On what was a cold, dreary night, after a day of snow, rain and wind, we headed downtown to The House That Love Built. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore and few things make me more proud, or make me appreciate life more, than that opportunity. Not surprisingly, the group that had volunteered to make dinner that night for the families at the House was not there. The media had blown the storm completely out of proportion, so activities were being canceled all over town. But the “massive blizzard” was a bust, and we weren’t going to miss the opportunity to give. My girls and my wife were all in.
If you’ve got a song in your heart, why not share? We brought the music with us in the form of a karaoke microphone we have had for years. The device plugs right into the TV and you can choose from about 100 songs to sing. My daughter Sophie and I brought the mic to the House back in December, during the holiday season, and it was a big hit. It was different then just reading, or doing arts and crafts with the kids, so why not give it another whirl.
A little background if you don’t know what the Ronald McDonald House is all about, and it’s ok if you don’t. The House provides a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families, and helps to fund programs in the local area that directly improve the well being of children. That’s the official mission statement, but it’s much so much more than that, because it’s all about the children. The bottom line is this: children who are sick heal faster when surrounded by those that love them. The expense of being away from home and trying to be close to your child undergoing constant and lengthy treatment for whatever ails them, is extraordinary. As the cover page of the Baltimore website explains: Life will take them many places. We just never expect the journey will lead them here. The House provides shelter, a respite and the chance for families to be close to the ones they love the most. It is The House That Love Built.
Love is in the air and you can feel it as soon as you walk in the door. Even on this night, as the storm had the families huddled up in their rooms, since the group dinner had been canceled, there was still enough love to go around. A few children, and even one of the parents participated in the activity hour, taking to the microphone and singing a pop song as we all listened in. Myself, and my daughters, even got up and belted out a few tunes. Like I said, if you have a song in your heart, why not share? No one there is judging your talent, they are appreciating your kindness.
There is nothing like the opportunity to give back, no matter how small the act and whether it is in dollars, or time. Victor Frankl, who survived the Nazi death camps and wrote the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, sums it up perfectly: “Each of us needs to be dedicated to something that benefits other people in some way. We need to be able to rise above ourselves, to get out of oursevles, and to put our hearts into doing something that makes a difference in the world and in the lives of others.”
As we left the House the other night, I commented to my wife Debbie that “the participation this time around was not the same as when we hosted back in December.” Her reply sums up the whole experience and put in all in perspective. She said, “it doesn’t matter, if even one person got involved it made a difference.”
Make a difference. It doesn’t take much, but for the people you touch, it means the world.
If you would like to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore, please visit the website:
And if you are so inclined to get involved and help The House, one of the biggest fundraisers of 2013 takes place in just a few weeks, it’s called the Red Shoe Shuffle, one of the coolest events in Baltimore this year.
To participate, or just to learn more: http://redshoeshuffle.org/
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.