making a house a home for those who truly need it

A few weeks ago I got a tweet from a wonderful lady asking for 15 minutes of my time. Little did I know what those 15 minutes were about to turn into!!

I called her back and we chatted and she told me about her project, her vision, what she was trying to do and that of all people, I was one of the first ones she thought about for this project (I was very honored!)

I am of course talking about the wonderful Kristi Hammond and the amazing new project she has founded called Local4Local4Local in support of The Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta.

So what exactly IS this Local4Local4Local project all about?

From the website:

The Local4Local4Local concept was born very organically. The Ronald McDonald House ™ tweeted out in May that they hadn't anybody signed up for their 'Home for Dinner' Program for the month of June. Founder of Local4Local4Local, Kristi Hammond, received the tweet, researched the program, and saw a valid way to get involved.

The idea grew out of a desire to be involved more than just once or twice per year, while still being able to afford the costs of purchasing food in quantities to feed 50 people for dinner. She thought that if a group of businesses banded together to provide more frequent meals, the share of cost and time would be manageable.

From there, the concept grew to supporting local businesses by purchasing all food for the dinners (as much as possible from local vendors) in order to provide stability to our local economy.

The 'Home for Dinner' program is a wonderful program that the house offers its families. Many of whom spend more hours than most of us work per day at the hospital, in appointments and watching their children getting various treatments and procedures done. And often the last thing on their minds when they finally make it back to the house is cooking a meal. This is where the volunteers come in. Different groups come in throughout the month and will supply all the food and make a fabulous homecooked meal for the WHOLE HOUSE! And for some of the families the impact that this has is immense.

Last week our Local4Local4Local team of over 20 different Edmonton and area businesses got our first look at The Ronald McDonald House and all that it does for the families that stay there!  Trust me, this is no ordinary house by any means, and I highly recommend that you take some time out of your schedule to go for a tour and check it out.

The house itself is HUGE! It has 30 full suites that operate at about a 99% capacity all year round! So far this year they have had to turn away at least 50 families and set them up in hotels because there is just not enough room. And as the Edmonton hospitals continue to expand, becoming leading centres of excellence and attracting more amazing pediatric specialists, the needs for the house and it's services will too.

There are families that stay at the house for a few days, some a few weeks and some that are there for months at a time. It truly is a home for these families and one that tries very hard to maintain that sense of connection and homey-ness for everyone.

I was moved to tears that night on more than one occasion and for good reason.

There are two incredible rooms at the house that every kid gets to visit. The first is The Quilt Room. This room is wall to wall shelves of handmade and donated blankets and quilts that every child gets to visit when they first arrive at the house. They can choose any one they want, and it is theirs to keep, for comfort, for warmth, to remember or to forget and mainly just to cuddle up in. Every single one of these blankets is donated by local volunteers and quilting/sewing/knitting groups and it is amazing to see!

The other very special room is aptly named "The Magic Room"! And any room that looks like this when you first walk into it, just has to be magical....

Inside the Magic Room, through a special doorway is a room FULL of every kind of toy or game that a kid would want. 100% donated and 100% awesome! And every kid that has a successful surgery or course of treatment or is ending their stay at the house gets to go into the room and choose their very own special toy or game or trinket or whatever they want to celebrate this milestone! There are some pretty special stories that go along with this room, just ask any of the highly dedicated and amazing staff at the house and they will gladly share!

After our tour of the house we all had a chance to hang out and have a little mixer in the HUMOUNGOUS kitchen and dining area. Kristi asked us each to introduce ourselves, our businesses and why we decided to be a part of the Local4Local4Local project. We all come from diverse backgrounds and all had different reasons for being involved and it was so great to hear about who they all are and what being involved with this project means to them.

When it came to me, well, I could barely get 5 words out of my mouth before I started crying (this should not surprise some of you who know me). You see, I kind of know what it is like having a child in hospital. My oldest was a 3.5 pound preemie and spent just over 2 weeks in the Royal Alexandra Hospital NICU when he was born, and as his mommy, I spent just about the same amount of time there as well. I had family and friends nearby who fed us, who brought dinners to the hospital, who made sure that my husband and I had what we needed to keep ourselves going during this time. It was good to know that we had that support and that help was never far away. So for me, thinking of these families, and quite a few of them happen to be ones with NICU babies, and of them being far away from their circles of support and extended families for far more than a few weeks....well, it was just too much for my brain and my tear ducts to handle.

And THIS is also the very reason that I am involved with the Local4Local4Local project! No mother and no family should ever feel alone when their child is sick and if a home-cooked meal can help that feeling of helplessness even a little bit, then here I come, apron and oven mitts donned!

So hold on to your taste buds Ronald McDonald House families! I make a mean turkey meatball!! I am so looking forward to my Home for Dinner night with two of the other Local4Local4Local team members and then sitting down and enjoying dinner with the families and truly making this an experience that we will all remember and cherish!

Thank you once again to our fearless leader, the wonderful Kristi Hammond (@memoryandstory), and all the local Edmonton businesses, big and small, who are volunteering their time and efforts for this great project!

To find out more about Local4Local4Local please visit the new website, like the Facebook page and follow the twitter account. And to find out how you can get involved with the Ronald McDonald House here in Edmonton, please visit their website and follow them on Twitter too!

Natasha~

This post is part of the Summer Blog Challenge.

31 posts in 31 days.

Please take a moment and peruse the other participants entries as well!  Thank you!

Zita of Ignite Strategic Solutions Cliff of Peer Pressure Works Tammy of Tam I Am Peter of Crazy Wookie Cookies Shaun of Expedition of Truths Chad of The Daily Grind Vlad of Analog Coast Kim of Nature Baby Bloggings Liam of ln The Now Earl of My Name is Earl (J. Woods) Brad of Kick Me Out Soon