A Home Away from Home for Caregivers
Starlight is proud to partner with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) all across the US that help provide families support and comfort. With November being National Caregiver Month, we want to highlight the amazing work that RMHC does to support the caregivers that are staying there.
45 years, 367 houses, 249 family rooms in 64 countries all with one mission, to provide sick children what they need most – their families.
When a child’s life is spent in and out of hospitals, the presence of family and a home can make a world of a difference. RMHC has been helping millions of families with sick children find comfort and support when they need it most. No one knows this better than Jaka, Development Director at RMHC in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Not only does Jaka have hands-on experience working with families staying at RMHC, but as a child, RMHC was her and her family’s home away from home.
Jaka understands first-hand what it’s like for a family to have a child in the hospital. When she was born with spina bifida and flown three hours away for immediate medical attention, her parents were understandably overwhelmed. They had a two-year old son and had to get into their car and follow Jaka to the hospital in order to get their questions answered.
“My mom was still in school and my father has just started a small business, so they really did not have any money for anything, especially a hotel,” says Jaka.
Once at the hospital, a nurse recommended going to a Ronald McDonald House. There they would have the freedom to come and go as needed but also provide a home base and the ability to be with their child. Being equipped with a kitchen, bedroom, and various other amenities, allows people to open up, relax, and escape from the feeling of being on edge that is common inside hospital walls.
Throughout her time with the organization, Jaka has learned that without a doubt, sick children need great care, but their families need it too.
“I always think back to ‘what did my parents need’ and a lot of them just really need someone to take a moment and ask how they are doing,” Jaka explained.
The staff at RMH steps in as caregivers to the families taking care of seriously ill children, to build a network of support. They make it a priority to foster families taking care of each other and bonding over common experiences.
“One mom did not have a car, but another mom at the House offered to drive her back and forth from the hospital. Overtime, their friendship evolved from car rides to breakfast in the morning and now they are still friends who see each other at reunions because this environment fostered that for them,” says Jaka.
While creating an environment of support for the families, the RMHC staff is always making sure the children have what they need. Starlight is proud to be one of the organizations RMHC relies on to deliver care to its families. Starlight Gaming, Virtual Reality, and Deliveries, give kids the chance to be kids, play games, and be entertained for a few hours.
Jaka emphasized that a nurse or doctor can hop on a Starlight Gaming console with their patients and turn that child’s day around in a matter of minutes. Plus, Starlight Gaming consoles can be enjoyed by the entire family, not just the patient – allowing the child and their family to have a sense of normalcy in an unfamiliar environment.