Guest Blog - Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Krantz Cottage Celebrates One Year of Service
Posted: 8/12/2022 - 5-Minute Read
For 40 years, Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Capital Region (RMHC-CR) has provided a home for more than 22,000 families with children receiving treatment at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med. With a catchment area that spans more than 30 counties in upstate New York and Western New England, many of these families have come to Albany from just three counties: Saratoga, Warren, and Washington.
What a scary time for a family. A child in treatment, far from home, whether it is the result of trauma, diagnosed illness, or unexpected injury, most families begin their experience in a whirlwind of medical terminology, diagnostic testing, repeating the story of what happened to nurses, doctors, and other professionals. These families seem to have one thing on their mind: Is my child going to be ok? They also have one common feeling: No one could possibly understand.
Ronald McDonald House, “The House That Love Built,” provides a place for families to remain close to their child. Located near the children’s hospital, with available 24-hour shuttle services, up to 25 families are able to stay in a private room, with a private bathroom, and enjoy home-cooked meals provided by our community partners. Volunteers are there to receive families, and we begin to introduce a new feeling: You are not alone.
Many families remain at the house for one day, perhaps a few days. For them, the experience is a meaningful moment in a time of imminent need. For others, the House becomes a long-standing relationship, a place where they might return several times as their child receives treatment over many years.
The vision of something new began as Debbie Ross, House Director since its founding in 1982, witnessed the strain and stress that chronic disease and treatment placed upon families. She rightly observed that the costs or time, emotion, and resources exhausted families from everything. These families need relief. They need retreat.
On July 14, 2021, the Village of Lake George and RMHC-CR celebrated the Grand Opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Krantz Cottage. The first several families provided the motivation – with children facing terminal diagnoses; one family who had recently lost a child; and families with intensive medical treatment needs that made normal travel experiences virtually impossible.
“Spending this time together as a family and making these memories was priceless,” wrote one guest family at the conclusion of their stay in October 2021. “The kids had so much fun exploring the cottage and all the wonderful activities in the area.”
Another family who visited the Family Retreat in May 2022 shared: “Our son was diagnosed with leukemia during the pandemic. Our whole family had to be careful and safe during this time for him. We didn’t get out much except for doctor’s visits. The cottage gave us an opportunity to all be together, in a safe and very fun environment. We made some great memories as a family that we will never forget!”
A year ago, we called it a dream come true. Now that 35 we have together welcomed 45 families whose children have experienced serious illness, and heard from those families what a difference this Family Retreat has made, we are even more grateful. The support and kindness of the Lake George community has helped create magical, memorable experiences for every one of our guest families.
Because of you – families experience the beauty of Lake George free of charge. More than 45 local businesses have supported every single family. In the first year of operations, RMHC-CR welcomed 35 families through the Family Retreat. Mini golf. Arcade. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Amusements. Boat rides. Souvenirs. This community has welcomed every family, interacted with every child, and made sure that the respite they experience adds to their resources. With the added support from local foundations, RMHC- CR provides each family with a Visa gift card to help any unexpected costs.
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