Ronald McDonald's House that is. What is the difference? The former usually involves fries and a shake. The latter is a home away from home for families whose children are undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. Fries and a shake are typically last on the minds of the parents at Ronald McDonald's House (RMH).
My first child was chronically ill, having a rare genetic defect. His treatment was long term, spanning over 2 years. We had to live near enough to the hospital for his treatment so when we weren't inpatient, we lived at the RMH two blocks away.
While it was a difficult time, I was overwhelmed by the family atmosphere that a bunch of strangers had with one another because our common bond was in the desire for a successful treatment, healthy child and happy ending. Many times all three of those things happened. Many times none did.
RMH continues in its mission all over the world to provide that home away from home for families and their children. Ronald McDonald's Houses are located near major children's hospitals.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because this weekend the Ronald McDonalds House in my city is having their major fundraising gala, and even though you might not be able to attend--although you'd be sure enough invited--I'm guessing that several of you live near Ronald McDonald's Houses. RMHs receive some funding from the McDonalds' chains, for which they're always thankful, but fries and shakes don't pay the light bills or keep the doors open. RMHs depend on the local community support both financially and with volunteers.
So as Valentine's Day approaches with its theme of love, maybe you'll consider looking into how to support your local Ronald McDonald's House. The RMH is even called "The House that Love Built".
We didn't come home with our happy ending, but we are grateful for the care we were shown at RMH when we desperately needed it. Giving back is part of the way I can remember and smile.