Click here to read part 1.

After we left HealthBridge, we had a bit of time before our lunch meeting. Stop #2 was at the Ronald McDonald House. We hadn’t actually seen the main house before. Instead, we stayed in the RMH floor of Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital. It was such a blessing to have that set up right on the same floor where Samantha was in the ICU. Each night when I woke up in the middle of the night I could go down the hall to her room and see her. While I couldn’t hold her, it still helped to see and touch her. The only night that wasn’t possible was when they came and took her for an MRI in the middle of the night. I got to the room to find her gone. But at the time I was still pumping and hadn’t decided to quit breastfeeding yet, so I stayed to pump. I also caught part of the royal wedding one night with her – the nurses had put it on the television in her room. I like knowing that I got to experience that little mommy-daughter moment, even if she wasn’t really aware of it.

After our stay in the Ronald McDonald House, we knew we had to do something to help out. We still are considering applying to volunteer there, knowing how important volunteers are to what they do. But one of the first things we started to do after getting back to work was collecting pop tabs at church. You know the pull-tabs from soda cans? They collect them and trade them in as scrap metal. All Ronald McDonald Houses do this. It’s a huge money-maker for them. So please, if you’re not already keeping those tabs, start doing it. Check online to find out where to take them. Some McDonalds restaurants will take them. In our case, we took them directly to the main house in Houston.

It’s a beautiful place. I was really impressed with it. Two playgrounds – one inside, one outside. A sports room with a pool table, fuseball, air hokey, video game machines and a big television. A lobby filled with couches, coffee tables, and lots of stuff to read. Computers and a kitchen. And that’s just what we could see from the front desk! I would have loved to get a tour but we didn’t have a lot of time and I didn’t want to disturb the people who were staying there, worrying about their children. We know all too well how that feels.

The women at the front desk asked how long it took us to drink all that soda. Ha! We had brought in five kitchen-sized garbage bags full of tabs. We told them our church started collecting them after our experiences. It was nice to talk with them briefly. I may try to take a group from church down for a tour, to see what they do and find out what we can do to help them in other ways. I still would like to volunteer at the Memorial Hermann house, and perhaps take a meal there once in a while. I know that the parents appreciate having a free hot meal. We certainly always enjoyed it!

I know it’s easy to get burned out giving to charity. So many folks get frustrated giving money, time, and belongings to folks who don’t necessarily seem to appreciate or deserve it. I’m not going to judge those situations or the people who feel that way. But if you are looking for a way to give financially, or through volunteering, or by sharing a meal, please check into your local Ronald McDonald House. Parents of sick children are in the midst of crisis, cannot begin to figure out where to turn, and are incredibly grateful for every gesture of kindness. They might not be able to express it at the time, but I can tell you from experience that we really did appreciate the help we received from so many sources while we stayed there.

Stay tuned for Part 3