Meet the Lawrence Family

Parents Heather and Shawn Lawrence checked in to the Ronald McDonald House as dsc_0212returning residents. They stayed here a few years prior when son, Bo, was born early. On Oct. 22, Heather delivered her daughter, Ava, five weeks early. Unfortunately, she had breathing problems and jaundice. They were glad to return to the House, but also worried while trying to stay hopeful their daughter would recover.

“We felt like we were at a second home,” said Shawn Lawrence.

“It was very comforting getting to check in for the second time. It was a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.”

Big brother Bo was also just as grateful to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. “Bo loves staying here and calls it the ‘McDonald House!’”

Brothers and sisters are always welcome considering the House has a play room and teen lounge offering tons of toys and games like air hockey, basketball throw board games and various other stuffed animals and toys.

After Ava grew healthy enough to return home, they checked out on Halloween after staying at the House for five nights.

Meet the Murphy Family

A smooth pregnancy is what all new moms and dads hope will happen. What gets scary is20161017_114913 when the pregnancy goes just as it should and then one day, turmoil strikes. Terry and Brittany Murphy had an easy going pregnancy and then 25 weeks in, Brittany was in labor for 12 hours without knowing it. Their daughter, Bralynn, was born early weighing only 1 lb. 10 oz. They were scared, shocked and did not quite know where to turn for rest until they were introduced to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

The next few months felt like a waiting game. Seven weeks in, Bralynn was breathing on her own. After checking in the House and Bralynn seemed to be improving, their outcome was finally looking hopeful.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done without the Ronald McDonald House,” Terry said.

“It’s so nice to have a community of people in the same situation at the House. We can talk amongst each other which helps emotionally.”

Now, Bralynn is breathing well, transitioning into bottle feeding and expected to keep progressing.

The Massengale Family

FamilyPhotoWith several unsuccessful pregnancies to leave Kara Massengale and her husband, Brent, heartbroken, it was only natural for them to be fearful when they found out they were pregnant once again. At just 17 weeks pregnant, things didn’t seem hopeful. That didn’t stop them from believing their son, Brooks, would survive.
At nearly eight weeks early, Brooks beat the odds with the exception of a brain bleed. Two
weeks after his birth, he was stable and it was only a matter of time before he grew big enough to be discharged from the hospital.

The doctors estimated Brooks’ NICU stay to be two-months-long. With the estimated stay, the thought of driving back and forth from Dayton, Tennessee multiple times a day seemed like another daunting stressor added to the equation. Then, Kara and Brent found hope in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House®.

“It’s so nice to have a reliable place to stay and an opportunity to meet other families,” BabyBrooksKara said.

“We’re able to see our son more. I would be sleeping in the NICU if [the Ronald McDonald House] was not here.”

The Massengales have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for over 47 nights and found rest, comfort and community in the House with mothers’ and fathers’ also going through difficult times.

Meet the Armitage Family

Amanda and Adrian of Spring City, Tennessee weren’t going to let six miscarriages stop their family from growing. They knew in their hearts that they were intended to have Armitage Familyanother child-and they were right.

On June 14, Harper Armitage was born several weeks early with down syndrome. While Harper’s family was ecstatic about their new family addition, they knew she needed an extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. At the time, they found restoration in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

They checked-in and a weight was immediately lifted off their shoulders. Living over an hour away with their two other daughters, Emma and Sophie, to tend to wasn’t ideal since they needed to stay close to Harper.

“[At the Ronald McDonald House] I get to be in a room with my kids. It’s the closest thing to home,” said Amanda.

Through this process, not only did Harper grow stronger, but so did the rest of their family. After 13 days of staying at the Ronald McDonald House, they were finally able to check out with Harper and head home.

Because of Amanda and Adrian’s resilience, they were blessed with a beautiful newborn daughter, who happened to be resilient herself.

The McAnly Family

DSCN6860Laura and her husband, Michael, from Hillsboro, Tennessee recently stayed at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House for a second time during May and June. Their beautiful newborn triplets, Benjamin, Thaddeus and Nathanael came into the world eight weeks early. Although, this wasn’t their first stay.

The first time they stayed at the House was in August of 2014 when their newborn daughter, Annabelle, had a stroke and uncontrolled seizures. She ended up staying in the intensive care unit and was later well enough to go home that September. Little did Laura and Michael know, they would be back again nearly two years later.

When their triplets were born early, they checked in to the House. This time, Annabelle was by her parent’s side and got to stay close to her three new little brothers!

“I really liked to interact with other residents. It was an opportunity to be really encouraged,” said Laura. Both stays were an equally good experience for them during their trying times. They will never take the home cooked meals and private bedrooms for granted. After a 20 night stay, a family that was once a family of three went home as a family of six.

The Pullen Family

IMG_7327CroppedNothing is more comforting than a mother’s tender love and care. Right?

No matter how old you are, it’s always nice to have your mom by your side especially during difficult times. This was the case for Catera Pullen as her mom, Deb stayed with her at the Ronald McDonald House.

Catera’s son, James, was born two months early and sought care at the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.

“Having my mom stay the Ronald McDonald House with me gave me comfort and took so much of the stress away,” Catera said.

James was born 32 weeks early weighing only  2 lbs. 15 oz. It was a scary time for Catera and Deb wondering if he would be able to grow. Because they were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House they could be by his side cheering him on.

“I got to come and go as we please and see him as much as I wanted. There is such a safety in being here.”

During their 28 day stay at the House, James grew to 4 lbs. 1 oz. and was released from the neonatal intensive care unit. At that point, he was feeding well and grew more independent.

When families are close to one another during tough times, it makes it much more bearable. With Deb supporting Catera and Catera supporting James a special bond was made through love and care. That’s why the key importance to the Ronald Mcdonald House is closeness.


Mary’s Pantry May Challenge

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Two generous local partners want to help the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House® raise $150,000 for Mary’s Pantry Endowment Fund. They’ve committed to matching every dollar that is donated up to $75,000. When you give a dollar, it becomes two! Once the goal has been met, the income generated from the endowment fund will purchase the needed food for families all year long. 

Donate button bacon

Every night at 6 p.m., 26 families enjoy a cooked meal prepared by volunteers. The House also offers a “help yourself” kitchen that families are welcome to use as their own. There are food and drinks in the fridge, desserts, frozen foods, canned goods and every kitchen utensil needed.

“Mary’s Pantry at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House is the “grocery store” for all the food functions that feed both the families residing at the Ronald McDonald House and the visitors to the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Children’s Hospital at Erlanger,” says RMHC President & CEO, Jane Kaylor.

The Ronald McDonald House has to purchase essential and nutritious items to create a balanced meal like meats, milk, butter, eggs and supplies to make frozen dinners out of leftovers. Contributions to Mary’s Pantry Endowment Fund will make these purchases possible. 

Mary’s Pantry was started in honor of a very faithful volunteer, Mary Stancil.  Mary found her mission in making sure all donations were used efficiently and that nothing went to waste. 

The Ronald McDonald House is teaming up with all Chattanooga area Chili’s restaurants on May 23 for a Give Back Night. A percentage of sales will be donated to the endowment fund. On May 25, the Chattanooga Lookouts will be hosting “Mary’s Pantry Night at the Ball Park.” Stay tuned! A well-known local celebrity may even get a pie in the face after the first inning.

“Bacon is known for food and money and the Ronald McDonald House is a home. That’s why we found #BringHomeTheBacon so fitting for this campaign. We’re raising funds so RMHC families can worry less about where their next meal will come from and focus more on their sick child. Plus, who doesn’t love bacon?” says Communications Coordinator, Victoria Tropiano.

Stayed tuned for upcoming social media videos, photos, former RMHC family testimonials and campaign contests. For more information about how you can help bring home the bacon, click here or and use the hashtags #BringHomeTheBacon and #Match4MarysPantry.