RMHC New Zealand provides support to families with critically ill or injured children
Sickness and injury don’t take a break at Christmas. The reality for some families is that this festive season will be spent in hospital. When it’s a child in this position, the importance of having their family close by, and supported, becomes paramount. And that’s where Ronald McDonald House Charities New Zealand (RMHC NZ), a registered charity, play an essential role — a service made possible, in part, by the public’s generous donations. These contributions have a direct and immediate impact on sustaining families facing circumstances we all hope we’ll never have to endure. At a time of year when everyone is coming together to celebrate, the work of RMHC NZ is especially poignant. And we can all do our part to ensure this meaningful work continues through Christmas and beyond.
Contributions make what RMHC NZ do possible. Without public support, RMHC NZ could not be a lifeline for so many families that are in desperate need of its services.
A donation will go towards the operational activities of RMHC NZ’s three Family Rooms and four houses around the country.
Auckland’s Family Room has 13 short-stay bedrooms for caregivers of critically ill children. These Family Rooms operate 365 days a year and complement the Ronald McDonald House Programmes. The Family Rooms along with four Houses around the country help keep families together for those times a child’s treatment is far from home – but they also serve as a place to interact with families who are going through the same thing, to receive compassionate care from staff and volunteers and to enjoy home-cooked meals, all while remaining close to where their child is receiving care.
Christine Marino has been the manager of Ronald McDonald House Charities Family Room at the National Children’s Hospital in Auckland for nearly 17 years. In this position, she witnesses families go through some of the most distressing times imaginable. “People often arrive here quite traumatised and distressed – their child might be coming in for chemo, surgery, or be on the wards for months,” she says.
The RMHC NZ Family Room provides a haven for whānau of sick or injured children to rest, eat and even shower — all within the hospital, just steps from their child’s bedside.
Money raised during this time also contributes to special Christmas initiatives, bringing a sense of normalcy during a turbulent time and, importantly, helps keep families together. “We have a wonderful volunteer who comes in every year at Christmas who transforms our beautiful lounge and areas with decorations and a themed tree,” says Christine. “Seeing the joy that gives families motivates me.
“Often my team will say ‘well, you know, it’s the doctors and nurses who are amazing. And of course, it is — but I say to them ‘don’t underestimate your kindness. Don’t underestimate that tea you made for a mother, or that meal that you heated up or that 40 minutes you sat just letting someone cry’.”
And sometimes there are moments that make all the hard work worth it, says Christine, sharing the story of a boy who had been in a very serious accident. Some months later his parents brought him back to the hospital to visit. “They wanted me to know how much the care they received here during that traumatic time; how much it had meant. They had been told he wouldn’t make it, but he did, and I did tear up — he gave me the biggest hug this boy. It was very special.”
A timely reminder of how we shouldn’t take for granted even the smallest act of kindness.
Despite the obvious gravity of the work, Christine says she always feels privileged to have been a part of a family’s journey and it never ceases to amaze her how families knit themselves back together. “I’ve seen so many courageous families. Each day, sort of like a broken jigsaw puzzle, they put themselves back together — just slowly, slowly finding their way again. To me, that’s an incredible thing to witness.”
The work of RMHC NZ is to facilitate that journey as much as is possible – a feat which is only possible because of donations. The families that RMHC NZ mostly accommodate in the Family Room in Auckland do not meet the criteria for Ministry of Health funding from National Travel Assistance, so the costs of their stay are covered purely by fundraising — at a cost of $171 per night.
In 2022, RMHC NZ provided almost 3600 families with accommodation and support free of charge at its facilities throughout New Zealand. For over 25 years, RMHC NZ has been able to meet the needs of families with a child facing a medical crisis. From reducing the family’s stress and financial burdens regarding housing and meals, to providing peace of mind. The RMHC NZ mission is ever evolving to keep families and children at the centre. Please consider supporting this essential mission today.
Donate to the Christmas appeal at Donate Now.