Catherine is new to Ronald McDonald House and her role as executive director. She feels the role has changed her. Her focus is on ensuring the home has everything required to help these families through their time. Growing up, her dream job was work in New York – Glamour Magazine! She has had a successful career which brought her to New York with a French magazine, where she thought this was it! She realized that ‘that’s not what it is all about’. She became affiliated with Ronald McDonald House through previous role and loved the amazing charity and felt like it changed her. Catherine started as interim director of donations…..looking to increase donor relations. Being in the home with families, changed her and she felt that this was an opportunity to make a difference and far more important that anything she had done previously. The opportunity to see families at time of diagnosis and life changing experience is shocking, and humbling. Approximately 1/3 of families have babies in neonatal ICU. Families are often confused and scared. Their lives begin a ‘not normal time’ and we want to make life seem a little more familiar. We are the only home in Canada with a chef and chef’s kitchen! Families can make meals, do ‘normal things’. Ronald McDonald House currently has a family right now who have been there for over 200 days from Timmins….parents and sibling. Previous family stayed over 1 year – all while their children are being treated at Mac. This is their home away from home. The Ronald McDonald House is on average at 80-95% occupancy. It cost’s the program about $159.00 per night to serve a family, however the families are charged only $12.00 per day. The program ‘Nights of Comfort’ supports families who are unable to pay this fee.
The program Rotary will be participating in is ‘Meals that Heal. Members have signed up for 6 meals. The families love ‘typical’ time like dinner……everyone comes together. Our team of six will have about 60-100 people served dinner that evening. We will tour the building and join the chef to help. Everyone will be given a duty. Greatest take away will be the interactions with families – who can’t say thank you enough! Meal time makes families feel happy, normal. Families who leave can often be their greatest donors as well. Families love the volunteers and try to say thank you. Not all stories have a happy ending…..but all families leave saying thank you for help provided and time they have with their children. The club made a donation to Ronald McDonald House/Meals that Heal in the amount of $2500.00  with donations from individual members and club.
Mieke thanked Catherine and presented her with $2500.