For Goodness’ Sake: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas

At RecognizeGood, it has and always will be our mission to share the GOOD in our community. In a time where our news feeds are refreshed more frequently than ever, we wanted to dig deeper and share the stories of our friends that are still out there on the front lines – the nonprofit staff and volunteers who don’t get weekends or holidays off, who cannot work from home and who still fearlessly take care of others.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas (RMHC CTX) has not closed its doors a single day since opening in 1985. This is still true during the COVID-19 pandemic – in fact, services are at an all-time high. Their mission is to provide comfort and support to families with sick children, creating a “home-away-from-home” environment.

“Our families, who are already experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety because their child is in the hospital, are now even more concerned about exposing their child to an additional virus,” Carolyn Schwarz, CEO of RMHC CTX states.

Several actions have been implemented to maintain the safety of families and the staff who are still working tirelessly without their normal flow of visitors and volunteers. Many of the families RMHC serves directly or indirectly may have weakened immune systems, so they are always on alert for illness. The whole House, especially high-traffic areas, receives detailed cleaning. They have postponed upcoming events or shifted them to virtual platforms. Donations can no longer be dropped off other than by delivery services like the US Postal Service or Amazon, meals must be delivered, and meetings are all held over the phone.

So what does a typical day look like? The answer: there is no typical day since the COVID-19 crisis began. RMHC CTX has pivoted operations to adjust to the changing environment. The main priority that hasn’t changed is that services to guests are the primary focus. While special projects spring up and priorities are constantly shifting, Carolyn and her staff hold a meeting every morning to huddle and figure out how they can give the best care to the families staying with them.

”Community is an essential part of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas,” she says. “We now know that when we are faced with a public health crisis and have to close down the communal spaces of our programs that we can still maintain community. It just looks a little different!”

While common areas are closed within RMHC, Carolyn’s team has still found a way to lift families up by adjusting operations to keep everyone safe and healthy. A partnership with Generation SERVE allowed them to host a Bingo night for all of their guests, and there have been plenty of puzzles assembled.

While guests and volunteers are not currently allowed in the building for safety reasons, there are still many ways to help. The most impactful way to help is through financial donations – this helps cover lodging, food, and more for families staying close to their hospitalized child. Household items are essential too, as their staff works to keep every surface clean. RMHC is also turning their upcoming Red Shoe Luncheon event virtual! The Red Shoe Luncheon raises critical funds for families with children in the hospital. Get your ticket here!

Community love and support have truly allowed RMHC to continue their mission. Local businesses have stepped forward to deliver meals for the families staying overnight. Community members have been able to make an impact from home by making donations of snacks and household items. Local distilleries and cleaning product companies have begun producing and donating hand sanitizer and other cleaning products to them, instead of charging huge amounts. Guests have consistently shown gratitude for the staff for allowing them to stay at ease in a communal environment.

All of this together – all of US together – is how we continue. Let’s be kind to others, donate and get involved however we can.

For more GOOD reads, check out our other For Goodness’ Sake interviews on our blog!

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About RecognizeGood

RecognizeGood: THE Foundation (commonly known as simply RecognizeGood) is a local nonprofit that provides a means for individuals, businesses and other nonprofits to illuminate selfless volunteers, charitable acts and community service throughout the greater Austin area. There are several active RecognizeGood programs that work toward this mission from different angles, but the common theme is simple – the illumination of GOOD in our community.