RONALD McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Northern NSW is this month celebrating 30 years of providing a home away from home for families with a seriously ill or injured child.
Since the doors of Ronald McDonald House in Newcastle first swung open in April 1991, families have found a place to call home during some of their darkest days.
The charity has since opened an additional house in Tamworth, three family rooms, and a family retreat in Foster.
CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW, Ross Bingham, said Newcastle House provides support and comfort to more than 600 families each year.
"Over 30 years, tens of thousands of feet have walked the corridors of the house, back and forth from the hospital to the sanctuary of the house and the comfort of their room - day and night," Ross said.
"Doors and arms have been opened, welcoming smiles and words providing calm in the chaos."
One Forster-based family experienced first-hand the impact Ronald McDonald House Charities has on families like theirs when their niece, Zali, needed to be admitted to Gosford Hospital shortly after she was born.
The family room at Gosford Hospital allowed them to be there to support Ben's sister, Erin, brother-in-law, Nick, and their eldest daughter, Evie.
"The family had everything they needed there to allow them to be close to their daughter during such a stressful time," Ben said.
Ben, his wife Mel and their three daughters, have been supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities for several years by pledging their birthdays.
"Ben and I decided back in 2013 that when the girls have a birthday party, we would ask guests not to bring a gift but to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). We usually raise between $300 and $500 at each party and the feedback from family and friends has been really positive," Mel said.
"We're just a normal, busy family but Remmy, Cleo and Maya understand that this is one easy way we can give back and help families, so they don't have to be separated when their child is sick."
RMHC Northern NSW has just one 30th birthday wish and that is to continue supporting families, for another 30 years. But they cannot do that without the support and generosity of the community.
They're asking businesses, individuals, and community groups to purchase a 'Helping Heart' from their website to raise money for much-needed improvements to the facilities and to continue the services that support the well-being of families and sick kids across the region.
To purchase a Helping Heart or to find out how you can support Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW, head to their website www.rmhcnnsw.org.au
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