• WEATHER ALERT Winter Weather Advisory

Ronald McDonald House helps keep family together

October 27, 2010 7:23:38 PM PDT
Families with critically ill children find themselves even more stressed when short hospital visits turn into months. It drains a family both emotionally and financially, but there are places that help ease that burden. Those save havens are the Ronald McDonald houses at Stanford and San Francisco. I recently visited the San Francisco Ronald McDonald House to meet one very grateful family.

The Gloeckler family has been through a lot because the twin boys, Jayden and Caleb, were born 26 weeks prematurely because of something called Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

"...Where one gets bigger than the other. One can be really big, and the other one can be really small, because they don't share the nutrients equally," says Heather Gloeckler, Jayden and Caleb's mother.

The twins were taken away right after birth.

"We didn't know what was going on, if they were alive, we didn't know anything," says Heather.

"Caleb they say, was touch and go there for a little bit, so they didn't want to come back with a definite yes or no or anything like that. It was pretty scary," says Jim, the twins' father.

The twins were in neonatal intensive care at UCSF for more than two months. The family is from Aptos and Jim works in Santa Cruz at the Costco store.

"We were going to have to leave the hospital and we didn't know what we were going to do because we're a couple of hours away. It doesn't seem that far, but trying to go back and forth, we didn't know how we would do it," says Heather.

A UCSF social worker told them about the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco so mom and dad were able to stay near their babies during the crisis. Three-year-old big brother Giovanni got to stay there too and Jim remembers just how high their emotions were running during that awful time.

"It was the biggest relief. I knew I was going to have to go back to work. When we came to the door and it was just? it was just like a little home and I knew I could leave them here and she would be safe and it would be OK," says Jim.

Jim had used all his vacation time to stay by Heather's side and then he got some major help from his manager at the Santa Cruz Costco, who kicked off a campaign to donate vacation time.

"It ended up that Costco pulled out 28 days that I was able to stay up here, so that's how close everybody at Costco is," says Jim.

Jim inspired people at his Costco to make donations directly to the San Francisco Ronald McDonald House and the organization can use it. The money goes to help the families and repairs like a leaky 20-year-old skylight have to wait. It's at least a $40,000 repair job, so a bucket to catch drips will have to do for now.

"We patched it for a few years and now it's reaching the point where we can't wait much longer," says executive director Lois Moore.

In the meantime, Moore says the house is all about providing a home away from home.

"We have this wonderful cooking space. The volunteer groups come and prepare meals for our families," says Lois.

"The food, that was amazing, just having home-cooked meals all the time, that was great," says Heather.

And the support Heather and Jim received from other parents at the house made all the difference.

"You could talk to them about where you are now, and they can say, 'Hey look, this is where we are now, things can turn out OK,'" says Heather.

Ronald McDonald House is celebrating 20 years of service in San Francisco.

The annual Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser is coming up on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 and ABC7's Mike Nicco and I are the emcees and Olympic champ Jonny Moseley will be the honorary emcee.


Load Comments