eidson, the Volunteer Director. I was unable to reach her about my capstone project and left a message with her voice mail. To my surprise, no more then fifteen minutes later she returned my call. Mrs. Eidson was very friendly and told me that it would not be a problem to observe RMH. She was very upbeat over the phone and made my anxiety disappear. Next, I set up an appointment to meet the next day and thanked her for the opportunity to observe RMH. The following day, a current student and I went to the RMH to interview Dianne Eidson, the Volunteer Director.

The drive lasted about fifteen to twenty minutes. We made sure to leave early in case we got lost, which almost happened. We drove north on Troost and it revealed many old houses, pawnshops, and so many nail salons that I lost count. Mostly African Americans lived in the community. We then turned on to 25th Street right around Crown Center. The area itself became much better. The area around 25th Street and Gilham included medical buildings, rehabilitation centers, and a children’s playground. Ronald McDonald House is on 2501 Cherry Street right across from Children’s Mercy Hospital. As we drove farther down 25th Street, it became apparent that Cherry Street and the RMH wasn’t just going to jump out at and say “hello.” We had to drive up and down a few streets before we came upon the prominent RMH sign. The building was not difficult to find. In fact, it was a piece of cake.

When we arrived at Ronald MDH, we rang the doorbell and the receptionist let us in. She then notified Mrs. Eidson that my friend and I were there. While we waited, I took a little time to look around. It was an enormous place with quilts and other tapestries hanging from the walls. I noticed one plaque that listed all the local and corporate sponsors. I was in awe to see how many sponsors they receive money and donations from. One major benefactor is the Ewing Kaufman Foundations. Also included are local companies in and around Kansas City. When we entered the building, we saw brochures and other pamphlets on the receptionist’s desk.

Mrs. Eidson met us in the waiting area, introduced herself, explained what RMH’s purpose is and how it serves the community. We took a tour of the house that lasted about forty-five minutes. The tour began in the main lobby and waiting area. The main lobby was very spacious and had a homey feel to it, which must be relaxing to families and children that stay there. Then Mrs. Eidson showed us the library, playroom, and family room. The family room had a large television, tables, chairs, and couches that made it look very comfortable. The chairs and couches were all padded with flower patterns. The playroom had plenty of blocks, books, teddy bears, toys, and a television with children’s movies playing.

Next to the family room was the kitchen where the families cook their own food. The kitchen is divided up in two parts. The first part was allocated to every family in the house. For example, the refrigerator had food that everyone could eat or share. Basically, I would I call it community living; “What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine.” On the other side of the kitchen everything had to be tagged or labeled. Everything in this refrigerator was labeled for different families that were staying there. To me, that is very convenient and intelligent. There were tables for the children and tables for the adults, which are long enough to comfortably fit everyone in the house. Mrs. Eidson then showed us the playground and outside dining area. It was very quaint and relaxing.

The last thing we saw during our tour was a vacant room. It looked like a standard hotel room with two beds, television, shower, cabinets, closet space, and a phone. The walls were painted blue and the windows with white curtains overlooked the neighborhood. Mrs. Eidson said that the largest room could accommodate up to eight people in a single room, which I think is great because a family doesn’t have to split up.

Dianne Eidson also provided us with useful background information about the RMH. She listed various standing committees that comprise the organization: the Volunteer Board of Directors, Staff Coordinators, the RMD Speaker’s Bureau, and fundraising committees. One special program is the RMH Family Room. Ronald McDonald House Charities established the Family Room in conjunction with Children’s Mercy Hospital. These Family Rooms are only on pediatric and critical floor care areas.

In conclusion, this trip made me feel like I wanted to take part in RMH knowing how much it does for the community. Needy children with serious illnesses are their main priority, which makes me feel like RMH really cares about people in general.


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