CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME

MARCH 25, 2010

From this Chair…

By Cloann McNall

   I spent part of last week at the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane assisting my granddaughter Ashley Howland in her daily trips to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.

   Ashley spends most of every day and evening at Sacred Heart caring for her and her husband Bryan’s two premature twin sons, Braylon and Kaden Howland born March 1, nine weeks premature.

   Baby A as he is known at the NICU pod is Braylon to us. He is the bigger of the two. Kaden is known as baby B to the nurses and is now at 3 lbs. Braylon, born two minutes earlier than Kaden weighs in at a hefty 3 lbs., 10 oz. An ounce doesn’t mean much in the real world but it makes a huge difference on a tiny baby. Kaden’s tiny hands are the size of a postage stamp. The babies have  the instinctive gripping skills but not enough strength yet to grip.

   Ashley and I drove several blocks from the Ronald McDonald House to the hospital parking lot and then walked about three blocks one way on the skywalk and through the halls to NICU. We made this trip several times a day so we got our exercise.

   The Ronald McDonald house is amazing for lack of a better word. The thing that stood out most to me was the ultimate cleanliness of everything in the house. The multiple kitchens are new, large and volunteers work there constantly keeping it spotless. Same with the laundry room.

   There is free milk and food in the kitchen plus plates of homemade cookies, pizza and other ‘yummies.’ A couple of times a week the staff provides a full meal for those staying at the House.

   There is a large family room with a fireplace and giant screen TV. There is a big playground outside to the back of the building. Plenty of toys, a basketball hoop, big barbeque grill and a life-size Ronald McDonald sitting on a bench with his arms outstretched as if watching the children at play.

   I saw a tiny young girl darting around the kitchen, smiling at me and showing me her green teeth from eating a St. Patrick’s green frosted cookie. The little doll was bald so I assume she was undergoing chemo but was happy and active in spite of it.

   To say the least I was impressed with the Ronald McDonald House and was told they are located all across the US and some in Europe. Most of the workers are volunteers and a great security system keeps the families safe in rooms that are the same as those found in a nice hotel.

   While in the laundry room, everything is free in there, I saw a volunteer crawl under the dryer to clean the vents. It was apparent she was beyond her working years. I asked “Why do you volunteer here?” She said “To keep from going crazy.”

   When I leave this world I want any memorials that might come my way to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane. This place is an unbelievable haven for families with sick children.

   Thank God for the Ronald McDonald House and to all those who have remembered Ashley and Bryan with cards, gifts, flowers, prayers, visits and to those who make inquiries about the babies.