Imagine if you take your child to the doctor for a minor illness only to discover that your child has a rare disease and must be taken to the nearest children's hospital straightaway? What if that children's hospital that your child needs to go to is way across town, or way across the state, or worse, way across the country? What if this happens in the middle of the school year and your other children need to be at home to remain in school? What if your spouse needs to stay behind also in order to keep working so you have insurance and money? What if you have no idea how long your child will be hospitalized, what the treatments are or how much they will cost? Will your child be okay?
Unfortunately this happens all too often to families like ours all across the country. If there is a Ronald McDonald House near, they may stay there. Sometimes, the child is too young, and it is necessary for the family members to stay at the hospital or in a family room, or in a hotel. Sometimes, this journey lasts more than a week, more than a month, more than a year. And if the stay is unexpected, can you imagine the strain if puts on a family to be away from home, not to mention just the fact that their child is seriously ill? Ronald McDonald Houses serve around 6 million families a year worldwide. Unfortunately, this number doesn't include the amount of families turned away for lack of room. That is a lot of families! I never knew there were so many.
My very good friend and fellow stay-at-home mom, Tiffany Evans knew the feelings of being displaced from her family all too well. Nearly two years ago, upon hearing news that her and her husband could adopt a little boy born premature in Ohio, they spent five long months waiting for their son to be ready to be taken home with her family in Michigan. Amid countless worrisome days and nights, she and her husband and two year old daughter, spent the time in Ohio in a hotel and then at The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) praying for the health of their little son. It was during this time that Tiffany realized that there was a need for help for families with loved ones in medical crisis. Shortly after her return to Michigan, when her family was once again re-united, she created a non-for profit organization called Until Journey's End (UJE). UJE assists families displaced for medical reasons. According to Tiffany, nearly half of their care packages go to family members at RMHs. The other half is sent to the families staying in the hospital or hotel, or other living situation. UJE provides money and other necessities for families that are displaced; such as gas cards, restaurant gift cards, Target/Walmart gift cards, phone cards, pens, pocket/purse notebooks, blank notecards w/envelopes, postage stamps, children's books, pocket/purse bibles, small children's toys (farm animals, cars, lip gloss, puzzles, stickers, etc.), disposable cameras, 4x6 photo frames, Bandaids, pain reliever, travel size: shampoo, conditioner, liquid body soap, lotion, hand sanitizer, stain remover, and many other toiletries. All this, in effort to ease the burden of being away from the comforts of home.
There are several reasons why I wanted to call attention to this subject.
1.Many stay-at-home moms feel that, at times, that they aren't doing enough. Maybe you won't start your own non-for profit to assist families in need like Tiffany, but you surely can support them.
2.If you decide to donate to UJE, you may pick who your donation goes to. For example, you can pick the age of the child, the location of the family, the illness that the child has, what you'd like to donate, pretty much anything. So if you really want to help the families of a child with cancer, or a 8 year old, or a large family, you can. You can make a difference by providing monetary support, which provides them with the little things that people miss when they are away from home. Or you can donate some of the items previously mentioned.
3.The Ronald McDonald House in Ohio, along with others, provided my friend Tiffany and her daughter, a room to stay. Here locally, The Ronald McDonald House of Indiana is a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill children that are hospitalized in the Indianapolis area. Because of the proximity, RMD mostly provides housing for family members whose children are hospitalized at Riley Hospital for Children, but also serves IU, Methodist and Wishard hospitals. Think about donating or volunteering at RMH. You can find out more on their website, but consider volunteering by working in Guest Services, preparing a home cooked meal, donating a casserole, becoming involved in special events or tasks, helping with in-service or out-service tasks, or by just donating money. Also found on their website is a list of everyday items that they are in need of.
4.Teaching our children to serve others in need is a worthwhile life lesson. The best way to teach them is by example. When you volunteer or donate, you are teaching your kids about why it is important to help others. Sometimes a bit of normalcy in these families' unexpected journey is just what they need. Additionally, think about your next garage sale or your child's next lemonade stand. Wouldn't it be great to put those proceeds to use by donating to UJE or RMH? Both of those websites have excellent ways and ideas for you to raise money to donate. Kids who grow up giving and serving others, don't know any other way.
5.To see 25 things you can do today to support a family in medical crisis visit UJE's blog here.
Don't hesitate, you can make a difference!