When Braden and Victoria Jones’ daughter Olivia was born a month early about a year ago, the family was rushed to the NICU at Cox South in Springfield due to complications at birth.
It was an incredibly stressful time, Victoria Jones said, but the family found solace at one of Springfield’s Ronald McDonald Houses, located near the hospital.
The Ronald McDonald House is a nationwide nonprofit that helps house families whose loved ones are receiving medical treatment at nearby hospitals.
“We were there for 18 days, and it was really hard,” she told the BH-FP. “You never want to have to use the Ronald McDonald House, but it was a great place for us to stay and it really helped.”
In a Ronald McDonald House news release, the family said they’d been prepared to stay by their daughter’s side day and night, even if it meant taking turns sleeping on a hospital couch.
“However, before it came to that, we were told about the amazing service provided by the Ronald McDonald House,” they said.
While Olivia Jones was receiving medical treatment nearby, the family said it was able to stay, eat and recharge at the Ronald McDonald House, the release stated.
“The Ronald McDonald House employees, volunteers and services provided by donors were a huge blessing to our family,” the family said. “The program is doing so much good for the people in the community and every family who has stayed at the Ronald McDonald House is better for it.”
Victoria Jones described the resource as “a stable element in the midst of a turbulent situation.”
And, she said, her family has continued to do well after leaving.
“We’re great,” she said. “Olivia is great, she just turned a year old. You’d never know anything was wrong.”
The Jones’ aren’t the only family to have found a temporary home at the Ronald McDonald House. According to Ronald McDonald House Charities, over 14,300 families have benefited from Springfield's Ronald McDonald Houses since opening, including 468 Polk County families and 241 Bolivar residents.
Polk Countians this month have a chance to help the Ronald McDonald House assist even more families through the 28th Annual Share a Heart Campaign.
Bolivar’s McDonald’s restaurant joins 61 other McDonald's restaurants in the Ozarks encouraging customers to support Springfield's two Ronald McDonald Houses by donating $1, $5 or $20 with their meals and adopting a heart.
Each heart adopted gives the contributor an opportunity to enter a social media contest for a chance to win one of four $250 Great Southern MasterCard gift cards, according to a Share a Heart news release.
“On any given night, up to 24 families of seriously ill children are staying at Springfield's two Ronald McDonald Houses,” the release stated.
Thanks to the donations, families receive home-cooked meals, access to laundry facilities, transportation to hospitals and support from volunteers and staff, the release stated.
Another Bolivar family was also recently aided by the Ronald McDonald House.
When Dawson Anthony Harris was born at 29 weeks — 11 weeks before his due date — because of severe preeclampsia, he weighed just 2 pounds 8 ounces.
According to the release, Harris was immediately intubated and placed in an isolette in the NICU at Cox South Hospital in Springfield.
As the baby underwent a series of challenges faced by premature children, his parents, Anthony and Haleigh Harris of Bolivar, struggled with the overwhelming emotion of the situation.
According to the release, Dawson Harris’ main challenges were getting off oxygen support and learning to eat.
“Time seemed to stand still during our stay at the hospital. It was our best friend and enemy all in one,” the parents said.
Dawson Harris spent 64 days total in the NICU, his parents said. They spent Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day at the Ronald McDonald House.
“During this time there were many ups and downs, scary moments, happy moments, and a lot of unstable feelings. But one thing remained constant, a place to sleep. Ronald McDonald House gave us a place to call home for those two months.”