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Keeping Families Close (and fed!)

Ronald McDonald House Charities® South Central Ontario (RMHC®SCO) is part of a network of 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada that provide a warm, compassionate, and safe home away from home for families with sick or injured children who are receiving critical care at local nearby hospitals.

Built in 1993 next to McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, RMHC®SCO provides a comfortable, 39-bedroom home equipped with various on-site amenities and essential programming for families from regions across South Central Ontario.

“Families typically arrive at our doors within 24 to 48 hours of their children’s critical diagnosis, premature birth, or traumatic accident,” says Korey Rorison, Regional Development Specialist with RMHC®SCO. “The purpose of our organization is to keep those families together while also providing the comforts of home so they can focus on their children.”

More than just a place to stay, RMHC®SCO strives to provide healthy, home-cooked meals for families, so they have the energy to support their children and families. Funded entirely through charitable donations (RMHC®SCO doesn’t receive any agency or government funding) the organization’s Meals That Heal program provides nutritious meals seven days a week to ensure families always have a warm meal waiting for them after a long day at the hospital.

“Families can eat their meals in the dining room or take meals from the “To-Go Fridge” to eat in the hospital or somewhere else,” says Korey.

When COVID-19 hit Canada in March 2020, it put significant financial stress on the Meals That Heal program, which relies heavily on donations from other programs that had to be suspended to protect family, staff, and volunteer health and safety. RMHC®SCO reached out to the Gay Lea Foundation in the early 2021.

“To prepare one healthy meal for 39 families (between 85 – 100 people on average) costs approximately $350 for food and ingredients,” says Korey. “We were incredibly grateful to receive a donation of $7,000 from the Gay Lea Foundation, 100 per cent of which goes directly to offsetting the cost of food.”

With the donation, the Gay Lea Foundation is providing 20 nutritious, healthy meals to families at RMHC®SCO in Hamilton between the months of September to December. Each day that the Gay Lea Foundation “adopts” a meal, a sign is placed in the kitchen for families to see who sponsored their meal that day.

“The Gay Lea Foundation has helped us tremendously over the past months,” says Korey. “Your support is having a wonderful impact on our families here at our House and we are very grateful.”

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