Regular Pickle Planet readers will know that the neonatal unit (NNICU) and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Moncton Hospital hold special places in our family’s heart. So when the Rise & Shine PJ Walk for Kids was announced earlier this year, I immediately signed us up!
The walk takes place Sunday, June 11 at three locations: Charlottetown, Halifax, and here in Moncton at Centennial Park. You can sign up as a team to raise money, or pay a $20 family fee to join. The walk begins with a pancake breakfast courtesy of the Riverview Lions Club, then PJ-wearing families will talk a 1km (or 3km) walk together, then join for a post-walk celebration.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Moncton Hospital is part of the larger Atlantic charity, which includes a house near the IWK in Halifax that many local families have called home while children were receiving care. The goal is to keep families close when they need it most. Last year, more than 1,200 New Brunswick families relied on Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlantic, and nearly 700 families used the Family Room at the Moncton Hospital.
We were one of these families in February 2013, relying on the room for home-cooked meals and a quiet place to recharge while our boys spent 35 days in the NNICU. The Power family shared a similar experience in February 2015.
Annie and Trevor Power welcomed their son Evan 10 weeks early. Weighing 3lbs, 14 ounces, Evan spent about six weeks in the NNICU – and like most parents, Annie and Trevor did not want to go far without their son. The Ronald McDonald Room helped keep them close.
The Powers came to learn about the room like many NNICU families I know: the nurses told Trevor he could find a hot shower and a home-cooked meal, free of charge, just down the hall. He soon brought Annie, who describes it as “uplifting.”
“When I first walked in the doors of the Family Room, I could feel the warmth,” says Annie. “It was such a different experience than being in a hospital room. It felt like a home.”
For many parents with children in the hospital, the room becomes a routine.
“It was a place to get away from the noise and the stress,” says Annie. “When you’re sitting next to your son’s bed and all you can hear is the machines and the beeps, you can’t help but be stressed. It’s a great getaway, even for a little bit.”
The room also helps other family members cope with the long visits.
“My 12-year-old stepson, Quentin, would come to the hospital with us every weekend,” explains Annie. “It was nice that he had a place where he could be a kid and play. The volunteers were exceptionally good with him.”
Quentin, Annie, and Trevor continue to visit the Ronald McDonald Family Room, bringing Evan there to celebrate his birthday by preparing a meal for the families currently using the space.
“Our hope is that maybe Evan will keep the tradition going with his own family one day,” adds Annie.
If you’re interested in volunteering to provide a meal to families using the room (or to donate), please contact the Ronald McDonald House directly. And if you’re looking for a great way to give back now, join us Sunday morning at Centennial Park!