Friday, October 25, 2013

Ronald McDonald House

Have you ever visited a Ronald McDonald House? Have you ever stayed in one? If you haven't had any contact with this charity, I highly recommend you look it up. It is one of the greatest inventions for families who have sick children.

Our family lived in Seattle's Ronald McDonald House for many months in 2006-2007. It provided a haven, a safe, clean, cozy, friendly, supportive environment for us when Katie was receiving her treatment for cancer. It was affordable (we were still paying our mortgage, property taxes and other bills on our home while living in Seattle), and very close to the hospital - both necessities for our family. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas there.
Thanksgiving 2006, Ronald McDonald House
Christmas 2006, Ronald McDonald House
Gregg and Katie in our room at the House
In the autumn of 2007, we attended a benefit for the House. Our sister-in-law, Caroline, works for Alaska Airlines, a company which is a big supporter of Ronald McDonald House. They dedicated a page in the auction catalog to Katie, and invited our family to sit at the company's table. It was only two months after Katie's passing, and I remember feeling kind of numb, unaccustomed to being out in a crowd, in public - and I remember being very, very thankful to Alaska Airlines for their kindness, compassion and generosity.
Ronald McDonald House Gala, 2007
Last weekend, we attended the House benefit again, the first time since 2007. David was at home for the weekend, so it was lovely to share the evening with him. Again, Alaska Airlines hosted a table and donated many large-ticket items to the live auction. This time, I was able to donate two items to the silent auction, which I'm happy to say someone bought at 150% of the stated value. Hooray for generous bidders! One of the items was a beach wreath like this one
and the other was a copy of my book (a suggestion from the Ronald McDonald House staff).

It was fun to dress up and take the ferry to the city with my guys,
 spend the evening with my brother & sister-in-law and her colleagues,
to feel the love and support Seattle gives to the House, and to give back to a place which gave so much to us in a time of great need.
It was also emotional for some of us, and it brought back hard memories. You just never know what is going to take you down for the count...but it was worth it.

Lest you think my life is just one gala after another, here are the piles of ironing that awaited me afterward...
As Jack Kornfield says, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry."


Elizabeth said...

It must be hard to carry on and do these things, Karen, however grateful you are to have been blessed with them -- the Jack Kornfield quote is perfect.

M said...

Coincidentally I drove past the RMD House at Stanford this afternoon and thought as soon as I turn in my recycling I was going to bring by some gas cards for families.

It is such a wonderful thing Alaska Airlines did...and that you were able to attend again :)

Robin said...

Karen, I sent this to a friend who volunteers for RMD -- she was grateful to read it.

Karen Gerstenberger said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, M & Robin!

Kay said...

So thankful you could go to the event again even though it's hard. Thankful for all the support shown you and your sweet family also. : ) Love the ironing. Always. lol

Busy Bee Suz said...

That quote is FUNNY!
I remember you blogging about how wonderful The Ronald McDonald house was to your needed at that time. Of course, you elaborated on this more in your fantastic book. :)
How wonderful of Alaskan Airlines to be so generous; makes me want to use them for a trip!!!
Love the family photo.