Pediatric and neonatal intensive care units don’t sound like fun places to be for either the young ones or their families. But the Ronald McDonald Family Room (RMFR) at the Markham Stouffville Hospital is one place designed for those families to make the excruciating time a little more bearable and a place where a few smiles can happen.
Supported by funds raised during the annual McHappy Day, the RMFR first opened in 2013, provided lounge areas, a kitchenette with snacks and shower facilities and a napping area open 24 hours a day. But after a few years, the well-used facility needed a little upgrade. That’s where local McDonald’s owners stepped in to raise more funds to make it happen.
Todd and Marcia Finlayson have already made a name for themselves as selfless community builders donating time, money and effort to various community initiatives including RMHC. In 2017, they received a $100,000 prize from their head office which they then donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC).
Locally, half of the annual $120,000 it costs to operate RMFR comes from McHappy Day fundraisers from their Markham and Stouffville locations with the rest raised in the community, much through the McHappy Day Ambassador Program.
It was from these sources the money came to renovate the room that served over 305 families in 2018 and has already served nearly 100 in 2019 so far.
A ribbon cutting heralded the completion of the renovations recently that included new floors, signage, wiring painting and new furniture. On hand were the Finlaysons, hospital staff and RMHC officials as well as Mayor Iain Lovatt and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.
Lovatt was impressed with the annual event. “I actually first met Marcie two years ago (when I volunteered on McHappy Day) I manned the drive-thru poorly, but I did it. It was a great event, a great experience.”
For this year’s McHappy Day, local community leaders will again work the windows, fryers and anything else needed and help collect $1 from every Big Mac, Happy Meal or hot beverage sold to support RMHC.
Another tasty addition this year is the introduction of delicious heart-shaped cookies that are “baked with love”. “Love them and buy them in the stores and help us support your local house and rooms,” says Todd Finlayson. And yes, they are very, very good.
McHappy Day at all McDonald’s is Wednesday, May 8.
Photo: Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt poses with premie Vivian and her new dad Harley Williamson who has made good use of the family room for the last few months.