ABC7 Report: Caring for families through COVID-19

By Chris Nguyen

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — The fallout from the novel coronavirus is hitting charities hard as volunteers and fundraising events have dried up.

However, Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area, in particular, is having a challenging time during this pandemic because of the extra steps it now needs to take to keep medically fragile children safe and healthy.

“Our meal planning process now is completely different,” said Trini Phan, who coordinates meal programs for the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. “I’m in the kitchen, actually cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so the workload has increased by a lot.”

Volunteer resources that RMHC typically relies on to house and feed hundreds of families have been drastically reduced.

Businesses and community groups would typically be in the kitchen, not only preparing, but also covering the cost of meals. But only essential staff members are allowed inside the building for the time being.

“These are the sickest of the sick children that we are taking care of right now,” said Laura Boudreau, RMHC Bay Area chief executive officer. “This is why we’re all staying and sheltering at home, so that these kids can be safe.”

Boudreau says the organization is now facing a $1.4 million revenue shortfall this year due to a drop in donations as well as canceled fundraisers.

She’s hoping the community will consider making a donation to help them continue their mission.

“It’s absolutely urgent right now,” said Boudreau. “This is what’s going to keep us going and there’s nothing more critical for these families right now than to have a place to stay and food to eat and to be close to life-saving treatment.”
Staff members say they’re doing their best to provide a sense of normalcy for patients despite these challenging times.

“I miss seeing them every day,” said family program coordinator Uriel Valencia, who shared that common areas in the RMHC facility are now closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. “I miss having them in the community areas, in the activity rooms, playing with the kids during these amazing activities and seeing their faces.”

Families say they’ve been grateful for the support they’ve received from the staff and are hopeful the community will step up during this time of need.

“It fills my heart with a lot of joy to know there’s so many people with just good hearts to care so much about these kids and their families,” said Palo Alto resident Daniel Lorance.