By Jennifer McGhee
It was 2009 and I had a union job at a well-known institution. I liked my job, but when I heard a Ronald McDonald House was going to be built in Red Deer, my interest was peaked. I remember reading the job ad and thinking, “I could do that”, it is so much like my job now! I guess I was also looking for a more meaningful work place experience. Being part of an exciting project like this one seemed like a unique challenge.
I already knew what Ronald McDonald House was, as 12 years previously it had impacted my family in an emergency situation that involved a week long stay in Edmonton. To this day I still remember the Saturday we went to Edmonton to visit our family and got to see the Edmonton House. So I took a leap and decided to apply for the job. A few months passed before a got a response (launching a capital campaign is a lot of work!) but then after a series of phone calls and a face to face meeting in the temporary office in downtown Red Deer, I knew (even after weighing the pros/cons – for real) this wasn’t an opportunity I could pass up. Four years later, after a successful capital campaign, ground breaking, construction, grand opening and finally operating, Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta has become not only a home away from home for central Alberta families, but also something that turned out to be for me more than a just a job.
I still think about the all the Red Deer families I had met during the capital campaign before the House even opened, who had been impacted by the Edmonton or Calgary Houses. Now after 2 years being open, I can also reflect on the central Alberta families who have now been impacted by this House. Their stories of the first weeks with a new baby in the NICU and their stay with us are the reasons why our small but dedicated staff is brought to work every day. It hasn’t always been easy, but to be that this point, it is definitely something to be proud of.