Volunteer Spotlight – Hospitality Suite

Volunteer Spotlight – Hospitality Suite

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio expanded its presence to area hospitals with our Hospitality Suite in 2019. The goal of the Hospitality Suite is to keep families closer together. It’s staffed for four hours a day to allow parents and loved ones to stay within arms-length of their child.

Meet Elaine, one of the volunteers at our Hospitality Suite at the ProMedica Children’s Hospital. Elaine has been a volunteer with RMHC of NW Ohio for over a year. She is a stay-at-home-mom with a passion for volunteering.

Some of Elaine’s duties at the Hospitality Suite include: making coffee, cleaning, restocking the snacks and being a friendly face for families.

“Being there to support families is a big part of volunteering at the Hospitality Suite,” says Elaine. “Having someone for parents to talk to that is not a medical person, gives parents a chance to clear their head and refresh.”

RMHC of NW Ohio currently has two volunteers for the Hospitality Suite, however, we are looking for more volunteers.

“Everyone should volunteer. It’s wonderful to be able to support someone in their time of need and the medical staff” says Elaine.

To donate goods or to volunteer at the Hospitality Suite, contact Wendy@rmhctoledo.org.

Braniecki Family – Celebrating Lyla’s First Birthday!

Braniecki Family – Celebrating Lyla’s First Birthday!

Kari and Matthew Braniecki stayed at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio for 74 nights in 2021 while their daughter Lyla recovered in NICU. Last month, the Braniecki family celebrated Lyla’s first birthday! We caught up with the Braniecki family to see how Lyla is doing and for them to share their thoughts on RMHC. Below is a message from Kari Braniecki:

My husband and I came to RMHC because our daughter Lyla was born 13 weeks early and was going to require a long term NICU stay. We live an hour away in Marblehead, so the option to stay somewhere that was walking distance from my newborn was a beautiful gift. It was especially helpful in the first couple weeks as I was recovering from a severe case of preeclampsia as well as a C-section. As Lyla got bigger and stronger and more aware, I spent longer and longer days in the NICU to work on feeding. To not have to take 2 hours a day out of that time driving to and from Marblehead was priceless.

Lyla is doing fantastic. She is hitting milestones for her true age (instead of her adjusted age which is 3 months younger) and is such a happy, inquisitive, spirited little girl.

Other than the house being within walking distance to the hospital, I really appreciated the homemade dinners every night. It was such a blessing to be able to spend as much time as I could with my daughter and not have to worry about grocery shopping or cooking. The open kitchen/pantry was amazing as well.  It was so easy to grab leftovers or something tasty from the shelves for a quick lunch or breakfast. And I know sweets get a bad rap, but at that stressful time, I really needed comfort food!  When I would walk into RMHC and smell cookies or brownies baking, it brought a smile to my face (and stomach!) every time! Everything was so delicious!!

Even though our family and friends could not visit us at the house, they were incredibly supportive while we were going through this NICU experience. My husband and I were able to be strong for our daughter because we had so many people helping us to stand on our feet day in and day out.

Everybody was so kind at RMHC. To come back to the house after sometimes worrisome or stressful days in the NICU and to have everybody you pass say hello and give you a smile is something that touched my heart. Some even got to know who I was and would ask about Lyla.  In a place where you are away from your friends and family (especially during COVID times), it was comforting to have someone know you well enough to know what was going on in your life and to care enough to ask about it.

Thank you to RMHC and to everyone who works for and volunteers with this amazing organization. They provided us with the ability to be physically close to our daughter for the duration of her hospital stay and that was the most amazing gift that we could have during that time.

Consider a gift to RMHC of NW Ohio so that we are able to support families like the Braniecki family. Give HERE.

Volunteer Appreciation Month – Deric Vaughn Bolden

Volunteer Appreciation Month – Deric Vaughn Bolden

Deric Vaughn Bolden

Deric (Vaughn) Bolden is a volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Northwest Ohio. He has been volunteering at RMHC for a little more than a year and has a passion for giving back and helping others.

Vaughn’s story is one of redemption.

Prior to volunteering at RMHC, Vaughn was going through a dark period of his life. Checking himself into rehab, Vaughn has now come out of rehab more than two years sober. “When I was in that period of my life, I realized that when I become in a better place, I have to do the right thing and give back to others” says Vaughn. Seeing commercials for RMHC, Vaughn picked up the phone and was eager to volunteer at the House.

While each volunteer at RMHC has specific tasks that they work on, Vaughn is a jack-of-all-trades. Some of his tasks are cleaning, answering calls and maintaining the front desk and “doing anything asked of him”.

While not volunteering at RMHC, Vaughn is an author and artist. He has written two children’s books and has painted a beautiful piece of art displayed in the playroom. His children’s books titled “Benny in the Race” teaches children to stay motivated and never give up, while “A Boy Named Hero” is a story about a kid with a disability who is bullied and becomes a superhero who helps others with disabilities. The piece of art that Vaughn created for the playroom is shown below.

When asked about what advice Vaughn would give to others on volunteering, he says, “It’s a great choice to give back to others and do something that is bigger than yourself.” Vaughn told us that volunteering has taught him to be mindful of others. “Some people may be having the worst day of their life. It really puts everything into perspective and teaches you that life may not be as bad as you think.”

Volunteers at RMHC of NW Ohio are crucial to our organization’s impact on families. To volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio, please contact Wendy Bejaige at wendy@rmhctoledo.org.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio is a finalist for the “Best Place To Volunteer” in the Toledo Area Parent News 2021 Family Favorite Awards. To vote for RMHC, click HERE.

Volunteer Appreciation Month – Mike Grames

Volunteer Appreciation Month – Mike Grames

Mike Grames - Volunteer Appreciation Month

Mike Grames is a volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Northwest Ohio where he focuses on baking for families. Since his retirement nearly 13 years ago, volunteering has been a part of his life. He spent eight years volunteering for the Toledo Area Humane Society and has been volunteering at RMHC for the past four-plus years.

Every year, millions of pounds of pull tabs are donated to RMHC to fund the pantry.

“My interest in volunteering began when I was dropping off pull tabs and noticed that they (RMHC) were in need of someone to volunteer to bake/cook,” says Mike. “Initially it was just holidays, but I guess they liked my baking and asked me to come in twice a week.”

Every week, Mike is at RMHC on Tuesday and Friday to bake goods for families.

“If I can make cookies, brownies or anything else that provides a couple minutes of enjoyment for families that are going through a difficult time, then my goal is accomplished” explains Mike.  Mike says he doesn’t have any favorites among his goodies but a quick poll of the staff indicated that his Almond Joy cookies are No. 1.

Volunteers are always needed at RMHC for different tasks.

Wendy Bejaige, Director of Operations, says that “Mike is always eager to help. Whether it’s coming in to bake for holidays or parties, he always has a smile on his face and is willing to do more.” For example, Bejaige cited a 15-year-old was at RMHC with her family, and Mike took the time to teach her how to bake during his free time.

If you’re considering volunteering, Mike wants you to know that “If you have the time, means and ability, there is nothing like helping others. What you get back is way more than what you give.”

To volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio, please contact Wendy Bejaige at wendy@rmhctoledo.org.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio is a finalist for the “Best Place To Volunteer” in the Toledo Area Parent News 2021 Family Favorite Awards. To vote for RMHC, click HERE.

 

Cork and Pork presented by Clarios

Cork and Pork presented by Clarios

 

We are excited to bring back in-person events to 2022! Please join RMHC of NW Ohio at The Venues on June 28 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm for Cork and Pork presented by Clarios! Celebrate with a night of great food, cold drinks, live music by Distant Cousinz and some awesome auction items. All proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio.

For more information on tickets, sponsorships or to volunteer at this event, please contact Kayleen Jurski at kayleen@rmhctoledo.org.

Purchase Tickets

Ticket/Sponsor Packages

Individual ticket – $45

– One ticket to the event

– Two drink tickets

– BBQ and sides

 

Table – $450

– Ten tickets to the event

– Reserved table for ten

– Twenty drink tickets

– BBQ and sides

 

Smokehouse Sponsor – $500

– Four tickets to the event

– Eight drink tickets

– BBQ and sides

– Prominent signage at the event

– Sponsor logo on event signage

– Identified as Smokehouse Sponsor in all electronic materials

 

Boss Hog Sponsor – $1,000

– Ten tickets to the event

– Reserved table for ten

– Twenty drink tickets

– BBQ and sides

– Prominent signage at the event

– Sponsor logo on event signage

– Identified as a Boss Hog Sponsor in all electronic materials

International Students Grateful For A Home-Away-From-Home

International Students Grateful For A Home-Away-From-Home

Chioma Family

Toledo, Ohio – February 19 was a normal day for the Amadi/Akujuobi family until baby Chimzurum was born earlier than expected. The couple from Bowling Green gave birth via C-section at the Wood County Hospital with help from experts from the Toledo Hospital. Once Chioma and baby Chimzurum were stable, Chimzurum was flown to Toledo Hospital for increased monitoring.

Chioma Amadi and Mmaduabuchi Akujuobi are international students from Nigeria currently studying at Bowling Green State University and staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio. Chioma is working on a doctoral degree in leadership studies, while Mmaduabuchi is completing a master’s degree in education. “Our professors at BGSU have been helpful and flexible in terms of assignment due dates,” commented Chioma. “We sometimes wake up at night, especially while I’m pumping breast milk, to do school work even if it’s for one hour.”

“Having food available for us to take to the hospital during our long visits with Chimzurum is something we are very grateful for,” said Mmaduabuchi. The Amadi/Akujuobi family has been able to make traditional Nigerian food at RMHC when they have time.

Staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio has been an eye-opening experience for the Amadi/Akujuobi family. “How can we bring something like this to Nigeria?” says Chioma. “The hospitality of the staff and volunteers is top-notch. Ever since we arrived, the staff have assisted us with all of our needs.”

Click HERE to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Ohio.