You never think it will happen to you. But then, one day, it does.
Melissa was a young nursing student, with a great heart for people in need. So she volunteered at Ronald McDonald House. She never imagined she would return — 10 years later — desperately in need of help, with her own child struggling in the hospital.
She and her husband were already reeling. Just after the birth of their baby boy P.J., their 7-year old Chase was hit with an array of terrifying symptoms. The diagnosis: a rare autoimmune disorder. He would need repeated, weeks-long stints of intensive hospital care.
It was impossible for Melissa to keep working. The family was stretched financially — “struggling to stay afloat,” as Melissa puts it, “while constantly accruing medical bills.” A massive hotel bill was out of the question. Commuting was costly.
They urgently needed a place to stay, close to the hospital where little Chase was valiantly fighting his disease.
Thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers the Ronald McDonald House of Providence gave this family a place of refuge in a time of deep difficulty. A medical crisis was pulling them apart, but they were able to stay together.
This is a moment you can never really plan for… it just happens.
Melissa recounts…. “The Ronald McDonald House in Providence welcomed us with open arms,” she says. “We were greeted by kind volunteers and front desk staff. They showed us to our room — our home for the next two months. It was generously spacious, with two private bedrooms and a large private bathroom to accommodate our family of four.”
After a long, grueling day of being with her son during his intensive therapy, Melissa was unspeakably grateful. “Coming back to the Ronald McDonald House from the hospital every day is like coming home,” she says. “It’s a safe haven, a place for us to still be a family, and find moments together to connect.”
It was the little things that seemed to make the biggest difference: “Eating a warm home-cooked meal made by incredible volunteers … or being able to cook a family favorite recipe in the kitchen … or sitting in the charming living room, watching the kids make sweet childhood memories in the play area.”
“The feeling you get when you walk into the kitchen (after an exhausting day at the hospital watching your child struggle) and find a plate of warm cookies on the counter, and ice-cold milk in the fridge…. There is something so healing about this kind of communal living — with other families who are on a similar journey!”
“The volunteers and staff are true definitions of humble service,” Melissa says. “The entire house is clean, welcoming, and filled with smiling faces every day. So many of the people staying here are going through some of the hardest days of their lives — and just knowing this place is here brings peace and light to the darkness.”
Chase isn’t out of the woods yet. His family feels the love and support from everyone at the Ronald McDonald House. “Forever humbled and indebted” is how Melissa describes it. “Because of Ronald McDonald House of Providence, the only thing we have to worry about is getting our son well.”