TEMPLE, Texas — This past year at the Ronald McDonald House in Temple was anything but easy.
“You're used to that joy, that happiness of the families being here, even though they're going through a very, very stressful time,” said Leilani Kitchings, director of house operations, thinking back on the past 365 days. “Not having that here was hard.”
For nearly the past decade, Kitchings was used to the chaos of housing over a dozen families while they wait for their child or soon-to-be child in the newborn intensive care unit or NICU.
A reality that was a bit fuzzy this past year.
“We are here to serve families, and that wasn't the case,” she said. “It got to be a little bit heart wrenching.”
But lately the halls are filled with kids running and playing and families living out their days, doing activities, while they wait.
“We want to make it as easy for them as we can, where they don't have to worry about getting a place to stay where they don't have to worry about their next meal, they don't have to worry about getting to the hospital,” said Shannon Gowan, executive director of the organization. “We're going to take care of them.”
Now though, they’re slowly reopening to families after navigating strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“We're outreaching more than normal, because generally we will have volunteers here,” Gowan said. “We still haven't opened up to the phase where we could have volunteers in the house.”
They’re still at 75 percent capacity, meaning 12 out of their 18 family rooms are open, but without the help from volunteers they’re in need of your help.
“Every bottle of water, every meal, every snack that's donated and you know, every dollar that's donated goes to help that,” Gowan said. "You can't put a price on the kids and the families.”
Donations that make the foundation operational every day.
“Without these donations, we can't run this facility,” Kitchings said. “We can't provide a home away from home for these families.”
If you’d like to donate, a wish-list with all of the items they’re in need of can be fund at their website at rmhc-temple.org.