The main focus of the Ronald McDonald House is to keep families close to their sick children. We were able to keep Valerie and Alan Rodriguez close to their children not once, but twice.
The first case was in 2014 when their son, AJ, was born with gastroschisis, a condition where the baby’s intestines protrude outside of the baby’s body. It’s very rare, but even rarer for it to happen to another sibling. The second time happened most recently when their daughter, Brylee was born.
AJ and Brylee both had to have multiple surgeries. There was more hope with Brylee, because they had been through it before with AJ and could stay at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House again.
“Both times we’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House we were scared and thankful. We were uncertain about what would happen to our children. We were able to be right across the street just two minutes away instead of being an hour away,” Valerie said.
“It’s so nice to have the ability to stay together as a family. Otherwise, we would have to choose between our kids.”
After both children had multiple surgeries, they were able to leave the hospital and Ronald McDonald House. You would not even know either child had complications.
“We were able to stay together as a family and that’s all that matters.”
The Rodriguez family stayed at the House for 21 nights and is doing great as a happy family of four.
Parents Heather and Shawn Lawrence checked in to the Ronald McDonald House as returning 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.
A smooth pregnancy is what all new moms and dads hope will happen. What gets scary is 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.
We house Hereos. It’s no secret that moms are Superwomen. They’re incredible in every way and notably stronger and loving than most humans. Their job offers no breaks and happens to be every day of the week. They know what you’re thinking before you say it, protect you when you feel threatened, and put you before themselves. They don’t need a batsignal in the sky to accomplish a mission.
We have the strongest mothers that come and go at Ronald McDonald House Charities®. Whether they are here because their child is ill or injured across the street or they happen to be volunteering. They are world changers and encouragers. Giving up on anything isn’t a consideration of theirs.
Here are just a few of the many incredible mothers’ who are apart of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Greater Chattanooga:
1.) They are thankful!
Mother, Yesica, stayed with us when Melody was being taken care of for hypernatremia. She was so thankful for being able to walk across the street and be in arms reach of her beautiful little girl each day.
2.) They pay it forward!
When daughter, Molly, was receiving treatments for cancer, her mother, Angelica, and the rest of her family stayed close by. They were so appreciative for being able to stay with us that they wanted to embrace our infamous motto of “paying it forward” by cooking lunch for the other families. Molly’s big sister, Jackie, and mom made an authentic Mexican dish!
3.) They volunteer!
Mothers from Modern Woodmen brought their children to plant flowers for our courtyard! They’ve taught them from a young age the importance of supporting the local community and helping others.