On August 4th Chelsee Gooler and her daughter Alyssa, head from their room here, at the Ronald McDonald House, to the hospital to hold her baby for the first time.
In January 2014, Chelsee was given news that her unborn baby was diagnosed with a Diaphragmatic Hernia (he would have a large hole is his diaphragm) as well as omphalocele (he would be born with his liver outside of his body), and was originally given a 10% chance of surviving birth. Unable to deal with these odds, she found a specialist in Fresno that was able to give her hope. On July 1st she gave birth to Parker-James Kenneth Gooler at Fresno Community Medical Center where more complications arrived. Parker-James’ lungs were so small they were almost non existent. Her baby was on a minute to minute basis. In mid-July, he needed to be transferred to Children’s Hospital Central California to receive even more specialized treatment; however, the transportation proposed big risks.
Chelsee and her family didn’t know what to do, so it was in a local hotel room that they got the call that her son had flat lined. The twenty minutes it took her to get to the hospital will never be given back. She remembers barely being able to sit still in the car for those precious minutes. As she rushed to her baby, she saw his body lifeless. As she reached out to hold his hand, her miracle baby squeezed back. For a split second, Parker-James opened his eyes to let her know he was going to be ok.
It was then; she vowed to never stay that far away from him. She camped out in the hospital waiting rooms so she could be there, available around the clock. When a social worker told her about the Ronald McDonald House next door, we were full with a waiting list; however, our Day Room was available. Our Day Room allows families to rest, shower, have a meal or nap for up to 8 hours a day. Chelsee, her 10year old daughter Alyssa, and her father Kenneth used our Day Room twice before being able to check in to a guest room.
“I was so relieved, the first night we got to stay here; I actually got to rest, and that was really helpful. There was actually food in the kitchen so we didn’t have to eat cafeteria food.”
Parker-James was born with his intestines floating up into his chest cavity, which pushed his heart over and crowded out his lung development. This created hypertension in his lungs which gave them no room to develop.
On Wednesday, July 30th, the doctors were scheduled to perform surgery to move his heart, stomach and intestines back and to seal his diaphragm. As the planned hour and a half long surgery extended to almost four, the family got worried, but when the doctors came out they gave Chelsee news that nearly brought her to her knees. They said that Parker-James was recovering and they were surprised at how well he was doing.
“After the surgery, it was so nice to come back to the House where volunteers had made dinner. We got to relax for a little while and not have to worry about where our meal was going to come from.”
After they ate together, the three of them headed back to the hospital where nurses surprised them with great news. Parker-James miraculously was wide awake after all the medication he had been given. This was a huge step forward for him.
“Parker means keeper of the park or keeper of the unit, and I really feel like he has brought my family together, and James is from my favorite section of the Bible, James 2:17, it means without action, faith is meaningless. Kenneth means warrior and that’s exactly what he is; my miracle baby.
They know they have a long road ahead, but Chelsee manages to tell her story with a smile on her face, because she knows her baby boy will continue to defy the odds. Alyssa will be starting 5th grade independent study in a few weeks and is excited to see her baby brother grow.
It’s our gift to be able to keep this family close so that Parker-James can be healed and return home. We get that incredible gift because of your support.
From the Gooler Family and from all of us, thank you.
As many of you know April is National Volunteer Month. An entire month for organizations and causes across the United States, to sit and reflect on the power of a volunteer.
For us, volunteers are our backbone. They provide a valuable donation of time that allows our staff to dedicate their energies on the most necessary and important areas of their work.
In 2013 volunteers donated 3,879 hours to us. They cooked 289 meals and hosted over 89 siblings activities.
To understand the value of our volunteers we always like to do the simple math! With 3,879 hours as a paid minimum wage employee, our organization would be shelling out just under $35,000!
Because we have dedicated volunteers, those funds can stay with our families.
So this month, as we celebrate our guest chefs, our handymen, our golf cart drivers, our listeners, our house cleaners, our story tellers, all our volunteers, I challenge you. I challenge you to go volunteers. Find a place your heart feels happy and get connected. Whether it’s here or one of the other incredible organizations around us, sign up in April.
You’ll be happy you did!
Everyone has bad habits that they don’t like. But breaking them can be tricky because you often do them without realizing. It is a common misconception that it takes 21 days to break a habit. The amount of time it takes to break a habit varies depending on the severity of the addiction to the habit. This can range from several weeks to the better part of a year. Here are some expert strategies for stopping some of the most popular bad habits we tend to have.
Biting your nails
If you hide your hand because you have turned your nails to nubs, it’s time to change that. One way to get rid of this habit is by clenching your fists for a couple minutes until the urge is gone. You can also put adhesive bandages over your nails to hide them. The most effective way would probably be to find a habit to take place of nail biting. Some people like to drum their fingers, twiddle their thumbs, and clasp their hands. Just make sure you it’s not a bad habit.
This is my biggest pet peeve. Conquering this habit can be a tough one and requires you to realize how precious time is. You don’t want to be perceived as rude or unprofessional by arriving late to every meeting. To help you, set your watch 10 minutes ahead and write down appointments 15 minutes before the scheduled time to ensure your promptness. Most importantly, organize your life for better flow and fit. If you have a hard time with punctuality, don’t cram too many appointments into the day.
Unfortunately, best intentions are not an excuse for lateness, especially when the other person hasn’t been kept informed as to your inability to be on time. It’s far easier to rearrange your daily schedule to minimize the likelihood of times running into each other, so that you stop spreading yourself too thin and have breaks between meetings.
Sleeping in your makeup
You’re just so tired by the time you go to bed, you can’t even think about scrubbing your face. An easy way is to keep makeup-remover right next to your nightstand, so you can wipe your face before you hit the sack. Sleeping in your makeup can cause acne and wrinkles, because it dries out skin around your eyes.
Being addicted to your phone
Most of us have this bad habit. Nowadays we have everything in our phones! From email, to bank accounts, to period trackers, to social media, its simply endless. As amazing as it is, we tend to become so consumed with them that we fear not having them. Most people can’t fathom the thought of leaving their phone at home for a day; I mean how would you get there without your GPS?! On your day off, pick up a Starbucks and take a walk around the mall without your cell phone. You will enjoy it so much more and probably find some great findings in the clearance rack that you would’ve most likely missed while checking your Facebook.
Here at the Ronald McDonald House we strive to make living easy and stress-free for families with children in the hospital. One aspect of this is providing meals for the families, which means we constantly need a full pantry. A full pantry of delicious food makes for a very happy Ronald McDonald House!
We are asking you to join us at our first annual “Rock the Pantry” event on August 3rd from 10a.m. to 2p.m at the Ronald McDonald House. We ask that you simply bring 5 cans of food (per adult) as your admission fee. At the event you can enjoy House tours, carnival games, and appetizers. Live entertainment will also be provided by Levy’s Jazz2Soul and Out of This World Entertainment.
So come on out to the celebration and bring some canned food! The most needed items include canned fruits, dry pastas, canned tuna, and canned meats. But we will accept ANY and ALL canned food donations!
See you there!
I am walking down the hallway, away from the office and toward the family room. This is where the connection of housing wings is made, and where normally I could sit and chat with families to spark a much needed giggle or smile on their face. It is 8:15 in the morning, and as I get closer to the family room, honestly, I am wondering, “Where the heck is everyone?” But then I remind myself of something very important. That is, the Ronald McDonald House strives to provide families stress-free living conveniently close to their child staying in the hospital. What is my point?
Let me take this moment to pause and introduce myself. My name is Sammy and I am the new Marketing Intern here at the Ronald McDonald House. There are still many things that I hope to learn in regards to how the House functions and the impact placed on families staying here. I have been interning here for three weeks now, and am beginning to realize even more what a tremendously positive difference Ronald McDonald House Charities is able to make for families with children in the hospital. Even more important, the House provides children in the hospital with the security and hope that stems from knowing their family is staying so close. The House is able to do this by providing a “home away from home” for its guests to better connect them with their children.
So, now we head back to the family room. In my house, this is the place that normally sees the most chaos and activity—exactly the opposite of what I am observing right now. Sitting here for a moment, it is obvious that the family room would be empty during the day, as families are visiting the children. So while it is rather quiet in the family room, and I have no new families to get to know, I realize something that is rather moving. An empty living room in the House means children in the hospital are receiving a ray of hope as their families visit, providing them with a smile on their face and the comfort that they are not alone in whatever battle they have to conquer.
Ronald McDonald House Charities strongly emphasizes family, allowing mother and son, father and daughter, sister and brother to remain in the strong connection that we as humans need during hard times. Though medical treatment is crucial, it seems that one equally important aspect pushes children even further towards conquering their battle, and this is love. The House allows families to constantly give love to their children without bearing the extra burdens of needing a place to stay, driving way too far each day to see their child, grocery shopping with the distraction of their child’s fight, and so on. Families themselves are provided with much love in knowing that their daily needs are taken care of while they focus on the health of their child. Love for family seems to be the driving force that has allowed Ronald McDonald House Charities to make such an impact over the years.
Families here at the House are provided with more than just a “hotel room” during their stay. In fact, Ronald McDonald House Charities strives to make families feel as comfortable as possible outside of their own home. The focus should be on the children getting better, and the House makes this easier for families to do by providing every essential they would find in their own home as conveniently as possible. The House is able to relieve families of many of the burdens that should be set aside when their child is in the hospital. This further allows families to place more attention towards their child getting better and receiving the proper treatment. You probably already had an understanding of what Ronald McDonald House Charities does, but I wanted to remind you just how impacting the House is for many families.
I have just one last thought before I leave and head back to the office. I would like to draw the attention back to the family room, which I realize is still empty as I sit here. Before I began interning here, I pictured a more hotel-like atmosphere existing within the walls of the building. To my delight, the Ronald McDonald House is much more, and the sight of this large family room made all the difference. The family room, fully furnished and decorated with a touch of love, is the perfect reminder of just how important families are here. For what it all boils down to is this: the children and providing love. Ronald McDonald House Charities brings so much love to children by placing their families so close in a new “home away from home”.
We’re taking a quick break from all our cooking talks and giving you a Spring Time Bucket List (thank us later).
Are there a few things you’ve been dying to do, but can’t seem to find the time for it? We think Spring is the perfect time to finally start crossing things off your list. Our PR Volunteer from Fresno State, Bianca put together a few great ideas for your Spring Bucket List!
Here’s what she came up with:
#1. Visit Yosemite Take a trip to Yosemite, finally! Tourists visit from all around the world to this park and it is right in our backyard! Grab the family, pack up some snacks, and head over to Yosemite and get ready for Mother Nature.
#2. Purchase a deal on Groupon Have you been eyeing some great deals on Groupon, but haven’t quite made a purchase? Spring is a great time to land a deal for you, your family, or others. Treat yourself to a day at the spa or plan a family adventure day, whatever the reason Groupon will surely have some awesome deals!
#3 Plan a Family Picnic Spring is the perfect time for a meal at the park or even in your backyard! Take mealtime outdoors and enjoy the surroundings!
#4.Visit the Japanese Gardens at Woodward Park: Going for a walk is a great way to relax and take in everything around you! It is even better to walk through Japanese Gardens and view the Koi Pond and Tea Garden House.
5. Cook something “Green”: March is filled with some great holidays and what better way to celebrate spring than with food? Cook up some green eggs & ham in honor of Dr. Seuss or for St.Patrick’s Day. No matter the occasion some “green” recipes will be a great addition to mealtime.
Pistachio Pudding Parfaits Recipe photo by Taste of Home
#6.Visit a local farm market: Fruit and produce is abundant in the Central Valley. Take some time this spring to visit one of the local markets and check out the fresh and locally grown food. The Vineyard Farmer’s Market is a great place to start making those purchases and, learn about local family farms. Check out some of their upcoming event as well!
#7: Create a Vegetable Garden with the Kids: A garden is a great way to get the children involved with nature and teach them a thing or two about vegetables. The kids will have a blast planting the seeds and digging through the soil!
#8. Complete a DIY Project: Pinterest is a great source to find a kid-friendly craft or tackle a project in the house. There are thousands of projects to choose from and spark your creativity! Get ready to get crafty!
#9.Volunteer: Spring is a great time to serve a local organization with your time and skills. Many organizations have Spring Events and other activities where they may need some help. Visit handsoncentralcalifornia.org for upcoming opportunities! Why not get the whole family involved?
#10. Tackle Spring Cleaning: Use this time to finally clean that hall closet or organize the home office. Incorporate the kids and give them a task or two to complete in the house. This is a great way to keep them busy and your house clutter free!
There’s not much better than the comfort that comes with enjoying a home cooked meal. The Fresno State ROTC set out to prepare and serve a meal for our families. They toured the house, made a list of needed items, and started calling for donations.
We were completely blown away when after a few weeks the 15-20 cadets raised over $800 for our house. They used the funds to buy groceries for the dinner they planned for our families. Not only did our 18 families (just under 100 people) enjoy a yummy spaghetti dinner, we also recieved a donation of $600 of left over funds.
Cadet Megan Maloy said the reason they decided to support our house was, “It’s part of our pledge as leaders and future officers to help those in need and provide a selfless service to the community. By realizing the struggle of these families, it will better prepare us for the profession we are entering into.”
We couldn’t agree more! We were too busy eating our spaghetti to write down their snazzy recipe so instead, we found some of our favorites for you!