The huge volunteer effort at Ronald McDonald House from Southwest Airlines (brand new to Akron-Canton Airport) last weekend is but one aspect of the good deeds going on there since 1985, when the building opened with 20 bedrooms for out-of-town families with seriously ill children in Akron Children’s Hospital.
So here’s a tip of the hat to four volunteers who have been super-regulars at the house since it opened:
• Joan Robinson of Cuyahoga Falls.
• Lois Reaven of Akron.
• Fran Sawaya of Akron.
• Darlene Lewis of Stow.
Another of the originals is John Shaffer of Sharon Center, board member and first board president who is now involved with strategic planning for expanding the house.
In addition to the strong support of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oakbrook, Ill., the house receives help from John Blickle and his 20 area Rubber City McDonald’s restaurants, as well as other local restaurants that regularly donate food for its ever-changing houseguests.
A special nod goes to grateful families who donate their time. Anne Collins, executive director of Ronald McDonald House, mentioned two of them.
It’s been 16 years since Emma Yoder, an Amish woman from Charm in Holmes County, stayed at the house to be near her daughter Kathy, who spent the first 74 days of her life at the hospital, and then again for eight days with respiratory syncytial virus.
As a token of her gratitude for the hospitality extended to her and her family, Yoder has made it a point to come back with friends once a month since then, preparing huge meals for families staying at the house.
Also showing up once a month to cook or grill are Marc and Mandy Seymour of Stow. Their daughter, Quinn Rosalie Seymour, died at age 8 months in April after a battle with junctional epidermolysis Bullosa-Herlitz, a rare, painful genetic disorder.
Even though Quinn was treated only briefly at Children’s Hospital before going to a hospital in Minnesota, the Seymours and other family members identify with parents worried about their children. Giving back to the community is part of the legacy they’ve adopted in memory of their baby.
La-Z Boy Furniture annually donates two pieces of furniture, and the house in turn donates what’s being replaced to a good cause. Paul Mitchell Beauty School sends students three to four times a year to treat families staying there to free haircuts and manicures, services these families have neither time nor money to address.