Ronald McDonald House New York’s Holiday Festivities Spread to Local Communities
Holidays at Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY) can be quite spectacular. Maybe you’ve enjoyed Valentine’s Day by writing a note and posting it on our Share the Love Wall in the lobby, adorned our mothers with lavish flower bouquets in May, celebrated dads in June, been here for the unveiling of Mission Moose to kick off the holiday season or watched Santa Clause rise above the crowds to wish kids at the House a Merry Christmas during Miracle on 73rd Street.
There is no shortage of holiday celebrations at Ronald McDonald House New York for the children who are staying with us. These kids are all receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses at New York City’s finest hospitals.
These children and their families leave their homes sometimes for months at a time. They move into the east 73rd street House, far from the life they know and the friends and family they love. We strive to make every day special.
However, we go the extra mile and make the holidays incredibly momentous to help fill that void our families feel so far from home. This year RMH-NY had the pleasure of packing up the stockings, wrapping paper, and confetti to extend our holiday celebrating hand to several local hospitals around the five boroughs where a dose of cheer was needed.
The History Behind the RMH-NY Family Room
In 2012, Ronald McDonald House New York felt that it was time to take the care and compassion reserved for families in the House on the Upper East Side and extend its reach further into the communities that make up the five boroughs of NYC.
To that effort, RMH-NY created a hospital outreach program to help facilitate this extension of our programs and services out into the community.
By 2015, after solidifying partnerships with eight various hospital systems around the city, Ronald McDonald House New York saw an opportunity to create consistent outreach through the first ever Ronald McDonald Family Room at New York City Health + Hospitals/Kings County on Clarkson Street in Brooklyn.
At NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, Ronald McDonald Family Room serves as a respite for caregivers of NICU and pediatric patients. It is equipped with a kitchen, washer, dryer, and lounge area and gives caregivers whose children are receiving treatment a place to relax and rejuvenate.
Recently after the success of the Kings County family room, Ronald McDonald House New York opened a second family room at New York City Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst extending our reach to serve the Queens community.
Kings County and Elmhurst joined in on the holiday spirit in a big way, bringing a little extra cheer along with all that care and compassion to every family that unfortunately had to spend their holidays in the hospital caring for their little ones.
A Winter Wonderland in Elmhurst
Ronald McDonald Family Room at Elmhurst Hospital received its first holiday makeover this year. Family room coordinator Jen Wiener and their team went all out to make certain the kids and caregivers truly felt like they were walking in a winter wonderland.
Ronald McDonald House New York Partners with Macy’s
The Elmhurst Family Room holiday makeover was a sensational success thanks to the holiday decorating gurus from Macy’s who not only gave their decorations for the family rooms at Elmhurst, Kings County, and the entire east 73rd street House, but then sent the best of the best to do the decorating themselves.
With the help of a select team of talented volunteers, both family rooms at Elmhurst and Kings County hospitals received the royal holiday decorating treatment. This guaranteed that families had a few small reasons to feel a little merrier and brighter this year.
All the decorations were more than enough to lift families' spirits, but the RMH-NY family room teams did not stop there.
Kings County’s Pop-up Toy Shop
The Ronald McDonald Family Room at Kings County Hospital team led by Odain Brissett decided to turn up the holiday heat full blast at the Brooklyn hospital this season. They decided to create a pop-up toy store complete with wrapping paper kits hung in stockings around the room.
Each family was able to choose a few toys for their child or children. Then, they could pick the wrapping paper of their choice, and wrap the presents right then to take back to their child.
Talk about making the season brighter. Most parents and caregivers are so overwhelmed just taking care of their ill child and keeping their spirits up during treatment. So, many never have the chance to slip away long enough to go on a Christmas shopping spree like the rest of us. Parents and caregivers were so grateful to give their little one a much-deserved Christmas gift this year.
Personalized Baby Graduation Onesies for All
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies fortunate enough to receive the good news that they have officially been released from the Kings County hospital with the green light to go home deserve to be celebrated. Ronald McDonald Family Room’s team decided to hold a graduation ceremony for each little one.
They realized it would be helpful for families with babies leaving the NICU, or graduating babies, to have a ‘When You Get Home’ tote bag filled with a helpful assortment of needs for their infant upon returning home. This helps families in their transition out of the hospital and back into the real world. It must be a jarring experience that requires a period of adjustment when you have been in the NICU for weeks or months.
The most exciting part about the tote bag was the monogrammed personalized onesies made for each little tyke to wear when they get home.
This year, in the middle of holiday celebrations, Odain and his team had the privilege of creating 20 personalized tote bags for 20 graduating newborns. These babies were getting the best holiday gift they could ask for this year. The gift of returning home. Now, they were going home sporting a stylish, personalized onesie from the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Kings County Hospital. No doubt they will be the most fashionable babies in the neighborhood in 2023.
Janina Oliver, Kings County Family Room Associate, reported back after the event.
“All the mothers were overcome with joy when they saw we had personalized each bag for their newborn. Our mission is to provide relief and comfort for our local communities. This is something that is felt at Kings County, and I could not be prouder to be a part of a team that is providing that.”
RMH-NY brings Silver Bells and Hospitality Carts to the Bronx
The RMH-NY hospitality cart was featured at the event. Families and caregivers enjoyed healthy treats, snacks, and personal care items collected from the hospitality cart. The cart was donated by the Guy M. Stewart Cancer Fund and is sponsored by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and will service the parts of Jacobi hospital dedicated to pediatric care.
The launch event was to celebrate Ronald McDonald House New York’s expanding initiative to partner with public hospitals across the five boroughs to provide health equity and much-needed resources, relief, and normalcy for families from the neighborhood. This initiative will share programs and support services created inside the House with patients and families in communities all over NYC.
Your Gifts are the Foundation for Extended Outreach
Ronald McDonald House New York has extended its reach outside the House and into so many different communities. By doing that, it effectively brings thousands more families the same holiday spirit created inside the House every year. With the active support of its generous donor base, Ronald McDonald House New York plans to extend its programs and services to more public hospitals around NYC.
These efforts will continue to reach the communities of families that need them the most. In 2023, RMH-NY donor gifts will provide the foundational support that gives these families and so many more throughout all five boroughs a reason to smile in the face of grave adversity and the ability to stay together through every moment of a child’s treatment.
Give to the expanding mission of Ronald McDonald House New York and watch your dollars directly impact so many kids with life-threatening illnesses all over the city of New York in real time. Big or small, every little bit you can give allows us to mobilize and support more young lives faster.