a Family Story

This family shares their experience with our Ronald McDonald House program.

the Greatwalker Family

Greatwalker Family

“We’re all hurting in one way or another, but we’re also all here for the same reason – comfort and healing.”
“The kitchen is just a special place…to me, the kitchen is the warmest place in the whole house.”
– Shelley Greatwalker 

Family of four with one toddler and one baby girl

The Ronald McDonald House strives to be a warm place for togetherness to happen and not just because of the warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies volunteers frequently bake in the kitchen.

RMHC supports families whose children are receiving medical care in the Fargo-Moorhead area by offering home-like comfort, support, and care for families. We do this by providing a comfortable bed, hot shower, transportation to and from medical facilities, home-cooked meals, and a secure place to sleep. There is a suggested $20 nightly guest donation although no one is turned away due to an inability to pay.

What is unique about the Ronald McDonald House is that it’s much more than just an affordable, convenient place to stay; the most meaningful benefit RMHC offers is community and connection.  In a recent 2013 study, findings revealed that Ronald McDonald Houses help strengthen coping abilities.

Specifically, after interviewing caregivers staying at a Ronald McDonald House, researchers found that familial support and support from other families during their child’s hospitalization strengthened their coping abilities. The study also demonstrated that staying at a Ronald McDonald House surrounds parents with an atmosphere of mutual support that encourages sharing between families who are going through the same experience.

The reality of that study is readily apparent and felt by many families who stay with us. Shelley Greatwalker stayed at RMHC to help and be close to her daughter, Kaytlyn, who was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. The Greatwalkers say, “We want to have that empathy feeling for others. Yes, we’re going through a lot right now, but we want to care for people staying here and the kitchen is where we can do that because it’s a community space. We’ve met a lot of very nice people down in the kitchen.”

Ultimately, RMHC functions to help families stay together so they can focus on what matters most: their sick child. As the Greatwalker family said, “We’re all hurting in one way or another, but we’re also all here for the same reason – comfort and healing.”

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