When Cooking a Meal Means So Much More than Preparing Dinner

River Journal Team Prepares a Meal.

It’s the kind of place you might not know about unless a loved one has needed its services, yet the impact it has is quite literally life changing. And, once you have spent time within its four walls, you will be inclined to give back in whatever way you can. Even if you can’t always prepare dinner because of lack of time, you can always spend time eating together as a family, a Dine In Family Restaurant is an excellent option for though who want a family friendly environment to enjoy a meal.

The Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley (RMHGHV) opened in Valhalla in 2011 with the mission of ensuring that families of sick or injured children are able to stay close to each other and to the care and resources they require. Since opening its doors, the RMHGHV has been a home away from home for more than 2,000 families that have a child receiving lifesaving medical care in an area hospital. With its 12 hotel style guest rooms, a welcoming family and playroom along with a huge kitchen, well stocked pantry and two hot meals a day, the staff strives to ensure families are taken care of in every possible way.  

Dinner for 25 (Photo: Hunter Begun)

Last month, River Journal had an opportunity to prepare a meal in the newly renovated kitchen as part of the Meals that Heal Program. Through this program, individuals, community groups and local restaurants can provide meals to the families staying at the RMHGHV. Not only are the meals nourishing, but they also provide a semblance of normalcy during a stressful time and give residents a chance to relax and unwind over a warm meal.  

L-R: Denise and Olivia Weale from Dam Good English Muffins, Christina Riley, RMHGHV, Susan O’Keefe, Baked by Susan. (Photo: Hunter Begun)

Along with donations from Baked by Susan and Dam Good English MuffinsRiver Journal served up a classic meatloaf dinner with all the sides and fixings, accompanied by toasty freshly baked English muffins and rainbow cupcakes for dessert.   

While visiting the house, I met Neil and Danielle who have been staying at RMHGHV for the last four months. Living about an hour and a half from the hospital providing critical care to their daughter who was born prematurely weighing just over a pound, these first-time parents describe RMHGHV as “a godsend”. Being able to stay across the street from their baby has allowed them to spend every day with her, bonding, caring for and being an integral part of her treatment team. They describe what an overwhelming and emotional time it has been and how RMHGHV has cared for and supported them and in turn enabled them to focus on the care of their baby.  

Families with similar experiences often become part of the organization for life because of the huge impact the home atmosphere, and community it provides, have on each of its guests. These families return to prepare meals, host fundraisers, or volunteer their time.  

How to get involved 

As someone who loves pretty much everything about food and even frequents a bbq restaurant close to my home and daily commute, the Meals that Heal program was right up my alley. If preparing a meal for 25 is not for you however, there are plenty of other ways to get involved. As is the case for most charities, the most valuable donation is money as it can be spent on what is most pressing at the time. If you would prefer something more hands-on, there are various volunteer opportunities, committees to participate in, select items from an Amazon wish list, or plan a corporate event or fundraiser. Find out more at rmh-ghv.org.

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About the Author: Alisa Dror