The rain was falling lightly from the cloudy gray morning sky. I began to walk down George Street into an unfamiliar neighborhood that I would not have considered particularly pleasant or would have felt comfortable walking around in by myself, and naturally began to feel a bit uneasy. Suddenly, I spotted the bright yellow house on the corner up ahead, the one that matched the picture I had seen on the website, with the bright colorful flowers lining the steps up to the front door, the American flag waving overhead, the pretty white windowsills, and its warm welcoming demeanor. Immediately I felt relieved and I knew that I was in the right place.
I was at the Ronald McDonald house that morning because I was looking for a place where I could volunteer and spend time giving back to the New Haven community. The year earlier, I had visited a Ronald McDonald House in California with my a cappella group to sing for and spend time with the families and children who were staying at the house, and it was absolutely lovely. So when I found out that there was a Ronald McDonald house in New Haven, I immediately contacted them and was soon after invited for a visit.
I was greeted by a sea of smiles and gladly ushered in by the most genuinely friendly staff and volunteers. The house was even more beautiful on the inside than the outside. I was surprised to discover that the house had not always been in such wonderful condition, but was actually an old, run down, falling-to-pieces mansion when it was first purchased by the founders of the Ronald McDonald house in New Haven. From its very roots and beginnings, the Ronald McDonald house was all about restoring what was broken and bringing transformation through its vision and power of love. I walked around the house and saw all the comforts and pleasures that I enjoy about home: a spacious living room, lots of books to read, a warm kitchen and dining room with food in abundance, warm soft beds, relaxing hang out spaces.
I then had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the children and families who were staying in the house. A staff member began to share stories about families who had been through the house before; stories of struggle yet continued hope, weariness yet constant perseverance. It became apparent to me that every sorrow and burden was shared in the house, and every joy was celebrated together. Even more so than simply providing immediate, physical care for families, the Ronald McDonald house embodies emotional support and love for people who are suffering and in need.
I was and continue to stand, astounded and humbled by the gracious love that the Ronald McDonald house pours out to children receiving medical care and their families. I am thankful for the ways that the Ronald McDonald House impacts not only the greater New Haven community, but all of Connecticut, and even places around the world. Though I have only volunteered here for a few weeks, it has already been a great privilege to serve alongside the staff and be part of its mission of love. I eagerly look forward to the many times in the future when I will continue to give back in whatever ways I can, while knowing full well that I am being blessed even more abundantly by doing so.