Friendship, the Foundation Stone of a Ronald McDonald House
Guest blogger: Jess Dempsey
A Ronald McDonald House is a safe haven, a familiar place where staff and families alike can experience a friendly and welcoming environment and meet others going through a similar situation. It becomes a familiar place where they can lean on each other for support, be honest and open with one another, and also have some fun.
This warm and friendly environment begins with our kind-hearted staff. For them, friendship in the House is the foundation stone that cements this atmosphere within the House.
A prime example of friendship in a Ronald McDonald House, we caught up with Birmingham House Manager Libby Aston and Deputy House Manager Joy Dangerfield to find out what friendship means to them and why it is so vital in the House.
The moment you step foot in the Birmingham House, you are immediately greeted by an affectionate smile from whoever is at reception, as well as the sound of laughter somewhere in the background. This sense of warmth and friendliness becomes contagious for anyone who enters the House.
Libby and Joy stress that support, honesty and fun are the cornerstones for creating this atmosphere within the House. Without it, they wouldn’t be the family unit they are today.
As expected, the environment of a Ronald McDonald House is synonymous with highs, and just as many lows. Together as a team, support is what helps them overcome all of the hurdles that may come their way. Joy says ‘’We’re all a family unit. We all support each other, through the good and the bad. We all share the good news, we all share the bad news. That’s what happens when you’re a close family unit.’’
With honesty, comes friendship and openness with one another. Libby stresses that this honesty is what creates a better working environment and fosters their friendship. "People aren’t afraid to make mistakes. It becomes and safe and honest environment. We have an ‘open door policy’ at the House, if you have something to talk about there is an open and honest, non-judgemental working environment.’’
To balance out the many emotional and fundraising pressures, the House staff love to have some fun and banter amongst each other and the families staying in the House. These fun activities inside and outside of the House, such as House parties, theatre shows, and Bingo have created fond memories for them that will last a lifetime.
Libby says "We are all people who are open and honest, can have a joke and a laugh, but know when to get serious. The job can get to us, but we enjoy doing what we do and we have fun as well. The families see that and join in on the fun which is great.’’
Despite the roller coaster of emotions while working in a Ronald McDonald House, the House staff strive to make it a happy and fun place to be. These friendships born while working and staying at a Ronald McDonald House truly do stand the test of time and are worth a million.