WASHINGTON (HOI) -- An eight-year-old from Washington completed her mission of 'stuffing her dad's truck' with pop tabs.
In less than three months, Jovie Kaeb collected thousands of pop tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois.
The tabs she donated Friday afternoon came from all over the Tri-County area. Those tabs will be recycled for cash to ensure families have somewhere to stay when their children are sick.
Kaeb's mom said she's not done yet though, round two of 'stuffing her dad's truck' is underway.
Article written by Paige Blanzy, originally published February 26, 2021 at HOIABC.com.
A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered, donated wish list items and money, delivered meals, and made this possible — we wouldn’t be here without you! Despite the challenges we have faced, we have made a positive impact in the lives of many families that have stayed at the Peoria House. We’re looking forward to many more years of service!
To send a gift to the Peoria House, check out our wish lists!
How easy was it for Carol Bingham to decide to volunteer for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois?
“It was a no brainer for me to volunteer here.”
Carol is one of many RMHCCI volunteers and started giving her time in 2016. After retiring from a career that kept her busy, she needed something to do and knew all the good work that Ronald McDonald House® was doing in her community and for families from around the area. Carol coordinates the Guest Chef program and the Peoria House Pathway to Hope project and is always willing to lend a hand with other projects as needed. Read more about Carol and her favorite part of volunteering for the organization below.
When did you start volunteering at RMHCCI?
Spring of 2016 after I retired in January.
What made you want to volunteer at the House?
After working 60+ hours a week, I needed something to do. However, I also knew of the good work that the Ronald McDonald House provided to our community, so it was a no brainer for me to volunteer here.
What type of volunteer work do you do at the House?
I coordinate the guest chef program in addition to doing computer work especially the Exceed program. I also coordinate the ongoing brick project for the Peoria House. Basically, I am willing to do anything that keeps me busy.
How has your role as a volunteer changed since COVID-19?
Per RMHC's COVID-19 protocol, I have not been able to come into the House like I like to. However, while at home, I was still able to keep up my work on guest chef meals and the brick project remotely on the computer. I have also been able to help keep Exceed updated with guest information from home too. I look forward to getting back to the Houses regularly again.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering at RMHC?
I not only enjoy the work I am doing knowing that I am productive for a great charity but I also have met so many nice people from staff, volunteers and guests who are awesome to work with. I really missed them during those months of not being able to come into the House and see everyone.
Interested in becoming a volunteer?
Visit our volunteer page to learn more!
By Luke Burdsall
PEORIA (WEEK) -- Since the opening of the Peoria Ronald McDonald House two months ago, families have already begun taking advantage of the opportunity it provides to families.
John Haneghan is a grandfather from Macomb whose pride is measured by how many pictures of his grandchildren he can store on his phone.
"I got one of him smiling... I just can't help myself. I took a dozen today. He's just so cute," John said.
In December, he helped welcome three new grandchildren in the course of just one month, but one stood as a testament to life.
"He was diagnosed with VSD, large VSD, and Truncus arteriosus, and had a hole in his heart," said John.
Ashley Hammit, the boys mother, said when she was 20 weeks pregnant with Bently, doctors found issues with his heart during a routine checkup.
This diagnosis forced her son to be hospital bound at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria -- roughly 70 miles from home.
Ashley says the thought was frightening. She wanted him to have a fighting chance.
Now, just weeks old, Bently has already been through four surgeries -- the fight of his life.
"He's been such a fighter... such a fighter," John said.
Since birth, Bently has not left OSF St. Francis, where John and his daughter began staying in hotels just to be close.
John said each day brings different challenges, but Bently finds a way to reassure him that everything is OK.
"I don't know, maybe it's my voice, but he hears me, and he'll look for me, which makes it personal," said John. "... When he grabs my finger, it's like I'm being blessed... being touched by a little angel."
Ashley says, "Nobody likes to be alone, and I like that my dad comes up here and supports me, because there is bad days and there is good days and we can share that time together."
Staying in hotels brought a level of convenience for them instead of commuting the hour and a half each day, but the cost started to add up.
That's when they discovered the helping hand of the Ronald McDonald House, which opened the same month Bently's journey of life began -- eliminating the cost entirely.
"This journey so far with the Ronald McDonald House has been... it turned it all around. It's turned it all around... it's a blessing," John said.
He says their daily routine is by far less stressful.
"We usually try and get up around 7 or 8 o'clock. We usually try to grab coffee on the go, and try to be up at the hospital at around 9 a.m.. They have rounds that let us know how Bently is doing every morning," said John.
They spend about 8 hours a day with Bently, every day. John says from the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House, the support is constant when they go from one place to another.
"So, there's a support group there. Then we come here and they're just as supportive. Because sometimes you don't let your emotions show there, but you do here. It helps to talk to people, see other people, it's like a big family here," John said.
There at the Ronald McDonald House, they have a homey apartment -- food, laundry, and entertainment provided for them, as well as other residents and staff who they can talk to if needed.
"To have that, you know if my dad has to leave, there is other people to lean on too, you know," said Ashley.
The two are able to find joy in the small victories throughout each day -- seeing Bently, eating the meals provided for them, and even some things as simple as playing games to put them at ease.
"We'll play cards. We do enjoy playing a lot of Uno," John said.
"During the day we're mostly about Bently and stuff so to come back and still have that father-daughter bond and play, it's just really fun to do... Get our minds off of the whole situation with Bently and just relax," Ashley said.
With all that the Ronald McDonald House offers them, what John cherishes the most is having a peaceful place to sit and enjoy a moment looking through the pictures he takes each day.
"I share them with family of course. The ones who can't be here. So, it's always precious. I'll have them forever. It makes you realize how delicate life can be. You pray a lot, you pray a lot and when you are around people who are praying with you, it does give you a lot of hope," John said.
Photos via WEEK.com.
We are in the last few days of this year's National Volunteer Month! Today we would like to introduce you to Libby.
Libby, pictured here with her family, has been a Guest Services volunteer at the Peoria house since January 2020. After her family spent the majority of 2009 at the Memphis RMH she felt the Peoria House was a great opportunity for her to give back.
“Having a true home environment while dealing with a sick child was such a blessing for us. We loved having the opportunity to interact with other families who were going through similar situations. The meals and activities that happened in the evenings were great to keep us focused on the good in the world. I love seeing the smiles on the kids and the parents, as well, when I’m in the House. It’s fun getting to know each person better as they walk their own medical journey. It fills my heart more than I ever expected.”
Thank you Libby for all you do at the Peoria house!
We are very grateful for all of our volunteers in Springfield and Peoria, like Sandra!
Sandra Beneventi has been a Guest Service Volunteer at the Peoria House since January 2020. When Sandra retired, she wanted to do some volunteering and being fortunate with healthy children and grandchildren she wanted to help other families. Her favorite part about volunteer at RMHC:
“I love that no two days are the same and I can pitch in and help whatever is needed that day. I also enjoy getting to know some of the families. I find their strength in what they are facing amazing.”
Hamida’s Kitchen got involved with RMHC to carry on the Legacy of Nausheen’s late mother, Prof. Hamida Ahmand, who found pleasure in supporting family and friends undergoing medical treatment with accommodations and meals at their family house in India near a local hospital. They now cater a meal once a week for the families at the Peoria House. Nausheen says:
“Our favorite part about volunteering at RMHC is the interaction with numerous brave and smiling patient families, who in-spite of being in difficult circumstances, continue to find happiness and create positivity around them. In addition, the awesome staff of RMHC with their compassion and kindness, inspires us every time we are out there.”
Thank you to everyone who donates time to provide a meal for our families!
We need your help now more than ever to continue providing this source of comfort to those who call our Houses home at the moment. Here are two ways you can help!
Ten-year-old boys are known for being mischievous and full of life. They may spend their days running outside and then immersing themselves in hours of video games on the couch before eating dinner with their families and going to bed, only to start the process all over again the next morning.
If you were to meet Nash, you would find that he is a mischievous ten-year-old who loves video games and eating dinner with his family. Unfortunately, Nash was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and is receiving treatment at the St. Jude Clinic in Peoria, which is over an hour away from his home. Thankfully, the nurses at St. Jude told Nash’s dad about Peoria Ronald McDonald House®, which is where they lived for 6 weeks while Nash received regular treatments.
Nash won the hearts of our staff and volunteers over, and he quickly became known as the House’s “resident food critic”, always chatting with our Guest Chefs while they prepared meals and sharing both his opinions and his gratitude. You could often find Nash and his dad (and mom and brother!) spending time together in the dining room, eating meals together. Nash’s dad also utilized our family kitchens in the House. He enjoys cooking and appreciated the availability of our family kitchens provide, which provided him a space to cook meals on his own schedule, whenever he wanted.
As mentioned, Nash is an avid video gamer. If he wasn’t chatting with our staff and volunteers, he could be found in our Komatsu Game Room. Quite competitive, Nash was always quick to engage other residents in a friendly competition!
Nash’s dad said, “The Ronald McDonald House has been a bright spot in our difficult journey. The staff and volunteers are positive and always eager to help out. I don’t know the donors, but I surmise they have a vision of outreach and a heart for families with children who have medical needs. Thank you!”
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois is proud to recognize the 75 area companies that made donations of in-kind goods and services to the Peoria Ronald McDonald House during its build and grand opening, helping to make this new service possible in the community.
“We are so grateful to these 75 companies and wish to thank them for providing hundreds of goods and services needed for our new 40,000 sq. ft. House, from paint, to installation of headboards and artwork, to furniture and room design services. The resounding support of the businesses in this community has been incredible,” says Kelly Thompson, CEO of RMHC of Central Illinois.