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Reflections of Charitable Giving During the Holidays

By Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie on November 1, 2018

Twenty-six years ago my daughter was born and during the delivery she swallowed a significant amount of umbilical fluid and was born unable to breathe on her own. Fortunately the hospital where we delivered was equipped with a neo natal unit and doctors were able to place her on a breathing machine within minutes–not only saving her life, but preventing many health complications in the future. She stayed in the neo-natal unit for nearly two weeks even although I was discharged within 24 hours after she arrived. My husband and I had to travel back and forth to the hospital to bond with her and for me to be able to provide her with breast milk. Needless to say, it was a stressful time in our lives.

Years later I was introduced to the Ronald McDonald House Orange County (RMHOC) by a good friend who owns multiple, local McDonald Franchises. RMHOC provides accommodations for families with sick children who need to endure longer hospital stays. During the extended stays away from home, families at RMHOC have a comfortable, private place to call their own. They have access to a full kitchen, a cozy corner to read or hold a quiet conversation, a place to play with their children, get their laundry done, or take care of their own health and well-being, and of course WIFI to stay in contact with family and friends. One of the best parts of their work is most all of these services are provided at little or no cost to the families.

The RMHOC has a staff of 16 individuals, supplemented by 45 weekly volunteers, and more than 200 monthly volunteer groups who support the operations of the House. The RMHOC has been at full capacity serving more than 6,611 families in 2017 alone and more than 60% of the families stayed at the houses at no cost. However, by 2022, it is anticipated that there will be a 70% increase in the number of families who will need to stay in the house.

We are very fortunate to have such an organization in Orange County at CHOC hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo. The house is growing and will be expanding their Orange facility in the next few years. I am happy to donate my time and finances to help them be able to continue to provide a home to families going through stressful times. As one family said recently “We are so grateful for the RMHOC and it will always hold a special place in our hearts. We didn’t know we would only have two weeks with our daughter and every minute we were able to spend with her was a gift that we will forever remember.”

With the holidays quickly approaching, this time of year makes me reflect on what’s truly most important in this life–and how privileged I am to support RMHOC and help ease a family’s emotional and financial burden when it’s needed the very most.

By Suzanne Leslie, Managing Partner | Attorney

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