On this day we went to visit two more Ronald McDonald Houses in Alberta. We drove a total of 317km km from Calgary to Red Deer, and Edmonton. We had a very warm welcoming at both houses as you will see below.
At the Red Deer House, we were greeted by Rhanda, Cassandra, and Sue who were tremendous ambassadors. It was a fantastic tour that we had with Rhanda who explained that this House was built in 2012 and can host up to 11 families at a time – 2 of which are fully wheelchair accessible. Several guests that attend have been through the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) where specialized care of ill or premature newborn infants is provided at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. Something that is quite striking at the Red Deer House is how clean and spotless it is, including the children’s arts & crafts room. We loved the open concept architecture where the sunlight just radiates into the living room, kitchen, and children’s play area just to name a few places. Our photos don’t quite do the House enough justice because it could really make for a nice wedding venue.
Rhanda was really proud of the House’s inclusivity as Red Deer is a very diverse community. In fact, they have even taken in international families from as far as France! Continuing the tour down into the basement, there is a small fitness facility as well as a games rooms which is well equipped for kids to have a good time. Being that Red Deer has a strong farming community and heritage, it is only fitting that the House’s Magic Room features several cute barn animals in them along with a lot of donated toys. There is so much to be proud about here. Thank you so much Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta for allowing us into your Red Deer House!
(Left to right: Cassandra, Sue, Alex, Mark, Rhanda)
Many thanks to Elyssa, our communications teammate back in Vancouver, who was able to connect us with Josh from rdnewsNOW who wrote an excellent article on our fundraiser after his visit.
Our next visit was to the Edmonton House which was built in 1985 and can accommodate up to 32 families at a time. One of the first volunteers to welcome us was Gil who devotes many of his retirement hours to provide shuttle services for the families to Stollery Children’s Hospital. We then met with Suzanne and Kayla who brought us outside for some pre-tour photos. When we came back into the House, we were surprised to see all the staff surrounding us with a warm welcome. Although brief, it was such an honour to meet many of the folks who operate Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta.
We were blown away by the several programs offered at the Edmonton House so we will just highlight a few special ones. As part of its Rejuvenate Program, parents are able to take time for themselves and enjoy a message, manicure, or even a haircut. This is a great way for parents to relax and get relief from an otherwise challenging period in their lives. The Shuttle Program has provided thousands of trips for families and recently surpassed a milestone of 100,000km. This is another way the House makes it easier for them to get around. The Edmonton House through its Education Program can provide all kids, grades 1-12, staying at the House with lesson plans from an onsite teacher in order to keep them up to speed when they are away from school.
There were so many nice touches to the Edmonton House, in fact, too many to capture. We loved all of the amazing colours in the Quilt Room and the cute stuffed animals in the aquatic themed Magic Room. The children’s backyard playground is huge and we saw a couple of kids really having a good time there. The kitchen was very large and fully stocked with food. It was also impressive to see a mural of families, staff, volunteers, and donors which captures a House block party. There is even a 3D printer available to make Lego molds of yourself!
We had a fantastic time at the Edmonton House and wanted to say many thanks again Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta!
(Back row: Anna, Brooklyn, Patricia, Sarah, Suzanne, Leslie, Tyler, Christie, Ashley, Angela)
(Front row: Makayla, Alex, Mark, Leah) (missing to take the photo: Kayla)
To cap off the day, we went to do some sight-seeing in Edmonton. We checked out the Fringe festival which featured several street performing artists and then visited the Alberta Legislature, the second on our list across the ten provinces.
Next stops are Lloydminster, the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Prince Albert, and the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon.