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Student Article: Getting Involved

Ronald McDonald House Needs More Volunteers, Encourages Youth to Get Involved

By Liz Bruce

Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon is asking more people to volunteer, and encourages more youth to get involved with charity and RMH. The facility, located in Vancouver at 4567 Heather St. and roughly one hundred paces from the BC Children’s Hospital compound, would not be able to function without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers, who are crucial for the success of The House. Volunteers can sign up anytime online at rmhbc.ca/get involved/ and must be nineteen years or older.

Ronald McDonald House caters to families with children eighteen years or younger undergoing treatment at the Children’s Hospital, who live over 50 kilometres away. “We’re basically everyone else’s local charity. We’re not serving Vancouver families; we’re based here but the people we serve are from everywhere else.” -Sunshine Purificacion, RMHBC program coordinator. The facility is located in the Children’s Hospital’s old parking lot, right beside the compound itself, and is the only one for over 900 kilometers. The House has 73 rooms on 4 floors, with 4 large kitchens in 4 corners of The House. But with only 21 paid employees, volunteers are needed to provide the manpower for the various programs The House offers. Available shifts can be found on the volunteer timetable on the website.

Though youth cannot volunteer at The House itself, Ms. Purificacion encourages youth to help out in alternative ways, for example “fundraise to help make sure that all families in their community can access RMH. We have so many different types of fundraisers, we have this one called Make Fun Matter, it’s basically where you take whatever you like to do for fun, and add a fundraising element. For example, if you like to bake, have a bake sale. If you like to play baseball, you can have a baseball tournament. There’s lots of great ways to give back in that way, with Make Fun Matter or another one called Birthday Heroes, where people who are celebrating their birthday collect donations for the house.” Volunteer Coordinator Michael Hsiao agrees. “How they can help with RMH in particular is mostly supporting our third-party events.” The main source of income for RMH is from third party donations, and with the massive costs accompanying The House’s operations, every dollar is put to good use.

RMHBC opened on July 7, 2014, and has since served approximately 12,000 families. In 2019, The House served 2,000 families and provided 25,700 meals. They delivered on average 21 programs weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and had a cumulative amount of 26,000 hours volunteered. The BC and Yukon facility is the second largest in Canada and the fifth largest in the world. Despite The House’s size, often the staff find themselves serving a full house – about 220 people. And where it would normally cost $250 a night for the average family to find temporary residence in Vancouver, The House charges each room $12 a night, all inclusive – and if the families are unable to pay, they are charged nothing at all. The main source of RMH’s income are donations from third parties; 25% of the operating expenses are donated by McDonalds corporation and their customers, and the remaining 75% come from fundraising, corporate and individual sponsorship.