This Thanksgiving season, Canadians reflected on what they are thankful for in their live, how to say thank you, and how to give back to their communities. I am grateful for my friends and family, and I am also very grateful to have had a personally rewarding and inspiring opportunity to visit and volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto this past September.
For those that may not be familiar with Ronald McDonald House Charities, it is a charity that provides families of gravely sick children with a home to stay at whilst their child is being treated at a nearby hospital. Additionally, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are available at various hospitals to provide an area for families to rest and recharge. On top of this, the charities provide Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles that transport basic medical care to vulnerable communities. RMH was there to help and support many families in their time of need who might otherwise find it very difficult to be near their sick child during their treatment. According to their website, 70% of the Canadian families live too far away from a children’s hospital for a manageable commute. When a child becomes ill, their families often have to travel for hours to get the required treatment for their child. The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada allow families to have a place to stay close to the hospital. In addition, there are 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms located in hospitals all over Canada to give families a place of rest and a place to recompose close their child’s beside.
While volunteering at RMH in downtown Toronto, I had the honour of meeting George Cohon, who is the founder and senior chairman of McDonald's Canada and McDonald's Russia. Mr. Cohon and I spoke about volunteering at RMH and how important it is for the younger generation to get involved and embark the path to a better future. Mr. Cohon was absolutely inspiring for me, and showed me how Ronald McDonald House Charities can really make a difference in our community.
I was volunteering as part of a program called, “Home for Dinner”. Home for Dinner allows volunteers to cook as a team and prepare meals for the families staying at RMH. Just being able to help in any way that I could, no matter how small, gave me the opportunity to help the families at a very difficult time in their lives. It is important to be grateful for what you have, including health. Thank you so much to Ronald McDonald House Charities for giving me an opportunity to give back to the community and help others.
There are many creative things that we can do to make a difference. For example, Mr. Cohon did not arrive to RMH alone, he brought two of his furry friends along with him, his two Golden Retrievers. These two friendly beasts were busy volunteering themselves by allowing others to pet them, bringing comfort and smiles.
I encourage all of you, our Canadian youth, to expand their horizons and take greater leaps into volunteering. Volunteering helps many, and in every sense is a gratifying and impactful experience. Thus, I challenge Canadian youth to share how they are making a difference. DM us on Instagram (@youthofcanada) and let us know how you are making change as a young Canadian and encourage others to do the same! YOC really wants to hear your voice.
~ Written by Galiya Vendrov, Founder of Youth of Canada