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… Read more about ABC7 Report: Caring for families through COVID-19...
Meet New Board Member Anthony Ewell
It was never a question of whether RMHC Bay Area board member Anthony Ewell would spend his career feeding people and giving back to his East Bay community.
“I grew up in a culture of giving,” said the local McDonald’s franchise owner, who watched his uncle and mentor Larry Tripplett feed Ronald McDonald House families every Friday for more than 20 years.
As a next-generation McDonald’s owner-operator, Anthony always thought he’d play a behind-the-scenes role in their families’ McDonald’s philanthropy, such as, implementing initiatives like #RoundUpforRMHC, while his uncle served as their franchises’ primary spokesperson and advocate for feeding families during hospital stays.
Now, as a board member of RMHC Bay Area, Anthony is playing a key role in the Charity’s COVID-19 relief efforts and advocating for families at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
“I want to bridge the gap and take what we’re doing in San Francisco and the South Bay, and bring it to the East Bay,” he said.
COVID-19 amplifies food insecurity for East Bay families
“A lot of our families have experienced significant challenges during COVID-19,” said Shabren Harvey-Smith, medical social services director at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, who oversees the medical social work team, chaplains, interpreter services, and the hospital’s family housing program. “One of the things we’ve noted the most is food insecurity.”
Mobilizing meal support for families at the hospital
One of the things we've noted most is food insecurity.
— Shabren Harvey-Smith, medical social services director at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland
After months of delivering weekly snack packs and care kits to families at the hospital, RMHC Bay Area launched its first daily meal program at Oakland Children’s in October. Anthony was first in line to organize monthly McDonald’s meal donations to feed families, inspiring McDonald’s family operators like the Haynes and Smith families to join the effort.
“Keeping families together is very important to me because I could not imagine, personally, being apart from my child at the slightest injury and most definitely not for anything critical,” said Anthony, the proud parent of 4-year-old Anden with his partner Denise.
Bridging the Gap
Anthony says he’s looking forward to seeing the RMHC Bay Area’s Oakland and East Bay programs continue to grow through new partnerships with organizations like World Central Kitchen and Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s new Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation. Together, they provided more than 7,000 meals to families at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
“I’m hoping that we can continue to build and get other organizations involved and really try and bridge the gap,” he said.
Now, in 2021, the Charity’s new Feed the Love Oakland program is keeping the momentum going by partnering with East Bay food providers as families in Oakland continue to struggle with COVID-19’s disproportionate impact the on communities of color.
“There are several determinants of health that impact families,” Shabren said. “The ones we see the most are financial instability, food insecurity, housing and transportation needs. With the help of Ronald McDonald House at our hospital, we’ve been able to address food insecurity and housing in a very big way.”
Giving back means everything to me.
— Anthony Ewell, board member & local McDonald's owner
“Giving back to me means everything to me,” Anthony said. “I don’t know if I would have been afforded the opportunities I have today had my mentor, my uncle, not given back. That’s the legacy that he started and that I want to continue.”
— Story by Nicole Frances Williams, associate director of foundation relations and communications
Photo Credit: Anthony Ewell
Board member and local McDonald’s operator Anthony Ewell (right) is carrying on his uncle Larry Tripplett’s legacy of feeding Ronald McDonald House families. Larry’s (left) restaurant has provided meals for Stanford families every Friday night for more than two decades, an effort that inspired McDonald’s owners Con and LeeAnn Freeman to also donate meals. Now, Anthony is mobilizing McDonald’s owners like the Haynes and Smith families to provide monthly meals at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
“I’ve been on the assembly line packaging those meals,” said Anthony, who joined the RMHC Bay Area board in 2020 just before the pandemic hit. “Seeing firsthand the look on families’ faces … just to bring a smile to their faces during a challenging moment, during a crisis, that brings happiness to us.”
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