I am a pretty lucky guy. I work with a team of the most amazing, motivated, passionate ,creative and dedicated people ,right now, that I have ever had the chance to work with. Jill, who manages our social media for the RMHs and our mobile health care units (our Care Mobiles), always reminds us that you should only tweet “awesome”. By that she means she doesn’t push information out that the majority of our followers will not pause and think” that is great” or “that is awesome”. On my own social media I am not sure if I only tweet “awesome”, probably some “fluff” mixed in with awesome. I could go on all day talking about examples of our staff and how they deliver their own form of awesome, but one of the examples that jumps to mind is how our team is always trying to raise the bar and figure out better ways to support families. For example Tara was our Family Recreation Coordinator when we first moved into the new Calgary RMH. We started our recreation program a number of years ago. I had noticed that across the system of Ronald McDonald Houses that the Houses were doing a number of amazing things for the families that stayed in their facilities. It had occurred to me that wouldn’t’ it be great if we had a full time person whose job it was to create interesting experiences for our kids and family members. To my knowledge at the time none of the RMHs had a full time, paid recreation specialist or coordinator.
When we started to talk about starting the program one of my staff asked me ;” why do we need that, families aren’t here to have a good time, we are not club Med or something.” She had kind of missed the point. Most of our parents spend so much time worrying about their child that having a laugh or a diversion from this worry and stress if only for a few moments is a pretty welcome relief. For our children fighting cancer very quickly their life becomes more about fighting disease than about being a kid- so for them there is great value in being a kid even if it is only for 15 minutes a day. This is the perspective Tara applied to her day to day work. Our first Family Recreation Coordinator was great and did some pretty practical recreation activities. She painted and colored with our children, they did scrapbooks and we had the occasional guest musician. Tara however was always trying to think like a kid- what was really fun for these kids, or how could she do things, no matter how goofy they seemed that was really fun for kids. I remember giving a tour to a donor and walking into the big TV lounge on the main floor. Tara had the room filled with kids sitting in our old photocopier paper boxes facing towards the big screen. She quickly told me it was Drive In Movie night. Tara had had each child paint and decorate the old boxes to be their favorite type of car. Afterwards they all pulled their “Cars” up to the Drive In to watch the Disney Movie Cars.
As I recall Tara was also the staff member who convinced me to buy a bunch of tents for the House. “Our kids want to have a camp out and most of the kids staying in the House are immune suppressed right now and they can’t just go camping,” she informed me. So we bought tents and battery powered lanterns and Tara camped out in our Great Room with all the kids. They made smores in the ovens and told ghost stories in front of the fire place.
I could give you many more examples of how different members of our staff group express excellence in making a difference for our families, but I guess the point is sometimes it doesn’t take much more than some old photocopy paper boxes to demonstrate a little bit of “awesome.”