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Halifax Family Room Celebrates 9th Anniversary

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This year marks the 9th anniversary of the opening of the first Ronald McDonald Family Room® in Canada at the IWK Health Centre. Ronald McDonald Family Rooms provide an oasis of calm and support inside the walls of the hospital, allowing families to be just steps away from their child receiving medical care.

“Our Halifax Family Room offers the same comforts of home to local families that we offer at Ronald McDonald House® to out of town families,” says Alison Cogdon, Director of Programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities® Atlantic. “We provide a welcoming space for families to take a break from their daily hospital routine. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a shower, or a load of laundry, the Family Room is a place for families to relax, refresh and recharge.”

Since its doors opened on January 24, 2007, the Halifax Family Room has served over 300,000 people. In 2015 alone, the Halifax Family Room had more than 30,000 visits.

“We spent numerous nights at the IWK for Michael’s treatment and recovery from brain cancer,” says Michelle Forrest. “I remember coming across the Family Room and it immediately felt like I was in a home. It was nice to have a change of scenery and to be in a calmer and more relaxing setting. I didn’t feel like I was in the hospital yet I was still close enough to my son to have peace of mind.”

The heart of the Halifax Family Room is the incredible volunteers who donate their time to help keep families close when it matters most.

“I began volunteering at the Ronald McDonald Family Room in January of 2012 after it was suggested by a friend. The majority of what I do is baking, cleaning and facilitating the use of the room,” says Chris Hung, one of 43 current volunteers. “In the last four years, I’ve seen miraculous recoveries, heard stories of hope and hopelessness, laughed and cried with complete strangers who are probably in the middle of the worst time of their life.  I think that those rare encounters are worth far more than the hundreds of hours I’ve spent as the host of the room.”

There are also more than 39 volunteer groups who prepared meals for families at the Halifax Family Room in 2015. In the last year, these Home for Dinner groups made 158 meals feeding more than 2300 people.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlantic opened its second Family Room in The Moncton Hospital in 2011. Today there are 13 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in pediatric hospitals across Canada, with 24 more expected to open by 2021, due to unprecedented demand from hospitals and the growing focus on family-centered care.